A USA Today blogger recently published a piece pointing out that only three U.S. cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Honolulu and Chicago Midway) have public transportation that gets to the airport faster than a car, and that in some cities it can take longer to get to the airport than to fly to another city.

 

The blogger, Mike Dunphy, contrasts this with European cities that have put money into high-speed rail links, sometimes connected to existing routes, that make it from airport to downtown in 15-20 minutes.

 

For me, time to Laguardia or JFK from central Brooklyn is 20 minutes by car with no traffic, and an hour or more at other times. For either one, it would be about an hour and a half by a combination of bus, subway and AirTrain, moving suitcases with each change. 

 

What's your experience, and what North American cities are doing better than others?

 

Mike Dunphy's blog, click HERE

 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Original Post

I think it depends on where one lives.  Yes, those three cities may be faster; however should someone live IN Oakland, it may take them mere minutes using public transportation to get to the Oakland airport.

 

And, using Oakland as an example, it takes me less time to get to the Oakland airport from my house using public transport than it would if I were to take my car simply because of traffic.

 

However, to travel to my home to San Francisco (SFO) it is actually longer to take public transport due to how the BART lines are set up.  But, knowing me, the one time I were to drive to SFO would be the one of those times that there is a huge big rig jackknifed on 101 causing havoc in the Peninusla region of SF Bay.  So, I take BART.

"Do you know where you are?"  "No idea.  More fun that way!" - 10th Doctor

Taking a bus from Honolulu is quicker than taking the freeway?  Even with bad traffic (which the buses would also get trapped in) I find this hard to believe.

 

I agree with Jen.  Depends on where you live.  Many of us would welcome reliable fast public transportation serving our airports.  The cab lobby has effectively prevented that in many cities.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Last edited by DrFumblefinger

There's certainly a lot of variation, as I also noted above.

 

And sometimes the planners don't help much either, as is the case with all three of our New York airports, where the whole AirTrain concept is completely botched.

 

  • At Kennedy, the AirTrain's stations are not in, but sort of near, the terminals. That means you have to drag your stuff outside, across the roadways, and then up stairs or elevator to the train. And then, you have a choice of going to the commuter rail station (about 3 miles) or the subway (about 1.5 miles) or the parking lots. Where you have to change AGAIN to get into the city. They had an option: there's an unused Long Island Rail Road route that goes straight to mid-Manhattan and could have been connected to an airport station.
  • At Newark, the AirTrain does get close enough to the terminals, but again...it takes you to parking, or to a connection far away for the rail line to Newark and New York. Only now is the PATH line, a rail system that serves both New Jersey and New York City being extended to the airport...or rather, once again, not to the airport but to the end of the AirTrain line. For $1.5 billion.
  • And at Laguardia, where part of the big news of the new rebuilding project is a very first ever rail connection to the city...they're planning yet another AirTrain to connect the airport to rail stations instead of a direct connection!

You just have to conclude that all this planning is done by people who have chauffeurs or helicopters to get them to the plane on time...

 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Originally Posted by PHeymont

 

You just have to conclude that all this planning is done by people who have chauffeurs or helicopters to get them to the plane on time...

 

Or progress is blocked by some politician or lobbyist...  ;-) 

 

I did just get a chance to read the blog you linked.  While I agree that public transportation is much more available in Europe, and perhaps Asia, however with the few examples he sites, there really are few cities that have that 15-20 minute from "airport to downtown."  One of which, Vienna...having taken that same train from downtown Vienna to the airport, I can tell you that it took longer than 16 minutes.  But, I won't argue as the last I traveled was 5 years ago and things could have changed since then.

 

I think it also depends on location of airport to "downtown" and the size of said city.  Paris is a good example...CDG is rather far from Central Paris, and if I remember correctly, it can take upwards of 35 minutes to reach the center, if not more.  I suppose that's why Paris wasn't mentioned!  Same with London. 

 

Wheras, Florence for example has its airport practically in town (exaggeration of course), it was literally a 10 minute taxi ride from airport to my hotel in central Florence.  Maybe longer by bus, I'm sure.  And Dear old Firenze, of course, is much smaller than Paris and London. 

 

I do get the overall point of the article, don't get me wrong.  But yes, as mentioned previously, there are so many variables that lead to that 15-20 minutes that makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly where the grass is greener...

"Do you know where you are?"  "No idea.  More fun that way!" - 10th Doctor

London was mentioned, actually...Heathrow Express in 15 minutes to Paddington. There's also a slightly-slower less expensive version.

 

Skipped the CAT in Vienna last month, but the regular S-Bahn only took 28 minutes...

 

Paris...hate to say anything bad about Paris, but RER is NOT a great way to do that...needs a true express.

 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Heathrow Express MAY take 15 minutes.  The only time it was convenient for me and I decided to give it try, it stopped part-way to Heathrow and we just sat there.  I'd have gotten to the airport faster and paid quite a bit less to take the slower train from Paddington, the Heathrow Connect.  Since then I make a point to stay along the Piccadilly Line of the London tube and pay the least of all.

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