Still Waiting for Airport Rapid Transit

Wandering through my files, I ran across a clipping from the Toronto Sun dated November 28, 1990.  (Note to the Sun folks — if you want to holler about copyright, I will cut this down to quotations.)

Pearson LRT link still up in the air

By Ian Harvey

A rapid transit link to Pearson International Airport may take until the next century to get off the ground.

The province and federal government have jointly commissioned a $400,000 study into transit links but Ontario Minister of Transport Ed Philip says no timetable or priorities have been established.

One of the options being considered is to relocate the CN Rail track which currently runs past the airport.  That is being proposed as more efficient than running spurs off the line, which also carries the Georgetown GO Train and some VIA trains.

But moving the line would be expensive and could involve problems getting rights-of-way.

A more ambitious plan calls for a TTC Light Rail line to the airport from Eglinton Ave. and Hwy. 427.

However, that plan depends on construction of a $1.2-billion line from Spadina to Hwy. 427 along Eglinton Ave. W. from the Spadina subway line.

TTC general manager Al Leach said the Eglinton LRT line might not be completed by the end of the decade because it is competing with eight other projects for funding.

“There is no time frame” for the airport link, said Philip.  “We expect draft proposals by the spring.  I’m not going to set any timetable until I see the report.”

[“LRT” in this article refers to the RT technology in Scarborough.]

Those with good memories will know that late 1990 saw the beginning of the Bob Rae NDP government at Queen’s Park, and their approach to transit was to build as much as possible, whether we needed it or not, as a job stimulation scheme.  The fact that subways have a very long lead time — when mainly planners and engineers make all the money — shows up in the fact that so little was actually built.  Mike Harris could easily cancel projects that barely had a shovel in the ground.

Now it’s 2010, and current plans will get the airport link to an Eglinton line by 2020.

Don’t pack your bags yet.