Airports need easier way to connect - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Airports need easier way to connect

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Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2009 7:32 pm | Updated: 1:17 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Getting There: When discussing airports, Washington National is to Dulles as Sky Harbor is to …? The correct answer is Gateway, of course.

When discussing airports, Washington National is to Dulles as Sky Harbor is to …? The correct answer is Gateway, of course.

This comparison struck me last week, as I sped on an express bus westward through the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. toward the region’s busiest airport (*).

If Gateway is to work as the Valley’s reliever airport, I thought, it’ll be necessary to set up a transit option to connect passengers and employees with more populated areas.

From the Tribune’s offices in downtown Mesa, Gateway is 18 miles away. Between Dulles and the White House is 26 miles. These are not short drives, especially in traffic. And remember, many people using the airport don’t have their cars anyway.

But at Dulles, there’s a bus service that’ll take you to and from the airport rather quickly. The other terminus is the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station, with stops between at the Metro station in Rosslyn, Va. and a couple of park-and-ride lots.

Cash fare: $1.35.

Looking at Valley Metro’s map, the best one can do to reach the Valley’s center from Gateway is walk around the airport to the ASU Polytechnic campus and wait there for the Route 156 bus, which travels along Chandler Boulevard/Williams Field Road. From there, one can connect to the 96 at Dobson Road, and that’ll take you to the Sycamore park-and-ride lot/light rail station.

Valley Metro was supposed to start up a line along Power Road, which would’ve connected Polytechnic with the Superstition Springs Transit Center, but the economic troubles have put that on hold.

But this is all speculative. At the moment, Gateway doesn’t have the passenger traffic to make a transit option necessary.

One day, though, it will — and when that day comes let’s hope there’s a bus coming with it.

ENHANCING STOPS

In last week’s column, I wrote that during my trip to D.C., on my to-do list was checking out development near the subway stops.

As it happened, I only took one trip on the Metro, to the Padres-Nationals baseball game. The station near my hotel was integrated with a skyscraper atop. If one wished, you could buy a Metro ticket, walk a minute into the building’s lobby and get your hair cut.

I would like to see more of that in the Valley, where the light-rail stops are part of the urban landscape rather than separate islands. Supposedly, there was consideration for the Tempe Gateway building to incorporate into its design the Mill/3rd Street station, but that never came to pass

Also, I stayed across the river from Georgetown, which has no Metro stop. Apparently, the people there have much in common with Scottsdale residents: They feared mass transit would ruin the character of their towns while bringing in undesirables.

Feh. A pox on both their houses, I say.

* Dulles, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s preliminary count for 2008, had almost 11.3 million “enplanements” to rank 21st in the nation. National, with 8.7 million, ranks 27th. This surprised me, because everyone wants the convenience of flying into National, it being across the river from the District. But pushing Dulles ahead is the volume of international passengers.

And as long as we’re keeping a complete scorecard, Phoenix is 9th (19.4 million) while Gateway is far down the list at No. 178 (190,400). For what it’s worth, Gateway ranks between Tri-Cities Regional of Blountville, Tenn. and Evansville (Ind.) Regional.

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