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November 12th and 19th 2001 Airport Decentralization: An Emerging and Necessary Trend Conclusion: Ground Airside to Airside Access The Decentralization of Airport Operations in Southern California and elsewhere, has become necessary to accommodate surging air travel demand under the following constraints: Many existing airports are land locked; Most of the adverse effects of airport operations are localized in local communities. However, airport operations gridlock is occurring at a time when local transportation arteries are also becoming quickly overburdened. This website has written extensively about the impeding crisis in ground transportation within our metropolitan regions, particularly Southern California where commuting trip times are expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. While one of the objectives of airport decentralization is to reduce the travel distance for air passengers to the airport, airport decentralization increases the need for a fast, reliable and affordable transportation link between clustered airports. Existing transportation modes including commuter rail are not well suited to provide fast, reliable and affordable transportation between decentralized airports. In Southern California there are six air carrier airports and three commuter airports in addition to eleven existing or recently closed military installations. In order to provide necessary transportation services to these airports, SCAG is proposing to build a maglev intra-regional system to link subregions and strategic multi-modal facilities, including major airports in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. While Maglev is originally designed to relieve road congestion and to increase accessibility between the major activity centers of the region, SCAG estimates that 15-20% of all generated maglev ridership will be air travel related. The first operational line will link: Union Station to Ontario International Airport Ontario International Airport to the airport at Riverside Riverside Airport to March (former Air Force base) Union Station to LAX What the Traveling Public Needs May Not Be What SCAG Is Able to Provide In 1991, Air Canada in cooperation with CP Rail examined the possibility of using High Speed Rail to enhance airport accessibility from beyond the limitations of a metropolis to improve the competitive position of the airline. An extensive survey of passenger expectations was undertaken and the most important feature that travelers demanded was a SEAMLESS air-high speed rail connection with integrated ticketing, baggage transfers, and fast affordable transportation links. For many reasons that cannot be described in this website owing to limited space and the confidentiality of the work that was performed, the study team realized that a seamless connection could never be established if the high speed rail system was designed according to rail system standards; meaning, multi-vehicle consists operating with a fixed schedule. One evident error was very quickly uncovered. Rail operates on a very fixed schedule that leaves little room for delayed departures. The rail-air connection works very for outbound passengers, that is leaving from Union Station to get to March Air Force Base to catch a flight to New York City. But it doesn’t work very well for inbound passengers, deplaned air passengers from New York City landing at March to get to downtown Los Angeles. While properly run railroads almost always operate with precise departure times such as those in Japan, Germany and France to name a few, even well run airlines have to cope regularly with unpredicted weather, runway congestion, and security delays. For this reason, the Air Canada-CP Rail HST study team determined that integrated air-rail tickets with reserved seating would not work very well. You cannot delay the departure of an 8 car consist to allow 30 passengers to catch the rail link. And if those seats were reserved, the seats would go empty costing the rail operator lost seat revenue. One solution that was very quickly identified was to treat the ground access transportation mode as a mass transit operation, much like the famous Underground System at Heathrow Airport in London, England. While there is no reserved seating for the Underground System link to get to London, frequent and rapid departures provide constant transit service for both inbound and outbound air passengers. It was obvious to the study team that the rail link would have to provide several essential mass transit commuting attributes: affordable transportation and frequent departures with sufficient capacity. Without going into too much detail, the Air Canada team seized on the opportunity of using fixed ground airport access links to transport connecting air passengers between airports. If a secure system could provide rapid direct airside to airside access for both baggage and air travelers, considerable airline operating benefits could be generated for the dominant airline operator at a major hub airport, particularly if the airport to airport range would be between major metropolitan regions. This would permit airline schedulers and seat yield managers to adjust their seat inventories to market demand and achieve significant operating economies. But the stumbling block preventing direct airside-to-airside access was that the fixed rail link only featured multicar consists preventing direct airside-to-airside links. You cannot have a consist where one car of sterile passengers are coupled with cars of non-sterile passengers. If you could separate the cars into single vehicles and if the movement of these vehicles from the gate at LAX to the gate at March Air Force Base could be controlled with automated service, then perhaps an American Airline passenger landing at LAX could get to March for a direct American Airlines Regional flight to Omaha, Nebraska without having to clear security at March. The Transrapid System that is being considered by SCAG, features a similar operating system: a multi-car consist operating with limited stations with no off- line capability. Because the Magplane Commuter System was originally designed to serve multiple off-line stations with frequent departures using automated vehicle movement controls, our system can at least theoretically transfer passengers and luggage between terminal gates in different metropolitan airports. The events of September 11th, 2001 have forced airport authorities to revisit and strengthen security controls for air passengers and it is possible that they would not look positively at having connecting passengers traveling outside of the airport grounds in sterile cars. However should issues of air passenger security be resolved, an airport connecting transit link possessing all of the Magplane Commuter System features, would enhance the ability of the regional airports authority in Southern California to exploit the operational potential of a decentralized but integrated airport system ranging from Palmdale to the north, March and San Bernardino to the east and even San Diego to the south. Please visit our airport connect page on this website: http://www.magplane.com/html/sconnect.htm.
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