Time to ditch the air service from Quincy and consider a reliable, luxury bus service? – Muddy River News

A Van Galder bus operated by Coach USA. | Photo courtesy of Coach USA

Municipal authorities are once again faced with the challenge of finding an essential air service provider.

Cape Air, the current provider, notified the US Department of Transportation in May of its intention to end passenger air service to Quincy. Cape Air received a grant of $10.8 million over four years beginning December 1, 2021 to serve St. Louis and Chicago. While the number of scheduled flights to Chicago remained unchanged, the Quincy-to-St. Louis flights are now limited to three per week.

My family, frequent airline passengers, have seen the deterioration of air service from the days of Ozark Air Lines regional jet service to what we have today. The airlines interested in replacing Cape Air apparently plan to offer a new version by offering single-engine propellers.

We understood. Airlines are facing pilot shortages, a slowing pandemic, labor shortages, fuel costs and other challenges. Whatever the reason, many in the community find service to Chicago and St. Louis unreliable and the flights less than pleasant. It’s a little worrying when we have to share our weights to get the plane properly balanced. Better to drive or, in the case of Chicago, possibly take the train and Uber, taxi or Chicago Transit to the airport.

Flying to and from Quincy is not the ultimate transportation choice. Problems with air travel will only get worse.

It’s time to consider alternatives

Having a commercial air service is surely a good thing and brings a bit of prestige to the community. Maybe it was even a necessity when we had a stronger industrial base. Virtual meetings were unavailable and companies didn’t have their own planes like many do now. (Take a look at the many private hangers at Quincy Regional Airport.)

Still, maybe it’s time for the city of Quincy to explore alternatives to air travel if it really wants to meet the needs of the public. An alternative would be a luxury and reliable bus service. Perhaps a state-of-the-art electric bus?

We recently used a bus service to travel from Madison, Wisconsin to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Despite an initial issue with the air conditioning, it worked well, had internet, and was right on time. The service, which runs several times a day to the airport and another to Union Station, was the Van Galder operated by Coach USA.

Federal subsidies are available for all kinds of public transportation, including bus transportation. Cape Air’s $10.8 million grant, along with ticket fees, would appear to be able to provide multiple trips per day.

Teaming up with Macomb or Hannibal wouldn’t hurt either. (But we don’t want a bunch of stops.)

The service could not only benefit air travel, but, with St. Louis subway service, avoid some of those sleepy commutes back from Cardinal or Blues games.

We have local bus services whose expansion could perhaps be encouraged and subsidized. Drivers would outnumber pilots, even some off-season farmers.

Is bus transportation a feasible option? Who knows?

But it is a question that must be asked.

Jim Rapp has practiced law for nearly 50 years and has been published and spoken extensively on estate planning, business and education law, civil rights and other legal issues. He is a founding partner of Muddy River News LLC.

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