Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was never a traveler’s favorite, but now, in their view, it has fallen even further out of favor.
It might surprise some flyers, but passengers once ranked O'Hare Airport as the world's 92nd best. That high, really?
But now, O'Hare Airport has fallen off the list of the "world's 100 best airports", as ranked by passengers. Just how far it has fallen was not reported.
Think of it: Chicago is the transportation hub of the nation, yet its main airport stinks. Chicago tries mightily to sell itself as a convention mecca and a major tourist attraction. Yet anyone coming here has to deal with an inefficient, inconvenient and unwelcoming airport.
How can this happen? Especially after Chicago has invested billions of airline passenger and taxpayers' dollars in the "O'Hare
Modernization Program?" Its promises were many: reduced delays, more gates and more convenience, blah and blah. Now, after five of the six new runways sketched in the OMP have been built, little, if any, of the promises have been fulfilled. Imagine, after spending billions, O’Hare not only hasn’t improved, it may have even have become worse.
This massive failure can be placed at the doorstep of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago Way that he represents. The problem was that they viewed the airport as the city’s deepest well of patronage and contracts. If any of the billions being spent in some way helped the air travelers, well, it was a coincidence.
From the start, the OMP was doomed to failure. Aviation, airport and transportation experts long had said O’Hare Airport by its very nature should not and could not be safely and effectively expanded. It’s is a 1970s design, located on a constrained 7,000 acres. Any attempt to expand would worsen noise and air pollution and not improve efficiency.
The best and only answer to meet the Chicago region’s expanding air capacity demands, the experts said, would be to build a south suburban airport, far enough away from Midway and O’Hare airports to prevent air traffic safety problems from emerging. One of its many benefits would be the ability to build real airport express train service on the Metra electric line that already extends to the airport’s northern boundary. Instead of the $300 million already spent on the hole in Block 37 that was supposed to be the terminal for the O'Hare CTA express train that can never be realized.
As disturbing as the failure to meet air traveler demand is the Chicago media's failure to fully document the trashing of one of the Chicago area's most valuable assets. If all the money expended on OMP had instead been spent on making real improvements to O’Hare Airport (instead of expansion) and on a south suburban airport, we wouldn’t be reading about passenger complaints about O’Hare. And their desperate effort to avoid O’Hare Airport at all costs.
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