Improving Public Transportation Access to Large Airports

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - signage/information, ridership - mode choice, economics - finance, place - airport, mode - bus, mode - rail


Advanced traveler information systems, Airport access, Airport ground transportation, Bus transit, Case studies, Employees, Express buses, Finance, Flight checkin, Future, Institutional issues, Jurisdictional factors, Legal factors, Limousines, Market research, Mode choice, Passengers, People movers, Public transit, Rail transit, Research, Ridesharing, Technological innovations, Vans


This report will be of interest to individuals involved in planning and implementing improved public transportation access to large airports. The dramatic increases in air travel, congestion near airports, and interest in providing rail transit to airports make this a very timely research report. Chapter 1 defines large airports and public transportation services, as a subset of the ground transportation services providing access to airports. Chapter 2 describes travel mode choice patterns and other data for passengers and employees at selected large U.S. and international airports. Key factors affecting passenger and employee use of public transportation for airport access are also presented. Market trends and factors affecting ridership at nine U.S. airports with direct rail service are presented as well as trends and factors at U.S. airports with rubber-tired access systems such as prearranged limousines, shared-ride vans, express buses, and multistop buses. Chapter 3 presents a market research approach to planning public transportation to airports. Chapter 4 describes 14 of the most successful airport access systems in the world. Chapter 5 assimilates the findings from Chapter 4 and presents lessons learned from the successful rail systems. Chapter 6 summarizes recent transit industry developments in the following six areas that could affect ground access to airports: advanced traveler information systems, technology for ridesharing, emerging bus technology, emerging rail technology, automated people mover technology, and alternative strategies for off-site airport check-in. Chapter 7 provides an overview of the key legal, financial, institutional, and jurisdictional factors affecting public transportation to airports. Chapter 8 examines implications for further research.


Permission to link to report given by TRB.