In Westchester, Travelers Prefer Towncars to Buses

You can bring passengers to a bus, but I guess you can’t make them board it. Officials in Westchester county are finding few takers for their new airport parking bus. While the 22-minute ride on a comfortable shuttle bus was pleasant and smooth, few airline passengers tried it.

The AirLink bus departs hourly from the White Plains train station and will operate seven days a week.

The county started AirLink yesterday to help ease crowding at the Westchester County Airport parking garage, which has been filled to overflowing daily since JetBlue joined AirTran at the airport at the end of March. Airline passenger traffic has more than doubled since a year ago, putting pressure on the county to build another garage. For now, the county is encouraging travelers to take a cab or car service or get a ride to and from the airport and has opened an overflow lot at the airport that is a short ride from the passenger terminal.

Black Town Cars ringed the airport as their drivers awaited arriving passengers. A father and young son sat in a convertible, waiting for family members due to arrive on a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A college student in an Abercrombie shirt in the arrival lounge wheeled a set of golf clubs and was trailed by a Town Car driver wearing a cap. And a flight crew walked past the AirLink bus, bound for a hotel shuttle bus of their own.

No one expects business travelers with expense accounts to jump on an AirLink bus. Nor will many families heading to Disney World be likely passengers. An attempt to identify a potential passenger proved fruitless.

Salley said the county would monitor ridership over high-travel periods, such as the July Fourth, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving weekends, along with average travel days, to determine whether to continue the service beyond this year. Operating AirLink will cost the county about $690,000 through the end of this year, he said.

AirLink meets Metro-North trains that stop in White Plains on the Harlem Line. The AirLink bus stop is just outside the station entrance.

AirLink driver Alberto Chavez said he had gotten positive reactions yesterday from riders, who came from the Bronx, Mount Vernon and elsewhere in Westchester. The county anticipates that airline passengers coming from New York City and college students will use AirLink, along with some airport employees.