AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME
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WAYPORTS IS A SOLUTION

Senators Frank Lautenberg and Trent Lott said in August 2006 that "we now need the vision that created the Interstate Highway system to create a transportation system that will meet our needs in the 21st century-including passenger rail service across the nation". Former Secretary of Transportation Mineta says "the future demands nothing less than the complete transformation of the U.S. air system". See the Vision page on left that describes Wayports as the Interstate Aviation System. 

Big cities and states are competitive and protective of all forms of transportation, especially hub airports. They cannot independently plan a nationwide system of wayports integrated with air traffic control, highways and light and high speed rail that serves all of the U.S.  Wayports will transform the U.S. air system as Senators Lott and Lautenburg suggest. It's a system of collection and distribution centers that supplements and relieves aviation from congested airports the way the Interstate Highway System does for roads and highways. Wayports will be strategically located to supplement the existing airport system. It will be integrated with FAA's enroute and terminal air traffic control and highways to secure intermodal access. It's designed to satisfy long-term next generation air transportation needs. It's a safe, economical and environmentally acceptable alternative that supplements and goes beyond FAA's 10 year Operational Evolution Plan (OEP) to expand only the busiest airports.

Wayports functioning as a Interstate Aviation System must be part of the long-term solution to accommodate growth to 2025 and beyond. This problem can be solved only if long-term aviation system planning, leadership and direction is done at the mega-region or national level by appropriate authorities just as Air Traffic Control and Interstate Highway Systems are planned.  Capacity must be provided on a coordinated timely as needed basis. .

Wayports are more economical, environmentally better and more safe than indefinitely expanding existing airports. They provide capacity to satisfy long-term (30-40 year) growth while reducing the impact on people living near airports. Use of a Wayport will be induced by being more convenient and delay free and by reducing development costs and rates and charges. Competition will be significantly enhanced by less expensive options for passengers and other commerce. Wayports will eliminate the need for greater intrusion on private industry through unwanted government rationing of airport access. High-speed rail, regional light rail and highways providing access to a Wayport must be included to assure intermodal access. 

Future Commercial Space Programs can also be accommodated at Wayports.

It may be necessary to institute capacity caps at congested airports to force hubbing airlines to relocate some connecting passengers and cargo to other underutilized airports. This may be viewed as a form of rationing but the alternative of living congested hubs and airspace serving them may be necessary to prevent massive delays and unsafe conditions caused by air and ground congestion.

FedEx's Fred Smith is given credit for pioneering the hub and spoke system in the September 2006 Readers Digest. It is a brilliant concept and has served the country and industry well. However, many airports are outgrowing their inter-city sites and will have difficulty providing long-term nationwide capacity in a safe, economical and environmentally acceptable way.

The same emphasis and priority given to solving nationwide highways in 1956 should be given to solving aviation's problems. The Interstate Highway System was 50 years old in June 2006. While Interstate Highways were being built, only two new major airports were built in the U.S. Both replaced existing airports. No supplemental hub airports have ever been built. Most hub airports have over 50% connections with some up to 80%. Connecting passengers rarely leave the airport or gate area to avoid going back through long security screening lines. An originating passenger lives in the community or are visitors or tourists who uses ticketing, bag processing, security screening at the airport and spends money at hotels, restaurants, conventions, shopping malls, rental cars, airport parking and surface transportation.

The federal government manages, plans, staffs and funds the air traffic control system. Planning, development and operation of airports is left to local/state governments even though air traffic control, airways and airports are totally dependent on each other. If one breaks down the whole system breaks down. The primary difference between highways and airways is a highway is paved all the way and the airway is paved on each end. Both do the same thing in moving passengers, commerce, cargo, postal and express mail from point to point but only runways/airways can link America to other Continents. Both have a tremendous impact on nationwide and global economies, commerce and mobility.

Peak hour air and ground delays can be eliminated by placing realistic capsbased on actual capacity of congested airports as Wayports come on line to provide supplemental capacity. Caps limiting connecting passengers to reasonable percentages  will reduce delays and be more acceptable than rationing airport access.

The Wayports advocate has recommended for years that until an alternative is adopted and implemented that provides capacity and reduces congestion at hub and spoke airports, a reasonable alternative would be to cap connecting operations at 35-40% at congested hubs. If airlines or local governments want to accommodate connections in excess of this amount and as high as 80% in some communities, they would pay all airport operational and development costs and a special user fee to cover Air Traffic Control services which today are inundated by connecting activity.

Expanding existing airports create unwanted air and ground congestion, noise and air pollution. Inner-city airports continue to build out their airports without evaluating long-term alternatives like a Wayport comparing costs, economic impacts and environmental standards.

Even if there was enough funding, expanding existing airports is not a dependable long-term source of capacity because expansions can be blocked by organized opposition. Noise, air pollution and road congestion that make life miserable for those who live near airports must not be tolerated if there are other reasonable alternatives.  

A solution is needed that reduces the vulnerability of local governments to future shifts and reductions of connecting flights and allow consistent sound long-term financial and funding programs. This current trend of reductions of connecting flights will continue because passengers avoid connecting flights if non-stop, point to point flights are available at comparable prices. Low-cost and regional airlines have captured almost 50% of the passenger market.