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Travel connections, eyes, and wool

It was interesting to see a blue KLM on the streets last night here in Holland. The Dutch airline apparently now provides complimentary bus service to more regional cities—cities that lack an airport. In the land of convenient and ubiquitous rail, the reasons for this seam unclear.

I fully understand that connections are widely considered to be an important bane of travel behavior. People may prefer longer bus or train routes at the expense of having to switch vehicles. Internet sites offer toggle buttons to search only for flights with direct routes. When a transfer involved, regardless of mode, a sigh usually follows. When a transfer is accompanied by the need to wait the sigh turns to grumble. The value of time is weighted even more so when uncertainty is introduced.

The Royal Dutch airlines (KLM) used to fly into Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Maastricht, and Amsterdam (Schiphol). Now they fly only to  Schipol. But apparently they want to claim that they serve a broader array of Dutch cities, seemingly without a major connection or train transport. For example, you buy a ticket directly to Nijmegen (a town lacking an airport). You land in Schiphol and a pimped-out bus will take you the central station in two hours.

But here’s the catch. The bus takes 2 hours; and it only goes 2 times per day (it leaves at 9:00 and 20:00; you might have to wait 12 hours?). The train, the other hand, takes 75% of the time (90 min) and runs, on average, on 20 minute headways.

My guess is that KLM is trying to: (1) play mind-games with customers, encouraging customers to think they are purchasing a seamless connection (i.e., pulling the wool over their eyes), (2) creep into the train market or (3) cater to a higher end customer, who possibly is train adverse but has spare time?  Am I missing something?

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