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OCR for page 136
136 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Geographic Distribution of Ground Access Trips The first step in planning any successful public transportation service is determining the geographic distribution of the potential customers: air travelers and employees. Originating air travelers and airport employees account for the majority of person trips to and from an airport. While these are the most important groups to consider, they have very different ground access needs. Nevertheless, significant markets for ground access services can be found in the elements common to their trips. The term ground access traveler will be used to describe any air traveler or airport employee who travels to or from an airport by a mode other than air. Not all air travelers are ground access travelers; air travelers transferring between two flights (and who do not leave the airport) are not candidates for ground access services at the transfer airport. Although patterns will vary with the airport, mapping the ground access trip origins of large U.S. airports would show that the supporting market area for each airport is spread over a wide region. Several factors influence the distribution of ground access markets: · The physical size of the market. The geographic size of an airport's ground access market is influenced by factors such as proximity to competing airports, the relative price of airfares at competing airports, the regional transportation networks, and the physical geography of the area. · The number of ground access trips originating from different locations. The distribution of ground access trips within an airport's market area is based on development patterns of the region, population density, and demographic characteristics of the population. · The proportion of air traveler origins from defined market segments. As described in the next section, these market segments usually categorize air travelers into four market segments on the basis of residency and trip purpose. Two concepts are important for understanding the geographic distribution of air travelers. A ground transportation trip can be more precisely defined using the measure of trip ends. The definition of a trip end is the origin or destination point of an air traveler's ground access trip; one trip end is at the airport and the second trip end is located somewhere within the airport's market or service area. Therefore, each ground transportation trip made to or from an airport by an air traveler involves two trip ends. An additional measure, which combines the geographic and quantitative components of the airport ground transportation market, is trip-end density. For this report, trip-end density is defined as the number of air traveler trip ends per square mile of land area. These measures and their applications to ground transportation planning are dis- cussed in more detail later in this chapter. Demographic Characteristics of Air Travelers Although air travelers can be classified in many ways, two variables--trip purpose and home residence location--are frequently used to classify air travelers for purposes of airport ground access planning. The combination of these two variables results in four market segments: resi- dent business, resident non-business, non-resident business, and non-resident non-business (Figure 6-1). (In the figures, the four segments are sometimes shortened to res biz, res non-biz, non-res biz, and non-res non-biz.) As mentioned earlier, one objective of market research is to identify target groups for a ser- vice or product. For air travelers, the characteristics of residence and trip purpose influence their preferences for ground access services. The different characteristics of these four market segments and the implications for ground access services are discussed in the following sections.
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Applying Market Research to Airport Ground Access 137 The "Four Cell Matrix" Resident Non-resident Trip Purpose Business Business Resident Non-resident Non-business Non-business Residential Status Figure 6-1. The four market segments. Resident Business Resident business travelers are often the largest group of air travelers. They tend to travel to and from the airport at peak arrival or departure times. Because of their frequent air travel, resident busi- ness travelers are likely to know the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective means of accessing the airport. Typically, resident business travelers make shorter trips than non-business travelers and have less baggage. Although this characteristic makes their travel profile more suitable for public transportation, their sensitivity to access time reliability makes them cautious about using these ser- vices. Public transportation service characteristics like schedule reliability must be flawless to attract resident business travelers. This observation is especially true for the so-called "just-in-time" trav- elers, who arrive at the airport with barely enough time to make their flight departure and who are particularly sensitive to even minor delays. Resident business travelers tend to be the dominant users of the more convenient (close-by) and more expensive airport parking options. Resident Non-Business Resident non-business air travelers are almost certain to start their airport trip from home and to have a longer length of stay than resident business air travelers. They also tend to travel in larger travel parties and to have more baggage. Accordingly, they are more sensitive to access costs and may need assistance with baggage handling. Although resident non-business travelers travel less frequently than business travelers, they usually have some information available about access to their local airport and may have developed a preferred access method. They have a greater tendency to travel during off-peak times and are subject to day-of-the-week variations because of travel promotions by the airlines. Because of the characteristics of their travel, resident non- business air travelers will likely be dropped off at the airport by friends or family; if they drive, they are likely to park in reduced-rate facilities. They are candidates for public transportation if the ground mode boarding location is situated along their normal route to the airport. Non-Resident Business Non-resident business travelers usually begin their trips to the airport from a place of busi- ness or a hotel. These places tend to be located in city centers, near regional attractions, near the airport, or in proximity to regional highways. Depending on the nature of their trips (e.g., a busi- ness meeting at one location or multiple meetings with a series of clients), non-resident business travelers usually require the flexibility of a rental car or taxi. When their destination is the cen- ter of the city, they will use the most efficient means of reaching their destination without regard to cost. They may use public transportation, when the service is expedient and delivers them near their destination without the need for multiple stops and transfers. Non-Resident Non-Business Non-resident non-business travelers are usually the least informed and most unfamiliar with the access options available at any given airport. Although these travelers may make multiple