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Pearson's airport link a head-scratcher

Toronto Pearson airport is very close to one of the busiest passenger train lines in Ontario, the Georgetown GO line. At least 16 passenger trains per day pass Canada's busiest airport already, yet not one of them stops to service it. Why?

There has been discussion for years about a new airport link running from Toronto Union station to the airport, rather than starting with using existing trains. It would involve grade separating and dividing Weston-area communities, and a strong NIMBY movement has been fighting it on what seem to be reasonable grounds. Such an airport link would be kind of frustrating for those of us who live west of the airport anyway, as it would require us to take the train past the airport into Toronto, transfer, and take another train back out to the airport. Who thought that one up?

Just a couple of years ago, Pearson spent a rather large sum of money to build an inter-terminal monorail system. For some reason, it does not seem to have occurred to anyone that these tracks should connect to the nearby passenger line.

We have examples of this kind of silliness all over Canada. Here are a couple of the ones I am most familiar with...

London, Ontario's airport is straddled by two railway lines, essentially one at each end of the runway, one of them being the same passenger line that goes by Pearson, not to mention passing right through Kitchener and Guelph. That'd make an interesting airport link, now wouldn't it?

Dorval airport, recently renamed Pierre Trudeau airport, in Montreal is connected to Via's Dorval station by a shuttle bus. Its counterpart, Mirabel airport, built in the early 1970s and closed to passengers a few years ago, however, has two things: train tracks, and a train station. But they're not connected to each-other. In fact, this stroke of genius is summarised best by the wikipedia article on that airport: "From the furthest reach of the parking lot to the airplane seat, one can walk as little as 200 meters. A train station was also built in the basement for the planned TRRAMM service, right below the main passenger concourse. Today, it is used as an employee parking lot."

We've got a lot of work to do.

Update: Dorval airport also has a bit of a stroke of genius. While there is a train station next to the airport, you cannot take the train to it from downtown Montreal, or to downtown Montreal from it. You can, however, do so from the Toronto side. Montreal's commuter trains skip Dorval station, and Via won't let you buy a ticket between Montreal and Dorval -- you can only get on going west, or off going east. Sheesh.

Posted at 11:25 on April 08, 2008

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Making Ontario a leader | musings transit | Does voter turnout matter?


Devere writes at Tue Oct 7 19:28:23 EDT 2008...

It seems whenever something related to transit is done in this country its tied to political gains- witness the spadina line to vaughan proposal.We should look to europe and other countries for examples has to how transit is properly intergrated with other forms of transportation-we used to be leaders but since the 70's and early 80's we have fell behind greatly.I left england has a six yr old in 1976 and at that time heathrow airport just had a new tube terminal connection,now they have three and a express rail link to downtown london with no stops in between.With all the political talk of going green ,improving our infrastructure and improving transit,intermodal terminals should be given priority.

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