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Cities with Direct Rail-to-Airport Link See Boost in Hotel Revenue; GMs Say Transit Drives Travel Revenue

Public transit general managers say that the direct link between their agencies’ rail lines and hotels in their home city gives their community an economic competitive edge, thus confirming the results of a recent APTA report, A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth, co-released with the U.S. Travel Association.

Hotels in these cities with direct rail access to an airport terminal realize nearly 11 percent more revenue per room than hotels in cities that don’t have such a link, an increase that translates to a potential $313 million per year.

The cities featured in the report are Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; Atlanta, GA; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; and Washington, DC.

Forrest Claypool, president of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), calls public transit “a cornerstone” of the city’s booming hotel industry, which he said is “on pace” to set occupancy and revenue records for 2013.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel is committed to making the significant investments in the CTA system that allow us to provide reliable transportation that allows the growing number of visitors to Chicago—46 million last year alone—to travel the city efficiently and affordably,” ­Claypool added.

Keith Parker, general manager and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), said the agency’s airport link has two main benefits: boosting the economy and strengthening the quality of life.

“MARTA’s connection to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is the world’s busiest, demonstrates the value of making smart public sector investments that maximize economic opportunities while also improving the quality of life for the communities we serve,” he said.

And in Minneapolis, on Metro Transit’s light rail Blue Line, the two airport terminals are among the busiest stations on the corridor, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the line’s total boardings.

“The local business and hospitality industries have underscored how important the Blue Line’s airport connection is to major commerce areas,” said Brian Lamb, general manager. “For travelers, this stress-free connection is a great introduction to what we have to offer in the Twin Cities.”

“BART is proud to celebrate 10 years of direct service to San Francisco International Airport,” said James Fang, BART’s longest serving board member, who also was the primary leader for the public transit agency to the airport.  “We have served nearly 31 million passengers since opening day. After stepping off their flight, locals, tourists, and business travelers can board our incredibly convenient train-to-plane connection and be in the center of San Francisco’s top financial, tourist, and convention destinations in just 30 minutes.”

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said that the study not only showed the importance of building more rail-to-airport connections, but also of investing in high-speed rail to serve growing travel markets.

“Development of higher performing intercity passenger rail corridors will be critical to America’s future,” he said. “There already are success stories all over the world. International visitors know how to use these systems. Destinations become stronger. Travel and tourism become still more robust.”

The report is available here.
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