41% use alternative transport to reach Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport

29 April 2019 Consulting.ca 3 min. read
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A recent study from planning, engineering, and environmental advisory firm Dillon Consulting revealed that 41% of travelers walk, bike, or use transit to get to Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto. The report was commissioned by PortsToronto, which owns and operates the Toronto Island-located airport.

The survey data, which was collected in June 2018 during airport peak hours, uncovered a 52% increase in non-automobile usage over the past five years. In 2013, only 27% of people going to the airport walked, biked, or used transit. The 2018 figure of 41% is the highest percentage of non-automobile access of any airport in North America.

The 2015 completion of the pedestrian tunnel from the mainland pavilion has undoubtedly driven some of the increase in those walking or biking to the airport. Increasing congestion in Toronto – as thousands more continue to pile into the city to fill a growing skyline of condos as basic infrastructure remains unchanged – also probably means more people opt to skip taxis or cars as traffic conditions worsen. An understandable lack of parking in the downtown-located airport – which connects 2.8 million passengers to more than 20 cities in Canada and the US – also means that just 2% of passengers drove to and parked at the airport.

Dillon’s study also recorded that 29% of passengers departed Billy Bishop via the complimentary airport shuttle to access Toronto’s Union Station.

41% use alternative transport to reach Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport

Billy Bishop’s central location means that it is feasible for many passengers to walk, bike, or use transit to get to or from the airport. In North America – where public transit is often less advanced, effective, or connected than in Europe or Asia – those traveling to far-flung, suburban international airports will be more likely to rely on cars or taxis. In Toronto’s case, the city only received a reliable downtown rail connection to Pearson International Airport, the UP Express, in the last few years. The major public transit connection previously was TTC buses from Lawrence West and Kipling stations.

"By investing in major city-building infrastructure such as the award-winning pedestrian tunnel, and fostering an ideal environment for 'green' airport access with conveniently-located bike stations [and] complimentary shuttle service to and from Union Station… PortsToronto continues to implement innovative measures to both reduce emissions and ease vehicle traffic around the airport," sGene Cabral, executive vice president of Billy Bishop Airport, said.

Although 41% of passengers are using greener methods to get to and from the airport, they are still ultimately doing so in order to partake in one of the more emissions-intensive forms of transportation. The IPCC estimates that aviation is responsible for approximately 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change.

And though there have been solid gains in fuel efficiency, air travel has continued to grow in popularity, with passenger kilometers increasing 5.2% per year between 1992 and 2005. Aviation industry association ATAG reports that 12% of CO2 emissions from transport are caused by aviation; while electric and hybrid vehicles are a heartening reality for the automobile sector, such advances are not viable for air transport.

Related: Engineering firm Dillon Consulting appoints Sean Hanlon as president