James Gillespie is Alstom’s Head of Automated People Mover (APM) – Airports. He started his career at Delta Airlines, where he spent a decade in several Engineering roles. He then held several ascending leadership roles with Zodiac Aerospace in his 14-year tenure with them before finally moving to Bombardier Transportation in 2015, acquired by Alstom in 2021. Over the span of his 30+ year career, he has developed expertise in operations leadership and supply chain management and has a reputation for his singular focus on customer service.
1 Since the AirTrain at JFK International Airport began operations in 2003, what function has Alstom had in its 24-hour maintenance/operation and passenger assistance?
Jim Gillespie: Alstom and Bombardier Transportation (acquired by Alstom last year) have been the sole operations and maintenance service provider since the AirTrain opened in 2003. We provide the system operations control, maintain all the train equipment, the station elevators/escalators, and staff the customer service team who serves as liaisons with AirTrain passengers.
2 What is the approximate capacity of people per day, per direction on the AirTrain at JFK? Are there stats for users between paying fares out of the LIRR Jamaica Station and users within the airport and its employees?
Jim Gillespie: Prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, AirTrain ridership rose to approximately 65,000 passengers per day. The statistics only refer to overall ridership, not necessarily those at the Jamaica and Howard Beach Fare Gates.
3 Which air train system in the world is the most sophisticated and designed best for travelers?
Jim Gillespie: Over 30 of Alstom’s Innovia automated people movers (APM) systems have been delivered around the world over the past 50 years and are in operation at 26 of the world’s busiest airports. The technology Alstom has created has supported increased airport capacity and is an overwhelmingly reliable system.
Our turnkey operations include overseeing the design, build, operation maintenance and upgrades of each system as needed. The driverless Innovia APM is a transportation system specially designed to serve airports and dense urban areas. It offers quick, comfortable, and convenient service for commuters within cities, to and from airports, or between airport terminals. This service does not interfere with surrounding road or runway traffic.
4 What improvements in technology have developed since the original AirTrain was introduced at JFK that may help develop AirTrain service within the new JFK after the airport’s re-development?
Jim Gillespie: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has aggressively updated multiple features at AirTrain, including the closed-circuit TV system within airport terminals and recently onboard the AirTrain cars themselves. Passenger information display monitors provide customers with real-time arrival information and wayfinding guidance through the airports.
5 What are some of the other Automated People Mover (APM) systems in place in the New York metropolitan region, and are there any plans in place to implement an APM at other airports in the U.S.?
Jim Gillespie: Alstom also partners with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) at the Newark Airport and is looking forward to the possible installation of a new people mover system at the LaGuardia airport. We are exploring other opportunities in the US, including within the New York Metro region. Currently under construction, the people mover being built at the LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, will revolutionize the passenger experience by connecting all terminals to the new long-term parking and rental car facilities.
Alstom offers a complete range of equipment and services, from high-speed trains, metros, trams, and e-buses to integrated systems, customized services, infrastructure, signaling, and digital mobility solutions. www.alstom.com