With Highway 401 ranking as the worst highway for bottlenecks in Canada, resulting in greater than 3 million hours of annual delays, traffic congestion and the lack of public transit continue to be top issues for Greater Toronto Area residents. , As such, it should come as no surprise that earlier this year the Toronto area was ranked as having the sixth-worst commute in the world. 
In recent years, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), the not-for-profit corporation operating Toronto Pearson International Airport, unveiled a plan to combat congestion by connecting transit services from surrounding regions into a new, major transit hub at the airport, dubbed “Union Station West”. This isn’t a new idea—many world-class cities have transit hubs co-located at their major airports, and the GTAA, along with many local businesses and advocacy groups, say the time is now to start planning for a ground transportation hub that will serve the western Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) as well as the airport.
Groundside access to the airport is becoming increasingly difficult for passengers, employees and goods transporters, which is a cause for concern given the role Toronto Pearson plays in our economy. Today, Toronto Pearson is the country’s largest and most economically significant airport. It provides access to 70 per cent of the world’s economies through daily direct flights and manages about half of Canada’s air cargo. Supporting this crucial economic asset must be central to showing the world that Ontario is open for business.
Toronto Pearson’s unique location makes it the ideal spot for a major regional transit hub that could positively impact congestion. First, the airport is located at the nexus of Mississauga, Toronto and Brampton, next to the Kitchener GO rail corridor, and in close proximity to a number of planned transit lines—such as the Finch LRT—that stop just short of Toronto Pearson. Toronto Pearson could play a powerful role in connecting transit services from surrounding regions into one hub, allowing people to more conveniently travel across the region, and better connecting major employment areas outside of downtown Toronto.
What’s more, today there are nearly 1 million car trips a day taken into and out of the Airport Employment Zone (AEZ)—the second largest cluster of jobs in the entire country. While the AEZ has more jobs than any other central business district in Canada aside from downtown Toronto, it remains underserved by transit, meaning more than 90 per cent of commuters use cars to get to work. The Neptis Foundation estimates that this area is the single-largest generator of car trips in the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Better transit connectivity, facilitated through Union Station West, will support job growth in employment areas outside of downtown Toronto by helping employers attract and retain top talent. It will make businesses—especially those along the northern arc of our region, from Kitchener and the GO rail corridor in places like Guelph and the Region of Waterloo to Vaughan’s corporate centre and the City of Pickering and Region of Durham — more competitive by providing more direct access to the country’s largest airport.
Work is already underway to make Union Station West a reality. Air travel demand at Toronto Pearson is expected to grow strongly over the next decade-and-a-half, with the airport forecasted to serve some 85 million passengers by the mid-2030s. As such, Union Station West will not only connect the region on the ground, but also will offer a space for air passenger processing facilities that will help Toronto Pearson improve flow at the airport to meet the growth that is coming.
To learn more about Union Station West, visit www.torontopearson.com/transit.
Authored by: The Greater Toronto Airports Authority
About the Greater Toronto Airports Authority
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is the operator of Toronto Pearson International Airport. The GTAA’s vision is to make Toronto Pearson the best airport in the world. Towards this objective, the GTAA focuses on ensuring the safety and security of passengers and airport employees, enhancing the passenger experience and supporting the success of its airline partners. Toronto Pearson served more than 47 million passengers in 2017, making it Canada's largest airport and the second-busiest North American international airport.
The area around Toronto Pearson is the second-largest employment zone in Canada. The airport facilitates 6.3% per cent of Ontario's GDP, directly employs 49,000 people and facilitates more than 300,000 jobs throughout the province of Ontario. Toronto Pearson believes that being a good neighbour means growing together with the communities it serves. To this end, the airport invests in social good and community-building initiatives through its community investment program, The Propeller Project. Learn more: TorontoPearson.com