Intermodal passenger transport

Intermodal passenger transport

Intermodal passenger transport involves more than one mode of transport of passengers. Some modes of transportation have always been intermodal; for example, most major airports have extensive facilities for automobile parking and have good rail or bus connections to the cities nearby. Urban bus systems generally serve train and subway stations and often extend to the local airport. A major goal of modern intermodal passenger transport, at least in developed countries, is to reduce dependence on the automobile as the major mode of ground transportation and increase use of public transport. To encourage them to do this, Intermodal Journey planners are used to make users aware of possible services and to facilitate their use.


Passenger transport has always been intermodal. People switched from carriages to ferries at the edge of a river too deep to ford. In the 19th century, people who lived inland switched from train to ship for overseas voyages. Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey was built to let commuters to New York City from New Jersey switch to ferries to cross the Hudson River in order to get to Manhattan. A massive ferry slip, now in ruins, was incorporated into the terminal building. Later, when a subway was built through tunnels under the Hudson, now called the PATH, a station stop was added to Hoboken Terminal. More recently, the New Jersey Transit's Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system has included a stop there, but it is a relatively long walk from the terminal building. Ferry service has recently been revived, but passengers must exit the terminal and walk across the pier to the more modest ferry slip.

Park and ride

Intermodal planners try to encourage automobile commuters to make much of their journey by public transport. One of the more successful ways of doing this is to provide parking places in the suburbs near major highways where commuters can leave their cars for the day and take a train or bus into an urban downtown area.

Between bus and train

Many large cities with intracity rail link the rail network with the bus network. This enables riders to get to places that are not serviced directly by rail or would be too far for walking. In Chicago, for instance, to travel from the Loop to the Museum of Science and Industry, one must take the 'L' to Garfield Boulevard then transfer to a bus to the museum.

Train to the plane

Another increasingly popular tool for intermodalism is to extend subway and rail service to major urban airports. This provides travelers with an often less expensive and more reliable way to get to their flights than driving, and contending with full up parking, or taking taxis and getting caught in traffic jams on the way to the airport. Many airports now have some mass transit link, including

*Heathrow Airport, London
*Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel
*Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada. See Canada Line
*San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California
*Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia
*O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
*Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois
*Baltimore-Washington International Airport near Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC
*Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts
*Greater New York City's JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports. See AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark
*Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland, Ohio
*Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
*Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Arlington County, Virginia

At the Hong Kong International Airport, ferry services to various piers in the Pearl River Delta is provided. Passengers from Guangdong can use these piers to take a flight at the Airport, without passing through customs and immigration control, effectively like having a transit from one flight to another. The Airport is well-connected with expressways and an Airport Express train service. A seaport and logistics facilities will be added in the near future.

Automobiles on trains

Several passenger rail systems offer services that allow travelers to bring their automobiles with them. These usually consist of automobile carrying wagons attached to normal passenger trains, but some special trains operate solely to transport automobiles.

Trains on boats

A train ferry is a ship designed to carry railway vehicles. While usually used to carry freight vehicles, passenger cars can also be carried. In other places passengers move between passenger cars to a passenger ferry.


Taxicabs and Rental cars continue to play a major role in providing door to door service between Airport or Train station and other points of travel throughout urban, suburban, and rural communities.


Bicycles are often a good way for people to get to a public transportation station, but they need safe place to leave the bike if it's not a folding bicycle. Some public transportation systems have provisions for cyclists to take their regular-sized bicycles on board trains and buses, often at off peak times. "See utility cycling and portable bicycle"

Transfer facilities

In recent years, an increasing emphasis has been placed on designing facilities that make such transfers easier and more seamless. These are intended to help passengers move from one mode (or form) of transportation to another. An intermodal station may service air, rail, and highway transportation for example.

In some cases, facilities were merged or transferred into a new facility, as at the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse, New York or South Station in Boston, Massachusetts. In other cases new facilities, such as the Alewife Station In Cambridge, Massachusetts were built from the start to emphasize intermodalism.

ee also

*Intermodal Journey Planner
*The notion of co-modality introduced by the European Commission
*Motorcycle Pod
*Flying car (aircraft)

External links

* [ List of International airports with adjoining rail links]
* [ International Air Rail Organization]
* [ European Local Transport Information Service] (ELTIS) provides case studies concerning passenger intermodality as a local transport concept
* [ LINK - The European Forum on Intermodal Passenger Travel]

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