Sounding like an annoyed parent who’s tired of explaining the virtues of eating vegetable to his snotty kids, Porter posted a “Reality Check” on its site in which it tried to refute the arguments of No Jets TO, the most visible group opposing expansion at the island airport.
I have my own reservations about the expansion. I understand why Porter would want to expand (although I really wish they weren’t being so snarly about it); they’re a business and business want to grow. On the other hand, the city is a public space and the desire of businesses to expand cannot be paramount.
I had a few minutes to spare this afternoon, so I decided to work out some of my feeling about the proposed project by taking Porter’s reality check and marking it up with some thoughts. Some favour No Jets TO and other opponents of the expansion, some favour Porter. Overall I’m most interested in having a real debate about what the airport would mean to the city, both expanded, in its current form, and gone altogether.
Click on the link to view: PorterPlans_Markup
Today brought dual announcements about transportation in Toronto. First was Porter Airlines, the small boutique carrier operating out of Toronto City Centre, who announced expansion of their service, their fleet and ultimately their terminal. I’ve written at length in a previous post about my support for the idea of a downtown airport, especially one that’s responsibly maintained. We’ll always need international carriers, but the notion of regional travel being handles by smaller, more environmentally sensitive turbo-prop carriers might just be the future of air travel.
I don’t need to be told that air travel is not best for the environment. The carbon footprint of any airplane (even the Toronto-built Q400) is greater than any other form of transportation. But even knowing that, one can’t fault consumers for jumping on the Porter bandwagon. If you’re in the mood to go to Montreal, for almost the same price ($275.10 – Regular VIA Fare vs. $288.58 – Basic Porter Fare) and airline passenger can be in Montreal in less than 1/5 the time. Vilifying Porter for offering good service let’s VIA off the hook far too easily. The failure of the public sector to offer a fast, efficient rail service is the very reason why Porter exists. Why don’t the protesters at the bottom of Bathurst ever think about that.
The second announcement today was for new streetcars to be made by Bombardier. Not a huge surprise. When only a week ago I was reading about the potential plight of Thunder Bay should the TTC contract go to Siemens. If the TTC wanted to secure the funding necessary not only for Transit City, but also for fleet replacement then the contract was going Canadian and that’s that.
Despite the dispairity in attitudes towards air travel (private) and rail travel (public), today’s announcements demonstrate that there’s hope for a province or a country where we travel together, whatever the mode.
I went down to the Ex last Saturday to see a Toronto FC home game and after watching another painful loss, I wandered over to the National Trade Centre (Direct Energy Centre, my ass) to see the mock-up streetcars. I arrived late and had to convince the people from Siemens that it was worth staying open another 10 minutes so I could get a look around their car. The personnel at the Bombardier car (TTC employees??) were slower to close, so no negotiations were required. Both competitors offered small sections of their cars for people to examine as well as explanations about why the cars on display wouldn’t really be anything like the final product.
A lengthy review of both cars follows after the jump…