Collaborative Funding Can Help Facilitate Airport Ground Access

Mineta Transportation Institute’s report gives funding guidance and recommends policy changes.
September 4, 2012
San José, CA

The Mineta Transportation Institute ( has released its newest peer-reviewed research report, Collaborative Funding to Facilitate Airport Ground Access. The research team examined the range of funding sources that have been used for intermodal airport ground access projects and then developed guidance material for project planners. The team also recommended changes to federal and state policies and funding allocation procedures. The principal investigator was Geoffrey Gosling, PhD, working with Wenbin Wei, PhD, and Dennis Freeman, MUP. The free 188-page report is available for PDF download from

“Airports are major interchange nodes for passenger and freight transportation. Here, local and regional transportation systems interface with those for national and international air travel and air freight,” said Dr. Gosling. “However, funding projects to improve the intermodal connectivity between the surface transportation system and airports is often complicated by the need to draw on a range of different funding programs and sources. Each has its own project eligibility requirements and regulations that limit the type and location of projects that can be funded. This report recommends an approach to develop funding strategies for such projects that would involve a broad range of stakeholder agencies in planning and implementing the project.”

The researchers reviewed the literature on planning and funding these types of projects and examined the range of federal, state and local funding programs and sources that have been, or could be, used to fund them. They then examined and documented past experience on collaborative funding of these projects through seven case studies. These included a major intermodal transportation center, automated people-mover links to regional rail systems, airport access roadways, and extensions of regional rail systems to airports.

While the exact mix and proportion of funding sources will vary with the nature and scale of the project, implementing a multi-agency, multi-program funding strategy will require a broad regional consensus on the project’s importance, the report says.

Dr. Gosling noted, “Development of funding strategies should consider opportunities for publicprivate partnerships that can provide access to private-sector funding, including ways to provide sufficient return on investment for private-sector partners.”

Projects could be facilitated by greater flexibility in the regulations governing federal Airport Improvement Program and Passenger Facility Charge funds to allow their use for ground access projects located off the airport that provide needed enhancements to airport access.

Many states have taken a strong policy position on developing improved intermodal connections within the transportation system. It may be helpful for these states to create a funding program specifically structured to support the development of intermodal connections and improved intermodal coordination. Where local transportation funding programs result from ballot measures that specify the projects to be funded, agencies with an interest in improving airport ground access should pursue opportunities to include such projects in those programs.

The complete report, including 29 tables and figures, can be downloaded at no charge from


Geoffrey D. Gosling, PhD, has been a research associate with MTI for six years. He is the principal and founder of Aviation System Consulting, LLC, in Berkeley. He has more than 30 years of experience as a transportation consultant, researcher, and academic, and has been a consultant and expert witness in airport planning, aviation system planning, aviation safety, and airline economics. Dr. Gosling received Master of Science (1975), Master of Engineering (1976), and PhD (1979) degrees in Civil Engineering (transportation) from the University of California, Berkeley. He was an assistant professor in the transportation engineering program at UC Berkeley for several years and continues to teach through UC Berkeley continuing education programs. Wenbin Wei, PhD, has been with the College of Engineering at San José State University since 2003. He is an associate professor in the Department of Aviation and Technology, and also an affiliated professor in the Department of Industrial and System Engineering. Currently he is the director of the Human Automation Integration Lab (HAIL), and also a research associate with MTI. He received his PhD from the University of California Berkeley in 2000, majoring in transportation engineering and management, with minors in economics and industrial engineering and operations research. He received an MS from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995, with a concentration in computer aided engineering and management. Dennis Freeman, MUP, has been a research assistant for MTI since August 2009. He pursued his Master of Urban Planning degree at San José State University immediately after receiving his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Humboldt State University. He has worked as a digital cartographer for a community-based magazine, a GIS analyst for the County of San Mateo, and is currently a crime prevention specialist for a non-profit in Oakland, California.


The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues, especially as they relate to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA- LU. The Institute has been funded by Congress through the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI’s focus on policy and management resulted from the Board’s assessment of the transportation industry’s unmet needs. That led directly to choosing the San José State University College of Business as the Institute’s home.