What concerns me about articles such as James Flanigan's "High Time for Airports" (Feb. 14) is that rail service to the airports is being ignored as a means to decongest airports both at the runways and terminal parking lots. With commuter aircraft taking up 20% of the runway capacity at Los Angeles International Airport while carrying 4% of the passengers, rail service can take over much of the wasteful commuter flight traffic.
Commuter flights generally are under 150 miles. Direct rail service to LAX and other airports by Metrolink and Amtrak could serve the same markets as commuter flights for far less money than building a new runway in Santa Monica Bay. At such short distances, most travel time is consumed by embarking and debarking. A modestly improved rail service could be time-competitive with air for short distances. In some European countries, you can confirm your airline tickets and check your bags at a local train station. This saves much time as you travel directly to a train station at the airport.
Most Southern California airports are near railroads. Burbank Airport already has Metrolink and Amtrak service. LAX has railroads that could connect it to most of Southern California. The Green Line can be extended so that it can better serve Metrolink and LAX. One possibility would be an Amtrak stop at Norwalk between Los Angeles and San Diego. Express connecting trains could run on the Green Line right to the LAX terminals. Metrolink trains could be extended from Lancaster and San Bernardino through downtown Los Angeles to LAX. There are many other possible ways to serve the airports by rail.
I hope that more consideration for existing rail resources is examined as this region studies its future airport needs.
NOEL T. BRAYMER
Rail Passenger Assn.