More U.S. airports add rail service to downtown

"The proposal to charge double that for the new connector might drive away customers, unless it delivers twice the value," they wrote in a recent newspaper commentary, "Can East Bay residents afford this?"

These are appropriate debates, Coogan says. Some cities are better off sticking to buses, he says. For example, LAX's FlyAway Bus, which provides non-stop rides to various neighborhoods in Southern California, is more convenient for many travelers than the metro.

For some cities, it'd be wiser to spend scarce funds for extending metro to public transportation-friendly suburbs before considering airports, Coogan adds.

"How often does a person go to work? And how often does a person go to Paris in a year?" he says.

In Seattle, where light-rail coverage is still growing, expectations are modest, with 3,000 riders a day expected at the airport station initially. "We're at the beginning. It's a step-by-step process," says Ron Lewis of Sound Transit. "But there are other neighborhoods that will be served by the line along 15 miles."

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