The residents living in the airpath of flights from Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport have not had much reason to complain recently.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Tweed has only been offering limited flights to Philadelphia, Penn. And with no large commercial airport in close proximity to New Haven, students and residents who want to leave the city must make their way to airports in Hartford, New Jersey or New York City. Though Amtrak and Metro-North railroads, shuttles and private rides provide transportation options for those leaving New Haven, travel has become equated with annoyance for some Yale students.
The enlargement of Tweed is a project New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has been considering for some time, said Jim Foye, Public Information Officer for the mayor. Tweed’s inability to handle large jets is not only an inconvenience for students but also means fewer business travelers are coming to New Haven to spend money, Foye said.
“It’s not only better for students, but for businesses and the economy to have a bigger airport,” Foye said. “It opens a wider corridor especially for business which would be helpful to the whole region.”
The issue of enlarging Tweed has been a tug of war, Foye said. With half of the airport in New Haven and half in East Haven, the project would become state-controlled. But while governmental red tape, concerns about disrupting residential homes located near the flight path and the recent economic downturn have pushed Tweed lower on the priority list, the project has not disappeared altogether, Foye said.
Presently, US Airways Express is the only commercial carrier at Tweed, but negotiations with Delta have been in progress for a few months. Delta service to Cincinnati could start as early as this summer and may help Tweed attract 100,000 passengers a year — enough to break even. Tweed’s 20 Year Master Plan, recently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, includes expanded service and facility improvements, such as a longer runway.
“It seems that there should be an effective airport in southern Connecticut,” Foye said. “It’s always on the table. It’s always something being discussed. I don’t know if anyone has come up with the right answers.”
Meanwhile, students who want to travel long distances will just have to be creative.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t developed a transporter beam,” said Mike Booker, Director of Operations for Connecticut Limo.
Booker said he understands the common dread of traveling but feels that people should embrace the flaws of travel as a part of the journey.
“We try to improve everyday,” Booker said, “but we have to take [traveling] for what it’s worth. Traveling is just that — a journey, an adventure.”
Connecticut Limo is one of the more popular shuttles for Yale students, Booker said. Its competitor, Primetime Shuttle, takes students to LaGuardia and JFK airports, while Connecticut Limo also offers rides to Hartford and Tweed airports. Both services are share-ride programs and make several stops on the way to each airport to pick up more passengers.
But the share-ride program may lengthen the time of the trip to Hartford or New York City. Zoe Tanaka ’03, who makes the long trip home to Hawaii twice a year, said she finds Connecticut Limo’s service reliable, but at times, inconvenient.
“Going to any one of the New York airports, [Connecticut Limo] makes five or six stops, and there’s traffic,” she said. “It just adds a lot of extra time on to the already long trip I have ahead of me.”
A normal 45 minute trip to Hartford could end up taking an hour and 15 minutes, Jonathan Treadgold ’06 said, adding that it would be more convenient if New Haven had a larger functional airport.
“It would be nice if they had an airport right here,” Treadgold said. “If Tweed was enlarged there would be no need for Connecticut Limo in general.”
Paul Seeger, president of Primetime Shuttle in Connecticut, is not holding his breath for a change in travel options anytime soon.
“I think the day of serving the smaller suburban airports is going to end,” Seeger said.
But Seeger is optimistic about the travel opportunities available to New Haven residents, and some Yale students agree.
“If you’re willing to take the time to figure out the whole public transportation system, it’s pretty easy,” Emily Nakashima ’06 said. “New Haven has more transportation options than most places this distance from a major metropolitan area like New York City.”
The University of California at Santa Barbara, like Yale, is located within minutes of a small airport and is a two-hour drive to the large international airport in the nearby Los Angeles, Calif. Erin Duffy, a senior at UCSB who attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, said that despite Los Angeles traffic, student travel options are more convenient in Santa Barbara than in New Haven. Students travelling to LAX use the shuttle company Airbus, which makes far fewer stops than Connecticut Limo, Duffy said.
“I think that because New Haven is pretty big, it just seems that there should be more opportunities for students,” Duffy said.