Tag Archives: Trudeau-Airport

The airport-train link: Let’s put our cards on the table

It seems like forever that we’ve been arguing over which route should be taken by the new train linking Trudeau airport with downtown. In fact, I wrote about the debate almost two years ago.

Airport train's possible routes: CP route to Lucien L'Allier (red) and CN route to Central Station (blue)

Using existing railways, there are two possible routes, each of which ends at a different terminus:

  • Using CP tracks that go through NDG and Westmount, ending at Lucien L’Allier station just outside the Bell Centre. This is the same path used by the Dorion/Rigaud train line.
  • Using mainly CN tracks, passing through the Turcot interchange and St. Henri and ending at Central Station. This is the path used by VIA trains to Toronto and Ottawa.

This debate is in the news again because Aéroports de Montréal (which runs the airport) and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (which runs the commuter trains) are having a pissing match, refusing to give in on their choices. The AMT wants to use the CP route, because it’s cheaper and because it uses tracks (and stations) already used by the AMT. ADM wants to use the CN route because it leads to Central Station and downtown hotels.

Both camps are now using quantitative data to make their cases. Joël Gauthier, of the AMT, points to the fact that the CP route is significantly less expensive – $786 million vs. $1.1 billion. James Cherry, of the ADM, points to a study that shows ridership would be 22 per cent higher if the train ended at Central Station.

Various third parties are also jumping in, some on Cherry’s side making the Central Station argument, others on Gauthier’s side for Lucien L’Allier.

Despite what both these men think, the issue is neither obvious nor is there a desperate need to make a snappy decision. Yeah, it’s been years, but these studies are only coming to light now, and this kind of study is the difference between a billion-dollar project and a billion-dollar boondoggle.

That said, unless there’s some other serious study that needs to be done, it’s about time to make a decision. So let’s put all our cards on the table. Here are, from what I can see, the benefits of each route:

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STM’s 747 Airport Express launches March 29

The Société de transport de Montréal had a whole thing today, inviting members of the media out to the airport to show off their new bus route. I was tempted to go, but I don’t get up before noon unless I really have to.

The route is the 747 Express bus, which finally provides a direct, non-stop link between downtown and Dorval Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. It replaces an awkward public transit travel itinerary that involved taking the metro to Lionel-Groulx, hopping on the 211 or 221 and squeezing in with all the West Island kids, then either waiting half an hour at the Dorval train station or walking across the entire airport parking lot to get to the terminal.

It also replaces La Québécoise’s Aérobus shuttle service between the bus station and the airport that used to run every half hour and cost $16. (And that was already much cheaper than the flat-rate $38 for a cab from downtown to the airport.)

More details from Cyberpresse, The Gazette, CTV, CBCRue Frontenac, Metro, the STM’s press release, the airport’s press release (PDF), or the Planibus with route and schedule (PDF).

The route enters service on Monday, March 29, and will be the STM’s first 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year bus service.

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Hi, I’m Chris Hansen…

Cara, a catering company at Trudeau airport, says it apprehended a journalist sneaking into a secure area passing himself off as an employee. It won’t name the journalist, or say which media outlet the journalist was from (*cough*), but it says it is handing the matter over to police.

For those of you wondering what happens when these journalist on security exposés actually get caught in the act, now you know.

Patrick Lagacé has some thoughts on the situation as well.

Airbus PR stunt a success

Airbus A380

In case you hadn’t heard, Airbus brought their A380 super jumbo jet into Trudeau Airport as part of a promotional tour. The A380 is the largest passenger airliner in the world, and will spew greenhouse gases like there’s no tomorrow shuttling hundreds of people in each flight.

In essence, it’s just a PR stunt for a somewhat notable aircraft which Montreal won’t see for a long while anyway, since no airline has plans to use it here.

But that didn’t stop Airbus’s expensive PR team from getting local journalists to write story after story after story after story after story after story after story after story after story about its arrival here. Some focused on the fact that the airport had to spend a lot of money to accomodate the plane but most were of the “big plane lands locally” variety.

It’s not that this isn’t an interesting story, both from a business perspective and for plane afficionados, but did it really warrant more than 10 minutes of live coverage on CTV News at Noon?

UPDATE: Le Devoir explores when we might see the A380 in commercial service here. But the only answer they can get out of Air France is “soon”, and even that’s a maybe. It won’t be for a half decade at least.