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Both airports are about 20 kilometres west of downtown. Both are close to train tracks used by commuter trains.
But there are key differences in airport train shuttles that Toronto and Montreal are working on. The Toronto Pearson project is actually underway. And it will also boost commuter trains. The Montreal Trudeau shuttle is stalled. And it targets only airport travelers, with no money set aside for commuters
Montreal also had a plan for a combined commuter/airport project. But the airport authority (Aéroports de Montreal) and the commuter train operator (the Agence métropolitaine de transport) couldn't agree.
So Montreal is dealing with two separate proposals:
1) the airport shuttle, to be run by the private sector but financed in large part by public funds. $200 million from Quebec is already set aside for the airport train.
2) a commuter upgrade of the Vaudreuil-Husdon/West Island line, run by the AMT, a provincial agency. No funding has been set aside for the commuter upgrades.
This Montreal Gazette document compares the Toronto and Montreal airport train shuttles.
Montreal’s train would run, non-stop, between Trudeau Airport and downtown’s Central Station. Aéroports de Montréal says Trudeau lacks efficient, rapid and reliable public-transit access, especially at rush hour and during winter storms. Highways near the airport are often congested.
Toronto’s Air Rail Link will run between Pearson Airport and downtown’s Union Station, with two stops at commuter train stations. It is being built in conjunction with an upgrade of a GO Transit commuter train line. A three-kilometre spur will connect that line to the airport. Ontario says the train will be in place by spring 2015, in time for the July 2015 Pan American Games, expected to attract 10,000 athletes and officials and 250,000 tourists. SNC-Lavalin was to build and operate that shuttle, but the plan fell through when it failed to get the required financing.
Trudeau is Canada’s third-busiest airport, after Toronto and Vancouver. Travellers: About 12 million annually Number of flights: About 580 daily Parking: 11,500 spots. Most people reach the airport by car. Getting there by: Taxi: $38 to or from downtown Transit: Transit: In March, the STM made the trip by bus much easier with the 747 Express Bus ($8 for those without a transit pass). Highways: By 2018, the addition of a dedicated reserved bus lane on part of Highway 20 should speed up the 747 bus. Some highway traffic around the airport will be cut thanks to a $224million reconstruction of the Dorval Interchange, to be finished in 2015.
Pearson Airport is Canada’s busiest airport. Travellers: About 30 million annually Number of flights: About 1,100 daily Parking: More than 22,000 spots. Most people reach the airport by car Getting there by:. Taxi: $52 for a 25-minute trip from downtown Private bus: The Airport Express costs $22 and takes 40 minutes Transit: $7.70 for a combination of commuter train and city bus (in about 70 minutes). The Toronto Transit Commission operates the 192 Airport Rocket bus from the end of a subway line; it costs $3 and takes about 70 minutes to and from downtown.
The proposed train shuttles
Distance between airport and downtown: 20 kilometres Train frequency: Every 20 minutes Number of trains per day: 120 Schedule: 4 a.m. to midnight (20 hours a day), 7 days/ week Length of trip: 20 minutes Length of trip: 25 minutes Cost of trip: Fares are not set yet, but in May, ADM chief executive James Cherry suggested $12 to $15. Timeline: Construction is to take 24 to 36 months. The ADM says it could be launched by 2016. Who’s in charge? Aéroports de Montréal, the private non-profit company that runs the airport. It plans to work with a private partner that would operate the train service. Ridership projection: 3 million in first full year of operation. The ADM says one-third of Trudeau passengers head downtown after flights. Number of cars removed from the road: 1.7 million fewer vehicles per year would make the trip to the airport, the ADM says. Stops along the way: Unlike all other airport trains in North America, the Aérotrain would be non-stop from Trudeau to downtown; the ADM has said it may one day consider stopping at a commuter train station used by the AMT’s Vaudreuil-Hudson line. That would allow West Island residents to use the airport shuttle to reach the airport and return home. Cost of trip: Fares are not set yet, but officials have said it would cost about $22 a ride. Timeline: Due to start rolling in spring 2015. Who’s in charge? Metrolinx, the provincial body that operates the Toronto region’s GO Transit commuter trains. The Greater TorontoAirport Authority is providing land for the tracks and the station at Pearson. Ridership projection: About 1.8 million after five years of operation. Number of cars removed from the road: 1.2 million fewer vehicles per year would make the trip to the airport, Metrolinx says. Stops along the way: The Air Rail Link will stop at two commuter train stations on the GO Georgetown line: Weston and Bloor, the second of which is connected to the subway system.
Distance between airport and downtown: 27 kilometres Train frequency: Every 15 minutes Number of trains per day: 140 Schedule: Hours not announced but is to run 20 hours a day, 7 days/week.
Cost to build: $600 million Requirements: New dedicated tracks between Trudeau and downtown, mostly along CN tracks, through the Sud-Ouest borough. Two bridges will have to be widened over the Lachine Canal, two level crossings will be moved underground, and seven overpasses will have to be widened. The train terminal at the airport would be under the U.S. departures area that opened at the airport last year. Equipment: Four trains of three cars each, with cars equipped to accommodate passengers with luggage. The ADM says the trains will be “energy-efficient” and “perhaps electric.” Access to public transit: Central Station is linked to the Bonaventure métro station via walkways and escalators. Central Station is also used by the Deux Montagnes and Mont St. Hilaire commuter trains and is to become the terminal for the new Repentigny/ Mascouche line, and possibly the Blainville/St. Jérôme line. Via Rail and Amtrak also run intercity trains from Central Station. Who pays to build it: The ADM and private investors together would put up $200 million. Quebec and Ottawa would each be expected to put in $200 million. Quebec has said it is ready to pay its share. Ottawa has not weighed in yet. Who will own it: The privately operated Aéroports de Montréal.
Cost to build: Total is $1.3 billion: $300 million for the Air Rail Link, plus $1 billion to upgrade infrastructure along the commuter corridor. Without that work, the line couldn’t handle all the airport trains. Critics say the province is underestimating the cost of the airport train by shifting expenses to the commuter-line work. Requirements: A three-kilometre spur must be built to connect the commuter train line to Pearson. Other work required includes adding tracks, widening bridges and building one new bridge and six new overpasses and underpasses. The improvements will allow for 10 new commuter train departures per day, with more expected later. Equipment: Trains would have two cars each. Metrolinx is buying dieselpowered trains but has said it may switch to electric power later. Access to public transit: Handling as many as 65 million passengers annually, downtown Toronto’s Union Station is Canada’s busiest passenger train hub. It is served by commuter trains, the subway, city buses, as well as intercity trains from Via Rail, Ontario Northland Railway and Amtrak. Who pays to build it: The Ontario government is paying for the project, apart from $16.6 million that Ottawa is contributing via its infrastructure fund to rebuild six bridges on the commuter line. Who will own it: Metrolinx, the Ontario provincial agency that operates commuter trains.
The project has the backing of the city of Montreal, the Quebec provincial government and business groups such as the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. But critics argue the airport shuttle does nothing to cure problems afflicting Montreal transportation, such as poor service on West Island commuter trains. The fact SNC-Lavalin dropped out of the Torontoproject because of financing difficulties should make governments wary of bankrolling a private train shuttle in Montreal, says Avrom Shtern, a transit activist with the Green Coalition. Critics also worry that if money is poured into a Trudeau shuttle, little will be left to improve commuter trains.
Critics such as Greg Gormick of the Clean Train Coalition contend Toronto’s Air Rail Link should be electric for the sake of the environment and people who live near the tracks. Though regular commuter service will improve on the GO line, Gormick notes airport-train fares will be high and trains will be small, making them useless to commuters. Instead of an airport train some say is not needed, critics want all the money poured into commuter service.
A tale of two airport-train shuttles: Montreal and Toronto
Andy Riga montrealgazette.com/metnews firstname.lastname@example.org