Airport link to downtown a key component of ‘The Big Move’

Travellers using Toronto’s Pearson International Airport will be big winners if a $50-billion transit wish list, unveiled recently by Metrolinx, should come to pass.

The public transit authority for the Greater Toronto Area released a draft plan on Tuesday which calls for a massive infusion of cash to the region’s presently overburdened subway, streetcar and bus services.

The report, called the ‘The Big Move’, proposes a new rapid transit system that would provide a second east-west corridor across Toronto, along Eglinton Avenue, and a rail link from downtown to Pearson International Airport.

The report’s author, Leslie Woo, told “What is being proposed is a high level of seamless connectivity from the Pearson Airport along Eglinton Ave., to Kennedy Road and upward to the Scarborough Town Centre at McCowan and Ellesmere roads.”

For businesses along Eglinton Ave., the plan is good news. “It will mean increased accessibility for clients and employees by public transit and cycling, less congestion along Eglinton, and improved air quality and economic opportunity,” Woo said.

According to Metrolinx, currently less than one per cent of all travellers at Pearson Airport arrive by public transit, although the airport handles 33 per cent of all Canadian air traffic. Last year alone 31.5 million people passed through the airport.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority has applauded the plan and is encouraging all levels of government to climb onboard the project.

“Support for the plan at all levels of the government is encouraged, as connectivity between Toronto Pearson and the surrounding region benefits the economy in the form of increased tourism and business development,” the GTAA said in press release.

Metrolinx chairman, Rob MacIsaac told “This plan will yield tangible results – moving more people, more conveniently, faster.”

Toronto mayor, David Miller said transportation in the GTA is a ‘national issue’ and called on the federal government to do its part. He said the province has made an investment of $11.5.

Miller also pointed out that the city is 20 years behind in transportation infrastructure and the first phase of this plan is going to go ahead with or without federal funding.