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METRO Airport Express: Now With More Stops Lower Fare


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The NEW METRO is making major improvements to its Airport Direct service beginning Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, adding downtown stops and slashing fares to just $4.50 one-way to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) Terminal C.

The route will make FIVE downtown stops:

Airport Direct Passenger Plaza (815 Pierce @ Travis)

Hilton Americas Hotel/G. Brown Convention Ctr. Houston (Avenida de las Americas/Polk)

Four Seasons Hotel (Lamar/Dallas @ Caroline)

Downtown Hyatt Hotel (Lamar @ Louisiana)

METRORail Main St. Square Station/Marriott Courtyard (Lamar/Dallas @ Main)

The service will operate every 30 minutes, seven days a week, between the hours of 4:50 a.m. and 7:45 p.m.

Travel time will be 45 minutes.

Fares can be purchased by METRO Q Fare Card, METRO Money or cash (exact change). To find out where to purchase your Q Card and METRO Money please visit http://www.ridemetro.org/FareInfo/Default.aspx .

Concierge service will continue at the IAH’s Terminal C, providing travelers with assistance with fares, receipts, passenger boarding, luggage and directions.

For Airport Direct and other METRO transit services, schedules and fare information please visit www.RideMETRO.org and remember, travel is better when you’re riding METRO.


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Really good plan!! I think they will increase ridership this way. Only 15 mins longer for the trip, and it will help promote visibility for METRO among city visitors. I'm shocked at the lower fare, but very glad to see it. Especially considering that the vehicles will have to travel over 600 miles a day just to complete one shift!!

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I like the idea that it stops at all of the big hotels. But... I wonder if doing that isn't just begging for a lawsuit from the SuperShuttle people: http://www.supershuttle.com/

I wouldn't cry too much for them, they pick up and deliver costumers at home.

From what I understand, they aren't doing to well with repeat business, because of no shows and rude drivers.

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  • 2 months later...

i took the airport direct last friday at 8pm, i hadn't seen this press release and I was very surprised to see the new lower fare when I got on ridemetro to check the timing. Honestly I was still debating on taking it when I was assuming it was $15 but when i saw $4.50 it was a no-brainer.

there were 7 passengers on the bus including myself. It felt like I was the only business traveler, though i guess its hard to say since I was wearing flip flops and jeans and no one would call me a 'business traveler'. Most were transferring to other buses and the driver was really nice to help. I was looking to transfer to the 3 but I would have had to wait 30 minutes and walking home would have been faster, so my gf came to pick me up.

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  • 3 months later...

Looks like the ill-fated Airport Express is coming to an end after all...


No surprise here. Airport Direct was well-intentioned, and the few times I used it it worked exactly as advertised. I think Greanias made a good-faith effort to keep it afloat by lowering the fare from $15 to $4.50 (thus bringing its cost in line with other relatively successful airport bus services around the nation, like Denver's SkyRide or LA's FlyAway) and having it serve other downtown destinations other than just the Downtown Transit Center. But even though more people used the service after it was altered, it still didn't generate enough ridership to make up for the decrease in revenue and actually ended up losing more money than before.

There were a number of flaws with the service.

It focused on serving a vanishingly small market, namely business and convention travelers whose destination was downtown who didn't want to rent a car. The vast majority of business and convention travelers to Houston, of course, do rent a car so they can get from their hotel to meetings, restaurants and the like.

It wasn't optimal for local travelers unless they were dropped off or picked up at the DTC (as I was) or transferred to and from local bus or rail at the DTC (which air travelers rarely do). Parking at a garage downtown near the DTC and taking the bus to IAH was more expensive and less convenient than simply driving to the airport and parking there.

Airport workers (namely lower-wage workers, such as custodial staff and food service workers... maybe the occasional baggage handler or TSA agent), which generally make up the bulk of transit riders to airports in the United States, were priced out, even after the fare was reduced ($9 round trip every day is prohibitively expensive when you're making minimum wage).

Taxis and SuperShuttle might be more expensive, but they offer door-to-door service.

Obviously some people did use the service, so maybe there's an opportunity for METRO to work with SuperShuttle or somebody to continue providing some sort of DTC-to-IAH link. But there was never enough demand to justify using 45' Park and Ride coaches for the service.

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