Public transit after landing

After the wheels touch down at your destination, how do you leave the airport?  Never have we had so many choices before: rental car, black car service, taxi, Uber/Lyft, ZIP Car/Car2Go, limousine, and public transit.

Wait, did I say public transit?  Airport transit connections have been commonplace in Europe for decades, but in America?  Or in Asia?

Well, yeah.  Things are changing.  When the demands of management consulting made me a road warrior in the 70s, I headed straight for the Avis or Hertz counter after landing.  The thought of taking public transit from any American airport never entered my mind because few such options then existed.

Now, though, public transit connections from U.S. airports are growing. SmarterTravel lists so many I couldn’t keep count (https://www.smartertravel.com/2012/08/07/best-u-s-airports-for-public-transportation/), although their facts are wrong about Salt Lake City.  SLC Airport has had excellent light rail connecting service to downtown from the airport for several years.

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Utah Transit Authority light rail from SLC Airport to downtown Salt Lake

Asian public transit is also improving.  In the old days, when my 747 landed at Hong Kong, I made a beeline for the taxi queue.  Now there’s a fast and frequent airport train service that goes to Kowloon and Central that I prefer over taxi service (http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/transport/to-from-airport/airport-express.html).  I’ve tried both the train and the taxi, and the train is a lot cheaper unless you have three or four in your group traveling together.  And it’s almost always faster and less stressful than the horrific traffic snarls in Hong Kong.

Singapore also has good subway service from Changi airport, though you have to be sure you’re in Terminal 2 or 3 and find your way to the basement station (http://www.changiairport.com/en/transport/public-transport.html).

Regardless of destination—Europe, U.S., or Asia—public transit options, when useful, give me one more mobility choice, and that’s good.  Last week I mentioned the great light rail service at MSP Airport that connects to almost everywhere in the Twin Cities region.  Often I can avoid a rental car altogether by taking public transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul, supplementing when I must with a car-sharing service like Uber.

I did the same in San Francisco last October, taking BART into the city from SFO, and then using Lyft, Flywheel, CalTrain commuter rail, and MUNI buses to get where I needed to go. Using those modes avoided having to rent and park a car.  It was wonderful!

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BART train at SFO Airport to San Francisco CBD

Last time I flew into Salt Lake City, I used light rail from the airport to connect to the FrontRunner commuter rail train to travel south to Provo.  I had a meeting at BYU, not far from the Provo station. My hotel provided a shuttle to get me back and forth to the rail station.  Again, no rental car.

A new electric commuter rail “A Line” runs now between DIA and downtown Denver where great connections can be made to the citywide bus and light rail transit network. I’ll be there in September for a conference, and once again, thank God, I won’t have to rent a car, and I will not have to fret about parking a car.  Best of all, by not having to drive from the Denver airport, I won’t have to worry about which toll roads I accidentally enter that ding me for exorbitant charges (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/electronic-toll-collectors-generate-expensive-surprises-for-rental-car-drivers-052715.html).

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The new commuter rail line between DIA and central Denver

If you got excited when I mentioned limousines as one mobility possibility to take you away in style from your destination airport, then you may be sad to learn that Etihad just announced no more limos for premium customers (http://www.etihad.com/en/about-us/etihad-news/archive/2017/etihad-updates-to-ground-and-inflight-services). Kind of a bummer to lose that perk, even though I never used it.

Okay, no fancy stretch limo or driver in livery, but I am still a happy camper because public transit options from more airports give me just that: another option. Transit provides an additional mobility choice at the airport, and if it is frequent, fast, and reasonably inexpensive, then it’s a useful option, too.

Every business trip has its own special set of mobility requirements, of course, and I can’t always use public transit as a result. But when I can, I do, and I don’t miss my rental car.

2 thoughts on “Public transit after landing

  1. I think it is great to have a train going from the airport. For me, if I can get away without having a car, I am more than happy to take a train to where I am going. There used to be the outcry from Taxi drivers each time a city wanted to build a transit link, but I think it is far more considerate to provide a train so that others can get to and from the airport with ease. I like being in a city and not having a car to worry about. It is nice to just relax in the train and watch the scenery.

  2. I almost always take the rail option whenever I can. It’s cheap, fast, and you generally see more of the local population. It’s also usually lesser expensive to rent cars off airport than on, so depending on the city – renting a car near a transit station can be considerably less than on airport.
    If you’re coming from Central/Kowloon to the HKG Airport, you’d be pretty insane to take a taxi. The train is superior in just about every way, complete with shuttle buses that will take you to/from most hotels.

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