Title

RAIL'S SHARE OF AIRPORT ACCESS: EXAMINING THE DATA

Authors

G Newmark

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1999

Subject Area

place - airport, mode - rail

Keywords

Ridership, Railroad transportation, Rail transportation, Patronage (Transit ridership), Errors, Data collection, Data acquisition, Airport access, Access to airports

Abstract

Currently, many U.S. cities are exploring the possibility of constructing rail connections to their airports. The perceptions of rail's role in serving ground-access needs may not be in accordance with what is actually experienced at existing airport rail systems. Data from these existing systems could help planners forecast ridership at proposed new systems. The data from existing systems is not always reported in a consistent manner that facilitates the useful comparison of airport rail systems. This lack of information is addressed. Comparable data on current ridership at eight airport rail stations are provided, and a standard method for collecting these data is presented, along with common sources of error that can lead to misrepresentations of airport station rail ridership. In addition to this discussion of the data collection process and its pitfalls, cross-checking techniques and suggestions for improved future data generation are detailed. Current ridership trends are also included. The findings show that most airport rail connections serve less than 6 percent of air passenger needs and between 8 and 14 percent of airport employee ground-access needs. Furthermore, the examination of the published data demonstrates the many ways in which error can affect the calculations and subsequent presentation of these statistics.