Visitors who arrive at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are instantly connected to downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and numerous hotels thanks to the METRO Blue Line. When the METRO Green Line opens next year, travelers will also be able to reach the University of Minnesota and St. Paul via light rail.
Such convenience is good for business.
A new study by the American Public Transportation Association and U.S. Travel Association found that “rail cities” where airports are served by rail lines regularly outperform those without such a link when it comes to hotel revenue and occupancy rates.
Since 2006, researchers found that hotels in “rail cities” generated 11 percent more revenue per room compared to those without rail. Hotels within a quarter-mile of a station area did even better, showing 12 percent higher occupancy rates and 49 percent higher average daily room rates.
The study drew on data from Minneapolis and five other cities with airport-rail connections (the trip from Terminal 1-Lindbergh station to downtown Minneapolis takes about 20 minutes). The numbers were compared with popular destinations without a direct rail connection, including Las Vegas and New Orleans.
“Clearly investment in local rail systems not only benefits residents, but drives significant economic growth in the travel and hospitality industries,” APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a statement.
Kristen Montag, the communications manager for Meet Minneapolis, said the Blue Line is a strong selling point for meeting and event planners because it reduces transportation costs and provides visitors flexibility.
It also fits with the Twin Cities’ reputation as an active, vibrant community where biking, walking and taking transit allows people to get around car-free.
“People can get off the plane at the airport and take the train, walk around, use the [free] bus on Nicollet Mall, rent a bike or pretty much do anything without having to rent a car,” she said. “That certainly makes this an attractive destination.”
The METRO Blue Line's two airport terminal stations are among the busiest of the 19 on the light rail line. In 2012, there were nearly 3 million Blue Line boardings at the Blue Line’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey stations, representing about 18 percent of total boardings.
"The local business and hospitality industries have underscored how important the Blue Line's airport connection is to major commerce areas in the metro," Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. "For travelers, this stress-free connection is a great introduction to what we have to offer in the Twin Cities."
> APTA: Cities with Rail-to-Airport Connection Boost Hotel Revenue
> Airport Transit Service