Airport Cities and Airport Public Transport Access Demand Balancing or Peak Exacerbation? Case of Zurich Airport, Switzerland

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, planning - travel demand management, planning - service level, operations - capacity, economics - benefits, land use - impacts


airport cities, ground transport access system, public transport mode shares, service capacity, peak period travel demand


Many airports are adding nonaviation activities in an effort to diversify and become less dependent on direct air traffic revenues and thus create so-called airport cities. As these added activities generate an increase in traffic, the question arises as to how this increased traffic influences the ground transport access system and if this influence can be used in strategies to achieve higher public transport mode shares. In the best case, the additional traffic would follow a distribution that would balance out the peaks created by the aviation-induced travel and therefore would help create more even transport demand. Such a more balanced situation is especially critical for providing cost-efficient public transport services where service capacity cannot be adjusted very flexibly without sacrificing ease of use. In the worst case, however, additional nonaviation travel demand would peak at the same time as aviation-induced travel and thus increase peak period travel demand. This effect would increase costs for peak period service without improving utilization during low-demand periods. This paper presents a generic framework for analyzing aviation and nonaviation transport demand, followed by a specific study of Zurich Airport in Switzerland. In this case, the nonaviation demand is distributed as complementary to the aviation-induced demand, but the volume of nonaviation demand is so high that it dominates the total demand curve. This result means that the total travel demand is high enough to support a higher level of public transport service than could be operated economically if fed only by the aviation operations and is one reason why Zurich Airport's public transport mode share for air travelers is approximately 50%.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.