Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do shared shuttles really save?

An experience during my recent business trip to Florida illustrated that those ubiquitous shuttles that schlep a half dozen or so travelers between the airport and various hotels are not necessarily convenient or economical.

Shuttles at MCO
In an effort to be a good corporate citizen and save my company a little money, I decided to book a shuttle like those at right instead of jumping into a taxi at the airport, as I normally do. After all, I reasoned, I was arriving late in the afternoon for a conference that didn’t start until the next morning, so I would not be in a hurry and had plenty of time.

I ended up wasting a good portion of that time sitting on a bench outside the airport terminal and in the shuttle van.

Before leaving home, I made and paid for my shuttle reservation on line. I had my printed confirmation in hand as I walked to the shuttle company’s curbside kiosk, expecting to be able to climb aboard. Nope. Had to go to the company’s counter inside the terminal and exchange the confirmation for a boarding pass.

When I returned curbside, the gentleman told me the wait for my shuttle would be “30 minutes or less.” Great. I could have climbed into a cab and been to my hotel in about 20 minutes.

Turned out he was spot on. Twenty-five minutes later, the van pulled up. By the time all the passengers and bags were loaded, another five minutes or so had gone by. But wait; there’s more.

Off to the next terminal to make another pick-up.

By the time we left the airport property, 40 minutes had elapsed since I first reached the curb and bypassed a line of waiting taxis. By the time we got to my hotel – and for some reason, I am almost always among the last to be dropped off – an hour and 10 minutes had elapsed.

I paid $21 for the shuttle ticket and gave the driver a $5 tip for a total of $26. A cab ride would have cost me about $55 with tip and taken about 20 minutes. So I wasted nearly an hour to save (my company) $30. And here’s the real kicker: shuttle vans usually charge per passenger while some, though not all, taxis add a modest surcharge of a buck or two at most for the second and third passenger. If I’d been traveling with another person or two, we could have grabbed a cab and been at our destination far faster – and more economically – than my 70-minute sojourn.

Even traveling solo, however, the extra time I spent doing nothing was not worth the modest monetary savings. After all, our time is worth something.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo by Carl Dombek
Click on photo to view larger image

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