Synthesis Topics

Airport Ground Transportation Fee Structures and Practices for Carbon Reduction

To synthesize information on ground transportation fee structures and best practices at other airports, with an emphasis on carbon reduction. This information could be used to support innovative ground transportation fees to reduce carbon, while considering changes in travel patterns, non-aeronautical revenue, and potential social equity issues.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Emissions from surface traffic can be a substantial portion (30% or more) of the Scope 3 carbon emissions at an airport. Traditional transportation demand management tools such as encouraging increased transit use often have limited effect. Airports may wish to use their fee structures in innovative ways to reduce carbon: for example, by establishing fee incentives for low-emitting shuttles, or by introducing access fees at the curb to reduce or divert passenger trips. However, introducing or changing ground transportation fees can have implications for provider contractual agreements, travel patterns, non-aeronautical revenues, and social equity. Although the topic is complex and potentially controversial, the urgency of climate change drives a need to gain knowledge as soon as possible.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

To understand ground transportation fee structures and related best practices at US and international airports, to support changes in fees to promote reduced carbon emissions from airport ground access.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The approach includes the following general steps:

  1. Conduct a literature review, including the ACRP documents referenced, academic writings on fee structures, and other relevant sources. 
  2. Conduct a brief survey to identify airports that are using fee structures to influence carbon emissions. The number may be small, so the survey should consider a broader net to gather useful information.
  3. Conduct in-depth interviews with several airports to understand their fee structures, how carbon reduction influenced their fees, lessons learned and resulting best practices, and (if available) data to illustrate issues and outcomes. Include impacts on revenue, changing traffic patterns, and social equity in the discussions.
  4. If helpful, consider outreach to one or more international airports with innovative practices.
  5. Identify areas ripe for focused research. Given the urgency of this topic, "mini-topics" that would allow for quick response would be ideal.
Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

ACRP Synthesis 89: Clean Vehicles, Fuels, and Practices for Airport Private Ground Transportation Providers (2018): "summarizes the experiences of public-use airports with developing and implementing clean vehicle policies involving private ground transportation operators serving the airports." This report references airport fees for alternative fuel vehicles, but does not provide enough detail on the fees, and does not address general fee structures.


ACRP Research Report 225: Rethinking Airport Parking Facilities to Protect and Enhance Non-Aeronautical Revenue (2021): This report includes an entire chapter on innovative fees for parking facilities. The information could be valuable input to this synthesis, but is not complete because it (1) only covers parking facilities and (2) is focused on non-aeronautical revenue rather than carbon reduction.



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Topic Collection
Idea No. 778