Least Favorite Airports: EWR

After all of these posts of favorite airports, those which have great transit access, those with stunning architectural elements, and those that are close to everything and representative of their respective cities, comes some of my least favorite airports. Some of these I don’t like for various reasons, and some I cringe at the though of flying into and out of. Newark Liberty International Airport isn’t an airport on my hate list, but it is far from an ideal place to fly out of.

My main reason for not liking Newark Airport is its outdated design.  I understand that its two main terminals were designed many years ago, probably in the 1960s or 1970s, but at least some exterior updates could have been made to modernize it and make it an attractive competitor to JFK in New York proper.  The three main terminals (A, B, and C) are all the same design and are in a semi-circle relative to the closest local highway, US 1/9, and is also flanked to the east by the one major highway in the area, the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95.  There is also access to EWR via Route 21 from Passaic, Route 22 from Springfield and points west, and I-78 from Harrisburg, PA.

They also don’t seem to make parking and rental car access very convenient, either, as you have to primarily find parking off-site and take a privately-run shuttle bus to the terminals…hoping that they won’t tip the van over while they rush you to your airline.  Half of these guys also don’t seem to understand the meaning of driving carefully, especially with many pieces of luggage, many groups with children and/or seniors, potholes galore, or a need to make a lot of noise to get your attention.  Not to mention the holes in the wall called parking lots where your car is stored during your vacation.  Lots next to lots next to hotels next to industrial parcels sometimes far away from the terminals make it difficult to even get to in order to park your car and leave it with an attendant.  Rental car facilities are often off-site and are time-consuming to get to, let alone difficult with access ramps and signs for every highway under the sun (1/9, 21, 22, 78, 95) as well as many side streets that lead to who-knows-where.  For an airport so large, one would have thought that EWR would have much of the necessities on-site.  There is parking on-site but at much higher rates than the off-site places.  Better off getting dropped off at the airport.  Especially with taxi rates pretty steep…let’s not get started with that.

Bus service is available from New Jersey Transit (the #37, #62, #67, #107 on some trips, and the go28 service to Bloomfield) to all three terminals, and rail service is available at the EWR Rail Station, only reachable via the Airtrain EWR monorail.  That in and of itself is a system from yesteryear, and it looks like it too.  A train ahead of its time but so outdated it’s obsolete since yesterday.  It does have its ridership, but it’s mainly people who are coming from NJ Transit trains and Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor.  Other than local buses which no one wants to ride except for airport employees, there is really no other public transit access to the airport, so you are forced to take the monorail from the rail station and pay the extra $5.50 fee paid to the Port Authority of NY and NJ which operates the airport.  The only way around the rail-monorail shuffle is Newark Airport Express ($16 one-way from Midtown), but it is only useful if you are travelling from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Bryant Park, and the Grand Central Terminal area.  Otherwise, the PATH train to the #62 bus at Newark Penn Station would be your best bet.  So, in other words, unless you are willing to ride with the workers and the regular local bus riders, you have to cough up the money to even enter the airport property.

Meh, I’ll stick to JFK and the $2.50 subway fare, even if it means paying an extra $5 for the JFK Airtrain, because at least you have other options (NYC Airporter, LIRR to Airtrain, Q10 Limited from Kew Gardens, Q3 from Jamaica, etc).

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