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MetroMogul

Metro Airport Direct BEATS Expectations!

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Was talking to someone over the holidays that works with metro, he's saying that the ridership has increasing fairly steadily.

He didn't give me numbers.

He has said most people that arrive into town go across the street to metro to hop on a bus, but that quite a number of them will get picked up by various hotel shuttles, friends, or cabs.

Off hand he figured ridership is about 300 a day now, with the bus being half full at peak and only two or three people on off peak rides.

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I've ridden it twice so far and I found it to be very convenient. But I live right on the light rail so maybe I'm biassed. It wasn't particularly crowded but I'm happy to hear it's catching on.

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I used it last night to get home from a trip (I had a friend drop me off outbound) and will use it again. A cab from IAH to my house is $50.00 plus tip. I picked up a cab for $5.00 at Transit Center to get from the center to home, so $20.00 plus a 2 dollar cab tip. There were only a couple of passengers and I had a chance to talk with the driver, he is not the regular driver but said that he has yet to have a full load when he has been on the run. He also said other passengers had mentioned the price as being deterrent to using it for quick trips.

For comparison, I used the train in Chicago a couple of weeks ago to get from Midway to downtown, that cost $3.00. My final destination was McCormick Center and had to take a cab from the transit center, I think that was around $10.00. A cab from Midway to McCormick was $45.00 a couple of years ago. Roughly the same distances and methods of travel, it was cheaper in Chicago.

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I used it last night to get home from a trip (I had a friend drop me off outbound) and will use it again. A cab from IAH to my house is $50.00 plus tip. I picked up a cab for $5.00 at Transit Center to get from the center to home, so $20.00 plus a 2 dollar cab tip. There were only a couple of passengers and I had a chance to talk with the driver, he is not the regular driver but said that he has yet to have a full load when he has been on the run. He also said other passengers had mentioned the price as being deterrent to using it for quick trips.

For comparison, I used the train in Chicago a couple of weeks ago to get from Midway to downtown, that cost $3.00. My final destination was McCormick Center and had to take a cab from the transit center, I think that was around $10.00. A cab from Midway to McCormick was $45.00 a couple of years ago. Roughly the same distances and methods of travel, it was cheaper in Chicago.

Huh? the trip from IAH to the downtown transit center is roughly 22 miles. Add the distance from there to your residence. At the most, by taking the long way through downtown, your trip from Midway to McCormick Place was 15 miles. (The distance between your origin and destination (from Midway to McCormick) was only about 11 miles) The Houston trip was more than 50% longer, more than 100% longer when you compare the actual distance between origin and destination). Not sure that falls into the "roughly the same distance" category.

For a complete comparison, how many minutes did each of the two trips take?

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I used it last night to get home from a trip (I had a friend drop me off outbound) and will use it again. A cab from IAH to my house is $50.00 plus tip. I picked up a cab for $5.00 at Transit Center to get from the center to home, so $20.00 plus a 2 dollar cab tip. There were only a couple of passengers and I had a chance to talk with the driver, he is not the regular driver but said that he has yet to have a full load when he has been on the run. He also said other passengers had mentioned the price as being deterrent to using it for quick trips.

For comparison, I used the train in Chicago a couple of weeks ago to get from Midway to downtown, that cost $3.00. My final destination was McCormick Center and had to take a cab from the transit center, I think that was around $10.00. A cab from Midway to McCormick was $45.00 a couple of years ago. Roughly the same distances and methods of travel, it was cheaper in Chicago.

The cab from downtown Chicago to either Midway or O'Hare is still about $45 if there's no traffic, or $50-$60 if there is traffic. Also, if the average price of gasoline in the city is above $3.20/gallon, then the cabs get to tack on an extra dollar fuel surcharge.

The city has a number of taxi rules designed to make it cheap and easy for conventioneers to get between downtown, the hotels, the convention center, and the United Center (basketball, hockey, and smaller conventions), and all taxis are required to participate in the program.

Unfortunately, unlike most civilized cities, Chicago does not have a flat fare from the airports to downtown, except out to Gary-Chicago airport, which is a flat fee of $70 each way.

IIRC, Houston's flat rate from the airport is $50. Once when coming home from somewhere I was tired and foggy and forgot about that and let the driver charge me $65+tip. Lesson learned.

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Huh? the trip from IAH to the downtown transit center is roughly 22 miles. Add the distance from there to your residence. At the most, by taking the long way through downtown, your trip from Midway to McCormick Place was 15 miles. (The distance between your origin and destination (from Midway to McCormick) was only about 11 miles) The Houston trip was more than 50% longer, more than 100% longer when you compare the actual distance between origin and destination). Not sure that falls into the "roughly the same distance" category.

For a complete comparison, how many minutes did each of the two trips take?

It would be difficult to compare a trip from McCormick Place to Midway and a trip between IAH and downtown Houston because a chunk of the Chicago trip takes place on neighborhood surface streets. That stretch along Cicero Avenue is particularly annoying when you're worried about being late for a plane. One of the things I loved about going to the airport in Houston was whipping up the toll road and right into the airport. I assume Metro's airport express takes the HOV lanes or some much faster route than surface streets.

That said, I think the Metro Express fare is a little high. If you're traveling with two people you'd might as well spend just a little more and take a cab and end up right at your destination.

Seattle's express bus to the airport is only $2.75, though I doubt anyone will take it anymore since Seattle opened its light rail link between downtown and the airport on Saturday -- AHEAD of schedule, and it's only $2.50 each way. Pittsburgh's bus to the airport is in the $2-3 range, and only makes two stops between downtown and the airport. Seoul and Tokyo both have buses similar to Metro's airport express, except that at they drop you off at your hotel. It's something like $11 in Seoul and $45 in Tokyo, if I remember correctly.

Google Maps says the Chicago trip should take 15 minutes, or 30 with traffic. But I've done that almost identical trip a dozen times when I lived not far north of McCormick Place, and there's NFW it EVER took 15 minutes. Even leaving at 4:00am to catch a 5:15am flight, it still takes way more than 15 minutes.

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The cab from downtown Chicago to either Midway or O'Hare is still about $45 if there's no traffic, or $50-$60 if there is traffic. Also, if the average price of gasoline in the city is above $3.20/gallon, then the cabs get to tack on an extra dollar fuel surcharge.

The city has a number of taxi rules designed to make it cheap and easy for conventioneers to get between downtown, the hotels, the convention center, and the United Center (basketball, hockey, and smaller conventions), and all taxis are required to participate in the program.

Unfortunately, unlike most civilized cities, Chicago does not have a flat fare from the airports to downtown, except out to Gary-Chicago airport, which is a flat fee of $70 each way.

IIRC, Houston's flat rate from the airport is $50. Once when coming home from somewhere I was tired and foggy and forgot about that and let the driver charge me $65+tip. Lesson learned.

If you're paying $45 for a cab from downtown to Midway, I think you're getting ripped off. ;-) The best information I can find suggests cab fare from Midway to downtown Chicago should be around $25. The flat rate for Hobby to downtown Houston is $22-23. (And fwiw, the flat rate for Bush to downtown is $44.50/45.50.)

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It would be difficult to compare a trip from McCormick Place to Midway and a trip between IAH and downtown Houston because a chunk of the Chicago trip takes place on neighborhood surface streets. That stretch along Cicero Avenue is particularly annoying when you're worried about being late for a plane. One of the things I loved about going to the airport in Houston was whipping up the toll road and right into the airport. I assume Metro's airport express takes the HOV lanes or some much faster route than surface streets.

That said, I think the Metro Express fare is a little high. If you're traveling with two people you'd might as well spend just a little more and take a cab and end up right at your destination.

Google Maps says the Chicago trip should take 15 minutes, or 30 with traffic. But I've done that almost identical trip a dozen times when I lived not far north of McCormick Place, and there's NFW it EVER took 15 minutes. Even leaving at 4:00am to catch a 5:15am flight, it still takes way more than 15 minutes.

Nothing about what you say makes it difficult to compare the trips between IAH and downtown Houston vs. Midway and downtown Chicago (or McCormick Place.) Yes, a portion of the trip is dissimilar, but one can still compare distances and travel times and costs. (And keep in mind that is was the original poster who claimed the trips were approximately the same distance... clearly not true.) Clearly, it makes more sense to compare IAH-downtown with ORD-downtown and MDW-downtown with HOU-downtown, but that's not what the original poster posited, so that's where the discussion has led.

That said, I agree that the Metro Express fare is a little high. IMO, $10 each way would be a whole lot more palatable, and of course, $5 would be even better.

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Ch. 13 is going to run a story on them. Only got a quick look at the teaser, but it looks like they're about to get lynched.

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Turns out the Airport Direct service IS the best deal in town. The rider pays $15 on a $74 trip. The other $59 comes from the taxpayer. Nice! It seems Metro hasn't grown the ridership on the line since I posted this topic months ago. It was stated last night that the average trip carries less than two people. Two people on a luxury coach; AIG would be so proud. Metro said they have no intentions of discontinuing the service, cutting trips, adjusting the fare, or even reviewing the route for the next one to two years. Wow.

Now, bear in mind a few years ago Metro went on a "service improvement" spree that resulted in dozens of cut runs and discontinued routes. They cut service in the poorest of minority areas such as South Park and Acres Homes because the $20-$30 subsidies were too high. I guess that's what happens when you're not a business person willing to cough up $15 for a private coach.

Best deal in town.

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Turns out the Airport Direct service IS the best deal in town. The rider pays $15 on a $74 trip. The other $59 comes from the taxpayer. Nice! It seems Metro hasn't grown the ridership on the line since I posted this topic months ago. It was stated last night that the average trip carries less than two people. Two people on a luxury coach; AIG would be so proud. Metro said they have no intentions of discontinuing the service, cutting trips, adjusting the fare, or even reviewing the route for the next one to two years. Wow.

Now, bear in mind a few years ago Metro went on a "service improvement" spree that resulted in dozens of cut runs and discontinued routes. They cut service in the poorest of minority areas such as South Park and Acres Homes because the $20-$30 subsidies were too high. I guess that's what happens when you're not a business person willing to cough up $15 for a private coach.

Best deal in town.

As usual, someone has to come in behind MetroMogul to correct his misstatements and exaggerations: What Metro actually said regarding reviewing or discontinuing the service was that they won't review the service until it's 2-3 years old. (and that is trusting the interpretation of Channel 13's reporter, which I am not particularly willing to do.) This Ch 13 story is their typical sensationalism over nothing. As they even admit in the story (and of course MetroMogul failed to share), the portion of this trip paid by the riders is comparable to the portion paid by the riders of all Metro services. That's why we have a sales tax supporting Metro services. If and when ridership grows, the portion paid by the riders of this service will far exceed the portion paid elsewhere in the system. If ridership does not grow sufficiently, the service will almost certainly be discontinued.

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As usual, someone has to come in behind MetroMogul to correct his misstatements and exaggerations: What Metro actually said regarding reviewing or discontinuing the service was that they won't review the service until it's 2-3 years old. (and that is trusting the interpretation of Channel 13's reporter, which I am not particularly willing to do.) This Ch 13 story is their typical sensationalism over nothing. As they even admit in the story (and of course MetroMogul failed to share), the portion of this trip paid by the riders is comparable to the portion paid by the riders of all Metro services. That's why we have a sales tax supporting Metro services. If and when ridership grows, the portion paid by the riders of this service will far exceed the portion paid elsewhere in the system. If ridership does not grow sufficiently, the service will almost certainly be discontinued.

I watched the program, he DID say it, but said it in such a small blurb towards the end of the report and I almost missed it.

In other words, taxpayers subsidize almost 80 percent of the cost and METRO is OK with that. METRO subsidizes all its routes, but the airport is by far the most expensive.

Now if Metro would only get their collective head out of their behinds and actually ADVERTISE this.

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Actually.....

My timing is pretty accurate, seeing as the service is a year and a half old we're looking six months to a year and a half for review. So I'm off by what, six months? Yeah, they say the subsidy percentage is about the same, but the actual dollar amount is more. It's like sales tax; if you buy a .99 cents bag of chips the sales tax will be 8 cents. If you buy a $99 DVD player, the sales tax will be about $9. The sales tax percentage remains the same but you are paying MORE MONEY. If taxpayer funds weren't paying $59 per trip, that subsidy could be spread to a number of other routes with the same subsidy percentage but LESS IN ACTUAL DOLLAR AMOUNT. Do you understand that Metro would SAVE money if they just bought the current ridership a cab ride?

Ricco, the MAD is heavily advertised. There are ads on garbage cans for goodness sakes. The light rail announces it as a transfer point at the DTC. The rail cars even have ads for the service plastered on the side. This has to be Metro's most heavily promoted route.

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Actually.....

My timing is pretty accurate, seeing as the service is a year and a half old we're looking six months to a year and a half for review. So I'm off by what, six months? Yeah, they say the subsidy percentage is about the same, but the actual dollar amount is more. It's like sales tax; if you buy a .99 cents bag of chips the sales tax will be 8 cents. If you buy a $99 DVD player, the sales tax will be about $9. The sales tax percentage remains the same but you are paying MORE MONEY. If taxpayer funds weren't paying $59 per trip, that subsidy could be spread to a number of other routes with the same subsidy percentage but LESS IN ACTUAL DOLLAR AMOUNT. Do you understand that Metro would SAVE money if they just bought the current ridership a cab ride?

No, my friend, as usual, you are off by an infinite amount, not by six months or 1 1/2 years. YOU told us Metro would not review the service. Period. Full stop. That was simply not true. False. Incorrect.

Further, I am not accepting the reporter's numbers at face value. If he was actually working from Metro ridership numbers, why didn't he give them to us? There is something wrong with the numbers. We have had earlier reports directly and indirectly from Metro that ridership was up to 100 per day and then up to, perhaps 300 per day. The reporter's numbers would give us current ridership of roughly 55 per day. Had he been interested in reporting actual facts and information, he could have told us what the initial ridership was, what the current ridership is, and what the costs are (the only item he actually gave us a firm number for). Instead we get the standard Channel 13 sensationalistic hit piece. hmmmm... MetroMogul, are you actually a Channel 13 reporter?

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No, my friend, as usual, you are off by an infinite amount, not by six months or 1 1/2 years. YOU told us Metro would not review the service. Period. Full stop. That was simply not true. False. Incorrect.

It seems you are not only irrational in your defense of a wasteful, expensive, and grossly underutilized service, you are also illiterate, a dreadful combination. This is what I posted originally, concentrate on the bolded.....

Metro said they have no intentions of discontinuing the service, cutting trips, adjusting the fare, or even reviewing the route for the next one to two years. Wow.

Do I need to spell it out for you? Perhaps I do; Metro is not planning to review the service for the next O-N-E to T-W-O years. Where do the words never and period come into play? Oh right, they don't. Simply not true. False. Incorrect.

You seem to lack basic comprehension for numbers as well as words. I must ask then, do you work for Metro?

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Turns out the Airport Direct service IS the best deal in town. The rider pays $15 on a $74 trip. The other $59 comes from the taxpayer. Nice!

Yeah I think that METRO spokesperson's teeth are down to the dentin.

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Turns out the Airport Direct service IS the best deal in town. The rider pays $15 on a $74 trip. The other $59 comes from the taxpayer. Nice! It seems Metro hasn't grown the ridership on the line since I posted this topic months ago. It was stated last night that the average trip carries less than two people. Two people on a luxury coach; AIG would be so proud. Metro said they have no intentions of discontinuing the service, cutting trips, adjusting the fare, or even reviewing the route for the next one to two years. Wow.

Now, bear in mind a few years ago Metro went on a "service improvement" spree that resulted in dozens of cut runs and discontinued routes. They cut service in the poorest of minority areas such as South Park and Acres Homes because the $20-$30 subsidies were too high. I guess that's what happens when you're not a business person willing to cough up $15 for a private coach.

Best deal in town.

So, your complaint is that METRO cut the service that was 95% subsidized ($1 fare + $20 subsidy), but instituted service that is 80% subsidized? Talk about your manufactured outrage. And, considering that your reason for starting this thread was to complain that the fare was TOO HIGH (see post #12 below), you REALLY sound like a bi-polar METRO critic. Frankly, you appear to have reached your conclusion first, then look for ways to take statistics out of context to support it. Your posts are no better than Tom Bazan's unintelligible anti-METRO rants.

Post #12

Charging $10 per trip on a subway/commuter rail style express service to the Airport would be reasonable and ideal. Charging $15 for a bus ride to the airport is ridiculous and the ridership numbers show it. This is the result of the "run Metro like a business" mindset that Shirley "Pimp My Resume" DeLibero introduced and Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson is continuing. They both failed to realize they are running a public transit agency financed by sales tax and federal funds. Why? Because transit is by nature a money losing operation, attempting to run it like a business has so far run it into the ground.

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I'm far from bi-polar good sir. My original argument against the continuation of the service was low ridership and the ridiculously high fare. Now it has a ridiculous subsidy as well. But I ask, how have I changed any of my arguments? I'm assuming you've somehow gleaned from nothing that I advocate raising the fare to cover the subsidy. Not at all. I want Metro to kill this recycled experiment which already failed several years ago.

One of Metro's core goals is to provide transit options to those who have few otherwise. How many ways can your average business person reach IAH? Well, there's the 102 IAH Express bus, various cab services, hotel shuttles, Super Shuttle, private car services, hell I'm willing to bet that some companies will even arrange transportation to and from the airport for their employees. So why does Metro need to throw it's hat into this already crowded field? Meanwhile what options do the residents of communities like South Park and Acres Homes have? Walking? That's just not an option for some. Cab? Pretty expensive if you've had the misfortune of using one lately. You can arrange a ride with someone with a car which can be inconvenient and costly. It also adds another car to the road, something Metro was set up to help curb.

As far as wanting to discontinue a service with an 80% subsidy compared to 95% understand this; you could fund three underperforming routes with the current subsidy output for the Airport Direct. Also the difference between those number is less than 15%. Meanwhile the difference in fare charged is 1500% $1 vs $15. Metro is charging 1500% more for this Airport Direct service, but is only able to reduce the subsidy percentage between it and an underperforming $1 bus route by 1% of that?

I don't see how anyone can defend a service like this.

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The KTRK story says that the service costs $1.5 million to operate per year. That works out to about $4,110 per day (Airport Direct is, to my knowledge, the only METRO service that operates the same schedule every day of the year, including holidays). There are 60 one-way trips on this service. That breaks down to an operating cost of $68.50 per one-way trip. That means the service needs approximately 4.5 passengers per trip, or 274 passengers per day, to break even (i.e. have an operating ratio of 100%).

Instead, according to METRO's own spokesperson, the service is achieving an operating ratio of 22 percent, although if you divide $15 by $74 the number is really 20%. Do the math, and this works out to about 55 riders per day. Or, as the KTRK story notes, less than two people per each round trip. Less than one person per each one-way trip. In other words, some of these buses are running completely empty, and the buses that are carrying people aren't carrying very many.

The question then becomes: is this an efficient use of METRO resources, considering that in absolute terms the subsidy per rider on this service is far higher than METRO's average subsidy per rider? MetroMogul is arguing that it is not. I can't really argue with him, and I say that as somebody who really wanted to see the service succeed.

I think the Airport Direct service was well-intentioned. Somebody at METRO (my understanding that it was driven by upper management and the Board of Directors; service planning was apparently not in favor of the service because they felt like they already tried the concept with the 112 several years ago) thought there was room for them to compete in the IAH-to-CBD business travel market by offering a cheaper alternative to taxis. And indeed, there are some express airport bus services in other cities, such as the FlyAway service in Los Angeles or the SkyRide system in Denver, that are actually relatively successful (although it's worth mentioning that both services are cheaper than Airport Direct; FlyAway charges $7 from LAX to downtown LA and SkyRide charges $10 from downtown Denver to DIA. Both of these services also offer discounts to airport employees, who make up the majority of transit users to airports in any city. METRO does not offer any discounts for airport employees, and nobody who works at IAH is going to pay $30/day to commute to and from work.)

It really is a shame that Airport Direct is not used by more people. I've used it on a couple of occasions and it does exactly what it is supposed to do, which is get you from downtown to IAH in 30 minutes. I don't know if it's because people aren't willing to pay $15 to ride a METRO bus, or because not enough people (especially out-of-town business travelers) know about it, or whatever. But, generally speaking for transit services, a year and a half should be enough time to build ridership. Given that that hasn't occurred, and also given that a new Board and CEO is coming in soon, I don't see Airport Direct operating much longer.

Edited by The Voice of University Oaks

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The KTRK story says that the service costs $1.5 million to operate per year. That works out to about $4,110 per day (Airport Direct is, to my knowledge, the only METRO service that operates the same schedule every day of the year, including holidays). There are 60 one-way trips on this service. That breaks down to an operating cost of $68.50 per one-way trip. That means the service needs approximately 4.5 passengers per trip, or 274 passengers per day, to break even (i.e. have an operating ratio of 100%).

Instead, according to METRO's own spokesperson, the service is achieving an operating ratio of 22 percent, although if you divide $15 by $74 the number is really 20%. Do the math, and this works out to about 55 riders per day. Or, as the KTRK story notes, less than two people per each round trip. Less than one person per each one-way trip. In other words, some of these buses are running completely empty, and the buses that are carrying people aren't carrying very many.

If we use Metro's stated 22% operating ratio and the 1.5 Million annual cost, I think that means they are getting $330,000 in fare revenue per year. Doing that math (330,000/365 days) gives us 60 passengers per day, still quite different from the earlier reports. Have the passenger numbers really dropped? If so, the reporter completely missed the story in his ignorant haste to do a hit job. One wishes the reporter could have been bothered to even attempt to convey some real information.

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It seems you are not only irrational in your defense of a wasteful, expensive, and grossly underutilized service, you are also illiterate, a dreadful combination. This is what I posted originally, concentrate on the bolded.....

Do I need to spell it out for you? Perhaps I do; Metro is not planning to review the service for the next O-N-E to T-W-O years. Where do the words never and period come into play? Oh right, they don't. Simply not true. False. Incorrect.

You seem to lack basic comprehension for numbers as well as words. I must ask then, do you work for Metro?

Apologies. I misread your post.

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Apparently METRO is considering changes to Airport Direct. They're advertising $10 one-way tickets on their home page http://ridemetro.org/.

On one hand, the service is underperforming. On the other, just a few more passengers per trip would make it a star performer.

I love the service, but then again I don't pay for may Q-Card.

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For clarification, the discount is only with a Continental boarding pass or eticket printout. The buses have a partial Continental Airlines wrap, so I wonder if METRO isn't getting some support from them.

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well, there is going to be a meeting about new changes to the system.from what I could tell, they are going to go by what they stated in the budget release earlier this year.

What they are proposing is the route would start at the current location, go to the hyatt, hilton americas, and GRB, before heading to the airport and reverse the route in the way back.

The date will be cut to about four bucks and will be given six months to improve ridership before it finally gets the axe.

Those that are interested in voicing their opinion, the meeting will be held on the 1st at the metro building.

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just read through this whole thread. I fly out of IAH 10-15 times a year, and I've never used this service. Half my trips are for work, so I'll take my $.50/mile mileage reimbursement, then park at the airport and earn points that I use to park for personal trips where I drive to the airport (usually 3 day trips).

I will be going on a two week trip over the holidays, and I'm debating what do to. If it were less than $15 I may take the Airport Direct. I really wish they would take transfers (why don't they take the Q card if its Metro?). Yes, $1.25 is not a big deal, but what if I'm coming from a Park and Ride and already paying $4.50?

Since I'm already taking a day off work, I may take the 102, though last time I did that it was painful...

For comparing to other cities, a lot of people brought up Chicago and NYC. We've been through this, you can't compare those cities to Houston. Though even there I wouldn't spend $15. From LGA I take the M60 to the subway for $2.25, and its full of people with luggage. The only time I pay more is the Airtrain from EWR ($9) because that's the only option. Coming from ORD to MDW, the train is full of people with multiple checked bags. I would never take the Super Shuttle, its overpriced, and often you end up making a bunch of stops before you get to your destination and it takes forever.

For me the closest comparison is Denver. I fly there for work mostly, so I rent a car. But when I go for fun, sometimes I've rented a car, other times my friends have come to pick me up. I know there are some other services, but my friends wouldn't even let me consider it, just as I would not put my friends on a $15 bus in Houston when I can just go pick them up.

edit: you can rent a car most weekends in houston for under $25/day including tax. if you're a tourist, you're going to need a car anyways. other than those rare cases of friends coming in for a wedding where everything takes place downtown and parking would get expensive, most people visiting would be better off with a car then paying $30/person for the airport direct (assuming most people coming to visit/tourists are coming in groups).

Edited by skwatra

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Airport Direct does take Q Cards. It just deducts $15.

I've been on it three times in the last two months (midday Friday outbound, midday Monday inbound, and early Wednesday outbound) and the bus had six or seven riders each time, so it's definitely doing better. The other day my flight got in at 8:50 so I was out of luck and had to take the 102. I wish METRO would have considered making all the proposed changes EXCEPT cutting frequency before deeming half-hourly service a failure.

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just read through this whole thread. I fly out of IAH 10-15 times a year, and I've never used this service. Half my trips are for work, so I'll take my $.50/mile mileage reimbursement, then park at the airport and earn points that I use to park for personal trips where I drive to the airport (usually 3 day trips).

I will be going on a two week trip over the holidays, and I'm debating what do to. If it were less than $15 I may take the Airport Direct. I really wish they would take transfers (why don't they take the Q card if its Metro?). Yes, $1.25 is not a big deal, but what if I'm coming from a Park and Ride and already paying $4.50?

Since I'm already taking a day off work, I may take the 102, though last time I did that it was painful...

For comparing to other cities, a lot of people brought up Chicago and NYC. We've been through this, you can't compare those cities to Houston. Though even there I wouldn't spend $15. From LGA I take the M60 to the subway for $2.25, and its full of people with luggage. The only time I pay more is the Airtrain from EWR ($9) because that's the only option. Coming from ORD to MDW, the train is full of people with multiple checked bags. I would never take the Super Shuttle, its overpriced, and often you end up making a bunch of stops before you get to your destination and it takes forever.

For me the closest comparison is Denver. I fly there for work mostly, so I rent a car. But when I go for fun, sometimes I've rented a car, other times my friends have come to pick me up. I know there are some other services, but my friends wouldn't even let me consider it, just as I would not put my friends on a $15 bus in Houston when I can just go pick them up.

edit: you can rent a car most weekends in houston for under $25/day including tax. if you're a tourist, you're going to need a car anyways. other than those rare cases of friends coming in for a wedding where everything takes place downtown and parking would get expensive, most people visiting would be better off with a car then paying $30/person for the airport direct (assuming most people coming to visit/tourists are coming in groups).

But when you're talking about the CASUAL traveler or tourist, they are generally trying to look where they can cut expenses, so a trip from the airport would be a substantial savings. If they DO need a car, they would rather for as little as time as possible.

Not every person that travels is on an trip where they can expense it, nor do they know every person in every city to have a friend pick them up.

As i have discussed on another thread, some major companies won't allow their traveling employees to rent cars as a safety measure, and I think that particular trend is growing.

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But when you're talking about the CASUAL traveler or tourist, they are generally trying to look where they can cut expenses, so a trip from the airport would be a substantial savings. If they DO need a car, they would rather for as little as time as possible.

Not every person that travels is on an trip where they can expense it, nor do they know every person in every city to have a friend pick them up.

As i have discussed on another thread, some major companies won't allow their traveling employees to rent cars as a safety measure, and I think that particular trend is growing.

My point was you wouldn't be saving much money, if any by taking airport direct. Obviously there are some cases of people coming to only visit downtown or the med center but those are few and far between.

I would like to know of what Major companies won't let their employees rent cars. There may be some, but I doubt there are any that will not allow them to expense a taxi. Who (from a major company) travels for work and gets a full fare ticket, $50/day for meals, then does research online to find the Airport Direct that will save their company $45? I have vendors from at least 30 different companies, some international, come to my site ranging from 50 person companies to large corporations and government entities, and they always rent cars.

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My point was you wouldn't be saving much money, if any by taking airport direct. Obviously there are some cases of people coming to only visit downtown or the med center but those are few and far between.

I would like to know of what Major companies won't let their employees rent cars. There may be some, but I doubt there are any that will not allow them to expense a taxi. Who (from a major company) travels for work and gets a full fare ticket, $50/day for meals, then does research online to find the Airport Direct that will save their company $45? I have vendors from at least 30 different companies, some international, come to my site ranging from 50 person companies to large corporations and government entities, and they always rent cars.

No, there are people that are much willing to spend $10 from downtown and take the cabs or public transit from there and just spend an extra $15 or so to get to the galleria or take the train to the Med center. From what I heard at yesterday's meeting, people that have insane layovers will come down to take in a quick sight seeing trip and grab a meal, before getting back to the airport a few hours later.

It has been a couple of years, so I can't remember the names of the companies, I believe one of them was Schlumberger, TSO, or Exxon.

They will NOT let them rent a car, that doesn't prohibit them from taking cabs or public transit. The safety issue has to do with people driving around in unfamiliar environments and getting into accidents. I used to work for (then named) Wang Global, and they were shifting to that back in 1999 after a few of us got into accidents while on assignments in Minneapolis, San Fransisco, Detroit, and LA.

Just because you think its impractical to you, doesn't mean that others are going to look at it the same way.

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Just because you think its impractical to you, doesn't mean that others are going to look at it the same way.

I never said it was impractical. I just think its too expensive to be worth it.

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I never said it was impractical. I just think its too expensive to be worth it.

Explain how it is too expensive and under what scenarios?

if you're traveling with more than 2 or 3 people? Then I would agree with that statement.

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Under the scenarios in which I travel. If my trip is for work, I drive get paid for mileage and parking. If I travel personally, I pay $5.20/day for parking and earn free days. So even if I'm gone for 5 days (usually its shorter), I'm better off driving. For the rare longer trips, if I can't get a ride I will spend the extra 32 minutes on the 102.

Its a good service and I hope it continues and thrives. I just think in a city where the cost of living is so low, renting a car is cheap (and necessary for a lot of activities) and almost everyone has a car, $15 is pricey.

And please tell me what taxi service you use that you can get from downtown to the Galleria for $10, I've been missing out!

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Under the scenarios in which I travel. If my trip is for work, I drive get paid for mileage and parking. If I travel personally, I pay $5.20/day for parking and earn free days. So even if I'm gone for 5 days (usually its shorter), I'm better off driving. For the rare longer trips, if I can't get a ride I will spend the extra 32 minutes on the 102.

Its a good service and I hope it continues and thrives. I just think in a city where the cost of living is so low, renting a car is cheap (and necessary for a lot of activities) and almost everyone has a car, $15 is pricey.

And please tell me what taxi service you use that you can get from downtown to the Galleria for $10, I've been missing out!

under YOUR scenarios.

Sorry, like I said before, not everyone has can expense it like that, and I'm sure there are those companies that try to pinch a penny if their people are working in downtown.

I never said taking a cab from DT to Galleria was 10 bucks, but that's about the fare to the Montrose/River oaks area. A cab ride to Galleria to downtown is about $15, though.

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under YOUR scenarios.

Sorry, like I said before, not everyone has can expense it like that, and I'm sure there are those companies that try to pinch a penny if their people are working in downtown.

I never said taking a cab from DT to Galleria was 10 bucks, but that's about the fare to the Montrose/River oaks area. A cab ride to Galleria to downtown is about $15, though.

Yes, under my scenarios. That's why i said "I don't think its worth it"

I still don't know any company that will not expense a taxi, parking, or mileage. I won't argue that there aren't companies out there that won't allow rentals.

And now you've narrowed it to companies downtown. So it sounds like this service is for Business travelers who work downtown whose companies will not expense parking or a cab (you can subtract Exxon, Chevron, and Waste Mgmt as three companies i know that provide a private car service or expense mileage/parking), or for visitors who are coming in town alone, and sticking close to downtown.

Regarding the taxi fare to the galleria, sorry that's how i read your post "there are people that are much willing to spend $10 from downtown and take the cabs or public transit from there and just spend an extra $15 or so to get to the galleria or take the train to the Med center."

i was assuming the $15 was the airport direct, and the $10 was a cab from downtown to the galleria. In my experience it would be closer to $18-20 each way.

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Yes, under my scenarios. That's why i said "I don't think its worth it"

I still don't know any company that will not expense a taxi, parking, or mileage. I won't argue that there aren't companies out there that won't allow rentals.

And now you've narrowed it to companies downtown. So it sounds like this service is for Business travelers who work downtown whose companies will not expense parking or a cab (you can subtract Exxon, Chevron, and Waste Mgmt as three companies i know that provide a private car service or expense mileage/parking), or for visitors who are coming in town alone, and sticking close to downtown.

Regarding the taxi fare to the galleria, sorry that's how i read your post "there are people that are much willing to spend $10 from downtown and take the cabs or public transit from there and just spend an extra $15 or so to get to the galleria or take the train to the Med center."

i was assuming the $15 was the airport direct, and the $10 was a cab from downtown to the galleria. In my experience it would be closer to $18-20 each way.

Actually, Waste management has cut down their travel/training significantly over the past couple of years.

ALL traveling employees are encouraged to cabs and are strongly against hiring town cars to the airports, but are allowed to "share" a rental if able.

It is my understanding that they are particularly tight fisted with their expense reports.

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Actually, Waste management has cut down their travel/training significantly over the past couple of years.

ALL traveling employees are encouraged to cabs and are strongly against hiring town cars to the airports, but are allowed to "share" a rental if able.

It is my understanding that they are particularly tight fisted with their expense reports.

I'll have to ask my neighbor. He works for Waste Management, travels about 1/2 time and always parks his car at the airport.

Back to the point, most business travelers take cabs if they can't drive. I would think Airport Direct should be focused on casual travelers leaving houston, and visitors coming in. And IMO as a frequent traveler, $15 is too much for Houston.

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I'll have to ask my neighbor. He works for Waste Management, travels about 1/2 time and always parks his car at the airport.

Back to the point, most business travelers take cabs if they can't drive. I would think Airport Direct should be focused on casual travelers leaving houston, and visitors coming in. And IMO as a frequent traveler, $15 is too much for Houston.

Suit yourself. Either way, I see quite a few business travelers going to and from it. so we can agree to disagree.

I happen to know one of the managers and is constantly reminding her people that they are employed because of men in the streets.

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Houston being in large part a city where business is done, my guess is a lot of people traveling between the city and the airport just take a cab and expense it. It's certainly a lot less hassle than the bus. Add to the fact that a lot of business is not done in the urban core and the probability of usage goes down further. Were the city tilted more towards tourism where personal expense is involved ridership would, I speculate, be greater on less expensive options such as this.<br><br>Edit: missed the exchange above before posting this.<br>

Edited by sidegate

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This is part of an email that I received today: "To provide better service to its customers, METRO will implement route and schedule modifications in August. The modifications also will include the elimination of the Airport Direct shuttle."

Personally, I'm happy to see the service axed. Houston airports are so convinient to get to by car, and with just two people, I bet parking your car at the airport for a day or two is still cheaper than Airport Direct.

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I bet parking your car at the airport for a day or two is still cheaper than Airport Direct.

Well, maybe it used to be, but since they lowered the price of Airport Direct to around $5.00, I think that would be cheaper.

There still needs to be transit service to the airports though, hopefully one day the North Line will be extended to connect to the airport. That would be more utilized than a bus service IMO.

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This is part of an email that I received today: "To provide better service to its customers, METRO will implement route and schedule modifications in August. The modifications also will include the elimination of the Airport Direct shuttle."

Wierdly, I'm not seeing anything on the Metro or Fly2Houston websites about this.

I did find a story in the Chronicle that lays this out.

I always wondered why they employed those high-end coaches for this route. I've used the 102 but it doubles the time to get to and from downtown.

I use the service often but then I work @ Elgin & Main so it's convenient for me to get to and from the airport from work. I'm sad to see it end.

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Really sad to see this go, but at least they're being honest about it. If the service didn't catch on, there's not much more they could do.

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Really sad to see this go, but at least they're being honest about it. If the service didn't catch on, there's not much more they could do.

I rode it a few times, enjoyed riding. One thing that I always wondered was why they used the huge luxury coaches instead of a smaller bus or even van.

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