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58 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Is Higher Speed or Directness of Service More Important? In the case studies of successful rail services to downtown, two strategies for service design emerge: (1) focus on the line speed to the terminal or on the quality of distribution services, and (2) minimize the headway that comes from joint operation with regularly scheduled services. Both strategies seek to produce a door-to-door travel time that is competitive with the taxi and the private vehicle. In the comparison of the two strategies, the Oslo Airport Express can be used as a prototype of the high-speed dedicated-service strategy (in which services are designed specif- ically for air travelers) and Munich's standard S-Bahn can be a prototype of the lower speed shared-service strategy (in which air travelers share public transportation services designed for commuters and others). In the evolutions of these systems, service was improved in Oslo by decreasing the line time, while service in Munich was improved by doubling the number of trains, thus lowering the waiting time by 50%. An Example of Low-Speed, Shared Service: Munich Although several cities have chosen to create dedicated express airport services, most of the airports in the sample are served by rail lines that are also used by daily commuters. Munich can be used as an example of a local strategy, because, as shown in Figure 3-3, the airport station is served by only conventional metropolitan railway equipment, with no direct national service. In the 1990s, the Munich S-Bahn system made a major improvement to airport service with the addition of a second local rail line, making no change in the basic strategy to serve the airport with the existing metropolitan rail system. In 1998, the Munich system doubled the amount of service to the airport with standard local equipment providing service that is shared with the other users of the system. A new line was extended for 4 miles from an existing route, the S-1 (shown at the left end of the dotted line on Figure 3-3), at a cost of DM 220 million (US $121 million). In the first months of the new service, ridership from the airport station increased by 7%, with air traveler mode share rising from 28% to 31%. This increase in ridership is notable because the actual travel time by either of the two lines to downtown remains about 40 minutes. This travel time is similar to that of the London Underground from Heathrow airport but worse than that of most other local airport services. SOURCE: Copyright Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund GmBH (MVV) Munich. Figure 3-3. Munich Airport (upper right) is served by two local train lines, with good network coverage.
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Attributes of Successful Ground Access Systems 59 The Role of Distribution and Connectivity With shared services, the line-haul travel speeds from the airport to the CBD are slow, but the service is well integrated with local distribution systems. At both London Heathrow and Munich airports, the local rail service, with its shared services, captures more of the market than does any other service. An example can be observed in London: dedicated service on the Heathrow Express takes about 17 minutes to Paddington Station (central London), leaving every 15 min- utes. The Underground's Piccadilly Line to central London takes about 40 minutes, leaving every 4 minutes. The Express traveler waits an average of 7.5 minutes and travels 17 minutes, for a total travel time to Paddington Station of about 25 minutes. The walk from the express rail platform, through the Paddington Station complex to the specific underground platform takes about 7 minutes. The headway of the connecting service may add another 5 minutes of waiting time. Examination of total trip times shows that there are only a small number of Underground sta- tions (the immediately adjacent stations on lines connecting from Paddington) at which the total travel times for the Heathrow Express plus Underground are superior to the Underground plus other Underground travel times. Shared services make the traveler endure whatever level of overcrowding exists on the rail vehicle during rush hour, which, in London, can be a serious problem. Dedicated services pro- vide guaranteed quality of service on the line-haul segment, leaving the traveler with the need to find adequate distribution from the rail terminal. Case Study: Fast Service versus Slower, More Direct Service Planners at the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) have been examining the competitive market position of the fast rail and the slower bus services available to the air traveler. High-quality air-conditioned buses, often double-decked, provide direct service to many urban destinations. Looking only at travel from the airport to downtown (Central Station), the fast train provides service in 23 minutes, at a fare of more than $10 US; the Airbus A route takes 48 minutes and charges about half as much; while the standard city bus takes 53 minutes and charges much less. At the time of the analysis reported here (1998), the rail gained 21% of the market; the Airbus, 16%; and the city bus, 20%. The factors that result in this high mode share to bus seem to include more than price mini- mization, because MTRC also provides good lower priced rail service to the airport complex. From the beginning, planners designed the rail system to operate with two price points. While the Airport Express Line train to downtown operates directly from the airport terminal, a second standard train, reached by shuttle bus, operates from a nearby station. The entire trip (shuttle plus train) on the standard train is about one third the cost of the express, making the shuttle plus train option directly comparable with the cost of the city buses. In fact, the air traveler who uses this lower priced rail connection can get to Central Station in only 39 minutes, compared with 53 minutes on the city bus. But for this price-sensitive market, the shuttle bustorail con- nection is capturing only 3% of air travelers; the direct city bus captures 20%. The bus system serves many area destinations directly, with no change of mode required for the trip. For the air traveler, directness of service may be more important than price minimization or line-haul speed to the terminal point. To understand the motivation for mode choice--and to explore the attribute of directness of service--MTRC managers conducted market research. Of those travelers on the direct bus routes, an expected 55% said that the lower fare was a reason for choosing the bus; importantly, 51% stated that directness of service (i.e., no need to transfer) was a reason for their choice of mode. Directness of service was considered a factor by only 18% of rail travelers, presumably those with destinations convenient to the terminals.
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60 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Of all travelers on the Airport Express, an expected 63% stated that speed was the reason for choosing the rail. Some 13% mentioned the fare as the reason, which is lower than the fare for either taxi or airport door-to-door bus service. In an important conclusion, one of the original architects of the Hong Kong Airport Express writes: "It is apparent that even with a good design and well-integrated railway service, the Airport Express does not have inherent advantages over more direct single-mode bus travel. In other words, the speed advantage of rail versus single-mode road competitors when traveling over distances of only up to 34 km [21 mi] do not result in significant enough time savings to compensate for the necessary transfer." (9, emphasis added) Lessons Learned: The Importance of Line-Haul Speed and Directness of Service The examination of relative line-haul speeds in the database of successful European/Asian air- port rail operations has several key implications for the U.S. practitioner. The first implication, and by far the most important, is the difference that exists in the basic travel-time conditions, largely associated with the existence of fast highway connections in the United States. Four of the airports in the sample offer service to downtown that is twice as fast as automobile service. Table 3-3 shows that automobile travel times in Oslo are more than twice as long as the rail line- haul time. Table 3-3 shows many examples in which the automobile travel times are significantly Table 3-3. Market share by comparative times. Auto Rail Ratio of Distance Market travel travel auto from share time time time to CBD Dedicated Airport by rail (min) (min) rail time (miles) service? Zurich 42% 20 10 2.0 7 No Oslo 39% 50 19 2.6 30 Yes Narita 36% 90 55 1.6 40 Yes Amsterdam 35% 30 17 1.8 12 No Copenhagen 33% 13 13 1.0 7 No Munich 31% 35 40 1.1 17 No Vienna 30% 17 16 1.0 12 Yes London Stansted 29% 70 40 1.7 35 Yes Paris Charles de Gaulle 28% 45 35 1.3 15 No Hong Kong 28% 35 23 1.5 21 Yes Frankfurt 27% 20 12 1.7 6 No Express 9% 45 15 3.0 15 Yes London Heathrow Tube 14% 45 45 1.0 15 No Geneva 21% 10 10 1.0 3 No London Gatwick 20% 80 30 2.7 30 Yes Stockholm 18% 41 20 2.0 25 Yes Düsseldorf 18% 12 12 1.0 5 No Brussels 16% 20 14 1.4 7 No Paris Orly via People Mover 14% 25 35 0.7 9 No Shanghai Maglev 6% 50 8 6.2 18 Yes SOURCE: M. A. Coogan, based on airport and rail information.