Does an airport line have to reach the airport?

Yonah Freemark, writing about the proposal in Washington, D.C., to forgo a direct rail link in favor of a people-mover:

Counter-intuitively, however, such a change in alignment could be a reasonable money-saver and may actually improve transit service for both commuters and air travelers. And though the question is immediately relevant to the Dulles Rail extension, it is equally valid to many cities, as the issue of extending rail networks out towards airports is frequently of concern for transportation planners in major metropolitan areas.

Having lived in the Bay Area, where BART did not connect to Oakland’s airport, and now Cambridge, where the T doesn’t have a direct rail link to Boston Logan, this is something I’ve often pondered. As usual, Freemark adroitly wades through the emotions and arguments to show that direct links aren’t always in riders’ best interests.

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