Sept. 01--Universal Orlando has started offering an airport shuttle service taking tourists directly from Orlando International Airport to its resort, no longer relying on companies including Mears Transportation.
The Universal SuperStar Shuttle Service begins operation Tuesday. A Universal spokesman would not comment on the service, which will cost $35 per person for a round trip.
Tourism experts said they couldn't understand Universal's motivation for starting the service, since companies including Mears, Quick Transportation and SuperShuttle have already taken visitors from the airport to Universal and other attractions at a similar price.
"It doesn't make sense to me. You've got Mears doing this. Why do you even want to be in this business?" said Duncan Dickson, associate professor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
SuperShuttle is partnering with Universal to provide the service.
Visitors cannot stay with another previously booked ground transportation provider such as Mears or Quick Transportation, according to a "Frequently Asked Questions" page about the service.
"All guests staying at our Universal Orlando On-Site Resort hotels are being transferred to this new service, but you will be receiving more service than your last one with no additional charge," it says.
Outside shuttle services made stops at several attractions rather than taking people straight to Universal only, said Len Testa, president of the TouringPlans.com theme park website.
Quick Transportation did not return a call seeking comment. Mears spokesman Roger Chapin said in an email "we are not aware" of Universal's new service and had no further comment.
Mears is the dominant transportation provider at OIA. It also operates buses for Disney's Magical Express, a free shuttle service for visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort.
Universal's service will be different than Disney's Magical Express because of the fee it charges. Also, unlike Disney's Magical Express customers, Universal SuperStar shuttle riders will have to pick up their own luggage from the baggage claim area.
Visitors flying into the airport from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. will go to welcome centers in one of two Universal Orlando stores where a concierge will check them in, providing "travel wallets" with pre-printed tickets. People arriving at the airport between 8:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. will have to contact the shuttle service directly.
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