I live near Washington’s National airport and will often be happy to connect if necessary in order to avoid Dulles airport. Not only is it a good 45 minute drive from downtown, but once you’re there you’re not even close to there.
Public transportation options are limited; there are a couple of bus routes and those connect up to metro. (There will eventually be metro service in one of the most expensive transit projects in US history.)
Taxis departing the airport are part of a monopoly franchise, which means you have double the taxi trips necessary — arriving cabs cannot pick up passengers and take them to the city, and departing cabs return mostly empty. It always amazes me that this doesn’t cause any sort of environmental uproar.
You enter the main terminal and are far from the midfield terminal gates. There’s a an airport train system, but United passengers (who represent a majority of the airport’s patrons) quickly realize that the train was built to drop people off where they intend to build a new terminal at some point in the future.. rather than where passengers actually need to go today. The trains, however, have not eliminated the ‘mobile lounges’ that I’ve always thought of as Star Wars AT-AT vehicles.
Where the mobile lounges are still used, average wait and travel time is 15 minutes.
Searching Dulles Airport Sucks generates nearly 2.6 million hits on Google.
(Putting quotes around the phrase generates over 4000 entries.)
Some interesting facts from the Washington Post:
- They’ve spent $4.1 billion on ‘improvements’ since 2000, and the airport still sucks.
- Dulles has seen a decline in passengers, while enplanements at both National and BWI continue to grow
- Cost per passenger at the airport is double that of National — $25.30 at Dulles vs. $12.72 at DCA — and BWI is just $9.29.
- The airport authority controls 3,000 acres surrounding the airport
Ok, the part about still sucking is my editorial and not from the Post‘s new piece.
The airport authority is also very badly run.
The new report details incidents in which relatives of the vice president of human resources, Arl B. Williams, were hired to work in his department.
It also said proper criminal background checks were not done on new employees, and, as a result, employees with known criminal convictions worked at the authority “in sensitive and management positions for more than a year.
The report also found abuses in the authority’s student intern program, which was used to put non-students on the payroll, bypassing standard hiring procedures.
… the authority’s vice president for information and telecommunications systems, George R. Ellis, and members of his staff accepted more than 25 free trips from a company with a major contract with the MWAA. Among the gifts accepted were tickets and accommodations to the 2009 Super Bowl, valued at almost $5,000. In total, members of Ellis’s department accepted 46 gifts with a total value of at least $12,000.
… From 2009 to 2011, the MWAA awarded two-thirds of its contracts with less than full and open competition. Those included $6 million in sole-source contracts in which board approval was required but not secured — a violation of its lease agreement with the federal government.
In at least 17 instances, contracts were approved after the contractor had started work. In one example, the authority paid a contractor $572 an hour to attend a five-hour board meeting, during which the board voted to approve the selection of the contractor.
When metro reaches Dulles, the 3000 acres around the airport controlled by the airports authority becomes really valuable. And they’re now looking to continue to control it even though they want to relinquish its aviation purpose — they see it as valuable and want to use it as their own cash cow by leasing it out for development. Of course if it no longer has an aviation purpose, it’s not clear why it ought to be controlled by the airports authority and why revenue ought to revert there.
(HT: cguizlo on Milepoint)