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Airport Shuttle Serving Boston Closes Down - Thoughts?

Airport Shuttle Serving Boston Closes Down - Thoughts?

Old Feb 28, 19, 7:36 am
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Airport Shuttle Serving Boston Closes Down - Thoughts?

I live in a city west of Boston. We have two local airport limo/shared van services that transport people to Logan International. One of them has just announced they will be shutting down.

I have used these guys occasionally (though I tend to use their competition more). The arguments presented in the article pretty much mirror what the drivers all said. As a passenger, my take has been that it costs so much to use the shared vans - well over $100 if you are by yourself, that it is much cheaper to drive half way in and park at an express lot. For certain tripos you can even find offsite airport parking for nearly as cheaply. Top this off with the fact that they usually need to pick you up 3 1/2 hours before your flight, you are riding in an uncomfortable van with a bunch of other people, there is really little value in the proposition. They all seem to vehemently hate the Lyft and Uber drivers, but those aren't much better pricewise, you just get your own vehicle without all the delays.

The original airport shuttle model just doesn't seem to work anymore. What IS the right model going forward?
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Old Feb 28, 19, 8:26 am
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I think it can work in certain areas. Here in New Orleans, a shuttle ride for one person is $24 one way ($44 roundtrip), compared to $36+ for taxi or Uber. So if you're solo, you can save $12, and most visitors are heading to downtown hotels all clustered within a mile or so of each other. But yeah, if you're far enough away that the van costs $100+, there's likely not much demand, and I don't know any business model that would work.

FWIW, when home was DFW, on the rare occasions I took a shuttle to the airport, I always just lied about what flight I was on, so instead of the 3.5 hour pickup, it was closed to 2 hours. They use the huge buffer so they won't have to be responsible for you missing your flight, but with online check-in, no checked bags, and priority security or precheck, I was comfortable with a smaller window and never had a problem.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 8:52 am
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I would think that $100 would cover a Lyft or Uber from a good distance away?
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Old Feb 28, 19, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
I think it can work in certain areas. Here in New Orleans, a shuttle ride for one person is $24 one way ($44 roundtrip), compared to $36+ for taxi or Uber. So if you're solo, you can save $12, and most visitors are heading to downtown hotels all clustered within a mile or so of each other. But yeah, if you're far enough away that the van costs $100+, there's likely not much demand, and I don't know any business model that would work.
I was reading reviews for the shuttle in NOLA and it seems it was a horrible experience for most people. Tripadvisor commenters recommended taking a cab.

If you don't have much money $24 isn't cheap, and if you have some money $36 to not have to wait in a shuttle while dropping others off is probably worth it.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:02 am
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
I was reading reviews for the shuttle in NOLA and it seems it was a horrible experience for most people. Tripadvisor commenters recommended taking a cab.

If you don't have much money $24 isn't cheap, and if you have some money $36 to not have to wait in a shuttle while dropping others off is probably worth it.
I agree, I don't like the shuttle myself, and can afford the extra $12 to avoid it. But I was speaking in terms of business model, and the fact that the shuttles do seem to do a good business here.

A big part of what makes it possible is the tight clustering of where many are heading to/from. There's also a huge convention business here, and I wonder if many companies have travel policies mandating use of the shuttle instead of a cab/uber? Ironically, with 2 or more traveling together, the shuttle ends up being more expensive, yet it's not uncommon to see couple and small groups in line to buy shuttle tickets.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:03 am
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It would be helpful to provide some detail. "City west of Boston" could be quite near or quite far. My guess is that the fixed van services are destined for failure other than in places where there is traffic density, e.g. 7 passengers all headed to 3 hotels within a few blocks of each other. It is also avoided like the plague by most travelers who are not stuck with it as a matter of corporate travel policy. Thus the demographics of your city matter. People who can afford not to sit in a van will not.

Uber and other ride-sharing services have taken over this market and don't require ridiculous departure times, allow you to choose when you ride, and give you the peace & quiet of being able to relax, work or sleep during the ride.

You might try price Uber & Lyft at the rough time of day you anticipate traveling.

Last edited by Often1; Feb 28, 19 at 9:08 am
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
I agree, I don't like the shuttle myself, and can afford the extra $12 to avoid it. But I was speaking in terms of business model, and the fact that the shuttles do seem to do a good business here.

A big part of what makes it possible is the tight clustering of where many are heading to/from. There's also a huge convention business here, and I wonder if many companies have travel policies mandating use of the shuttle instead of a cab/uber? Ironically, with 2 or more traveling together, the shuttle ends up being more expensive, yet it's not uncommon to see couple and small groups in line to buy shuttle tickets.
Yes, but the issue with shuttles is that if you are last, even if the hotels are all nearby it still takes forever. Conventioners often take forever getting out of the shuttle (as compared to business travellers) and it isn't so much the time going from hotel to hotel as the time it takes them getting out of the shuttle (admittedly if you are not small and nimble it isn't that easy to get out from the back of a 15 person van)
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:14 am
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Flying regularly into SFO, the shuttles make very little sense. It's far cheaper to take BART and then walk. It's not much more expensive to take Uber or Lyft. Both are far faster by the time you've driven half way around the city. And the vans are so ancient that I very much doubt that they'd pass even rudimentary safety checks. I can understand why they might be used for far flung places, but then the economics for the operators don't work.

I suspect that the real reason for their continued existence is the commissions to the hotel concierges - most hotels really push the shuttle services.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 10:39 am
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Um...uber or lyft??
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Old Feb 28, 19, 11:22 am
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We still don't even know where OP lives. Could just as easily be various combinations of MBTA.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 12:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
We still don't even know where OP lives. Could just as easily be various combinations of MBTA.
I would have thought that "Worcester Airport Limo" would have been a dead give away, but...

In this case the limo companies are not really tied to one city - they cover pretty much the whole of central Massachusetts. In this market it is more about people needing to get to the airport from home, more so than visitors from other places. For us it is a two hour ride to Logan. Lyft and Uber do have a presence here in the city itself, but they are not popular, and certainly not viable for some of the local surrounding towns. That's part of why I brought it up - is it really the ride-shares that are killing them, or their desire not to compete?
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Old Feb 28, 19, 12:25 pm
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Uber currently showing rate of $67.51 from WPI to Logan.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 12:51 pm
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That would explain why the shuttle service went belly up. Pick up where you want, when you want. No sharing. This is an easy call.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 12:53 pm
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I tend to avoid shuttles nowadays. I have used them in the SF Bay Area, Honolulu, and New Orleans, and I echo the comments about slow, tedious drop-offs making a short shuttle trip much longer than it needs to be. I just returned from New Orleans yesterday, and I used Uber to the FQ for $36 and took the bus back for $2.

But your situation is different. (I think a lot of people didn't click the link, so they didn't realize that "west of Boston" meant Worcester.) I used to live in the Boston area, and Worcester is at least a few hours away from Logan. That makes the overhead of a shuttle a lot more reasonable. Still, unless the shuttle is considerably cheaper (half the price?) than Uber and Lyft, I wouldn't bother. The airport shuttle does seem to be an idea that's past its prime, and based on my previous experiences, I don't think many will miss it.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 1:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
The original airport shuttle model just doesn't seem to work anymore. What IS the right model going forward?
I'd settle for train options that aren't terrible (or horribly slow). I just take Uber/Lyft when I need to go to Logan. Onsite parking is very expensive and offsite parking is a hassle. Factoring in the cost and annoyance, I've found Uber is simplest and comparable in cost to self-driving. Of course it depends on the length of the trip.

Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
I would think that $100 would cover a Lyft or Uber from a good distance away?
Yeah. Boston to Providence (~45 miles) will typically run $65 - $100 on average with Uber/Lyft. Unless surge pricing kicks in, then the same ride can cost over $200...
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