I have written several times before about being open about the different options you have for getting from many US and world airports into the city’s downtowns. I’ve written guides on the best and cheapest way to get from LGA airport to Manhattan, the Best and Cheapest Way to get from Downtown Boston to BOS and the best and cheapest way to get from CPH airport to Copenhagen city.
There are a lot of different options for getting from the airport to where you need to go, and my point in writing these articles is to explore the different options as well as explain them to out-of-towners who might not be familiar with the city. In many cases, I propose public transportation as an ideal way to get from many airports to downtown as the cheapest and most cost-effective way to do so.
How I Saved 97% On My Airport Ride
I flew into Austin on a Friday with some time to kill. I was meeting some friends for a weekend and wasn’t planning on renting a car. Most of my in-town friends were at work or also traveling on that Friday morning, so I didn’t have a guaranteed way to get from the airport to my hotel room downtown. I pulled up the Uber app to check on prices. I checked Austin airport Uber prices throughout the weekend and this was representative of the prices throughout the weekend for a ride from the airport to the Holiday Inn Express Austin Downtown. I did also see the prices go as low as $20 or so.
Instead, I pulled up the Austin CapMetro app for the bus system and bought a $1.25 ticket to Bus 20.
Bus 20 goes from the airport to Downtown Austin (and then continues up near the State Capitol and the University of Texas. It also intersects with several other high-capacity and high-frequency bus routes that allow you to get anywhere you want pretty easily. If you do have to make a transfer, you’ll either need to buy another ticket (so $2.50 total), or get a daily or monthly pass.
It runs every 15 minutes but it just so happens that my flight arrived just in time for me to catch the bus just before it left the airport.
The Tradeoffs Of Time
“But Dan! My time is worth more than <whatever random amount> dollars per hour!”
Sure, I can understand that argument. And if you have someone that is willing to pay you for that time, or if you have pressing commitments. In my case, I literally had nothing to do for most of the day, so the time I “saved” would have just been spent reading a book or doing nothing productive (things I could easily do on my bus ride). If you’re traveling with kids or with a lot of luggage, then that might be another reason to pay extra for the convenience of a direct journey via Uber, Lyft or taxi.
Another thing to consider is waiting time – as I mentioned above, Bus 20 runs every 15 minutes. I just happened to catch it, so I basically walked right onto the bus and it took off, but if you had just missed it, you’d have to spend another 15 minutes waiting for the next one. On the other hand, at AUS, the rideshare pickup is all the way through the parking garage as compared to the bus pickup right out front, so there’s a few more minutes of time savings. An Uber ride might have taken ~20 minutes and cost $25, as compared to a $1.25 bus ride that took 35 minutes. That’s around a $70 / hour wage, which is probably higher than most people’s…
The Bottom Line
I know it’s not for everyone, but don’t sleep on taking public transportation to get to/from the airport. It’s unfortunate that the public transportation system in the United States isn’t quite what it is in other countries, but even in pretty car-heavy cities like Austin, taking the bus is not unreasonable.
What about you? Do you ever take public transportation to where you need to go? Leave your experiences in the comments below
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