OLRT to the Airport — Not

It appears the City of Ottawa is once again sloughing off easy expansion of the rail infrastructure in favour of more roads to the suburbs. Extending the O-train to Riverside South? Along an existing unused rail right of way? Where fields of houses are the main farm crop? Where long term plans call for rail eventually? Using the 3 Talent trains that are already on hand and soon to be declared surplus? Nahh, premature to consider such expansion.

And of course, the line would go right past the Airport but not into it. Someday, there might be a shuttle bus from the airport to the rail line, or maybe even a rail spur, but the rail cannot go to the airport itself because… well, because… oh damn, there must be some reason!

Oh yeah, it would be a security hazard to take it close to the runways or even under a taxiway or runway and thence onward to another destination.

And if that destination happened to be across the Rideau River in the expanding housing metropolis of Barrhaven and the major employment node there, featuring the RCMP headquarters, it means every  train using the airport route would likely have several police officers on it. Every day. Every night. Definitely too high a risk.

Someone might taser a Westjet.

All the more interesting to see this expansion of the   20-mile-LRT line already running in Phoenix:  

Yup, their transit will be running over active airport taxiways. It will be a shuttle running between the various terminals, the car rental centre, and to the LRT mainline.

 Imagination and guts defines their transit planning. What characterizes ours?

The Phoenix LRT will take people from the airport to their downtown. And numerous other nodes along the route *. Even if Ottawa ran the O-train into the airport, it has shown great reluctance to let the other end of the track run directly into the downtown. Our planners continually prefer making users transfer at Bayview. Which will rule out a lot of convention traffic as there would not be direct airport-to-downtown service. Mind, Gatineau has already expressed interest in extending the O-train, if it ran from airport, into their town to their casino and their convention complex. Ottawa taxpayers could pay for a rail system that delivers the convention traffic to another city. What could be better?


*I took those pic through the window of a plane just last week.  I also took a lengthy through-the-front-window video of the LRT as it ran through downtown Phoenix and city streets. I need help to string together four or five separate clips into one video, and upload it to YouTube. No money, just the glory of spreading transit knowledge. Let me know if you know you can do this. Video is from a Olympus 8mpx digital camera. EricDarwin1@gmail.com. Thanks.

9 thoughts on “OLRT to the Airport — Not

  1. A commenter on the Citizen mentioned the Airport Authority was concerned over loss of parking revenues and money from taxi licensing. Is there any truth to that nugget?

    By the time the LRT is done, it’ll be so over budget, they’ll only have money to build roads.

  2. Of course its true that the airport is working behind the scenes to ensure good public transit goes no where close to it. Ever wonder why the commissionaires tell you that you can’t wait in your car at the pickup zone? It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with selling parking.
    The transitway station at the airport is used by airport staff, and my crazy father. It would be hard to travel on the bus with your luggage, so the bus link doesn’t take much money out of the airport’s pocket. I think the train is a different story. But who cares? Airport authorities should not be able to extract endless money from customers.

    1. Unless I have a very early flight out, or am laden with luggage outgoing or incoming, I bus it to and from the airport every time.

  3. Your father is not the only crazy one. When the Wife and I went on our little trip last week we went to the airport on the 97 via a quick stop at the main public library and a downtown bank dragging our roll-ons with us. When we came home, late at night, there was a 97 waiting for us, which we took to Bayview, with a slight detour of entertainment while security calmed a not-quite-100% passenger. The biggest prob with the 97 is deciding whether its worth trying for a transfer at the OTrain, which is faster but only if you dont have to wait. A taxi is $35; bus is a couple of tix. Hmm, let me figure this out now…

  4. Wait, the *airport* doesn’t want the LRT to be extended? Really? Because they think they’ll lose parking revenue? Unbelieveable. Whenever my husband and I need to fly somewhere we schlepp it out there on the 97, and we *have* a car. Putting the LRT in won’t cause them to lose parking revenue from people like us… we weren’t parking there to begin with. Even less revenue will be lost from the people who don’t have access to a car in the first place, which includes students at our 3 universities as well as anyone who flew in to visit Ottawa for business or pleasure… which you’d think would be a major proportion of the people using the airport. Don’t they deserve at least as convenient a level of service as the people who are trying to fly out and go somewhere else? I’m not saying that there would be no parking revenue lost at the airport if there was rapid, convenient transportation via LRT. What I’m saying is that not everyone riding this hypothetical train represents “lost” parking dollars, and blocking the ability of visitors to move around our city based on something so petty is short-sighted and shameful.

    1. I have no idea how valid the parking rumour is… again, I saw it in comments on the Citizen so… who knows.

      I too have schlepped on the bus. It’s too bad they put the stop sort of hidden out of sight. Oh, public transit? It’s over there, behind those posts…

  5. In the planning for the first LRT I was told it’s simply because the airport doesn’t want anything to cut into their lucrative parking revenues. We might (might!) get a shuttle, but I think unless forced to they’ll never accept a rail station.

  6. One can’t expect City Staff to push for rail transit to the airport when they are prepared to go so far as to meet with Transport Canada officials for the sole purpose of deliberately trying to make potential O-Train extensions more expensive and time consuming (and therefore less likely to occur). The did this by way of claiming that the O-Train should not be allowed across level crossings and would require expensive grade separations instead, as was revealed by David Jeanes at this week’s meeting who happened to have contacted the Transport Canada official some time after the latter’s meeting with OC Transpo officials.

    So never mind Airport obstructionism – first we have to get past City Staff obstructionism and what amounts to attempted procedural sabotage.

    The really amusing thing about Staff’s position is that if you follow it out logically, it actually makes selling the surplus Talents more difficult: anyone else in Canada who would try to make use of them is highly unlikely to have a completely grade-separated rail line like we happen to have (i.e. the current unextended O-Train line) to run them along. Therefore, the Talents would have to go over level crossings in just about any conceivable use elsewhere in the country, but since City Staff claim the Talents shouldn’t be able to do this they’ve basically just cut off their sale market for the Talents they seem to be so desperate to get rid of.

  7. This is really quite sad, I just came back from Dallas last week where they are building the last two sections of their Orange line. This line will not only connect to Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, their system already connects to Dallas’s Love Field, another major area airport. Currently they have 72 miles, yes miles not kilometres of light rail and with the completion of the Orange line in 2014, they will have 96 miles or 152 kilometres. Dallas’s first LRT line opened in 1996. They also plan to open 2 more commuter rail lines by 2022, one of them will also go to their main airport as well as join more of Ft. Worth to northern Dallas. By the way, l had to transfer planes at Pearson in Toronto which is building a major commuter rail line to downtown to be opened by April 2015. The airport extension line can’t handle Go Transit’s Bi-Level coaches so they will be using Japanese DMU’s similar to the O-Train. Who knows if O.C. Transpo sells the original Talents fast enough we may see them used in Toronto as extras for the Pearson Union Staion Rail link.

Comments are closed.