Photo by nico h on Flickr.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board is still trying to decide whether to spend more money to build an underground Silver Line station close to the Dulles terminal, or to instead choose an elevated station near the parking garage. How will this ultimately compare to other major airport rail connections?
The elevated station would be 600 feet farther from the terminal. Passengers would have to descend to the underground tunnel, where a moving walkway connects the parking garage to the main terminal.
Local officials in Northern Virginia have been pushing the elevated option to save $240-320 million, but Metro Board members worry that the cheaper option would bring in lower revenue in perpetuity.
How would Dulles with or without the extra moving walkway trip compare to other similar airports? Dulles will surely be compared to major European international airports, like Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, and Frankfurt, which connect to their major urban rail transit systems.
Smaller airports like National serve a different market, and many major US international airports have far worse or no rail connections. JFK, for instance, requires taking a whole separate train to the subway or commuter rail.
Dulles, however, also requires a train, only inside. Sadly, the poor design of Dulles, centralizing everything into a single terminal which forces passengers to take a second long trip after a long security line, makes flying there fairly unpleasant. How many people will be deterred by the extra unpleasantness of the walkway to the parking garage?
Have you used the rail connections at Heathrow, de Gaulle, Frankfurt and other major international airports? What was your experience like? What was good and bad? And how does it compare to Dulles, whether with or without the extra moving walkway?