Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Airports With Light Rail / Metro

Roadboy's Multi-Modal Airport Round-Up  

When I arrive in a big city I prefer to travel minus rental cars. And I especially appreciate destinations where I can connect from the airport to my hotel via train, light rail or subway.

Sadly, in many airports there is no rail option and you still have to renta a car, Use a taxi starter or request an Uber.

Here is a list of airports where practical multi-modal (rail) choices exist.

ANC Anchorage
Anchorage's airport has direct in-terminal link to the Alaska Railroad. This allows for seamless connection south to the Kenai and north to Denali National Park (Mt. McKinley) and Fairbanks. The Alaska Railroad is a national treasure that operates year round. It is hard to imagine a more amazing winter adventure than going southbound to ski a few days at Alyeska and then going northbound all the way to Fairbanks. 

BUR Burbank Bob Hope
Burbank's funky airport is undergoing a transformation but does offer a close-by stop for the So Cal Metrolink rail system.

BWI Baltimore 
You have two great options. If your are traveling to Baltimore simply proceed to the end of the terminals and catch the light rail. If you need to go to DC or anywhere accessed from the Washington Metro simply take the shuttle to the MARC / Amtrak Station. Amtrak can take you to any major city on the eastern seaboard. MARC is Maryland's fine rail service. If you take it to Washington DC's Union Station you can transfer to the Metro which serves DC, Northern VA and Maryland. 

CDG Paris
This one requires some maneuvering to get to the famous Paris Metro. You'll need to walk to the CDG's RER (National Rail) train station and then take a train to a station in the city that offers a transfer to the Metro. Personally. I find the train trip to be long, crowded, dirty and unpleasant. So I still prefer a Roissybus (comfortable, inexpensive, safe and clean) express bus to Opera. From Opera you can easily link anywhere via Metro. Watch for Pickpockets at Opera.

DCA Washington National
DC's National (I still can't call it Reagan) has a Metro stop right at the airport making it my favorite airport whenever I travel to the capital. 

DAL Dallas Love Field
Everyone's favorite Dallas airport offers a free "Love Link" connector bus to DART rail's Inwood / Love Field station.

DEN Denver
Denver's airport is miles from Downtown. I joke that the airport is halfway to Kansas. Yet it is a lovely airport and Denver is a vibrant city, so the decision to link the two with rail was a good one. The light rail service however opened April 22, 2016! Like SFO it is expensive ($9). So if you have a big family in tow it might not make sense.

DFW Dallas / Fort Worth 
The DART Orange Line now serves DFW airport from the lower level of Terminal A. It operates from 3:50 AM to 1:19 AM seven days a week. Fare is $2.50. That's a real deal!

The Newark's Liberty Airport AirTrain

EWR Newark Liberty
Newark is my choice of the three "New York" Airports. Since both JFK and La Guardia are horrible to get to. For those just arrange a limo or rent a car and allow a lot of time. 

But at Newark's Liberty, however, you can catch its AirTrain connector to a nearby NJ Rail rail station. There you can choose New Jersey Rail or Amtrak for a quick ride direct to Manhattan's Penn Station. If you are headed for lower Manhattan the best great option is to catch a train and go just one stop from the airport to Newark Penn Station and catch the PATH subway direct to Manhattan. My favorite PATH stop is the one that arrives at the site of the World Trade Center. There is no easier, faster, or cheaper way to get to Wall Street, Battery Park than to use the PATH trains. If you have any questions ask one of the friendly red coated ambassadors at EWR to explain how to get where you need to go.

You Can Arrive at Calatrava's New PATH Station

IAD Washington Dulles
Sadly pretty old Dulles airport still awaits its rail connection (but it is well under construction). In the meantime, it just sits there in the burbs surrounded by traffic choked, confusing and annoying toll roads.
GAT London Gatwick
Gatwick has local rail connections but, I find them not as user friendly as those at Heathrow. To travel to/from Gatwick I prefer the Gatwick Express to/from Victoria Station. Once you arrive into Victoria Station the Tube connects you anywhere including the Eurostar trains (departing from St. Pancras). Eurostar affords convenient links to Chunnel trains for high speed rail to Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels.

LHR London Heathrow 
Heathrow offers great local rail connection straight to London on the "Tube" using the Picadilly line. There is also direct express rail service (the Heathrow Express train to London Paddington). Once you arrive into the center city, Tube connections allow access anywhere including (as noted above at Gatwick) London's Eurostar trains.

LIS Lisbon 
Lisbon has a new link to the Red Metro line making a direct airport connection to the its cheap and cheerful network of subway, rail, tram, elevators, funiculars and buses! Such a cool city! For more about using Lisbon's entire Metro click here.

MAD Madrid Barajas
I love Madrid. It has a direct link to its swift modern and clean subway system. There is a premium for going the extra stops to the airport. But it is very convenient!For more about using Madrid's entire Metro click here.

ORD / MDW Chicago
As one would expect from the nation's rail hub, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports both offer superb train connections. Simply look for the "Trains to City" signs and enjoy a ride on the Blue and Orange lines respectively. These trains routinely whisk past clogged freeway traffic, a handy thing to know when you need to get to the airport during rush hour!

NRT Tokyo Narita
Narita airport offers superb connections. Just board a clean, fast, NEX (Narita Express) train to Tokyo station (in the heart of Tokyo). From there you can get anywhere in Tokyo or connect to the Shinkanssen (Bullet) train network to go virtually anywhere in Japan.

PHI Philadelphia 
Philly does offer connection rail to the City Core and its city subways, but the way finding is exceptionally poor for a first time visitor. A trip to an "Info" stand is essential to make it work. Also Philadelphia (although one of my favorite American cities) is a city where visitor safety can vary a lot from one metro stop to another. So know where you are headed and have clear directions if you attempt the trains.  

PHX Phoenix Sky Harbor
Phoenix Sky Harbor offers a free Sky Train rail link from Terminals 3-4 (and can be easily walked to from Terminal 2). Sky train provides a direct connection to Phoenix's light rail system for connections to downtown or east to Tempe (Arizona State University) and Mesa.
Word of caution. The light rail station near Sky Harbor airport is in a crap neighborhood so I'd avoid using it as an option late at night.for more information about the SkyTrain click here.

Scottsdale residents opted out of the Phoenix Metro light rail system, so visitors planning to visit NE Valley (i.e. Scottsdale resorts) will need to use cab or rent a car.

PDX Portland
Yep it's perfect. Portland's light rail offers easy and cheap light rail service from the airport to the convention center and downtown.

SAN San Diego 
Lindbergh Field offers a quick bus link to its growing light rail system. The light rail system also allows connections for international transit direct to Tijuana.

SEA Seattle SeaTac
Sound Transit's rail link to/from SeaTac takes about 40 minutes to Downtown terminating a the Westlake Mall (easy walk to the Convention Center). For more detailed onformation about Seattle's SeaTac light rail connection click here.

SFO/OAK San Francisco / Oakland
Both airports (finally) offer direct Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) links to downtown SF and most East Bay destinations. Be aware that the BART fare from SFO is ridiculously expensive (what isn't in SF?). So if you have a big group, Other options may be better. Going down the Penninsula, up to Marin and to Silicon Valley can still be a time consuming challenge.

SIN Singapore Changi
Anyone who has ever flown into Singapore knows it is the best airport in the world. And, (of course) it has a wonderful subway connection into the City. 

Sadly, many international flights (from the US) arrive in the wee hours of the morning and the subway is closed. So plan your arrival accordingly.

STL Saint Louis Lambert
Lambert Field has recently undergone a significant facelift. They now have the ubiquitous airport rockers and overall the terminal is as confusing as when it was the home of TWA, but at least it is clean and sparkly again. Still no free wi-fi (Grrrr!) but (hooray!) STL has a very convenient and direct light rail connection from airport to downtown Saint Louis. 

SLC Salt Lake City
Anyone who has not visited Salt Lake City in the past few years will be amazed at its transformation into one of America's best cities. New transit oriented developments (TOD's), live / work lofts, parks, good shopping, fine restaurants, arts and culture abound. SLC's also operates a light rail line direct to the airport allowing smooth connections from the airport in any weather. 

YYZ Toronto Pearson
Lester B Pearson fInally completed its TTC dental work with the new UP trains from the airport to downtown's Union Station. It is expensive ($12 / ea. way), but it is fast and comfortable.   

The Diss List
Still no convenient link from LAX (but its connection is nearing completion).
Sacramento, Orange County / Santa Ana, Raleigh and Houston, Ugh.

And, the award for worst offender award goes to...  

LAS (Las Vegas). How the most tourist dependent city in America, can go on treating its tourists like such garbage is beyond me. No hotel shuttles are allowed to/from the airport. No monorail connection. It is just an embarrassment. Got to assume the taxi lobbyists bribe very well.  So plan to rent a car or take a cab ( that will try to drive you the longest route possible) to your hotel. 

Roadboy's Travels © 2016

No comments: