John F. Kennedy International Airport’s State-of-the-Art Rail System Also Has Carried More Than 2.6 Million Passengers for Free;
Six-Month Anniversary is Next Week
AirTrain JFK’s one-millionth revenue passenger will pass through a turnstile in Howard Beach or Jamaica today, about a week before John F. Kennedy International Airport’s state-of-the-art rail system celebrates six months of passenger service.
The important milestone tells only part of the story: More than 3.6 million passengers overall have used AirTrain JFK since it opened on December 17, 2003, with more than 2.6 million on the free, on-airport portion of the system within JFK’s Central Terminal Area and to stations in the rental-car and long-term parking areas. The single-day record for revenue passengers is 9,211, set on Friday, May 28.
Ridership has grown steadily since the system opened. With an average daily ridership in May of nearly 26,500 – including nearly 6,800 at the off-airport terminals in Howard Beach and Jamaica, Queens, combined – the system is well on its way to meeting the year-one projection of 34,000 daily passengers, especially with the traditionally heavy summer and year-end holiday travel seasons yet to come.
Governor George E. Pataki said, “My administration has made it a priority to improve access to our airports. The growing popularity of AirTrain JFK demonstrates the usefulness of this important rail link and shows why we prioritized this issue. We will continue to seek innovative ways to enhance our transportation network so that we can improve access and reduce congestion.”
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “AirTrain JFK is one of many important enhancements the Port Authority and its partners have made at the region’s airports. In the last few years, we have opened several new parking garages, established an AirTrain Newark link to the Northeast Corridor rail line, redeveloped and constructed new passenger terminals, and upgraded our airports’ roadways, runways and taxiways to improve efficiency.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “AirTrain JFK is the cornerstone of the $9.4 billion redevelopment program at Kennedy Airport, because faster, more dependable travel to and from JFK helps attract and keep businesses, and supports our tourism industry. AirTrain JFK also is an economic engine for Queens. Construction of the system created thousands of jobs and its 24-hour-a-day operation supports nearly 140 permanent jobs, the vast majority of which are filled by local residents.”
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “We have continued to make and plan improvements to the AirTrain JFK system since it opened less than six months ago. We have added hundreds of directional and instructional signs, opened an improved passageway at AirTrain JFK’s Jamaica Terminal, and, as recently authorized by our board, are planning construction of a protective canopy along one of AirTrain’s outdoor walkways.”
The combined average daily ridership at the off-airport terminals in Howard Beach and Jamaica, Queens, has increased every month this year, rising from 4,787 in January to 6,778 in May. Nearly 40,000 passengers rode AirTrain JFK to and from the airport over the five-day Memorial Day travel period. Ridership on the free, on-airport portion of the system also has increased steadily, from about 10,000 per day in January to more than 23,000 daily passengers in May.
An independent survey of 1,007 AirTrain JFK passengers conducted earlier this year found that among air travelers who had used the system at least twice, 87 percent used AirTrain JFK as their primary means of getting to and from the airport; among airport employees who ride the system regularly, 90 percent use it as their primary mode of commutation. The Port Authority recently expanded service during the early-morning hours to accommodate growing numbers of airport employees using the system.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.