Since the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been subsidizing air service to small rural communities through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. The original intent of the program was to maintain some level of air service to rural communities that would otherwise not have any. The Rural Survival Act of 1996 established the permanence of the EAS program; the act was fueled by the idea that reliable air services are vital to local rural economies. This idea has been somewhat challenged in recent studies that found little to no economic impacts of air traffic. This project entertained the theory that intercity traffic volume, and not air traffic volume alone, is what affects the economic outcomes of certain geographical areas. A cost-benefit analysis of substituting subsidized air service with a subsidized ground service is presented and concludes that an intercity ground service network can create substantial cost savings on both a per round trip basis and a round trip-seat basis.
Midwest Transportation Center; U.S. Department of Transportation DTRT13-G-UTC37
Mundy, Ray A.; Bao, Ken; and Wood, Abby, "Cost-Benefit Analysis: Substituting Ground Transportation for Subsidized Essential Air Services" (2015). InTrans Project Reports. 187.