Calgary’s transportation and transit committee got its first look at a proposed transit line to the airport Wednesday.
The plan would see connections from a future Green Line LRT station on 96 Avenue north, and with the extension of the blue line, a connection from a new 88 Avenue north station.
Members of the committee were told Wednesday that in the short term, based on 2028 ridership projections, the current bus service is sufficient to the airport with less than 1,000 riders a day. However, in the longer term, by 2048, ridership is expected to increase to nearly 30,000 a day.
The connection from the future green line station would run from 96 Avenue and follow a route across Deerfoot Trail to the airport.
From the northeast, passengers would travel from 88 Avenue north, through the airport tunnel to the airport.
An automated people mover is the preferred choice to get people to the airport from those stations, an idea that city administrators said would cut costs and provide faster service.
“In terms of transit funding, we rely on other orders of government,” chair of the transportation and transit committee, Jeff Davison said.
“How would we extend the blue line, how would we extend the green line, how do we connect the airport into all of these things? It’s important to have those conversations now to get to a solution sooner than later”
The councillor said after the approval of the Green Line LRT last week, the focus moving forward will be prioritizing which transit projects should come next.
“We have to be mindful of capital, we don’t have an unlimited source of funding that we could do all these things,” Davison said.
“When we think about how do we connect the airport, that is a significant piece that Calgary is missing.”
Speaking to Global News Morning Calgary on Thursday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said transit that currently operates to and from the airport has greatly improved over the years.
“When I first became mayor, it was actually very hard to go to the airport – whether you work there or were travelling – by transit,” Nenshi said. “And now we have two bus routes. One connects to the blue line … And there is an express bus downtown. So these are great ways (to access the airport) now, but we want to do better.”
A report to the committee stated that preliminary estimates peg the capital costs of the plan at $900 million to $1.8 billion in capital costs.
City officials also said they will be working very closely with provincial officials and Canada Infrastructure Bank to access the feasibility of a high-speed rail service between Calgary and Banff.
“What the infrastructure bank is looking at and what we’re looking at are two styles of service and both are very valid and complementary to each other,” manager of transit planning Asif Kirji said.
“The infrastructure bank and the passenger rail style is looking at a connection between the airport and downtown and out to Banff. I think that’s very good from a flyer sort of perspective,” he added. “What the airport transit connection does is connect employees in north-central and northeast Calgary to the airport, where there is a high level of employment. I see the services as complementary to each other.”