Transit (or lack thereof) to the Airport: How other cities do it, and what we should do

Sea-Tac Airport Wayfinding by Oran Viriyincy

How to get to the buses and the trains at Seattle-Tacoma International in SeaTac, Washington (by Oran Viriyincy)

Welcome to Hampton Roads!  We hope you enjoyed your flight to Norfolk International Airport!  Now, guess what?  You now have to walk a mile to the nearest bus stop!

How do other cities do it?  This is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington (about 30 minutes by train from Downtown Seattle).  You can get buses and trains easily.  The sign is even back-lit to be easier to read.

How do we do it here in Norfolk?  Ah, welcome traveler.  The nearest bus stop is for the #15 CROSSTOWN and it is located at Military Hwy & Norview Ave (here’s walking directions)

Now why, do you ask, is it so?

Simple answer really: The Norfolk Airport Authority is in the pocket of the taxi companies

Here’s what I would do if we could run buses to the airport: (available below the fold)

As part of the opening of The Tide light rail, MAX 960 (the Downtown Norfolk-Silverleaf-Oceanfront Express) is slated to be trimmed to run from the Oceanfront to Newtown Tide Station.  Here’s what I would do once the bus leaves the Tide station:

  1. Head back up Newtown and jump onto I-264 West
  2. Take the exit onto I-64 West
  3. Take the ORF Airport (first Noreview Ave/VA-247) exit
  4. Offer a bus stop at Noreview Ave & Military Hwy (no, it could not be timed to meet the 15)
  5. Offer a bus stop at the Airport (I don’t care which building if both can’t be served)

Coming back to the Tide station

  1. From the ORF Airport bus stop, head back down Noreview
  2. Offer a bus stop at Noreview Ave & Military Hwy
  3. Jump back on the interstate, head back to Newtown Station

How many buses would this require? (for the entire Oceanfront-Airport route)

  • Service every 60 minutes: 2 buses
  • Service every 30 minutes: 4 buses

Think about it, to promote tourism:

  • The 960 will pick up at the airport
  • You can be dropped off at the Newtown Station and hop on light rail to Downtown Norfolk
  • Stay on the 960 and you can be taken to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront (and be one block from the Atlantic Ave shuttle which will take you straight to your hotel).  The 960 should also stop at Town Center (which is what the City of Virginia Beach wants as well)
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8 responses to “Transit (or lack thereof) to the Airport: How other cities do it, and what we should do

  1. I like your new banner.

    I currently tell my passengers, “Sorry, we don’t service Norfolk airport, we service Williamsburg airport instead.”

    I would also consider a version with the cut-back #15 servicing ORF.

    • Ed, you’ve driven the 15 before. You know that’s not going to work.

      This is why I offer a 960 bus stop on Noreview Ave @ Military Hwy. No, it’s not going to be a timed transfer, but it could be a time point (granted: you know as well as I do the 15 is always late during rush hour)

  2. like the new site

  3. Pingback: Feeding The Tide: Take the Bus to the Train « Ideas for Hampton Roads Transit

  4. kinda off subject but

    the way the media’s burying the Tide it may as well be a Metro *rimshot*

    • No, this is light rail in the traditional sense (see Portland MAX, Salt Lake City TRAX, Phoenix METRO (named after the agency, Valley Metro), or Denver RTD). Metro, from what I’ve seen is usually used on heavy rail lines like WMATA’s Metrorail (the D.C. Metro).

      I’m starting to see it used on King County, Washington’s Central Link (owned by Sound Transit, operated on their behalf by King County Metro) where – at least on the Seattle Transit Blog – I’ve heard the term “light metro”, referring to Central Link having the characteristics of a true heavy-rail line (distance between stations) combined with characteristics of true light rail (not grade separated, vehicle type – in our case of The Tide, the Siemens S70 LRV). Our system is not going to be a “light metro” or even a regular “metro” but will be “light rail” in the traditional sense like Portland’s MAX.

  5. They should also have the 121 extended to all-day service and have it head to Newport News/Williamsburg International after leaving Patrick Henry Mall to provide an easy connection with major attractions like Busch Gardens or Colonial Williamsburg. Right now, you need to catch three buses to get from the airport to Williamsburg, and doing this would drop it to one.

    • Sorry it took me a while to get back, but after being able to ride the 121 yesterday (the first afternoon trip from Williamsburg), I can now give a better assesment.

      HRT already knows that people would ride the 121 all day and there were talks with Williamsburg Area Transport Authority to run a joint-service route all day. Considering that WATA doesn’t trust HRT (and I don’t blame them), that fell through. As of right now, the 121 is paid for by the City of Newport News while Williamsburg does not contribute a dime.

      I agree that the 121 (if service was enhanced) should serve PHF Airport, but the regulars who ride would tell you “Hell No!”