By George Hobica
As every savvy traveler knows, a low airfare is only the beginning. The real work? That starts when you touch down in your destination, where costs can easily run away from you. And it starts right at the airport. If youre not careful, you can easily spend as much getting into town as you did on the flight that brought you there.
Thats why were taking a break from telling you about low fares to talk to you about ground transportation. (We can tell – you're totally excited right now.) Seriously, though, you will be, when we show you how cheaply you can get things done. This week, were analyzing the situation at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It may not be all that warm down there right now, but it sure beats Cleveland.
South Florida is no transit wasteland; arriving passengers at Fort Lauderdale can hop a shuttle bus at their terminal and, within a few minutes, be standing on a platform waiting for their train to Miami or West Palm Beach. It will perhaps come as a surprise to no one, however, that negotiating both the Broward Transit system (they're the bus people) and the Tri-Rail schedule (that's the train) takes a fair bit of focused energy. Sure, they both operate on reasonable schedules, all day long, and sure, you'll save money – the bus shuttle is free, fares to Miami are just $3.75 each way – but at what real cost? Besides the waiting you'll do, also know that the Tri-Rail stations are mostly in terribly inconvenient (and generally quite terrible) locations that require yet another bus ride or a potentially expensive taxi ride, once reached. If you're just sticking around Fort Lauderdale, you'll be fascinated to learn – we were! – that there's no direct bus to the beach area from the airport. You have to catch Broward Transit's Route 1 bus into town, then transfer at the rather colorful downtown transit center. Taxi!
Cruise passengers departing from Port Everglades or sunseekers just heading for local hotels may be all set with free shuttles from the airport; for the rest of us, there's GO Airport Shuttle, the exclusive operator of shared-ride services from Fort Lauderdale. They operate vans all over South Florida and promise a wait of no more than 30 minutes from the time you check-in at their arrivals-level desk; fares to Fort Lauderdale's beach hotels average around $15, with Miami Beach not much more expensive at $21 (fares may fluctuate depending on exact distance.)
Fares are regulated by local government and can be rather reasonable -- $12 into Port Everglades if you don't feel like standing around waiting for your cruise shuttle bus, just under $20 to the beach hotels in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, contact Yellow Cab.
If you're renting a car, it is worth considering whether or not you've got somewhere cheap – or free, better yet – to park it in your destination. Valet parking, often mandatory at downtown hotels and beachfront resorts, can run you upwards of $30 per night. If you decide to opt for a car rental at Fort Lauderdale, head down to the arrivals level and catch the airport's one-bus-serves-all shuttle. If you've arrived at Terminal 1, you can just walk directly into the rental car center, which is conveniently located located right at the heart of the rather compact airport complex. If you do rent, to find the lowest car rental rates in Fort Lauderdale, take a look at Autoslash.com for hidden discounts.
BROWSER (AND FRIENDS) SAY:
Fort Lauderdale is popular for many different reasons, used heavily by cruise passengers catching boats at nearby Port Everglades, a favorite with many Miami-bound travelers who couldn't even find their way to Fort Lauderdale's downtown but simply can't stand the more hectic Miami airport. Still others merely love the cheap fares on Spirit, but are actually Palm Beach-bound. So how to get around really depends on why you're here. That said, we just aren't in love with the idea of wasting potential beach time trying to figure out South Florida's public transportation network. When we touch down at Fort Lauderdale, our first stop is always the rental car center, where rates can often be extremely reasonable.
Find fares to Ft. Lauderdale and from Ft. Lauderdale.
Learn more about Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International. See whats up in Fort Lauderdale at http://www.sunny.org/.