In the thread “We Get Letters”, a discussion arose about handling airport traffic. I have split this off into a separate thread here.
It started off with my remarks:
Service to the airport needs to address the GTA, not just downtown which originates a paltry 17% of the trips to Pearson. Assuming any of various options, people arriving at Pearson can:
- (a) take the bus to Kipling Station assuming that they can find it,
- (b) take the Eglinton LRT to Eglinton West Station and then the subway downtown or continue east in the Eglinton LRT subway to the Yonge line,
- (c) pay through the nose and take Blue 22 or whatever its successor is direct to Dundas West or Union,
- (d) take a GO service or even an LRT in the same Weston corridor downtown for a reasonable fare and probably a few more local stops,
- (e) connect with the Finch/Etobicoke LRT and go across the top of the city, or
- (f) take a limo or taxi.
People who have a lot of stuff will generally fall into (f) unless they have a friend to drive them or drive themselves or are fit and on a budget in which case they may use transit.
Note that we have not said a word about the many, many people who go to the airport from places in the GTA that are not on the current or proposed rapid transit network.
Although Transit City does not provide the ability to whisk people from Pearson Airport to the every corner of the GTA, it does this a lot better than Blue 22 or any other rapid transit scheme that we’ve seen. The last time I looked, Pearson isn’t a major source of congestion or travel relative to the other demands in Toronto. Why can we starve our surface routes, but we mustn’t put on a poor show at the airport?
In talking about service to the airport, it’s also worthwhile to note that there’s a good deal of travel to the airport area that isn’t bound for Pearson specifically, but for surrounding employment areas. Blue 22 would do nothing for these trips, partly because it goes to Pearson and nowhere else, but also because, as you say, you’d be paying through the nose. GO might address some of them, but the Eglinton LRT (or, an LRT in the Weston rail corridor) would – connecting a much higher number of origins and destinations and for a reasonable fare.
My feeling is that Pearson linkage should not be neglected. We need to consider not just local and regional transportation concerns, but, as the financial capital and largest city in the country, also how it fits in nationally and internationally.
Downtown may not account for the majority of Pearson traffic but my guess is it’s the largest chunk. Most business and pleasure air travellers will be staying at the downtown hotels and they are the ones who are less likely to have family here to pick them up or drop them off at the airport. And any link to downtown should ideally connect with intersecting TTC lines to serve other areas as well.
Also, the lack of an airport link was a major problem with our olympic bid. Most self-respecting large cities have a direct airport link, including the one we so often compare ouselves to — Chicago.
So I’ll take options b or d, please.
The 17% figure I quoted comes from studies of Pearson-bound traffic done as part of the Blue 22 proposal. The big problem with a downtown-oriented line is that it serves less than 1/5 of the people going to the airport.
The situation in Chicago is much different because O’Hare is so far out of town. The ride there on the subway takes close to an hour one way. By the way, that “subway” is on the surface for much of its length in the middle of an expressway. The same option is not available in Toronto, and that’s why alternate schemes like the Eglinton or Weston lines are proposed. Indeed, the Transit City network, with extensions beyond the 416, would make the airport far more accessible by transit to a wide market than a purely downtown line ever can.
I’m not opposed to Airport service, but it’s not the centre of the universe and there are far more pressing transportation problems in the GTA.