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Getting from airport to hotel: alternatives to a costly taxi

For some travelers the hidden costs of a vacation begin right after they have claimed their bags at the airport. Completely baffled as to how to get from the airport to the hotel, they take the easiest and most visible choice by hopping into a waiting cab. And, as the meter ticks relentlessly on to $20 or $25, they spend the ride wishing there had been some alternative.

In most cases, there is an alternative - or even several. Often there is limousine service that will take you directly to your hotel or to other points in the city for a fraction of the cab fare. Or, if you are traveling light and still feel energetic after the flight, there is sometimes public transportation - the least expensive choice of all.

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The following is a list of some of those alternatives at major airports in the United States. The intervals given for the frequency of public transportation are generally applicable from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.; it is usually less frequent at other times. In most cases you can catch either limousines or buses right outside the baggage claim area. If in doubt, look for signs or ask an airport or airline employee.

Atlanta: Atlanta International Airport is 8 miles southwest of the city, about a $13 cab ride away. The Atlanta Airport Shuttle provides limousine service to downtown locations, a $5.25 trip that leaves from the airport every 20 minutes. You can also catch the No. 72 bus at the North Terminal baggage claim, a 40-minute ride downtown which costs 60 cents.

Boston: Logan International Airport, 3 miles northeast of downtown, is about an $8 cab ride away. Limousine service to and from major hotels in the city is available for $3.25. To get to the airport from the city by public transportation, the Blue Line subway train goes from the downtown Government Center Station to Airport Station for 60 cents. From there an airport shuttle bus stops at the various terminals for 25 cents. Allow at least 40 minutes if you go by subway or bus.

Chicago: O'Hare International Airport is 18 miles from downtown, about $20 by cab. Continental Air Transport buses go to most major hotels for $6 every half hour. By public transportation, there is the No. 40 O'Harexpress which goes to Jefferson Park for $1. From there passengers can take the subway to Dearborn Street, downtown. Total time by public transportation is about 50 minutes.

Dallas-Fort Worth: Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is 19 miles northwest of Dallas and 18 miles northeast of Fort Worth, about a $22 cab ride to either city. Limousine service to and from most major hotels is provided by SURTRAN buses for There is no public transportation to either city.

Denver: Stapleton International Airport is 7 miles northeast of downtown Denver, about an $8 cab ride away. Airport Limousine Service provides transportation to downtown hotels every 40 minutes for $5. You can also catch the No. 23 RTD bus, which leaves every 15 minutes from the lower level opposite Gates 6, 7, 8, and 9. The 23-minute ride to 17th and California Streets in downtown Denver costs 70 cents.

Detroit: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is 19 miles southwest of downtown, about a $23 cab ride away. Greyhound buses provide transportation to points in the downtown area at half-hour intervals for $5. There is no public transportation.

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Houston: Houston Intercontinental Airport is 22 miles north of the city, about a $25 cab ride away. Continental Trailways buses make the 45- to 60-minute trip to the Airport Bus Terminal at Louisiana and Polk Streets, downtown, for $6 . There is no public transportation.

Los Angeles: Los Angeles International Airport is 15 miles southwest of downtown, about an $18 cab ride away. Airport Limousine Service provides transportation to downtown hotels every 30 minutes for $4. There is also a bus, the Airport Shuttle No. 608, that goes to the Vicksburg-98th Street transfer point for 50 cents. From there passengers can take the No. 607 bus for an additional 50 cents to stops along Flower Street, downtown.

Miami: Miami International Airport is 7 miles northwest of downtown, about a for $5.50, every 30 to 45 minutes. The No. 3 bus makes the 40-minute ride to SE First Street and SE First Avenue, downtown, at 40-minute intervals for 75 cents.

Minneapolis-St. Paul: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is 11 miles southeast of Minneapolis and 9 miles southwest of St. Paul, about a $15 cab ride to Minneapolis and a $12 ride to St. Paul. Minneapolis & Suburban Limo provides transportation t/hotels in Minneapolis for $4.50 at 10-minute intervals. Capital City Airline Service provides transportation to hotels in St. Paul for $3.50 at 15-minute intervals. The No. 7 bus provides service to Hennepin and Washington Streets in downtown Minneapolis, a 45-minute trip that leaves at 20- to 40 -minute intervals and costs 75 cents. The No. 4 bus goes to University and Snelling Streets in St. Paul, a 34-minute trip that costs 75 cents. From there passengers transfer to the No. 16 Express for the additional 20-minute ride to Seventh and Cedar Streets, downtown St. Paul.

New York: La Guardia Airport is 8 miles from midtown Manhattan, about a $13 cab ride away. The Carey Transportation buses provide service to Grand Central Terminal for $3.50 at 20-minute intervals. The return trip to La Guardia on the Carey buses leaves from the East Side Airlines Terminal on First Ave. and 37th Street. You can also take the No. Q33 bus from La Guardia to the subway station at Broadway and 74th Street, a 20-minute ride which leaves every 15 minutes and costs 75 cents.

John F. Kennedy International Airport is 15 miles southeast of Manhattan, about a $23 cab ride away. The Carey buses go!to ald from the East Side Airlines Terminal at 20-minute intervals for a $5 fare. The JFK Express provides shuttle bus service to the Howard Beach-JFK Airport stop, where passengers can catch a subway train making eight stops in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The trip takes at least an hour into midtown Manhattan and costs $5. To catch the JFK Express from Manhattan to the airport, go to the subway stops at 57th Street and 6th Avenue, 42nd Street, 34th Street, Washington Square, Chambers Street, or Broadway-Nassau Street. Take the train marked JFK Express.

Philadelphia: Philadelphia International Airport is 8 miles southwest of the city, about a $10 cab ride away. Yellow Airport Transfer Service provides transportation to major hotels for $4.75. The Airport Express bus makes the 40 -minute trip downtown at 30-minute intervals for $2.25, stopping at 30th Street Station, City Hall, and along Market Street (inbound) and John F. Kennedy Boulevard (outbound).

San Francisco: San Francisco International Airport is 14 miles south of the city, about a $20 cab ride away. Airporter Coach provides limousine service to downtown hotels every 15 minutes for $4. The No. 7B and No. 7F buses make the 45 -minute trip to the First and Mission Streets terminal, downtown, for 90 cents.

Seattle: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is 13 miles south of the city, about a $16 cab ride away. Limousine service to downtown is provided every half hour for $4.75. The No. 174 bus makes the 50-minute trip to 4th Avenue, and Union Street, downtown, for 90 cents, departing from the airport every half hour.

Washington: Washington National Airport is four miles south of the city, about a $6.50 cab ride away. Greyhound offers limousine service every 30 minutes to downtown hotels for $3.25. Metro subway trains leaving from the station opposite the north terminal make stops downtown for 90 cents during rush hours and 65 cents at other times.