Grinding through beach traffic to visit his mother on the Eastern Shore is an odyssey Rusty Bell knows well.
After a roughly two-hour Southwest flight to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport from Florida, the 55-year-old usually continues his journey with a shuttle ride to the airport's rental car facility. He then forks over more than $200 to rent a car for a week, and is faced with more expenses as he fuels up and then hits Bay Bridge congestion.
But this month, Mr. Bell was picked up from BWI in a white, 15-passenger Dodge Caravan provided by BayRunner Shuttle, a service that transports customers daily from the airport to downtown Salisbury and Easton.
"It was an easy drive down, right on time," said Mr. Bell of the $100 round-trip shuttle service from BWI to Salisbury. "Somebody else is driving. Those vans are really comfortable; they don't bounce you around."
Since May 2005, BayRunner Shuttle has transported more than 5,000 customers from BWI to the Eastern Shore, and travel experts say that market is growing.
The need for such a service became apparent after US Airways Express stopped daily flights from BWI to Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport in May 2002. The airline still provides daily flights from Salisbury to Philadelphia.
The move, however, left BWI airline passengers, tourists, business executives and vacationers from Baltimore with a more than two-hour drive. Those traveling from Salisbury to the Baltimore area also faced the trip.
"I felt that there was definitely a market that needed to be serviced," said Mr. Presburg, a former scheduling director for
Piedmont Airlines which operates as a US Airways Express carrier at the Salisbury airport. "I characterize it as an airline without wings. We're seeing a mix of everything: (Salisbury University) students, university professors, couples, people who are just coming from Baltimore to connect with relatives up there."
Equipped with passenger Chevrolet vans and Dodge Caravans, BayRunner Shuttle provides seven daily rides, owner John Presburg said.
Starting at 8:30 each morning, shuttles pick up airline passengers at BWI's hourly parking garage and stop about an hour later at the Easton Airport, where passengers may connect to other flights. Shuttles then head to Salisbury, arriving there an hour later. A one-way trip from BWI to Salisbury costs $50, while the round-trip fee is $100.
A ride from BWI to Easton is $33; the round-trip cost is $66.
"It fills a void for people who are traveling from the Baltimore area," said John Hall, owner of Hall's Tidewater Travel in Salisbury. "It's been very, very positive."
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