31 Jul 2009 9:00 am   //   Filed under: Failure, Stray data, Transit

You’d be there by now on the Air-Shuttle

The last time I took the Amtrak to D.C., in May, I shot some pictures of urban decay seen from the train. There was one particular sign I wanted to photograph—on the side of a warehouse between Trenton and Philadelphia—but it always goes by so fast I’ve never been able to get a shot of it. Until a recent trip to Maryland this past Saturday.


This is a poster for the long-defunct Eastern Airlines Air Shuttle. Note the classic Eastern logo in the lower-left part of the sign. How old is this sign?

The Air Shuttle was a ground-breaking, no-reservation, walk-up service that flew every hour between LaGuardia and Reagan National. It began in 1961, and grew into a huge success through the 1980s. A number of competitors began copying the idea, including Pan Am in 1986. With Eastern on the verge of collapse in the late 1980s, Donald Trump bought the Eastern Air Shuttle assets in 1989 for his start-up airline. Trump Airlines almost immediately went out of business, and USAir took over the shuttle in 1992. US Airways and Delta (Pan Am) still operate the popular shuttles between LaGuardia and Logan and Reagan National. I flew the Delta Shuttle once and it was as convenient as promised—plus it was fun to fly out of the old Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia.

Today, this sign is an anachronism. Amtrak’s high-speed Acela started running in 2000, and airport security went to hell after 9/11. Plus getting to LaGuardia is either slow or expensive, and often both. Today it’s usually faster to take the train to D.C. than to fly.

(Historical information comes from Wikipedia and the US Airways site.)