As I write this, I am sitting on a bus from the airport. Now hold on a second and don’t get too excited when I say the airport — I don’t mean the good ol’ Edmonton International.
No, as I write this I’m sitting on the 98 B-Line from Airport Station in Richmond, B.C., riding into Vancouver proper. Which makes me wonder — why don’t we have public transit to the airport in Edmonton?
OK, to its credit, Edmonton International Airport does provide the Sky Shuttle from downtown Edmonton. It sure beats the $60 cab ride, but at $10 for a one-way trip, it’s still five times the price of transit. And even if you take advantage of the two-way fare discount, it’s still triple what it would cost if the city provided actual public transit to the airport.
I know when ETS announced the south LRT extension, there was some hubbub and speculation that it would eventually extend the train all the way to the International. However, since LRT is only able to achieve a maximum speed of about 80 km/h, it seems unlikely the city would invest in an airport extension.
Still, it seems that at least some form of public transit should be provided to our gateway to the rest of the world — I’ve talked to a number of people from out of town who think our lack of service to the airport is absolutely absurd, not to mention damaging to our reputation among international travellers.
What would make sense is a shuttle bus to the airport (since a bus could easily take advantage of the 110 km/h speed limit on the QE2), ideally interconnecting with the new south LRT.
So why aren’t we doing this? Well, it’s complicated, but the short answer is the airport is in Leduc County, not Edmonton and despite offering service to several other municipalities in the region, ETS is not officially a regional transit system.
Thankfully, though, after a half-century pissing match between various regional municipalities, and thanks to some bold moves on behalf of city council in the last few years, regional transit is finally starting to get some attention — so perhaps with a little luck we can all enjoy a nice affordable bus ride to the airport some time in the future.