Metro tries again with Airport Direct service

Metro will lower the fare and add more downtown stops for its Airport Direct service in an attempt to make it stop losing so much money.

The 52-passenger bus currently averages two riders per trip from its passenger plaza at 815 Pierce to Terminal C at the airport each half hour. The one-way fare is $15.

“It hemorrhages money,” Metro President and CEO George Greanias said. “We think it’s a valuable service. We need to reconfigure it in a way that’s more cost-effective.”

On Jan. 23, the fare will drop to $4.50. Metro plans to close the passenger plaza and instead send the bus to the George R. Brown Convention Center and the downtown Hilton, Doubletree, Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons and Crowne Plaza hotels.

The fare reduction and rerouting is a six-month experiment. Metro officials are projecting that the ridership increases and savings from closing down the Pierce plaza will save $350,000 over eight months.

The Press reported on this a few days earlier. Doing the same calculations I did before, Metro would need about 1157 passengers per day on the Airport Direct buses to break even, which is a ten-fold increase from what they’re getting now. That doesn’t adjust for the savings they project from closing the passenger plaza; factoring that in means they’ll need about 945 passengers per day, or a bit more than eight times as many as now. I’ve no idea if this is doable, but the changes they’re making seem reasonable enough, so a six-month experiment is worth trying. I wish them luck.

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5 Responses to Metro tries again with Airport Direct service

  1. JM says:

    I wish it would make at least ine stop at a MetroRail station. This new route isn’t great for me because the closest stop is 4 or 5 blocks from the light rail. I used to walk from my apartment to the light rail and take it to downtown transit center and take the bus to the airport. Not sure if I’ll be as likely to use it if it’s a 5 walk block from the rail.

  2. Peter Wang says:

    As long as METRO continues to act like a typical governmental agency and think that they are operating in a vacuum without competition, they will fail. The competition is SuperShuttle, which operates a “relatively inexpensive” point-to-point (with a few stops) service.

    Earth to METRO – fare decreases won’t work. Less affluent people don’t fly.

  3. Tory says:

    When a Metro exec ran the original airport connector plan by me before the program started, my immediate reaction was “$15 each way? You’ve got to be kidding!?” I strongly suggested lowering the price below $10, maybe $8. It needs to be dramatically cheaper for a traveling couple than a taxi (which, remember, leaves the minute you want to – no waiting a half-hour for the next bus – and goes to exactly where you want) – and $30 is not enough savings from a $37+ taxi (the flat IAH to downtown rate). But $4.50 or $9 certainly is a large enough discount to be worth the extra hassle for a lot of people that don’t get to expense it to their company.

    JM: I think the Marriott they’re referring to is the Courtyard, which is right next to the Main St. Square station.

  4. Carey says:

    Even if public transportation is your only option, why take a 30 minute bus for $15 when you can take a 60 minute bus for less than a TENTH of that at $1.25 (Bus 102)? That’s what I always suggest to my poor college friend visitors. I think the $4.50 rate will definitely entice more people.

  5. Pingback: Metro still trying to figure out Airport Direct – Off the Kuff

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