Air Passenger Preferences for Choice of Airport and Ground Access Mode in the New York City Metropolitan Region

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - mode choice, ridership - commuting, economics - willingness to pay, place - airport, mode - bus, mode - subway/metro


Willingness to pay, Trip characteristics, Tri-State Region (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut), Travel time, Travel costs, Travel behavior, Recreational trips, Non-work trips, New York Metropolitan Area, Nested logit models, Multinomial logits, Mode choice, Modal choice, Journey time, Demographics, Choice of transportation, Choice models, Business trips, Business travel, Airport choice, Airport access, Access to airports


In current practice, regional models are limited in their capability to analyze policies involving changes and improvements to airports (and their services) and ground access transportation. Typically, airports are treated only as employment centers or as special generators. Important and distinct features of air passenger travel affecting trip distribution and mode choice are rarely modeled explicitly. This paper presents the development of a joint airport and ground access mode choice model for the New York City metropolitan region based on an extensive survey of airport users. Unlike travel to and from most U.S. cities, air passengers flying to and from the New York region face a nontrivial choice of airports and ground access modes (including premium transit options). A nested logit model was formulated with airport choice at the upper level and ground access mode choice at the second level; however, a multinomial logit model was found to be statistically preferable. Results indicate that air passenger travel behavior is significantly different for business and nonbusiness travelers. Overall, willingness to pay for trips to and from the airport is much higher than for regular intracity trips. Average yield, access time, and access cost are the most important determinants of air passenger’s choice; demographics and trip characteristics are also significant. The developed tool was used for a comprehensive study of airport development alternatives in the New York region and is seen as the platform for additional data development and model extensions for future studies of air passenger service planning in the New York megaregion.