US Airports and Transit Connections

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Blackwolf

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It’s difficult to get a good, close airport station if the line itself is designed/intended to go beyond the airport. Seattle is reasonably convenient to the airport, but does require a long walk. On the other hand, while certainly a major destination, the Link light rail goes beyond SeaTac airport and thus, in order to be convenient for non-airport passengers, doesn’t go right up to the terminal.

SFO is an interesting one. Besides the points already made, I’d say their nonsensical service pattern could have been improved if they had made San Bruno the main Caltrain connection instead of Millbrae. The BART tracks cross over the Caltrain tracks just south of the existing San Bruno station. Caltrain does have a San Bruno stop, but it’s not conveniently connected to BART. One of the biggest failings in terms of airport connection was not making it convenient for people riding Caltrain from the south to access SFO via BART. Until a couple of years ago, you could not ride directly to SFO from Millbrae on weekdays before 7 pm, because the Millbrae and SFO trains were on different routes. Off peak service combined the two, meaning through riders had to make the long, time-wasting deviation via SFO.

They recently added SFO-Millbrae shuttle trains to fill in the gap. This would be completely unnecessary if Caltrain and BART had a better connection than Millbrae (and this would help not only those going to the airport from the south, but also those who make Caltrain/BART connections as part of their regular daily commute, because they’d have twice as much BART service they could ride).
Here is a well written article, with insightful comments that add even more clarity, about the BART<->SFO project.

 

saxman

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And then there are airports where a transit line was built nearby, but you still have to take a shuttle bus to get there. I'm looking at you Dallas Love Field. When DART was building the Green/Orange line to the northwest of Dallas, they were mostly using old rail ROW that goes by Love Field, but wanted to tunnel a detour to get to the terminal. The problem was that the Fed didn't think this was worth the cost and wouldn't offer federal funding for that part of the project. DART couldn't afford it on its own, so here we are. If you like planes, its a beautiful view from the train to watch Southwest planes takeoff and land. But if you want to get there, you have to transfer to a bus that runs every 20 minutes. But Southwest HQ gets a nice station too. There are ideas to build a tunnel from the Burbank Station with perhaps a moving sidewalk or people mover.

DFW, of course, was designed as a car airport in the 60's. You drive up to your gate and walk across the concourse with very little effort. That was the idea. Rail service was an afterthought, so ridership on the Orange Line and TexRail is relatively low for a major airport. The Silver Line to DFW is slated to open in 2023 though!
 

Palmetto

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So there's a newish station at TF Green Airport in Providence, and it's connected to the terminal by a walkway, I believe. So why hasn't Amtrak stopped there? It's been more than 5 years that the new station was put in.

I should mention that the MBTA stops there, and that might be sufficient, unless one is going to New London [which the T does not].
 
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jis

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So there's a newish station at TF Green Airport in Providence, and it's connected to the terminal by a walkway, I believe. So why hasn't Amtrak stopped there? It's been more than 5 years that the new station was put in.
Has that platform track, which is an MBTA and RIDOT funded project mostly, been electrified yet? If not that would be a significant reason for Amtrak to not stop there.

The other issue is that there is a single platform there on the southbound side, which is literally impossible to access from the northbound main. Even if it was, accessing it would cause all sorts of conflicting moves across the southbound main in the middle of a high speed section. So until another platform is built with an electrified siding on the northbound side, you can rest completely assured that Amtrak is not going to stop at TF Green Warwick. It will just be served by MBTA.
 

Eric S

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I seem to recall that space was left for that additional northbound track and platform but don't recall ever seeing anything resembling a timeframe when it might be added.
 

Trogdor

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jiml

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Nice map. Obvious omission is Burbank Bob Hope Airport. Exit the airport and cross the street to Amtrak and Metrolink, and I believe there's a station for another Metrolink line on the north side of the airport. One of the best-served airports I know of.
 

MARC Rider

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I've created this map with all (the ones I tracked down) Airports that connect to Amtrak . US Transit and Connected Rail. Take a look, Thanks.
View attachment 22170
Miami? The metro station is a bit of a walk in a marginal neighborhood from the Amtrak station. Better to use a cab or a ride share.
Los Angeles? I wasn't aware that any rail transit actually served the airport terminal. I think you need to take a shuttle bus to the nearest light rail, but if I were going from LAX to LAUPT, I'd just take the direct Flyaway bus.
San Francisco? The connection between BART and Amtrak is clumsy at best, and usually involves a bus ride from the Embarcadero to Emeryville.

I'm surprised you didn't mention the Oakland Airport, which has connections to BART and I think a Capitol Corridor station in the general vicinity.

The BWI connection involves a shuttle bus ride from the terminal.
The South Bend airport connection involves riding the South Shore all the way into Chicago in order to connect to Amtrak, even though some Amtrak trains stop in South Bend. And when you get to Millennium Station, you have to take a crosstown bus to get to Union Station where the Amtrak trains are.
At O'Hare, there's infrequent Metra service remote from the terminal that will take you to Union Station. The much more frequent CTA Blue Line leaves right from the terminals, but drops you off at Clinton, an non-accessible station that's a 2 block walk from Union Station.
At Boston, it's probably better to take the Silver Line bus direct from the Airport to South Station rather than ride the Blue Line/Green Line/Red Line trains.

Actually, if you think about it, all-rail connections between Amtrak and American airports are pretty pitiful. Things look a little better if you're willing to take a bus.
 

jis

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In Miami, ditch Amtrak at Hollywood station and transfer to Tri-Rail there to get to Miami Airport.

Yes. Oakland Amtrak station is indeed connected to the airport via an interesting People Mover through the BART station which is a short walk.

In Boston, yes definitely Silver Line. No one in their right mind would take the Subway shuffle specially with baggage.

IIRC in San Francisco connecting fro, BART to Amtrak works the best for me from IIRC McArthur via the Emery Go Round Shuttle to Emeryville. But as @Bob Dylan would say YMMV.
 

John Bredin

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The BWI connection involves a shuttle bus ride from the terminal.
[snip]
At O'Hare, there's infrequent Metra service remote from the terminal that will take you to Union Station. The much more frequent CTA Blue Line leaves right from the terminals, but drops you off at Clinton, an non-accessible station that's a 2 block walk from Union Station.
BWI is a bit like O'Hare: commuter rail requires a shuttle bus, but the city train system (light rail in Baltimore, Blue Line in Chicago) takes you to the airport terminals.
 

MARC Rider

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BWI is a bit like O'Hare: commuter rail requires a shuttle bus, but the city train system (light rail in Baltimore, Blue Line in Chicago) takes you to the airport terminals.
Whoops. Forgot about the light rail. And it does go to Penn Station, though I think you have to change trains (or just walk the couple of blocks from the Mount Royal Station.)
 

west point

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Atlanta's Marta station airport is probably one of the best IMHO. It is right inside and the walk to ticketing is just 300 - 800 feet depending on airline. The international part I have no idea now. BTW at one time almost 10% of all boardings on MARTA was at the airport. That number has decreased because of expansion of the rail network.
 

jebr

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Atlanta's Marta station airport is probably one of the best IMHO. It is right inside and the walk to ticketing is just 300 - 800 feet depending on airline. The international part I have no idea now. BTW at one time almost 10% of all boardings on MARTA was at the airport. That number has decreased because of expansion of the rail network.
However, the MARTA rail network doesn't serve the Amtrak station easily (I think it's about a mile walk last time I looked.) In terms of Amtrak connections, EWR and OAC are the only two that come to mind that have simple rail connections to Amtrak - pretty much all the others involve some distance walking with not-terribly-clear signage or transferring between trains.
 

Bob Dylan

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Philly has excellent Rail connections between the Airport and 30th Street Station.

And even though you have to walk a bit from Union Station to the Train stop, the Rail Line to the Portland, Oregon Airport takes you right to the Terminal.

Seattle's biggest problem is that the Rail Stop @ SEA-TAC Airport is in the Parking Garage.

Dallas and Ft Worth have done a really good job of creating Rail to DFW( Tex-Rail) from the Intermodel Station in Ft Worth, but from Dallas on DART you have to change Trains @ West End Station after getting on @ Union Station , or walk from Union Station to West End Station to catch the Train to DFW.

Love Field still requires a Bus Ride from the DART stop to the Airport.
 

Willbridge

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However, the MARTA rail network doesn't serve the Amtrak station easily (I think it's about a mile walk last time I looked.) In terms of Amtrak connections, EWR and OAC are the only two that come to mind that have simple rail connections to Amtrak - pretty much all the others involve some distance walking with not-terribly-clear signage or transferring between trains.
Denver has a simple connection between plane and train. It's a long walk for some points, but it's popular enough that service had to be added before long-range plans called for that. Trade off a long walk at the airport for a short walk to a hotel or Amtrak on the downtown end.

Portland has the track needed to run directly between the airport and Union Station (which includes intercity buses) but stuck with a historic service pattern when the new trackage opened, so a same-platform transfer is needed. As with Denver, there are hotels and motels that can be reached on the airport line that are a short walk without a transfer.
 

jis

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At one time Amtrak trains (briefly) went there directly...

Yes, the good old Atlantic City Service.

My completely random fantasy is an hourly service between Philadelphia Airport and Jamaica/JFK Airtrain via Philly 30th St., Conrwells Heights, Trenton, Metropark, Newark Airport, Newark, New York Penn. Now after the LIRR Main Line triple tracking is complete, maybe it could be extended to Ronkonkoma.

It is a service that is virtually impossible to even vaguely conceive of now because of the major internecine warfare among various government agencies that are all supposed to be primarily working for us, that will ensue.

This sort of thing would happen in Europe. Unlikely in the US and specifically more so in the highly fragmented government agencies running short regional service on the NEC.
 

jebr

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Denver has a simple connection between plane and train. It's a long walk for some points, but it's popular enough that service had to be added before long-range plans called for that. Trade off a long walk at the airport for a short walk to a hotel or Amtrak on the downtown end.

Portland has the track needed to run directly between the airport and Union Station (which includes intercity buses) but stuck with a historic service pattern when the new trackage opened, so a same-platform transfer is needed. As with Denver, there are hotels and motels that can be reached on the airport line that are a short walk without a transfer.
For some reason Denver slipped my mind - but yes, I'd consider that a pretty easy, clear connection. My general definition is "would an airline be comfortable guaranteeing a connection and having passengers do that connection themselves" - and while that's subjective, the number of airports that come to mind that would meet that definition for me is quite low. It basically needs to be a connection that's nearly foolproof to make even for an inexperienced traveler. Walking a few blocks in a city center where there isn't clear signage doesn't meet that standard for me, and having to change trains is a dealbreaker most of the time by that standard (if it's extremely well-signed and well-announced, I might consider it, but even the one in MSP I wouldn't quite qualify as meeting that high of a standard.)
 

railiner

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The Keystone Line goes right by the Harrisburg airport, but the nearest station is at Middletown, about a mile and a half East...
 

joelkfla

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For some reason Denver slipped my mind - but yes, I'd consider that a pretty easy, clear connection. My general definition is "would an airline be comfortable guaranteeing a connection and having passengers do that connection themselves" - and while that's subjective, the number of airports that come to mind that would meet that definition for me is quite low. It basically needs to be a connection that's nearly foolproof to make even for an inexperienced traveler. Walking a few blocks in a city center where there isn't clear signage doesn't meet that standard for me, and having to change trains is a dealbreaker most of the time by that standard (if it's extremely well-signed and well-announced, I might consider it, but even the one in MSP I wouldn't quite qualify as meeting that high of a standard.)
At Miami, after a 3-minute APM ride to the intermodal facility, it's a 30 minute ride on TriRail directly to the Amtrak Hollywood station. While weekday service runs only once an hour most of the day, it's on a published schedule, so I think that would meet your standards (so long as travel is during TriRail's hours of service.)
 

jis

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The Keystone Line goes right by the Harrisburg airport, but the nearest station is at Middletown, about a mile and a half East...
The new station that is being built is about a mile from the terminal building, but it is not clear that there will be any egress on the airport side west of Anne Street. The priority for pedestrian connection is to the Penn State Harrisburg Campus on Lawrence Street with a planned pedestrian overpass across the highway/Main St. The airport at most might get some sort of a shuttle if there is demand I suppose.

A site adjacent to the airport terminal was considered and rejected in favor of a location near downtown but off the curve, which made ADA compliance impossible at the original site.
 

railiner

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Yes, the good old Atlantic City Service.

My completely random fantasy is an hourly service between Philadelphia Airport and Jamaica/JFK Airtrain via Philly 30th St., Conrwells Heights, Trenton, Metropark, Newark Airport, Newark, New York Penn. Now after the LIRR Main Line triple tracking is complete, maybe it could be extended to Ronkonkoma.

It is a service that is virtually impossible to even vaguely conceive of now because of the major internecine warfare among various government agencies that are all supposed to be primarily working for us, that will ensue.

This sort of thing would happen in Europe. Unlikely in the US and specifically more so in the highly fragmented government agencies running short regional service on the NEC.
IIRC, when the PRR owned the LIRR, they did at one time run a thru Pullman between Pittsburgh and Montauk...that’s probably as close as you can ever get, to your fantasy...🙂
 
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