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Are we finally ready for airport shuttles?

It’s been almost two years since the proposal first surfaced, but airport shuttles may finally become reality later this week.

If city council gives its approval, shuttle buses will soon begin picking up passengers at the city’s airports and taking them directly to their homes or offices. And it should cost about half the price of a cab ride.

Shuttle buses already carry passengers to fixed stops like hotels and parking lots. But officials say Houston’s the last major American city without door to door shuttles.

“A passenger can call this service and they’ll come pick them up at home and deliver them to the airport,” explained Rich Fernandez with the Houston Aviation Department. “They will also pick up other people on the route.”

Cab companies have fought the idea for many years. And a lot of taxi drivers — who spend hours sitting in an airport lot waiting for fares — still think shuttles could drive them out of business.

I’ve used this service in other cities, and it’s generally very convenient. It’s most economical if you’re travelling alone (since two people can share a cab for the same price but each would have to buy their own shuttle ticket) or taking a relatively short trip (otherwise a satellite parking lot is cheaper). For sure, if you’ve got a visiting friend and it’s inconvenient for you to drive him or her to the airport when he or she leaves, this will be the best bet.

It’s not clear to me from this story if the service is intended as one-way (i.e., to the airport) only or not. Even if it is the latter, if you’re carless and at all in a rush you’ll want to take a cab, since shuttles won’t leave until they’re sufficiently full, and they’ll make other stops along the way. There will still be a place for cabbies at the airport, it’s just that now you will have another option. I’m all for that.

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  1. Kent says:

    Geez, you don’t have that in Houston?

    I used to use Shuttle Express in Seattle all the time when I was traveling on business so I didn’t have to leave my car at the airport. It was door-to-door both coming and going to the airport. You just paid a flat rate depending on which part of Seattle you were traveling from.

    Heck, even here in Waco we have an airport shuttle service that runs from Waco to DFW. I used it for my mother-in-law last time she visited when I didn’t want to run the 90 miles up to DFW. It’s called the Waco Streak. They go door-to-door in Waco and also stop at the major hotels.

  2. Kent says:

    Can’t imagine that it would be just one-way as that would make no sense. Why force the vans to deadhead back into the city empty? It would just raise the cost for no rational reason.

    As I remember, the way that most van services in most other cities do it is they have a half dozen or so van routes to different sectors of the city and they leave from the van section of the airport on regular intervals. So you just walk to the line of vans and get on the one going to your part of the city and they will leave every 15 minutes or every half hour or whatever depending on the frequency of service. Usually they gave out brochures showing the departure times, locations, and rates.

  3. Brenda Helverson says:

    I will second Kent’s recommendation of Seattle’s Shuttle Express. It is reliable and far cheaper than parking at the airport.