Everything Old Is New Again

My friend Ed Drass just sent me a puff piece from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) about the impending opening of their new inter-terminal shuttle.  Read all about it here.  [This link is no longer active.]

What amuses me immensely is the propulsion technology.  The cars are pulled along by a “rope” to which they are attached.  There is only one unit on each of two tracks and so collisions are impossible.

We technically savvy railfan types will recognize this as a blend of elevator and cablecar technology.  Just think of the tourism potential if they hadn’t built an automated system!  In my mind’s eye, I see GTAA staff, in a period conductor’s uniform with the title “gripman” (or maybe “gripperson” to be more 21st century about it).  The cars could have lovely wooden trim, bench seats, and running-boards for the adventurous riders.

Might be a bit chilly for those interterminal transfers in February, but maybe we could have a summer and a winter fleet.

Hmmm … this sounds like the sort of high-tech transit the Urban Transportation Development Corporation would lap up.  A new world-beating technology!  Just in time to replace the Scarborough RT!

[We will return to our regular, curmudgeonly programming later this week with a look at next Wednesday’s TTC meeting.]

7 thoughts on “Everything Old Is New Again

  1. “There is only one unit on each of two tracks and so collisions are impossible.”

    Let’s hope so. The one-mile monorail in Seattle — also two tracks with one train each — had a collision last November. It turns out there was one place which was too tight to allow passing. The trains suffered major damage and won’t be back in service until September.

    For details, see http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002649089%5Fmonorail27m.html .


  2. This kind of thing is good for the airport, but what about direct rail links to Kipling station?

    Steve:  There is an EA underway for the Union-Pearson rail link and upgrades to permit additional GO service in the Georgetown corridor.  The study will look at alternatives for airport access, one of which is a Kipling Station line via the Hydro corridor.  I will write about this in a separate post. 

    And this technolgy, any new fancy technology that has not been used for public/revenue service.  Sure we can be gloating about a superior technology that has no drawbacks, (or so they claim) and all of that talk, but why can’t we just stick to technology that has been used and proven? Look at the airtrain that connects to JFK airport with the LIRR trains and MTA subways in New York, that’s an ideal way to go even though it’s Mark 2 technology.

    Steve:  The sad thing about this line is that its capacity cannot be expanded.  It is basically a rather long elevator lying on its side with only two cars.  You could make the trains longer, allowing for the size of the stations, but you cannot add trains.  It is totally inappropriate for anything other than a small, inter-terminal shuttle.

    Four stations would be perfect, Kipling, Viscount, Terminal three, Terminal One.  Now put the 58 Malton and the Miss. #7 Airport into Viscount station and put two stops for each route to show the direction.(I don’t know much of GO services to the airport but apply where it needs to be done) ie. 58 to Lawrence West station, 7 to Square One and one stop for both routes because they follow the same route to Westwood mall and since it’s a contracted route it’s one fare.

    Now put them into this mini terminal if you board here into the airport it’s free.  If you board at Kipling it’s $5 like the JFK airport.  But the people in charge won’t do this because of the costs but this needs to be done.

    Steve:  The original Union-Pearson link, aka Blue 22, involved a fare over $20 for an express trip from downtown to the airport with no intermediate stops.  Eventually, when the proponents talks to the locals rather than the transportation mandarins in Ottawa where this scheme was hatched, they realized that they couldn’t make money on that basis.  Now that we’re looking at a much wider range of options, this could even wind up being part of the local transit network which, frankly, I feel it always should have been.  Why have a line speeding to the airport through an area that is desperate for better transit service and connectivity, but which they can’t use? 

    When I go to the airport I take transit to it either by the Malton, Airport Rocket, Bloor Danforth Night Buses, or Private Airport Shuttles whatever gets me there.  But we need to start somewhere.  Maybe Mr. Harper would agree to fund transit authorties across the country if something like the GTAA rail link is a screaming success.

    And thanks for the web site Mr. Munro.  I enjoy reading it and thank you for letting people know about transit issues!

    Steve:  You’re welcome!


  3. Though I live within a fairly easy walk of Union Station and fly several times a year the idea of a $20 express train to the airport never made much sense to me.  If one must take the TTC (or GO) to Union and then haul your luggage to the Blue 22 it makes even less sense.

    I usually take the Airport Rocket (152) from Kipling which works well for me as I can get home from Broadview on a 504 steetcar.  The 192 is certainly very popular with a mixture of travellers and people who work at Pearson.  Clearly the airport must be served by public transit so it NEVER made any sense to me to build something (Blue 22) that would never – on cost alone – be used by commuters.  Let’s hope that the EA will look at the needs of both groups and provide a cost-effective service for everyone that will actually encourage public transit use.


  4. It is irresponsible to build an airport transport system that does not connect directly with the relatively close Malton Go station.  Once that connection is in place, a simple link between Go near Dundas Street West subway station and the subway, gives us an airport link for all of Toronto, about 50,000 fewers cars on the 427 and 401 per day, and at least 20 fewer traffic deaths per year and prevention of massive loss of property in collisions and injuries.  Plus traffic conjestion would be reduced.  Soap on a rope might not work for the heavy lifting needed here.

    Steve:  Perish the thought that the airport would actually co-ordinate what they are doing with anyone.  For what they got, the cost of their inter-terminal shuttle is outrageous.  So much for the good economics of a “privatized” airport.

    Meanwhile, we have to be careful about estimates of cars removed from the 401/427.  Many people going to the airport are not coming from the south-east and would not use a new airport shuttle.  Where a line in the Weston corridor will really have an effect would in providing a fast link between the downtown, Weston and Rexdale.


  5. Steve I really appreciate your comments but wonder if a Malton link would be beneficial as it would permit south-western Ontario residents to transit to the airport by way of the Malton Go as well as encourage Torontonians to board the subway and Go systems instead of driving, which nearly everyone does now.  When you consider the potential reduction of employee, cab and traveller traffic on the 427 & 401 to and from the airport, the reduction in city-wide congestion would be significant for a relatively inexpensive link to Malton (two miles over land) now.  Other links could be added later as TTC & Go use would skyrocket with a simple and inexpensive Malton link.  Taking it to the airport and each terminal would be even better.

    Steve:  The question of the airport link depends on which technology you use, the type of service provided and how it fits into the network overall.  First off, the Blue22 proposal is express from downtown to the airport, with maybe one or two stops enroute, and it would not work as a link for GO travellers as a shuttle into the airport.  As far as I am concerned, Blue22 was a non-starter the day it was proposed because it ignores the market from the region as a whole.

    If the link is via GO Transit rail, hooking it into all three terminals would be difficult.  Much more likely it would connect to one, and then the airport’s new internal people mover would take over.  Whether it has the capacity to deal with a surge load from the arrival of a Go train is another matter.

    If the link is via a TTC LRT, there is the advantage that stops are fairly easy to add, and we don’t need large-scale infrastructure changes to accommodate the line.  It occurs to me that if the LRT line were coming north from Eglinton, it could continue through the airport and up to the CN right-of-way for a connection with GO.  This could be the best of both worlds. 


  6. Steve, I’ve checked my map and found that an airport link to Malton Go (which originates at Union Station)would actually be less than two kilometres, most of which could be built without impediments to overcome.  Dixon Road could be lowered slightly and a modest berm built to permit the train to cross under, if there isn’t already an existing structure that could be used.  Whereas building a route form the Eglinton West station would be at least 10 times longer.  But once the Malton-airport link is created, the TTC could shuttle riders the short hop from Dundas West and/or Lansdowne subway stations to the Bloor Go for now to create a second TTC juncture.  It would be so easy and inexpensive to have this immense asset within a year or so! My map even shows an existing partial track near Malton.  Bonus!

    Steve:  There is no question a connection from Malton Station to the Airport would be a quick and dirty connection, but this would only address airport travel.  I advocate looking at demand on a larger scale to provide a service that adds to the transit network overall and provides much-needed transit improvements in the city’s north-west.


  7. I read the Transit City Streetcar report and the Eglinton Crosstown streetcar line has a possible link to the airport I noticed. I thought of instead of extending the streetcar north from Eglinton to the airport, extend the airport monorail south to link the airport shuttle to this streetcar line. The Eglinton Crosstown line could then just continue westward to Mississauga and the airport would still be serviced by the TTC.

    Steve: Extending the “monorail” is an expensive way to connect to the Eglinton line, and it forces an additional transfer onto everyone travelling to the airport. I think that an airport leg is compatible with a through Eglinton line into Mississauga because there will also be a demand for direct airport service from the Mississauga LRT network, if they ever build one.


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