Lehigh Valley International Airport just got more customer-friendly with the opening Tuesday of a $5.2 million ground transportation center.
The new hub will enable passengers to take a LANTA or Trans-Bridge bus, taxi or rental car from the center built next to the main terminal on land where a firehouse once stood.
The center, which took 10 months to build, helps make LVIA more competitive in the region by bringing convenience and amenities to customers, said Charles Everett, executive director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.
Airline passengers now will be able to conveniently drop off their rental cars instead of having to park 700 feet away and hike through sprawling parking lots to reach the terminal entrance.
The center not only reduces walking distances, it offers sheltered walkways that protect pedestrians from inclement weather and vehicles, said Anthony McCloskey, director, Bureau of Aviation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
“The design of this facility certainly focused on the customer experience and helps LVIA remain competitive with other regional airports,” said Ryan Meyer, director of planning & programming, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.
LANTA’s bus stop on the upper level of the airport will move to the center on the lower level the day after Labor Day, said Owen O’Neill, executive director, Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, the bus service known as LANTA.
O’Neill said LANTA anticipates there will be an increased demand for bus service in the area when FedEx Ground builds its mid-Atlantic hub in Allen Township.
“We know there is more growth coming,” he said.
Workers will be able to transfer to other LANTA buses at the center to get to the FedEx warehouse, he said.
Trans-Bridge will move its New York park-and-ride service from its Industrial Drive office in Bethlehem, where it has been since 1982, to LVIA in December, according to Jim JeBran, executive vice president, Trans-Bridge Lines Inc. Its management offices and charter and tour buses will remain at Industrial Drive.
Officials dedicated the street where the multimodal transportation center is located to the late Robert “Bert” Daday, who served on the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority for 28 years.
His son, Robert P. Daday Jr., said his father, who had a talent for bringing people together, championed a regional approach to transportation and believed the airport would be essential to the Lehigh Valley’s growth.
State Sen. Lisa M. Boscola, who served with Daday on the board, said, “Airports are not just a place of travel, but in fact, are crucial to economic development across the commonwealth.”
The center was funded in part by a $1.75 million grant from the Multimodal Transportation Fund through PennDOT.
“With such a significant investment into this center, the commonwealth recognizes the impact LVIA has on not only the Lehigh Valley, but the entire commonwealth,” Boscola said.