Urban Options - Air Travel

Air travel continues to grow in our state. According to the Caltrans, boardings and de-planings have increased in each of the past 25 years at the state's 14 major airports. A recent forecast of transportation energy demand by the California Energy Commission (publication # CEC-600-2005-008) says, "...the number of arrivals and departures of commercial aviation passengers in California will increase from 159 million in 2003 to 287 million in 2025...."

So, for many years, air travel will continue providing Californians a way to travel longer distances quickly and safely. Proposed expansions of major airports, however, face certain environmental hurdles (such as air and noise pollution), physical constraints, and mixed reaction from the public.

If you decide to fly from city to city, consider taking public transit to the airport. Many public transit systems use alternative fuels in their buses and vans. At your destination, check to see if an alternative fuel vehicle is available to rent. At Sacramento International Airport, for example, electric cars were available during a pilot program and rented by state employees from some of the major car rental companies.

A company called EVRentals, offers hybrid or natural gas-powered vehicles at Los Angeles International, Burbank, Ontario, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Ana, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland airports. Other auto rental companies may also offer hybrids. Don't forget to ask!

Because of restraints that overcrowded airports may encounter in the future, non-traditional forms of long-distance transportation - such as travel by high-speed trains - are now being considered as viable solutions to connect California's major metropolitan areas.

High-speed rail could be a solution to airport gridlock because one-third of all commercial flights in the U.S. are for distances of 350 miles or less. That's the ideal trip length for high-speed rail.