You get through security, collect your belongings from the baggage carousel and head out to catch a ride to wherever it is you’re off to. One problem, if you’ve landed at the Calgary International Airport, the ground transportation options are sorely lacking.
The choices: if you’re lucky, a friend will pick you up; if you’re staying at a select few hotels, you can catch a hotel-specific shuttle; if you’re feeling adventurous, you can catch the one and only bus that leaves the airport to be dropped off at the Whitehorn LRT; if money is no object, you can charter a limo; but more than likely, you’ll be forking over $40 or so for a cab.
Sarah Webb, marketing manager for Nuvo Hotel Suites, a small boutique hotel in downtown Calgary, is frustrated with the lack of options to transport her guests.
Webb says she gets numerous requests for shuttles and when she explains there is no such service in Calgary, the response is generally along the lines of, “Really — my only option is a taxi at $40 each way?”
Recently Webb has looked at running a shuttle service to help serve her clientele better, but found the airport fees (anywhere from $12.60 to $68.50 per pick up depending on vehicle size) “staggering” for a small hotel like hers.
Having travelled extensively, Webb says, “The fact that the only transportation from the airport to downtown Calgary is a taxi is truly ridiculous — pretty much every major city I have ever been to has a train, bus and/or shuttle service as an option.”
Our airport is the fourth busiest in the country with 12.5 million visitors in 2008, but lacks efficient ground transportation options when compared to other major centres.
Toronto’s Pearson International is serviced by a number of buses with express routes heading to the subways, downtown, bus terminals and outlying cities. There’s also plans for a rail link to Union Station.
Vancouver International has similar options as well as Canada Line, a new SkyTrain line hooking up the airport to the downtown line. Seeing value in the project, the airport contributed $300 million. Canada Line opens this month with an anticipated 100,000 boardings per day.
If Calgary wants to properly welcome newcomers, some effective ground transportation options might be more appreciated than a white hat.