The Express Times asks readers which destinations they want to see offered at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Here is the map of cities currently served by LVIA:
Love how they just fade out the western half of the United States like it doesn’t matter. The LV Chamber of Commerce has been trying to change this by courting Southwest Airways.
There’s no doubt that more connections to the Southwest would be great for the Lehigh Valley’s economy, since it would reduce obstacles to business travel between the two regions. Shrinking the time and money costs for people in these regions to do business would be a big boost to the productivity of the LV economy, and it would make the region a better location choice for businesses.
But more important than the Southwest, I think, is the need for LVIA to offer nonstop flights to the other big job centers in the Northeast and Midwest megaregions.
Here is a map of “super-commuter” corridors. These are people who commute from one region to another by car, bus, rail or air:
I think the goal of federal, state and regional transportation policy should be to reduce the transportation costs of moving people and goods around within these regions, and between them.
If I’m the LV Chamber of Commerce, and my goal is to make the Lehigh Valley a more important node in the regional economy and transportation network, I think it would make the most sense to first focus on getting direct nonstop flights between LVIA and Pittsburgh, Boston, and Raleigh/Durham.
It may be the case that it’s not profitable for an airline to offer nonstop flights to Pittsburgh from LVIA, but I think that’s an argument for building out the Keystone Corridor high speed rail plan. If you could shrink the trip time between the LV and Pittsburgh from 6 hours down to 2 or 3 hours, that would go a long way to lower the time cost of transportation and open up more opportunities for trade between the two metros.
Ideally, we want to be moving toward a transportation system where we use air travel primarily between metros, and rail travel within metros. It would make less sense to take a train from the LV to Boston or Raleigh/Durham than it would for Pittsburgh, but even if you could get rail travel in the US up to TVA speeds (a not-so-impressive 155 mph), a trip from the LV to Boston would only be about 2 and a half hours: