Airport shuttle ridership falls short, so what’s next?

The pilot phase for the shuttle to and from the Jackson Hole Airport is ending — leaving its future in limbo.
Flyers wait for transportation in the Jackson Hole Airport lobby. A lot of the visitors took cabs or used rideshare apps, despite sitting next to signs giving information about the low-cost shuttle. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Transportation

The Jackson Hole Airport shuttle quits rolling on Sunday, April 14, and ridership numbers are well below what transportation officials said were needed to deem the pilot a success.

According to a press release from START and the airport, the shuttle averaged 78 riders per day from December through the end of March — just over half of the 120 riders Transit Director Bruce Abel said was the target ridership. 

Abel wasn’t available to comment in time for publication, but back in January, he said some hard conversations would need to happen if that threshold wasn’t met. 

“I think then the community will need to reevaluate whether or not there is really a demand for public transit service between the town and the airport,” he told KHOL.


This was Jackson’s first shuttle to and from the airport in years. There’s been a low-cost shuttle before, but it shut down largely because it wasn’t financially viable.

According to Abel, this shuttle was a test to see if public airport transportation is actually a community need. Funding for the four-month stint came from the airport, thanks to authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has said the community shouldn’t expect this funding to continue long-term. It remains unclear where future dollars will come from.

The Jackson Hole Airport shuttle, operated by START, rolls up to the pick-up area earlier this year. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Some felt the service was long overdue while others — like taxis and rideshare app drivers —- felt it was cutting into their business in an already slow winter.

In the press release, START and Jackson Hole Airport said that several gathered metrics, including ridership, will be used to determine whether the service will continue next winter.

But the findings from the analysis of those metrics and rider surveys won’t be released until this summer. 

Executive director of the airport Jim Elwood said he believes many hope that they’ll find a way to resume in the fall, but that is still up in the air.

“The numbers, based on what I’ve seen, they’ve been good, but not great,” Elwood said.

More than 8,000 riders used the shuttle over the span of the pilot with close to half boarding at the airport and half in town. According to START and the airport, survey results from halfway through the pilot showed that nearly all riders, up to that point, were satisfied with the service.

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