Airport Authority chair says to prioritize LRT
The Calgary Airport Authority president and CEO, Garth Atkinson says an Airport LRT link is a " a question of timing and working together [with the city] as we go forward."
The Airport Trail tunnel is planned to be a 620 metre tunnel, that will run under the new Airport Runway. The project, which is expected to be completed in May 2014, will extend Airport Trail from Barlow Trail to 36 Street N.E. with an estimated $294.8 million price tag.
At City Council on March 18, Ward 9 Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra pointed out that some of the best airports he has traveled through are "multi-mobile hubs."
But Calgary's Airport has no rail access. The nearest C-train station is McKnight, a bus ride away. According to the Airport Authority's statistics report, there are some 35,000 people coming to and from the airport each day.
The development of Airport Trail brings up the opportunity to connect light-rail transit from the airport to downtown.
Atkinson says the Airport Authority has "always" planned for LRT to come to the airport.
"The airport tunnel is, I understand, specifically designed height to width-wise to accommodate fixed rail," he said.
He says the timing is up to the city but that in the airport's "master plan outlook, the LRT is coming either right into the terminal itself or very close by."
Ald. Carra says he believes he is among many Calgarians who would like to see the Airport LRT "become front and centre." But Calgary Transit's current Airport Express Shuttle is being called out by a competing airport shuttle.
In a Metro article covering the transportation City Council meeting, Associated Cab said that the express shuttle is waste of tax dollars and presents an unfair competition to its service of private airport shuttles.
The airport currently offers limited access to transportation. Choices include the 30-minute bus ride from McKnight Station and the $8 Express Shuttle Route 300 that uses Airport Trail, Deerfoot Trail, 64 Avenue, and connects along Centre Street. Route 300 accounts for over 1,000 riders per week-day, with 35 per cent being air travellers.
According to Metro's report, Ward 10 Ald. Andre Chabot supports Associated Cab. He said," We may lose that enhanced level of service and then people will have to fall back on the sub-standard service, if you will, that we provide through the public transportation system."
While the average $50 dollars for a private shuttle or taxi is not feasible for all travellers, there seems to be a shift in thinking by the city in terms of the need for efficient and accessible transit to and from the airport.
Read more about Calgary's Airport here.
- By KRYSTYNA SPINNER