Thursday, May 30

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Race to LaGuardia as Business Group Pits Bike Against Public Transportation

Not all public and private transportation services are created equal, and when it comes to getting to the airport on time, travelers to LaGuardia Airport in Queens may want to think carefully about how they get there to catch a flight.

One New York City business group, the Global Gateway Alliance, compared transportation methods between the firm’s executive director, Stephen Sigmund, and six summer interns.

Sigmund rode a CitiBike, a three-speed bicycle that can be rented for a small fee. The other interns took various forms of public transportation to travel from midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia in Queens.

The findings? The bike was actually faster than some other means of transportation, coming in directly in the middle.

The winner of the race was an intern named Fiona, who took a yellow cab and arrived at LaGuardia in 25 minutes. The cost, however, ran high for a nine-mile trip: $33 with tip.

In second place was another intern, Alex, who walked to Grand Central Terminal and took a shuttle bus, the NYC Airporter, and arrived within 44 minutes. Cost: $13.

Third place went to Caroline, who called for an UberX car and arrived within 48 minutes. She said she would have arrived sooner, but the first car she called for got lost, meaning she had to call for a second one. Her trip was the most expensive at $44.

Sigmund traveled by bike and potentially disobeyed some traffic laws to arrive just behind Caroline at 49 minutes. He claimed that stopping for red lights was “uh, optional” until a police car began following him in Queens. All he paid was the $2.50 fee to use a CitiBike; however, there was no CitiBike drop-off at the airport, which would mean another fee bringing it back.

The last three interns took the train/bus combos recommended by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. One took 56 minutes with a cost of $2.50; another took the same amount of time with a cost of $8.25. The last to arrive took a total of 61 minutes and was the cheapest trip per minute at $2.50, also.

While the train/bus combo is good for travelers short on funds, it isn’t very popular with travelers. One intern said she didn’t see very many riders with luggage or anything else that indicated that they were heading to the airport.

Joe Sitt, a real estate investor and founding chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance, suggested rebranding the Q70 bus line with “a name that connotes air travel as opposed to simply another bus route.” The Alliance would also like to see a separate raised lane for express buses headed to LaGuardia.

“With the Port Authority and airlines investing billions of dollars to bring LaGuardia into the 21st Century, we need to do better than public transportation to the airport that can be beat by a three-speed bike,” said Sitt.

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