The Federal Aviation Administration plans to replace the current patchwork of bus and limousine services to Dulles and National airports with a comprehensive, color-coordinated and highly advertised system in early 1981.
The system represents a major step by FAA and area transportation officials to limit private automobile traffic to the two Virginia airports to reduce congestion and save on the cost of providing acres and acres of parking. r
The FAA outlined the system in requests for proposals from prospective providers of the ground transportation system, spelling out what the contractor should provide in substantial detail.
Companies will submit bids March 7 on what they are willing to pay to operate the limousine and motor coach service concession.
"We're trying for selfish reasons to pull more people from their private vehicles into other transportation," said Richard Griesbach, staff assistant to the airport manager at Dulles. To do that, the FAA has outlined specifically how the service is to be provided in many respects, including standards for cleanliness and requiring uniforms for employes.
The service will include a 24-hour telephone information service providing information on routes and fares and a counter adjacent to baggage claim areas where passengers can get information about all available types of transportation. That information may be provided by a multilingual computer terminal, assisted by humans, Griesbach said.
"we also recommend a level of advertising expenditures that will hopefully provide effective marketing and pull people from private vehicles into the system," said Griesbach. "We're hopeful once people become familiar with the system and perceived it as reliable, more people will use it."
The biggest advantage of the FAA is that it reduces the amount of parking it must build to accommodate airport passengers. Both adjacent and shuttle parking are costly items, Griesbach said.
Although the system will replace companies that currently operate transportation services to the airports, such as Greyhound, unless one of those companies is the successful bidder, it will not alter taxicab service to the airports.
Thirty days before the service is expected to open -- Feb. 1, 1981 -- the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, an agency created by the state of Virginia to coordinate planning for mass transit in northern Virginia, will finance an advertising blitz to get people prepared for the advent of the new system.
The commission worked with FAA officials on developing plans for the Washington Airports Transportation System, using funds provided through a grant from the Urban Mass Transit Administration.