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Chapter 8 describes ways to improve the public transportation mode share for airport employ- ees. The chapter begins with a discussion of factors that influence employee use of public trans- portation. Next, the results of a survey of the employee commuting patterns at representative airports are summarized and key considerations for improving employee public transportation mode share at airports are presented. The Objective and the Challenge Airport employees represent a large potential market for public transportation. As Table 8-1 shows, the average number of daily employees at major U.S. airports can exceed 40,000. There are a number of challenges, however, to implementing successful public transportation services for employees at an airport. First, airports are usually located in suburban locations, which can be difficult to serve with traditional transit services. Second, airports are in operation 24 hours a day, and many work shifts do not coincide with typical transit schedules. Third, airports have multiple employers, each of whom has a variety of constraints and regulations regarding shift timing, parking reimbursement, overtime, etc. Taken together, these challenges can affect employee mode choice. Factors That Influence Employee Use of Public Transportation Although data on employee transit use are limited, four factors are believed to influence the mode choice of airport employees: â¢ The availability of transit service at the employee residences. Is transit service to the airport reasonably accessible in areas where employees live? In many communities, available public transportation links the airport with the regional core or major activity centers. Employee res- idences, however, may be concentrated in other corridors where housing is less expensive and travel is less congested. Public transportation connections to the airport may not be readily available in these locations. â¢ The accessibility of the employeeâs worksite to transit service. Does the transit service pro- vide a convenient connection to the employeeâs final destination on the airport? Many airport employees work in areas beyond the passenger terminal, such as ramp areas, cargo centers, aircraft maintenance facilities, and other employment sites scattered around the airport property. â¢ The availability of transit during non-traditional work hours. Does the transit service offer con- venient frequencies of service when employees need to travel to work? Many airport employees 168 C H A P T E R 8 Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees
have schedules dictated by aircraft operational patterns that are outside of the typical peak-period commuting hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. â¢ The availability and cost of parking for employees. How much do employees pay for park- ing? While some airports are providing subsidized car pools or transit passes, few employees pay market rate parking fees. These factors were used as a starting point to expand the available knowledge base for identi- fying ways to improve employee usage of public transportation at airports. To gain additional insights into the factors affecting employee use of public transportation, surveys were distributed to 34 U.S. airports. Approximately one-third of the surveys were returned and were evenly split between large hub airports and small/medium airports. Survey findings are summarized in the following sections. Transit Service Characteristics Information from the survey responses concerning the existing transit service at the airport such as type, frequency, stop locations, and employee transit mode shares is summarized in Table 8-2. Transit Service Transit service to airports is typically limited in terms of the number of routes and the frequency of service. Only Chicago OâHare, Reagan Washington National, and Boston airports have relatively robust service with the presence of a rapid rail station on each airport. Los Angeles International Airport has a significant amount of service nearby, but routes serve a transit center and rail station remote from the terminal. Most bus routes only run twice an hour. Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees 169 Airport Size (a) Estimated 1998 average daily employees New York JFK L 41,000 (1987) Dallas/Fort Worth L 40,000 (2000) Chicago OâHare L 40,000 Los Angeles L 40,000 San Francisco L 31,000 Phoenix L 23,665 St. Louis L 19,000 Denver L 17,400 Boston L 14,600 (2000) Houston L 14,406 Salt Lake City L 13,026 Seattle L 11,375 Oakland M 10,500 Tampa L 8,219 Las Vegas L 8,000 (2000) Portland (Oregon) M 5,000 San Jose M 3,500 San Diego L 3,000 Omaha M 2,500 (2000) Sacramento M 1,500 (2000) Orange County John Wayne M 1,000 (2000) (a) FAA hub size: L = Large, M = Medium, S = Small SOURCE: TCRP Report 83, Jacobs Consultancy, based upon data provided by individual airport operators. Data was provided for 1998, unless otherwise noted. Table 8-1. Number of employees at selected airports.
In addition, only two bus routes serve the west end of the airport, a major employment center where airline maintenance facilities and air cargo hubs are located. Of the other airports that responded, only Las Vegas and Orange County, California, airports have buses that run more than twice per hour. Transit Mode Share The data in Table 8-3 show that for airports with bus service only, typical employee transit mode shares are approximately 2% to 5%. Most airports with bus service only are toward the lower end of the range. The exception is Denver International Airport, which has SkyRide, a suc- cessful bus system oriented to the airport. SkyRide is a semi-express bus service from numerous free park-and-ride lots directly to Denver International Airport. Airports with rail service on the airport have significantly higher employee transit mode shares. OâHare International Airport (Chicago) has the highest reported employee transit use with more than 23% of employees commuting to work on a typical day using rail or bus. Nearly all of these employees use rail. Most of the rail use was reported by airport employees who do not work for any of the airlines. Non-airline airport employees reported that 34% used rail, while airline employees reported 7% used rail. Non-flight crew airline employees reported the lowest 170 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Ai rport No. of Transit Routes Bus Frequenc y per Route Rail Frequenc y per Route Number of Stops Other Size (a) Bus Rail Peak (trips per hour) Off- peak (trips per hour) Peak (trips per hour) Off- peak (trips per hour) Te rminal Non- terminal On - airport shuttle? Birmingham (AL) S 0 0 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. No Boston L 2 1 1-3 0-2 15 5-6 4 1 Yes Chicago OâHare L 3 1 1-2 1 8-10 6-8 1 1 Yes Dallas/Ft. Worth L 2 1 (b) 1-2 1-2 2 (c) 1 (c ) 2 4 Yes Denver (d) L 8 0 1-2 0-2 n.a. n.a. 2 0 Yes Orange Co. John Way ne M 2 0 2 1 n.a. n.a. 1 0 No Las Vegas L 2 0 2-5 2-3 n.a. n.a. 1 2 No Los Angeles (d) L 12 (e) 1 (b) 1-4 1-4 9 4 9 ? Yes Louisville M 3 0 2 1-2 n.a. n.a. 1 1 No Omaha M 0 0 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. No Phoenix (d) L 2 0 4 2 n.a. n.a. 3 0 No Reagan National L 1 2 4 6-8 12-20 6-8 1 0 Yes Sacramento M 1 0 1 0-1 n.a. n.a. 2 0 Yes Salt Lake City L 3 0 1-2 0-1 n.a. n.a. 1 3 No Seattle (d) L 6 0 1-3 1-2 n.a. n.a. 1 0 Yes San Diego L 1 0 6 4-6 n.a. n.a. 3 0 No (a) FAA hub size: S = small; M = medium; L = large. (b) Remote rail station. (c) Frequency based on shuttle bus to terminal from remote rail station. (d) Remote bus station. (e) Linked to terminals with shuttle bus; frequency based on Metropolitan Transit Authority bus schedule. SOURCE: TCRP Report 83, Jacobs Consultancy, based upon data provided by individual airport operators. Table 8-2. Airport transit service characteristics summary.
transit usage of the three employee groups. At Boston airport, Massport reports more than 16% of the employees used transit, of which 11% used rail. Employee Characteristics Information concerning the characteristics of employees at the airport (such as the number of employees, work locations, commute times, and employee parking cost) is summarized in this section. Number of Employees As indicated by the missing data in Table 8-4, good information about the number of employees working at an airport, and whether they work at the terminal or remotely, is not universally available. The number of employers combined with complex work schedules and dispersed work locations make tracking the number of employees working at the airport on a given day especially challenging. Flight crew members are especially difficult to track for sur- vey purposes; they may commute to work only one day a week or even arrive from another city via airplane. Data provided in the OâHare employee survey provide some insights. Of the employees that responded to the survey, only 50% reported to work sometime on a given Wednesday. Flight crew members had the lowest percentage with less than 20% reporting to work on a given day. Percentage of Employees Working in the Terminal Area As suggested earlier, many employees have job locations dispersed throughout the airport. Based on typical data from the survey responses, 20% to 55% of employees at an airport do not Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees 171 Ai rport Employee Mode of A ccess Public Tr ansport ation Siz e (a) Local bus Express bus Private bus/van Rail Subtotalâ transit Non- transit To tal Birmingham (AL) S 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 100% Boston L 1.0% 4.5% 0.1% 11 .0% 16.6% 83.4% 100% Chicago OâHare (b) L 0.4% 2.4% N/A 20.7% 23.5% 76.5% 100% Dallas/Fort Wo rth L 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 4.0% 96.0% 100% Denver L 0.0% 14.2% 0.0% 0.0% 14.2% 85.8% 100% Orange Co. John Wa y ne M 1.0% 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 2.0% 98.0% 100% Las V egas L 2.0% to 5.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% to 5.0% 95% to 98% 100% Los Angeles L 0.0% 2.5% 0.0% 0.0% 2.5% 97.5% 100% Louisville M n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. Omaha M 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 100% Phoenix L 1.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.7% 98.3% 100% Sacramento M 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.0% 99.0% 100% Salt Lake City L 1.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 98.0% 100% Seattle L 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 98.0% 100% San Diego L 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 98.0% 100% (a) FAA hub size: S = small; M = medium; L = large. (b) OâHare data is based on a 1990 employee survey. SOURCE: TCRP Report 83, Jacobs Consultancy Table 8-3. Airport employee public transportation mode shares.
work in the terminal area. (See Table 8-4.) For these employees, a transit trip would require a transfer to a circulator shuttle bus or service with a stop at their workplace. Employee Commute Times A significant percentage of employees at an airport do not travel during peak commuting times, when transit service frequencies are the highest. The reported range is 10% to 90% with most responses being 70% or below. Airline crew employees typically have the highest percent- age of commute times outside normal commute hours. Transit Service to Major Employers The survey responses indicate that when major employers are present at an airport, sched- uled public transit service is typically provided. The frequency of the transit service may not be high, but it is usually provided by the local transit operator due to the concentration of employees. Cost of Employee Parking The survey responses confirm that the cost of employee parking is low at airports (see Table 8-5). The net cost to the employee is typically less than $1 per day and in most cases the employer pays for parking. Transit Subsidies A number of airports do partially subsidize the cost of transit for their employees. These air- ports include Boston, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and San Diego. Salt Lake City provides tran- sit passes that cover 50% of the cost to the employee. Sacramento subsidizes $35 of the $55 monthly cost of a bus pass for county employees only. 172 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation Airport Size (a) Estimated number of employees on-site, typical day Estimated percentage of employees working in terminal area Estimated percentage of employees traveling during commute peaks Estimated percentage of employee residences served by transit Other major employment centers Number of centers Number of centers with transit Birmingham (AL) S n.a. 50% 70% 0% 3 3 Boston L 14,600 68% 78% n.a. 2 2 Chicago OâHare L n.a. 56% 48% n.a. 3 1 Dallas/Fort Worth L 40,000 n.a. 90% 70% 2 2 John Wayne M 1,000 50% 70% 80% 0 n.a. Las Vegas L 8,000 85% 30% 90% 0 n.a. Louisville M n.a. 5% 10% n.a. 1 1 Omaha M 2,500 45% 33% 0% 0 n.a. Sacramento M 1,500 80% 25% 50% 0 n.a. Salt Lake City L n.a. 75-80% 60% 75% 3 3 San Diego L 3,000 97% 15% n.a. 0 n.a. (a) FAA hub size: S = small; M = medium; L = large. SOURCE: TCRP Report 83, Jacobs Consultancy, based upon data provided by individual airport operators. Table 8-4. Airport employment characteristics.
Key Considerations for Improving Employee Public Transportation Mode Share This section describes the key considerations for improving employee transit mode share at airports. Comparative Travel Time of Transit and Automobile For the large majority of employees, public transportation must compete with the conven- ience provided by the automotive mode of travel. Travel times on transit need to be comparable with, not necessarily equal to or less than, those by automobile. As demonstrated in places such as Denver and San Francisco, express or semi-express service oriented to the airport is an important factor. The Denver SkyRide system provides semi-express service for most routes. The long-standing subscription bus program in San Francisco, operated by United Airlines for employees at its Maintenance and Operations Center, provides travel times fairly comparable with driving. The frequency of service is also an important consideration in travel times. Frequent service not only reduces wait times for passengers, but also increases an employeeâs flexibility in terms of the timing of the trip to work. Current experience with the light rail line that terminates at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport terminal suggests that the low employee mode share (1% to 2%) may result from the lineâs 17-minute headways. Comparative Comfort of Transit and Automobile Public transportation not only competes with automobiles in terms of travel time, but also in terms of comfort. The experience at San Diego International Airport helps to illustrate this point. Despite having relatively frequent bus service (four to six buses per hour throughout the day), the employee transit mode share is 2%. The noted automobile-oriented culture of the region is likely a contributing factor. While it is difficult for transit to compete with the comfort that automobiles provide, passen- gers also perceive the need to transfer and wait as a significant âdiscomfort.â Thus, the closer a Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees 173 Airport Size (a) Cost per Month Employee Parking Who Pays? Transit Subsidy and/or Incentives? Birmingham (AL) S $0 n.a. No Boston L $0 to $70 Employer Yes Chicago OâHare L n.a. n.a. n.a. Dallas/Fort Worth L $0 n.a. No (b) Orange Co. John Wayne M $35 Varies by company No Las Vegas L $0 to $25 n.a. No Louisville M $0 to $12 Employer No (c) Omaha M $12 Employer No Sacramento M $0 to $35 Varies Yes Salt Lake City L $0 n.a. Yes San Diego L $8 to $50 50% employer, 50% employee Yes (a) FAA hub size: S = small; M = medium; L = large. (b) County employee rideshare program is available. (c) Local MPO sponsors a vanpool program. SOURCE: TCRP Report 83, Jacobs Consultancy, based on data provided by individual airport operators. Table 8-5. Airport employee parking costs.
service is to door-to-door service, the higher the comfort level that will be perceived. Bostonâs successful Logan Express bus service provides an over-the-road coach vehicle that travels from a park-and-ride lot directly to the airport. Employees are currently entitled to free parking at the bus terminal and a significant discount on the fare. Extent and Adequacy of the Transit Service Area All things being equal, the ultimate success of public transportation for employee mode of access will depend upon the extent and adequacy of the transit service area. The significant tran- sit mode shares at Boston and OâHare airports are largely due to the maturity and robustness of the regional transit system. These mature systems support high service frequency and expansive regional coverage. Conversely, another reason for the lower usage at Baltimore/Washington International Airport is the limited service area of the regional rail network, which currently has a single light rail line and a single heavy rail line. The Boston employee transit mode share is somewhat suppressed because areas north of the airport are home to many employees but these areas are not well served by transit. This latter point illustrates the importance of the adequacy of the transit service area for airport employees. Service to the airport should be placed where airport employees reside. Two of the routes of the SkyRide system in Denver are oriented to locations near the former site of Stapleton airport to serve the concentration of employees still located near the old airport. LAWA provides a convenient transportation link for airline passengers and employees work- ing at Los Angeles International Airport who live or have destinations in the San Fernando Valley. The Van Nuys FlyAway bus service operates scheduled express buses between the Van Nuys Airport, located in the Valley, and Los Angeles International Airport. Employees are pro- vided with free parking in a dedicated lot at the Van Nuys FlyAway terminal. The buses operate 24 hours per day with schedules designed to better meet the needs of employ- ees. For example, buses to Los Angeles International Airport operate at 15-minute headways during employee peak hours (4:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.). Employees pay about half the regular fare and can receive a deeper discount by purchasing a book of tickets. In 1999, employee ridership represented 20% of the total ridership on the FlyAway service. In addition to providing service to areas where employees are known to reside, transit providers should consider targeting service to areas with potential employees that are likely to use transit to travel to the airport (e.g., areas with lower automobile ownership). Proximity and Accessibility of Transit Service at Both Trip Ends Convenient connections between the transit vehicle and the work site or home are important for two reasons. First, convenient connections make the service easy to use and accessible. Second, a convenient connection will improve employee travel time. On the home end of the trip, experience at Denver and Boston illustrates how suburban areas can be well served with free park-and-ride lots. The work end of the trip is just as important. As the surveys indicated, many airport employees do not work in a terminal building. Transit service should be provided directly to locations near significant concentrations of employees, either at the terminal or at remote facilities. If possible, passengers should not have to transfer. If transfers are necessary, however, an on-airport shuttle bus service should be provided to link the public transportation system with the work sites for employees. Availability, Cost, and Convenience of Parking at the Work Site The availability, cost, and convenience of parking play a significant role in the choice or con- sideration between transit and automobile modes of access. While an increasing number of 174 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation
airport operators have located employee parking lots to remote sites, most operators still pro- vide space for ample employee parking somewhere on the airport. A few airports such as Boston, LaGuardia, and San Francisco have severely constrained sites where parking costs begin to approach those seen in congested downtown areas. In these com- munities, despite aggressive programs to encourage the use of public transportation, large employee parking facilities are provided to accommodate the needs of airport, airline, and other tenants. For example, the available parking supply for employees working at the United Airlines Maintenance and Operations Center at San Francisco International Airport significantly exceeds the demand. United is bound by employee labor agreements that require parking for each employee. Nevertheless, the closest and most convenient parking spaces are reserved for vanpools and buses to provide some incentive for using public transportation or ridesharing, while much of the single-occupant automobile parking is located a significant distance from the work site. In addition, as noted earlier, United Airlines offers bus service to employees at this facility. The typically low cost of parking for employees is also a significant barrier to encouraging transit use. Given the typically longer travel times and lower comfort levels of transit compared to a private vehicle, the availability of free or low-cost parking makes transit even less competitive. It is difficult to increase the cost of parking paid by individual employees at the airport. Some airports have employee parking costs defined in their airline use-and-lease agreements. Often, the airlines are bound by employee labor agreements that specify availability, proximity (or travel time), and cost of parking. Consequently, airport operators may not be able to increase the costs for employee parking, either because rate increases are not allowed or because the additional costs could not be passed on to employees. Thus, the net cost of parking that the employees pay is low and is often free. The lack of this disincentive to the automobile is a major challenge. Some airport operators offer transit subsidies to selected groups of employees. While this can help provide comparable costs between driving and public transportation, subsidies can become expen- sive and require continuous monitoring to prevent abuse. As an alternative to direct subsidies, the federally sponsored Commuter Check program is available to employers with more than 100 employees. Commuter Checks, up to a maximum of $100 per month, permit employees to save paying taxes on the amount and save the employer payroll taxes. The program does require the employers to incur administrative costs to either operate the program themselves or hire a third- party administrator. United Airlines operates a Commuter Check program in Denver. Employees are required to turn in their parking permit to receive $30 commuter checks each month. In some communities, employee discount programs are offered by the private and public operators of scheduled bus services. Bus operators serving airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles offer commuters substantial discounts when they buy ticket books. Another challenge to effectively using these types of incentives on a wide scale is the airportâs multiple employers, each with a full range of employee types. Because subsidies are frequently provided through employers, a comprehensive program requires significant coordination and commitment by all parties. Extent and Adequacy of Transit Service Hours To be a viable option for a significant percentage of employees, the hours of operation for the transit service must address the operating conditions at an airport. It is not unusual for employee shift times to begin at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. and other shift times to end at 10:00 p.m. For tran- sit to be an option for employees, the service needs to be operating at those times. In addition, the service needs to be operating at a convenient frequency. In Boston, early morning shuttle Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees 175
service is provided from nearby communities to supplement the regional transit service that opens later. As noted previously, the Van Nuys Flyaway service operates reduced headways beginning at 4:45 a.m. Perceived Safety of Transit, Particularly at Night Given the other challenges of comparable cost and convenience, employees need to perceive the transit service and waiting areas as safe throughout the operating hours. The provision of well-lighted waiting areas, obvious security presence, and late night on-demand escort service are features that can be used to help mitigate this concern. Airport Employee Market Segments Public transportation may be a more convenient alternative for certain groups of airport employ- ees. The travel patterns of different market segments are discussed in the following paragraphs. Flight Crew Flight crew employees include pilots and flight attendants who are based in a particular city and travel to the airport to begin their rotation or tour of duty. A tour of duty can last several days. Therefore, their trip from the airport may come a few days after their access trip, and they may not commute more than once a week to the airport. Overall, they constitute a significant proportion of total airport employees but are not a large market for public transportation because of their infrequent commuting. Many flight crew members park their cars at the airport for the duration of their trips. Non-Flight Crew Airport employees who are not members of a flight crew will have a work commute of a more regular nature. These employees have varying types of work schedules, some of which change at specified time intervals. Some employees work additional hours on a regular basis or are subject to non-scheduled overtime. If employees have on-airport parking privileges, parking is often free or subsidized; however, the location of the parking may not be convenient to airline passenger terminal locations and may require the use of shuttle bus service. These shuttle services may not operate with the same level of service provided to passengers. The more inconvenient airport employee parking is, the more willing employees are to use an alternative that either decreases the amount of time they must wait for connections or increases the ease with which they can reach their reporting locations. As is the case for other commuters, airport employees are more sensitive to the cost of an access service, because they will be using the service multiple times during the week. One group of nonflight crew airport employees who are strong candidates for public trans- portation to an airport is airport employees in the many entry-level, low-wage service jobs avail- able at an airport (e.g., restaurants or cleaning). Because these jobs can require work commutes at hours not covered by the regional public transportation system and because so many potential candidates do not have access to a private vehicle, airport employers sometimes find it difficult to fill open positions for these jobs. Low-wage employees at an airport would be very sensitive to the cost of an airport access trip; this underscores the need for a pricing system differentiating between air passengers and airport employees. 176 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation