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Airport shuttle cutting routes

Private firm says it can’t compete with TTC bus

Joseph Hall TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

The success of a new TTC bus route to Pearson International is forcing the airport’s private motor-coach carrier to cancel a large chunk of its service, company officials say.

Pacific Western Transportation, which holds the airport’s private bus concession, says it will cancel its runs between Pearson and three Toronto subway stops Nov. 20 because of the TTC’s popular “airport rocket.”

The cancelled service would chop a total of 112 daily trips between Pearson and the York Mills, Islington and Yorkdale stations.

“We just can’t compete with a subsidized, non-concession-paying entity like the TTC,” said company general manager Mark Hannah.

“They’re charging $2 compared to our $7.50 or $8 fare.”

Hannah, whose company has been running luxury buses to the airport since 1993, said the TTC route also threatens Pacific Western’s downtown service.

The TTC began the airport service as a trial route in February and brought it on as an official route in September. The bus runs from Kipling station every 45 minutes on weekdays between 6 a.m and 7 p.m.

The service was originally intended to attract airport employees, but it has proven so successful it will be extended to seven days a week in January and run until midnight.

Mitch Stambler, head of TTC service planning, said the transit system has no data on the number of people the route is attracting or the breakdown between airport employees and airline passengers.

“We just don’t have those numbers yet, but the word of mouth has been good and we know the service is popular enough to expand it,” he said.

Hannah, whose company spent $10 million to set up the service, said Pacific Western is considering litigation against the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which runs Pearson.

But the two sides have scheduled a meeting Friday to try to hammer out a deal, he said.

“My interpretation of what we had was an exclusive contract,” Hannah said.

Airport authority vice-president Steve Shaw said public transit vehicles have long been allowed into the airport and do not interfere with any contract between Pearson and Pacific Western.

Stambler said the TTC might pick up passenger slack between Nov. 20 and January should Pacific Western go through with the cancellation. But he said the airport authority would have to subsidize any extra service the TTC put on during those times.




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