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Sunday Supplement: Finding a way to the airport, when the Gardiner was new, and an Ikea monkey primer

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 16, 2012

toronto HTO parkGetting the heck out of Canada has always been a challenge for travelers without a car in Toronto. A trip to the airport for most involves a costly taxi ride or a back-breaking ride on the TTC with a freezing cold interchange at Kipling. Hardly glamourous. Now that that the Union-Pearson rail link is under construction those days are over, right? Maybe not. Fares could be as high as $30 each way. I take a look at how that stacks up against the alternatives below.

There's also a trip down memory lane to when the Gardiner was new and a closer look at rhesus macaques, the little monkeys that are banned in Toronto but have been known to turn up at flat-pack furniture stores.

TICKET TO ANYWHEREtoronto pearson airportThe price of a ride on Metrolinx's under-construction Union-Pearson rail link could be as high as $30, according to a report from Ontario's auditor general released earlier this week. The steep fare, added together for a family, is more expensive than a ride in a limo and just about any other form of transport to the airport. Single fares, however, might be competitive. Here's a comparison:

Walk (anywhere): Free
TTC fare (anywhere): $3
Union-Pearson Express: $30
Taxi (Union Station): $45-$65 (approx.)
Limo (Union Station): $58 (approx.)

The question is, does Metrolinx need to run the line at a profit? Sure, money and all that, but it seems like there's a greater need to have one - just one - direct public transit link between downtown and the airport. The idea of tolling the Gardiner could subsidize Union-Pearson Express fares and pay for subway expansion. Is this something the city should look into with Metrolinx?


Toronto Star Thursday Aug 8 1958

In case you hadn't noticed, we're more than a little prone to nostalgia around here and, even if the Gardiner is a giant deathtrap, it's a big part of our history. Here's a page from the Aug. 7 1958 Toronto Star celebrating the opening of the first section of the elevated highway.

The first four kilometres, with a strict 80 km/h speed limit, cost $13,000,000 to build between the QEW and the Humber River. Originally called the Lakeshore Expressway, the roadway was renamed for Frederick G. Gardiner, the chair of Metro Toronto, shortly before its completion.

Sam Cass, a Metro Toronto engineer, said the road would provide "smooth sailing" for its new auto users.

MONKEY BUSINESStoronto ikea monkeyYou'd have to have been under a rock last week not to have taken some delight in Darwin the Monkey, the escaped rhesus macaque that sent the media bananas and kept us all entertained while Rob Ford was taking a break.

Although we learned plenty about Darwin and his owners, we didn't find out much about the animal behind the shearling jacket. Here are some facts about rhesus macaques.

Life span: 25 years
Regions: China, India, Bhutan, Laos, Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Height: 531.8 mm (adult)
Weight: 7.7 kg (adult)

Rhesus macaques live in a broad range of climates from tropical to semi-desert and tend to gather in areas close to humans. The monkeys eat an omnivore diet, favoring plants and small insects, but are also capable of digesting food found recovered from humans like bread, ice cream, and fried food.

The animals' similarity to humans also makes them prime targets for medical research. The development of HIV/AIDS medicines and rabies, smallpox, and polio vaccines were developed using macaque blood. The monkey's natural predators include large birds, dogs, weasels, leopards, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, and snakes.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "HtO Park - 1" by Subjective Art, "Toronto Pearson International Airport - Terminal 1 - Pier F - Hammerhead" by Tom Podolec, Wikimedia Commons,



Miroslav Glavic / December 16, 2012 at 02:21 am
Thank God for GO Transit and living in Scarborough.

When I used to live near my parents in the west end of Scarborough, I would take a GO Bus from Pearson to York Mills, it would stop at Yorkdale, then at YM my parents would pick me up.

Now that I llve in the east end of Scarborough, I can take the 95 York Mills, or for $4.50, I can take a bus from York Mills GO to Scarborough Centre, I then cross to the TTC side and take the 38 Highland Creek. :-)
Jose / December 16, 2012 at 03:41 am
I just can't get over the fact that the most populated and urbanized province in the entire country still lacks efficient methods of transportation.

Sure, this new railway from Union to Pearson is great, but people from the West and East ends still have to commute to the core and head North.

We need subways. The population of Toronto and the GTA isn't going to get smaller anytime soon. We need subways EVERYWHERE.
Steven / December 16, 2012 at 04:41 am
I agree with Jose. Toronto needs subways galore. Not above ground LRTs as they, just like streetcars, slows down the traffic flow. (Try to pass one on King or Queen.) (Look at the costly mess on St. Clair.)

All major east-west and north-south streets should have subways, including extra car lenghts. If the idea catches on, eliminate the buses on the major routes and have them cover areas currently neglected by civic leaders.

When they were in the mist of rebuilding Pearson airport, there was heavy talk of getting the subway to serve all the terminals. They would have been intergrated within the buildings. But nooo, mayor Miller didn't want that. His communist vision was for everyone cycle everywhere. What an effen dork he was.

Nearby cities such as Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Markham should all be sharing a subway line - like right now!

These key cities should consider forming a new province. Money spent here would stay here. Keep the current taxes the same and there would enough money to have subways everywhere. The 'province' would have less people on staff as current adminstrative duties would be handled through each city under close scrutiny of taxpayers. It can be done.

The only objections would be from Queen's Park people having to move to a different part of the province. They are the thorn that currently stiffles our economy, our objectives and our future.

Pass it on!
Hurr replying to a comment from Steven / December 16, 2012 at 08:05 am
you have no idea what you're talking about
Robert replying to a comment from Steven / December 16, 2012 at 09:40 am
Seeing the date stamp, you should get some rest after a night of partying before trying to think.
Jer / December 16, 2012 at 10:08 am
I am sure the taxi/limo companies are happy that the fares on the rail link will be so high. Was there lobbying by them to ensure that it didn't really take business away from them?

The thing is, they would still have plenty of business because people living at the 401 for example aren't likely going to take a subway all the way down to union to go to the airport.

I think there should have been additional stops along the route. At this high price, no one will be using the link to commute to work. It should have been the equivalent price of a GO Train going that same distance.... with a premium if you are leaving from the actual airport vs another stop on the line.
jameson / December 16, 2012 at 10:12 am
Whats the source for the price of the Pearson trip? I'm confused how the pricing is done...
subway and taxi / December 16, 2012 at 10:56 am
Before we all get upset at a $30 fare we need to wait and see what it is ($30 is the highest estimate). $15 would likely be almost as profitable for Metrolinx with the extra riders, and even if they don't quite make as much that just means it takes an extra 5 years or so to turn a profit.

At this point though taking a $3 subway ride to Kipling and then a $27 taxi (an estimate) would be the smart way to get to the airport for a single rider.
JunctionJim / December 16, 2012 at 11:07 am
I'm still in awe that the Airport link wasn't built as an LRT, what a waste of capital on the part of Metrolinx and the province. Hopefully the new premier and his/her party will push for sensible spending.
Mor / December 16, 2012 at 11:10 am
U neglected to mention numerous relatively comfortable alternatives by go bus (ie York mills/dal). Please, write responsibly.
moe replying to a comment from Jose / December 16, 2012 at 11:42 am
You do not know what you're talking about. Try to find friends who have lived in the city or urban planners.
moe replying to a comment from Steven / December 16, 2012 at 11:43 am
stop living in past.
wow replying to a comment from Steven / December 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm
that was painful to read, it was like reading the toronto sun, all made up facts and beliefs.
jameson / December 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm
After looking this up a bit, the Vancouver fare is $5 added to get the airport from the Canada Line...

It would be great to see how you determined 30 dollars. It literally seems like BS that this number is thrown out there
McRib / December 16, 2012 at 02:29 pm
wasnt it determined by the auditor general as the figure needing to be charged in order for the line to turn a profit within a certain time frame?

I don't think Metrolinx has ever said the fare would be $30.

The best thing would have been to have more stops along the way, with two types of service; express and local. Charge top price for express and significantly less for local.

Also add in ways to receive a discount on your fare (such as booking early, lower prices for return fares, and perhaps a family fare) and people would be less annoyed at the high ticket price. Lots of people will pay premium price for premium service. The problem arises when there is only the premium option.

sadly, with only 3 stops on the route and (i assume) only one type of service, the city and the province has once again fucked things up when it comes to transit.
Craig replying to a comment from Steven / December 16, 2012 at 03:26 pm
Steven, you need to do a little research before going off the deep end. Miller had nothing to do with cancelling the subway to the airport. Mike Harris killed the Eglinton line that would have gone to the airport, back in 1995, years before Miller was even on council, heck it was years before amalgamation too.
scottd / December 16, 2012 at 04:26 pm
I suggest you all read the auditors report about the APL. It states that there is no business plan in place and that ridership projections are lower than what Metrolinx has been gloating. He also says that it is unlikely that the APL could even break even at 30$ a pop. He also explains how SNC Lavalin went to the marketplace for funding of this monopoly and the market said no so SNC walked. Metrolinx's own electrification study which can read online too shows how an electric sysyem would have allowed more stops, more revenue, more economic activity. People who know transit have been saying this for years and now people are looking at Vancouver's line, and Montreal's proposed line, and asking "why are we getting a second rate more expensive system?". Read it for yourselves.
jer / December 16, 2012 at 05:37 pm
So Scottd, why didn't they go electric then? Just because of the timeline to get it ready for Pan-am games or because of kickbacks/etc?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Jose / December 16, 2012 at 09:38 pm
We CANNOT build subways galore everywhere, dumbass. We can't do that because there's not enough density in all of Toronto just to be building subways everywhere you or Steven wants them built; that way lies the mistake of the Sheppard STUBway and of how it doesn't justify the ridership enough for it to have been built. We needed a full set of LRT line and we (almost) got a full set of LRT lines, but the current mayor and the idiots that voted him in nixed that, and put back the time needed to build them, so that instead of having an airport transit line that only costs $3.00, we have one that cost $30.00. You should have enough sense to know that subways only work when cities are dense enough to justify them; I don't know why you forgot that or couldn't remember that.

As well, personally (and to be brutally frank), the subway is an outdated mode of transit to begin with, sucking life from the city streets whenever a subway line is built, and just reinforcing cars. Street rail (streetcars and LRT's) are a hell of a lot better, and bring life to a city a hell of a lot more than a subway line does. Also, the LRT lines of Transit City would have served suburbanized Toronto quite well, and would have also gone to the airport, like in other cities that have LRT lines.

Let's just face it; with the exception of the line to Vaughn (and also to York University) as well as the DRL, subways are exorbitantly expensive and outdated, and we really don't need them anymore.
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