GTAA Concetp Rendering

Rendering of concept for Toronto Pearson International Airport’s planned regional transit center. Image: GTAA

APEX Insight: In Toronto and New York, airport authorities and city planners are working to facilitate the movement of people to, from and around busy airport terminals, with plans for multimodal transit hubs on airport grounds. Though questions are swirling about whether the projects will materialize (and, if so, who will pay for them), it is encouraging to see airports planning for the future needs of both passengers and growing cities.

Six months after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a request for proposal (RFP) seeking a firm to conduct planning and engineering work on a proposed AirTrain station at La Guardia, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) has followed suit with an RFP for design consulting services for the concept development of a regional transit center, to be constructed on Toronto Pearson International Airport land.

The world got its first glimpse of the plans for the Toronto airport regional transit hub back in February when initial designs were shown to press. This occurred on the same week the official RFP for La Guardia’s proposed AirTrain terminal (connecting LaGuardia to the New York subway system in Queens) hit the streets. Toronto news outlet CityNews reported in February how Howard Eng, president and CEO of the GTAA, was determined to see Toronto catch up with other large American cities in regard to public transportation and airport accessibility.

“By the time New York and Chicago were the size that Toronto is today, they each had at least two major transportation hubs,” he said in a February statement. “Now is the time to ensure that better transit options are in place; otherwise, we risk squandering the significant opportunities that are part and parcel of the exciting growth that the airport, the city and the region are experiencing.”

LaGuardia Airport

An aerial rendering of the concept for LaGuardia Airport. Image: HOK

According to a release distributed on Tuesday by the GTAA, the proposed regional transit center at Toronto Pearson will take advantage of the concentrated travel demand generated by the airport and its surroundings, and will provide a critical missing link in the regional transit system. The project is also hoped to stimulate ongoing, high-value economic activity within and beyond the airport zone, while easing traffic congestion in the area and reducing vehicle emissions. The hub, which has an estimated price tag of just over $11 billion CAN, will incentivize more of Toronto Pearson’s 49,000  employees to take public transit to work instead of driving.

Plans for the hub include direct connections to Terminals 1 and 3, automobile access from three major highways and roads, and service by GO Transit commuter trains, light rail lines, Union Pearson Airport Express trains and Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit.

Bidding for Phase One of the regional transit center is open until mid-September. The RFP can be viewed here.