Blue 22: A Scheme That Just Won’t Die

Last week, both the Globe and the Sun reported that the Blue 22 airport service is back on the rails, so to speak.  On Sunday, the Sun editorialized on the subject with support, sort of, propvided that the line doesn’t turn into another boondoggle like the Sheppard Subway.

The fascinating part about this is the sudden love affair between Dalton McGuinty and David Miller for a transit proposal that was dubious when first proposed (by the Liberals in Ottawa, remember them?), and has been on life support for years.  Indeed, many of us, including some local politicians, hoped that the scheme would just die from lack of interest.

No such luck.  We’re in an era where Queen’s Park is hungry to see some real progress on transit, but nothing’s happening.   Or at least nothing with low-cost ribbon cutting between now and the next election.  In support of faster projects, Queen’s Park has all but eliminated the Environmental Assessment as a mechanism for proper review of transit proposals.  Blue 22 and its impact on neighbourhoods along the line have been the subject of a long-running EA with the Weston Community Coalition painted as ogres for expecting the route to be sensitive to their town and to provide local service.

Now, out of clear blue sky, Blue 22 re-appears.  “This is an important priority for us” says Premier McGuinty.  Mayor Miller says “we just need it to happen”, and goes on to compare Toronto with other cities that have airport rail links to downtown.

Somehow, we are stuck with this proposal.  For years, former Transport Minister David Collenette lobbied for this scheme, and finally, just before he left cabinet, announced that SNC Lavalin would build and operate it.  The idea has been around for a long time.  However, this is no spiffy, 21st century line, but rather a service to be operated with refurbished 50-year old RDCs.  These rail diesel cars once operated on some of Via’s routes including the lines to Niagara Falls, London via Stratford and Peterborough.

Imagine if Transit City had been announced along with a plan to buy up and refurbish 50-year old PCCs for the fleet.  Mayor Miller would have been laughed off the stage.

SNC Lavalin is obviously hedging its bets with a recycled fleet.  Who knows?  Even if Blue 22 doesn’t fly, they might be able to sell the cars to Via.

Meanwhile, the Transit City plans already include a hub at Terminal One with a possible LRT station in the basement.  This station could be shared by LRT services from many parts of the GTA.  Imagine links east on Eglinton, northeast to Finch, southwest into Mississauga and even down to Union along the Weston corridor.  But no.  Instead we will get a premium fare ($20 or more) service for a minority of the airport’s customers.

Aren’t we supposed to be building a regional transportation plan?  Shouldn’t we figure out how the airport fits into a transit network, not one ill-considered scheme that elbows better alternatives out of the way?

Yes, we need good rail transit to the airport, but Blue 22 isn’t the way to provide it.  Can Miller and McGuinty find the will, the energy to promote something better, or are we doomed to ride an ex-politician’s pet project?

30 thoughts on “Blue 22: A Scheme That Just Won’t Die

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the assessment. I am a resident of Weston and it is truly awful the way the WCC has been made to look like a couple of malcontents. Their only concern is with the impact such a train would make.

    Members of this community were hoping for something more along the lines of an LRT that could be used by locals.

    Any additional traffic would be disruptive but it would be outweighed by benefit if the residents could use it as well.

    Weston is not a wealthy area, but by giving it some better transit the quality of life for the working poor of the neighbourhood could be enhanced.


  2. I don’t get why transit advocates are opposed to Blue 22.

    For one thing, you’re setting up a false dichotomy. You say, “links east on Eglinton, northeast to Finch, southwest into Mississauga and even down to Union along the Weston corridor,” as though operating Blue 22 would prevent these from being built. Not only is that not true, but it’s not like Blue 22 is a subway; it will be constructed for cheap and mostly with private money. There is still the possibility of building more LRT links with public money.

    Further, I’m not seeing how the links you propose help the downtown core. Downtown may be a minority of trips to the airport, but a large and increasing number of people live there (myself included). I would be surprised if it is not the single largest origin/destination of trips to or from the airport — I bet the remaining demand is relatively diffuse across the region. Please let me know if you know this to be false.

    Further, I already have the option of taking BRT to the airport (e.g., the Airport rocket from Kipling, or the GO bus from York Mills), yet I don’t do it. Why? After getting off a 5-hour flight in a cramped seat from Vancouver, for which I paid $1000 with today’s fuel prices, why do I want to save a few bucks so that I can spend an hour and a half in another cramped seat on the bus and subway? Remember that this access time will not change significantly when LRT is installed.

    Finally, Blue 22 has the added bonus of removing a justification for the existence of the island airport.

    Steve: A few points are worth discussing here.

    Yes, I agree that the demand to the airport is diffuse and that’s why we need to get into it from multiple sources. Taking people downtown, or at least dropping them off at the Bloor Subway (if that ever gets built into the Blue 22 scheme) would be nice, but as others have pointed out, the cost of the trip quickly exceeds that of an airport limo for multiple riders, and the limo gives you door to door service.

    There is a considerable demand to the airport for the people who work there, and a premium fare service won’t be any good to them at all. Moreover, most of them do not live downtown because they can’t afford it.

    Toronto is often compared to other cities with subways to the airport. Chicago has had one for ages, and it’s a regular subway with regular cars. On the inner part of the line, you put up with whatever loading happens to share the route with you, and the trains stop at many, many places on their way to downtown. Dedicated, express lines serving only the airport are comparatively rare.

    A line from the northwest to downtown would not just be serving the airport, but would be an alternate route in from the proposed Eglinton West and Jane LRT corridors. As a separate LRT operation, it could run fare more frequently than Blue 22 ever will and wouldn’t have to compete for track time with other rail operations.

    As for the Island Airport, that is a red herring. The way to end that airport’s existence is to cut off the subsidies it receives from Ottawa. For a government that is so bent on sound fiscal management, the fact that the Tories leave this money-loser and its tenant Porter Air in operation is a testimonial to political connections. Get rid of the subsidy, and the Harbour Commission will suddenly develop an appetite for something more profitable.


  3. Bang on.

    The Sun printed your Metrolinx funding post on a “Best of the Blogs” section last week…I wonder if they will do the same for this realistic editorial against the Blue-22 project?


  4. I’m not so sure it is a great idea to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a multi-year project to develop a high speed rail corridor to the airport, which will be ready just in time for the most severe impacts of Peak Oil, such that airports become an oddity of the past.


  5. While I would prefer to see a service to the airport that is well integrated into the regional transit system in order to provide service in all directions instead of just to downtown, I am wondering if the fare structure might lessen the impact of the argument against Blue 22 about it being a premium fare service.

    It could be argued that there is a place for a premium fare express service to downtown in conjunction with regional transit (forgetting, for a moment, funding priorities). At London Heathrow, one can take the underground to get into the city for the same fare as one would pay for any other stations in the same fare zone, but one can also pay a higher price to take the express to Paddington station. When I was there back in March, I was returning on a day when the underground to Heathrow was closed for maintenance, and one could take the express on that day without paying any extra.

    Two other cities that I am familiar with that have local rapid transit service at their airport, but without an express rail service, are St. Louis MO and Sydney NSW. In the case of St. Louis, their LRT serves the airport with free service between the two terminals, but the fare into the city is $3.50 compared to $1.75 for the regular fare. Not a bad premium in my opinion, but still a premium though only when travelling from the airport.

    In Sydney, the CityRail runs trains (think of a hybrid of the subway and GO Train service) that serve the airport. Any trip that begins or ends at one of the airport stations will cost you $10 more than a trip involving a neighbouring station (a trip from Central Station downtown will cost you $13.40 to the domestic terminal, and $13.80 to the international terminal, but only $3 to the station PAST the airport).

    While there is no premium currently charged for TTC services to and from Pearson, I am wondering if this will remain in the future.


  6. Steve, I know you’ve mentioned both a GO Transit spur line, and a possible LRT line to the airport. Is there one alternative you support over the other for any certain reason?

    Steve: I prefer an LRT line because it can be used for many services to access a common terminal area within the airport. A GO rail link will only ever be that, and capacity constraints (not to mention the general layout of the rail network) will prevent truly regional airport service.


  7. Where is GO Transit in this? Previously, Blue22 was directly connected to the Georgetown Improvements EA… those have been separated and it was that act that had been believed to be Blue22’s death sentence. GO Transit has been rather inconsistent on its position on airport service by rail… I know I’ve seen it on their list of projects in their own publications at one point while in news media publications GO is on record as saying they’re not really interested at other points in time. If Queen’s Park is interested, and Queen’s Park is responsible for GO Transit, why don’t they use GO Transit since it will run on the Georgetown corridor’s 416-portion anyway? Branch service by GO along the line makes the most sense here, I would have argued.

    The bigger question though, I think, is is Blue22 needed at all with the Eglinton LRT (and/or others) servicing it? I’d argue this is easily “no.” As long as the LRT connects to any of the subway lines, which a Jane interlining could accouplish to reach B-D, it would be more useful to more people than Blue22, wouldn’t it? Not many people are heading downtown (that’s why Blue22 has to charge 20 bucks a pop: small market), but if the Eglinton LRT flies straight east from the airport, the ridership catchment area become quite large, although it depends on the design of the line to some extent (but that’s a separate topic that I don’t want to get into here).


  8. I’d have no issue with the use of the line if they were to use GO trains and pricing with a guaranteed 1/2 hour frequency for 16-18 hrs a week 7 days a week – and put a stop in Weston (to appease the neighbourhood) and put a stop at Dundas West.

    I’ve ridden the heavy rail airport connections in numerous cities (JFK@Jamaica, Newark, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, London Stansted) and ridden the Tube from Heathrow. While the tube was functional, I wanted a reasonably priced commuter train from Heathrow (one was put into existence after the last time I was there with Heathrow Connect). I also loved the long-distance rail connectiveness at Newark, Frankfurt & Amsterdam.

    Heavy rail has its place alongside LRT – especially with a huge node like Pearson. How many airport workers who live in the corridor (say in Weston or Brampton or North Etobicoke) would use the GO train to get to work at the airport? But Toronto being Toronto, we’ll probably cheap out (or look for some “Made in Ontario” technology) and wind up with either neither heavy nor light rail or have some half-baked compromised solution.

    They could set it up like it is in Oslo, Norway (or Heathrow with Heathrow Express and Connect). The regular train takes 5-10 minutes longer than the express, but is about 50-60% cheaper. So Blue22 running half-hourly on the top and bottom of the hour, and the regular GO running half-hourly on 10 and 40. But the airport, of course, shamelessly markets the express service.

    And to add regional traffic, I’d love for VIA to run some of its Ottawa and Montreal trains to/from the Airport from the East (codeshared for places like Kingston), and from London/KW/Guelph from the west. Think of the cars we could get off of the 401/427. How much capacity the corridor has, and ROW for passenger rail would be interesting to determine.

    So you’re right with the need for LRT at Pearson, but don’t sell the node short for what it could really be.

    PS – I did attend the Weston public meeting at the big church on Jane St 3 yrs ago. But unlike most, I was there to protest the fact the Blue22 was not incorporated into GO’s pricing and connections.


  9. Personally, I would not hand over $20 over for an express train ride from downtown to Pearson Airport, unless it’s on a company business trip and the company is paying for the train. If I was on a personal trip and starting from downtown or even from my own home, I would use the Transit City lines to reach it.

    I think most use a taxi or limousine because the express bus from Kipling has very narrow doors and there is not have enough space on a bus, especially if you and others have luggage. It also would help if every subway station has an working elevator.

    As it is, I currently use my family or friends to drop or pick me up at the airport, or vice-versa.

    If the Downtown Relief Line becomes a reality, and it appears as an LRT, I can see an airport tripper running from the airport to downtown.


  10. Remember, these are the people who brought us the 407 Toll road! In spite of the fact a study showed only 17% of the people arriving at Pearson went downtown, some feel it is needed and as a priority yet. Amazing! Why is it people in places of power so often overlook the obvious? GO already runs right past Pearson in BOTH directions and adding trains to that service would be a “no brainer” as they say. Unfortunately, no brains is what the big shots have. This will ruin Weston with no benefit to the residents or businesses.

    Alternatively, let the 407 Toll Road people build a Toll Road along the right of way with entrances/exits along the way and allow only highway coaches, buses, taxis and jitneys to use it. This would allow far more routes with direct service to hotels and major tourist attractions rather than just Union Station.


  11. Miller is stuck like a politician afraid of being accused of inconsistency with his original position, which was to favor Collenette’s craziness. Our mayor probably felt that, because the federal government was finally willing to spend some money on TO, he didn’t want to seem like an ingrate who would thereby alienate the feds from further largesse. Miller was quick to endorse the province’s Sorbara Memorial Subway to Vaughan as well.

    Still, even I can see that no one in any accounting department is going to do the comparison (transit or taxi to Union Station plus Blue 22 to somewhere in one of the airport terminals versus airport limo direct to the ticket counter entrance) and decide that Blue 22 is the better and/or cheaper way. Besides, each day not more than a handful of people scoot directly between the financial district and YYZ. And it can’t possibly be good for one’s status in the corporate hierarchy to schlep to Union and take the train to the Pearson instead of dashing off importantly in an airport limo.

    Given GO Transit’s difficulties with on-time performance, I can’t see that business people would take the risk of hoping that Blue 22, for the most part using GO’s Georgetown corridor, could get them to the airport on time for their flight.


  12. Steve,

    While I do agree that something should be done to get rapid transit to Pearson Airport. I like the fact that there is going to be a rapid transit hub at Terminal One for both LRT and bus (Mississauga Transit / GO) from the Transit City plans.

    I think there should be an effort to expand that idea further from the Blue22 proposal. The Blue22 proposal does have little benefit and should be expanded to a more regional view.

    They should go for an integrated high speed transit hub at the airport along the lines of Amsterdam Schipol, Paris Charles de Gaul. Run a high speed train (TGV, ICE) from Union Station to YYZ then onto Brampton, Kitchener/Waterloo, London and Windsor/Detroit. Several plans on the books for Berlin’s new International Airport and San Francisco’s Airport (California High Speed Authority) will have the airport stations integrated into the existing / planned high speed train network.

    This of course will tick off the people of Weston by having even faster trains rolling through and permanent grade separation. Air Canada, Westjet will not like the idea of competition on their feeder routes. I’m sure not sure how the separation of freight and passenger traffic will impact CN, CP and the lower speed GO. This will probably mean track separation, new track and bridges over rail intersections.

    This of course does compete for the limited funds and could further derail the Transit City plans that do need to be completed.

    Steve: I have to compliment you on changing a discussion about an airport link into a high speed train to Windsor/Detroit via London. This is, I believe, overkill on a massive scale, but definitely the sort of scheme that would attract political attention for all the wrong reasons.


  13. There is a set of rail tracks (white) at Pearson, seen it many times in the past year or so, but yesterday I saw a train at one of what seemed stations….do you have any idea if this is this rail link? if not what is it?

    Steve: There is no rail link to the airport. If you saw a train there, it’s the little toy train airport shuttle that even the airport authority recognizes as having too little capacity to shuttle people to and from service on the Georgetown line.

    Also, why can’t they use some of the tracks from the Georgetown GO line? Malton & Etobicoke seem to be close to the airport (I haven not done any distance comparing on google maps or in person), just build a small extention with a station in each terminal.

    Steve: The Blue 22 proposal does include tracks from the Georgetown line into the airport, or more likely a single track given that this is a real shoestring project.


  14. As I have said before, Transit City and Blue 22 complement each other. Transit City is suitable for certain trips – across Eglinton, for instance – but inconvenient for going downtown. Blue 22 is suitable for trips downtown and to destinations served by GO or VIA trains from Union Station, but not very useful for most other trips in Toronto. For service between the airport and downtown, Transit City provides service not much better than taking the Bloor subway to Kipling then the 192 bus to the airport. Transferring between lines with luggage is a pain.

    The concerns of Weston residents are laughable. If you live by a railway line, you expect that there will be trains, right? Expansion of GO service to Brampton would cause the same problem, and I’ll bet you that most of those trains would be express. In my opinion, if the market can bear a $20 fare to the airport, the line should be built. I would appreciate a subsidy for this line so that fares could be lower and modern rolling stock used, but in this political situation, this is laughable.

    Steve: You say that Transit City isn’t good for getting downtown. Well, you would have an LRT from the Airport to Eglinton West Station which would run underground from somewhere east of Jane Street. West from Jane, the line would run on the surface, but in its own right-of-way and probably at a decent speed given the likely stop spacing.

    Alternately, the line could branch at the Weston Subdivision and run down that corridor to Union. I am not going to get into a detailed discussion of the alignment which has issues at specific points, notably West Toronto, and at Union Station itself. That’s a topic for an entirely separate thread. My point here is that it is no more difficult than many other transit schemes we have seen and has the possibility of providing a major benefit not just as an airport link, but as an improved way to get from downtown to the northwest.


  15. I’m sure that David Miller and Dalton McGuinty didn’t stop to consider that most of those rail connections are self respecting modes of transportation. For example:

    Philadelphia – SEPTA regional rail right in to 30th station with electric multiple unit commuter cars.

    SanFrancisco – BART.

    London – Piccadilly line right downtown or Heathrow Express to Paddington station.

    New York City, JFK – AirTrain to Howard Beach, then a ride on the subway or LIRR into Manhattan. This, however, should be singled out for extra scorn and ridicule by the Toronto crowd because the AirTrain leg of the trip uses Mk II ICTS trains – that’s Scarborough RT technology. Certainly the engineers must be absolutely 100% at fault for this; after all it can’t have been the politicians who specified ICTS specifically as it met US government’s requirements for being incompatible with the subway system because the AirTrain could not be built as an improvement to the existing subway system. Must’ve been those rotten engineers.

    New York City, Newark – Amtrak or NJ Transit on the Northeast Corridor from the airport monorail stop into Penn Station. Or, for that matter, going the other way down to Philadelphia.

    Then we have the self-proclaimed world class city Toronto, where the express bus from Kipling station to Pearson was only introduced a few years ago and so far the only serious proposal being pushed is to use antique Budd RDC cars sitting on a scrap line somewhere for a $20 trip to the airport from Union station? This is laughably absurd especially when you consider the fact that it might not happen anyways, just as it always has in the past.

    You’d think by now David Miller and Dalton McGuinty would realize that since we’re miles behind the 8 ball on this one and create a serious proposal for the times and the needs of the city.

    You’d think by now that if it was going to be Blue 22 for the airport for sure, that it’d already have happened. Yet laying some track connecting to an existing train line and building a small Go train-esque station at the airport, and prepping some Budd cars sitting on a dead line for return to service for a simplified, mediocre and overpriced service in true Toronto fashion somehow seems to be as equally impossible as building something decent.

    Secretly, even though ICTS is rightly regarded as a junk technology, I’m sure a lot of people wish we could ride on Scarborough RT West to the airport in a local version of the JFK AirTrain because even that would be something as opposed to nothing.


  16. Any analysis of this situation is strongest when backed by data on comparable (and competing) cities as to what has been done elsewhere, and which kinds of airport connections have had the most suceess. There were many long comments posted at Spacing on this topic that might be of interest.


  17. Steve don’t you ever get the feeling you’re tilting at windmills?

    I too thought Blue-22 had been stillborn. Now it’s going to be a tourist railway with vintage equipment? How about some steam engines too!

    As it stands Blue-22 won’t service the vast majority of the GTA and is solving what is likely the most inconsequential transit problem.

    Won’t someone put an end to this boondoggle?

    Steve: The problem with this windmill is that as long as it gives the impression of turning, various pols like David Miller won’t come out and advocate something better. Any attempts to draw an LRT line on a regional transit plan, for example, would be met with criticism that “we already have Blue 22”. That sort of logic has passed for “planning” in Toronto far too long.


  18. Seems to me that if Transit City already envisages an LRT connection to Terminal 1, maybe the thing to do would be to extend the Eglinton LRT through YYZ up Airport Road to the GO Malton platform at Derry, and run it in conjunction with enhanced Union-to-Malton commuter rail using diesel or electric multiple units for off-peak runs.

    The airport ties into the Transit City LRT grid for city-wide TTC service; downtown-to-airport passengers get a commuter rail option scaling up from existing GO Rail routing on lighter-duty rolling stock; Bloor, Weston, and Etobicoke North all stay open to travellers on a schedule and fare structure that still moves people from Union to Malton in 28 minutes. Most importantly, everyone makes the best use of the tools they have on hand.

    Everybody wins, right?


  19. Dubious proposal, if there’s no intermediate stops.

    When in Toronto for business or visits home, I often take the express bus and it works fine. There’s already a hotel shuttle for downtown area.

    Yes, London, Paris, Madrid etc. have trains to airport but with stops.


  20. Its somewhat academic anyway. By the time Blue 22 ever goes into service we’ll be so far over peak oil that passenger air travel will be a marginal fringe activity of the ultra-rich.

    Best thing to do with this plan is just ignore it. And get on with Transit City and other initiatives that will prepare Toronto for the future.


  21. In a carbon-constrained world, we won’t be doing so much flying, not that we’re counting what ghg’s are doing to our emissions profile…

    But the one major opponent of the Blue 22 route has also been propositional, and with a somewhat more sensible proposal than the proponents. The Weston Community Coalition is proposing a subway along this ROW, with multiple stops en route, at the major carterials.
    While a subway is a bit over-the-top, they still are more sensible than what’s revived with the dismally curtailed EA process.

    We need to leverage this under-used rail corridor for transit, and effective transit, and in the core, I’ve been suggesting it come up to Front St. to be part of the Front St. transitway as it would serve many destinations as well as have links with Spadina etc.

    However we can’t consider options to the project it seems – so we’re stuck with stupidity like the WWLRT which is condemned in its own EA as being not cost-effective.

    If the politicians want a valid quick fix, simply extend the Exhibition Loop through the Ex to loop past Ontario Place. Imagine, connecting a major waterfront destination with transit decades after it opens. Wouldn’t that be a novelty.


  22. I used the Airport Rocket under ideal conditions – retuning from Timmins at 9:30 at night. As luck would have it a bus appeared just as I got to stop – the service frequency is much better than it was. At that time of night there is no traffic on 427. The subway was as always fast and the every reliable Ossington bus came with little or no wait time.

    Under those conditions it took about 45 minutes to get home to King & Shaw – a bit less I think. I continue to believe that we undervalue the Airport Rocket. I was on a company business trip and could have taken a limo on expenses. Under less ideal conditions it might take a little longer to use the Airport Rocket, but not, I think, all that unaceptably so.


  23. We shouldn’t get into a heavy vs light rail debate. We desperately need both – and GO buses and probably a Kipling LRT. We have to plan for a higher transit share for existing passengers and workers, the ultimate buildout of Pearson to 55m pax p.a. AND non-airport passengers who find the nexus of services to be a convenient point to make connections, as we’re starting to see with the Square One-Richmond Hill Express Bus.

    Existing airport-heavy rail connections are being added to – London left space at Terminal 5 for a new connection to south London in addition to Heathrow Express being extended there.

    The argument that air travel will be curtailed with peak oil might hold water in some cities but I’d love to see figures for international/intercontinental travel per capita for Torontonians – given our immigrant populations I bet they are at least in the top quartile in North America. If going home to India or China or the UK means sacrificing other luxuries I’m betting a lot of people will do that – I would. Where it could and should be curtailed is short hops to London, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal, not least because rail can be a more than adequate alternative when a train to Seoul just isn’t.

    An airport Transit City line will not serve downtowners and East Yorkers – sorry Steve, it just won’t. There’s only so many stops you can expect people to endure before they want something with fewer (which is why the Sorbara Line boosters saying many people will ride the subway from Highway 7 to Front Street without complaint is puzzling to me). It also will not serve 905/519ers coming from the west on GO and VIA.

    However, TC *would* serve the huge numbers of condos being built in the Yonge-Eglinton area and/or people coming in from Finch West if the lines are extended. That is a worthy goal in itself. With sufficient courage, we could even try cargotrams to move off-peak cargo from Pearson to depots in the 416, such as Purolator’s in the Portlands.

    I’m not going to take a subway from Coxwell to Bloor, Bloor to Eglinton West and then a Eglinton/Jane LRT along a dubiously constructed ROW (I’ll believe TTC can build a proper ROW when I see one) to the airport. That’s a minimum of two transfers, and assumes that the underground station is built rather than dumping everyone at Airport Road. Subway from Coxwell to Dundas West and an Airport GO from Bloor stopping at Weston, Etobicoke North, Woodbine and Pearson – that I might take – and then probably only with carry-on rather checked bags. Hell even my wife might be persuaded to take that. Unfortunately, the Fed Liberals deliberately excluded GO and TTC from bidding on Blue 22 originally because they were bent on a PPP.

    Ultimate electrification must be part of the discussion if Blue 22 proceeds, at least in so far as protecting utility spaces and overhead clearances are concerned, because we will gain an emissions benefit and likely better acceleration too.

    A TTC subway or LRT in the Weston corridor still doesn’t rock my world. To me it means that that dedicated trackage will be required which means when maintenance is needed it will be a shutdown rather than a reduced schedule shared with the freight railway. Diverging from the corridor to road ROWs would also be an interesting process.

    It has also not been explained to me how CN and CP, not to mention GO will sign off on something that essentially has nothing in it for them with the exception of maybe closing some level crossings, while introducing immense disruption to their operation during the construction period.


  24. Steve said: I prefer an LRT line because it can be used for many services to access a common terminal area within the airport. A GO rail link will only ever be that, and capacity constraints (not to mention the general layout of the rail network) will prevent truly regional airport service.

    Do you think there may be a market for both nodes (eventually): LRT connections via Eglinton and Finch, and GO rail via the Weston sub? Or would that be an overshoot?

    Another point, in case Blue22 is built, what the status of the new rail and the Airport station will be? Can GO establish its own regular-stop service to Airport in the same corridor at a later date? Or, will the route be blocked, either because of the rail ownership or due to a no-competition clause in the agreement between SNC Lavalin and the goverment?

    Steve: More to the point, is there any agreement in place yet with SNC Lavalin at all at the provincial level? Is this debate a complete waste of time because nobody seems willing to scrap whatever plans exist and start over?


  25. Think about the potential of a frequent service line stopping at Union, Spadina, Bathurst, Maybe King, Queen & Dufferin, Dundas, Bloor, Dupont, St. Clair, maybe Rogers and Eglinton for the shortest possible route interlining with Eglinton. Add a full Weston corridor line and you also get Jane, Lawrence, Weston Rd., Islington, Kipling, Martin Grove, 427 and the Airport. Now try to imagine that service provided by a GO train (even electrified) that will be continuing to at the VERY least Brampton. This is a corridor that needs both a regional and local service, and unless someone is about to start allowing tram trains it’s going to take a true light rail route.

    Blue 22 is a distraction from this. I’d like to see how much time it will really save over the line I proposed above (especially if you eliminate some of the outer stops, say Martin Grove, 427 & Islington). If the market for a transfer free airport express is really so strong that it can support both services let GO run it, and design it to allow service from west of Toronto to use it. Or, for that matter, if a private operator wants the thing LET THEM PAY FOR IT. Why should we use tax dollars to pay for a line, and then hand it over if it doesn’t need subsidy, better to use any surplus to support other services.


  26. Steve, did you see the SmartRide LRT proposal that was floated in the press around 5 years or so ago? (I imagine that is probably a silly question.) Would that have ever been a technically feasible solution? It seems to me that it would have actually resulted in major transit improvements for the northwest part of the city, including the airport.

    Also, we talk about whether Blue22 or any other service would attract people who work at the airport, but another important component is people who work in the surrounding office parks and industrial areas. Outbound traffic in the morning is growing to the point where there are traffic jams waiting to get on the 427 from the Gardiner. Transit improvements to the northwest — not just the airport — could make a good dent in this un-/underserved market.

    Steve: But not at $20 per trip. The whole point about looking at an LRT network is that it serves the sort of diverse, bidirectional origin-destination pattern you talk about, and it provides the skeleton on which a larger network of local services can be built.


  27. I did have an interesting thought about Blue 22. If the link to the airport has to be mainline railway, it does present an almost ideal small scale project to prototype the Go lakeshore line electrification and get the kinks out before rolling it out to the whole line.

    Just a thought, but that does preclude the Budd cars though. If it is Budd RDCs, I hope they use ones that got the engine and transmission retrofits – the OEM equipment had reliability problems.


  28. It’s also such a sad sign of this town that while shovelling millions of dollars in development charge exemptions and tax breaks at Woodbine “Live” while getting back unenforceable promises of local hiring, the city didn’t insist on something it could enforce – i.e. the project could not proceed beyond a certain point unless a GO station was built at Woodbine at developer expense. That kind of provision has become common in large developments adjacent to rail links in Ireland.


  29. could we not run an express train from Kipling station? The track bed already exists at the bas platform level. The entrance to the needed yard exists just to the north of the station. It would be a perfect fit.


  30. I fly YYZ to YYC once a month. I stay in Motel/ Hotel village. Calgary Transit has a bus right outside the airport doors. It cost just a regular fare to take the bus for 15 minutes and then transfer to the LRT that takes you right to the village. It is simple and cheaper than the limo service all the way across Calgary. And is faster! Why not put a few more stations on this Blue 22 and have it run by GO? There is no way I am going downtown to catch a “express” train to the airport! It is too much of a hassle. I take the Limo! And forget the smelly GO buses.


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