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16 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Key Challenges in Step 1: Establish the Public Policy Goals Step 1 for Airport Ground Access · Identify the key Define the Stakeholders and Get Them to the Table stakeholders and get them to the In the first step of this six-step process, it is essential to establish a collaborative initiative to implement improved public transportation services for airport access. Such establishment will table require locating the key players, bringing them to the table, gaining agreement on the public pol- · Determine the icy goals of the proposed policies, and establishing a basic understanding of the nature of the problem being faced. This step establishes a regional context for decision making. extent to which Preparing to address airport ground access involves many stakeholders including managers the problem of airports, operators of public transportation, operators of private transportation, managers of requires a the roadway system, and managers of the regional transportation planning process. In addition regional solution to the transportation agencies, other organizations are critical to the improvement of public transportation access to airports. These agencies--including those with environmental approval · Directly involve powers, the power to change taxi regulations, and the ability to subsidize transit services designed the managers of to link workers with jobs--all have a role to play in a coordinated strategy to improve airport the regional ground access. The early involvement of the agencies with environmental review power cannot be overstated, as results from the planning process are often integrated into key environmental transportation documents. planning process One transportation leader recently told Congress: ". . . we have begun to realize that no insti- · Undertake early tution `owns' the congestion or safety problem at the local level or state level, and no institution planning has the right players around the table such that they could be accountable for the daily per- formance of the system." activities to This observation is particularly true for the subject of improved airport ground access; yet, allow for later someone has to get the right players around the table, and someone has to be accountable for the incorporation performance of the system. In some cases, leadership can be provided by a strong regional plan- ning agency, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco into Bay Area or the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) in Washington, environmental D.C., both of which have strong roles in airport planning. In most cases, leadership must come documentation from the managers of the airports themselves. · Understand the travel demand Coordinate with the Regional Planning Process behavior of the The parties need to define the extent to which the ground access issues are regional in nature, as this will affect the number of stakeholders needed at the table. Many on-airport improvements longer distance can be managed at a very local level, but others will require a broader based coalition to deal with traveler the issues that are clearly regional in nature. For those issues that require a multiagency response, it is critical to involve the managers of the regional planning process, usually the regional met- ropolitan planning organization (MPO). Failure to do this will result in serious problems in obtaining funding and needed environmental clearances. The Role of the Congestion Management System Within the established metropolitan transportation planning process, there are several pro- cedures that are critical for the successful integration between the project-specific activities and the regional requirements. Many metropolitan areas, particularly those with air pollution issues of non-attainment, require the creation of a Congestion Management System (CMS) by the region's MPO. The role of the CMS is to document significant sources of congestion and low system performance and to examine a wide variety of strategic solutions to the problem, only the
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Six Steps in a Market-Based Strategy for Improving Airport Ground Access 17 last of which is the addition of roadway capacity. Indeed, in areas of non-attainment, federal funding can only be used for roadway capacity increases that result from the completion of the CMS. At the very least, the managers of the airport access improvement strategy should be work- ing closely with regional managers of the CMS. At this point, the regional planning must focus on the unique demands that will be placed on the data collection and analysis process for improving public transportation access to an airport. Usually, the travel demand forecasting process used in the metropolitan planning organization is focused on the needs of the peak-hour commuting period. The existing databases may or may not be structured to deal with the needs of the longer distance traveler. Traditional forms of U.S. Census journey-to-work data will be of only limited value to the analysis of airport access. MPOs may or may not be prepared to analyze the transportation behavior patterns of the longer distance traveler, in this case the air traveler. Preparation for Major Investments In the event that the planning process may result in a major capital investment, the early planning should be undertaken in a manner consistent with the requirements of the later cre- ation of either an Environmental Impact Statement or a Finding of No Significant Impact. In either case, the rules for formal scoping and for the public participatory process must be established in the earliest phase of the planning process. In particular, the early examination and narrowing of alternatives must be undertaken consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, as part of a publicly visible process; lack of attention to the legal requirements of process at this point risks the invalidation of later results from court challenges. For the reasons discussed in the preceding paragraphs, clearly any major attempt at applying regional resources to improving public mode services to airports must be either initiated by the regional planning body or closely coordinated with others in the region having the statutory authority for transportation planning. The planning effort to improve public transportation serv- ices to the airport should be included in the Unified Planning Work Program approved by the MPO, regardless of whether federal funds are proposed in the planning or implementation efforts. Indeed, recent funding legislation requires that the operators of airports be members of the MPO. Design Analysis Tools for the Longer Distance Trip The tools of analysis must be applied to understand the particular travel demand behavior of the traveler taking a longer distance, multimodal, multisegment trip. From the outset, the ana- lysts need to see the problem in terms of the full trip of the traveler. The choice of a mode to or from an airport is part of a larger set of decisions made in the process of going from the door of origin to the door of destination of the full trip. It is critically important to establish early in the process that the needs of the long-distance traveler most probably will require solutions that are not simply extensions and elaborations on service concepts already provided for the metropol- itan context. The operation of traditional, low-fare, multistop street bus service to major airports may be a critically important element of a program to get workers to jobs, but such services only rarely have the ability to attract air travelers. The long-distance traveler makes logical and rational economic decisions, and those decisions are different from those made in daily commuting. The longer distance traveler is making a different set of decisions from those of the metropolitan-scale traveler. These decisions are different in terms of uncertainty and lack of knowledge about the non-home end of the trip. The decisions are different because of the amount of baggage being carried by the traveler, the trav- eler's sense of apprehension about the reliability of the trip and arriving on time, and the total trip costs.