It’s not often you hear an airline exec recommend alternatives to flying, but Jet Blue Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster decided to wing it yesterday and told attendees at an air-travel conference: “I may be shooting ourselves in the foot here, with five daily flights from JFK to Boston. But it just may not make that much sense for an airplane on a 150-mile route to fly over 300 air miles to get there. Maybe there’s a different mode of transportation that may be better to carry those customers from point A to point B.” Maybe we should be calling him former Jet Blue COO.
Maruster was speaking at the “Airports: 21st Century Makeovers For The New York Metro Region” conference in New York, and surprised the crowd by proposing that high-speed trains take the place of his company’s flights in the crowded NY-Boston corridor:
It was an event filled with charts and maps that drove home how overwhelmed and outdated current air traffic control technology is. One solution Maruster said was obvious is taking airline passengers off some routes, like New York to Boston. “It seems like there’s a mode that might work better for us in that regard. When we see things like high-speed rail going into South Florida, we say OK, that makes sense. But I think this region, with almost 25 million people in the Tri-State area, makes a lot more sense for those kind of things.” Maruster says he’d like to see New York City and federal transportation officials put out a 20 or 30-year vision that addresses how airplanes, trains and other modes of transportation can be put together. He hasn’t seen one yet.
Interesting idea, though it might have to be an 80-to-100-year vision, given how long infrastructure projects in the northeast typically take.