Here’s How People Feel About Major Union Station West Transit Hub Coming to Mississauga
While Mississauga (and the entire province of Ontario, really) is moving forward on a host of much-needed and long overdue transit projects, there has been some pushback from residents when it comes to cost and construction.
But that doesn't mean that every resident is a hard sell when it comes to improving local infrastructure.
Back in 2017, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced that it was moving forward with plans for a regional transit centre (think of Union Station) to better connect the Pearson Airport area to “key employment and residential areas throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”
The GTAA said the proposed regional transit centre will also be home to airport passenger processing and security screening.
Now, almost two years later, the GTAA says that residents are largely supportive of the grand place-making project that will bring a valuable—and convenient—second transit hub to the vast, populous and growing GTA.
The GTAA says that during a September 2018 telephone survey of almost 950 Mississauga residents, an overwhelming majority stated they would support the development of a new major transit hub at Pearson if it would reduce road congestion and help improve their mobility in the region.
The GTAA says the proposed hub could allow MiWay to make convenient connections to regional transit networks, enabling more seamless travel across municipal boundaries.
"Whether you're stuck on the 403 commuting to work or in a local traffic jam on Mavis Road, congestion is making life increasingly difficult," the GTAA wrote in a recent news release.
"Toronto Pearson is leading the discussion with business and resident groups, shining a spotlight on the need for a second major transit hub in the West GTHA, located at the airport."
The GTAA begs an important question: Why is the airport—which is located far away from Toronto's downtown core in Mississauga's Malton neighbourhood—the right location for the region's second major transit hub?
Toronto Pearson touches three of the largest municipalities in Canada (Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton), it's located in the middle of the GTA and it has a GO Train corridor right next to it, with multiple planned or existing transit lines nearby.
The GTAA also points out that the "Airport Employment Zone" is also the second largest cluster of employment in all of Canada.
"An airport is never a final destination for arriving tourists, business people, residents and students; building a transit hub at Canada's largest airport just makes sense," the GTAA says.
The GTAA says that, ideally, Mississauga residents would experience the following benefits from a west-end Union Station:
- More convenient transit: A hub at the airport could aggregate riders from other region that could use MiWay, increasing ridership and allowing for more frequent service
- Cutting congestion: The Airport Employment Zone, which includes portions of Mississauga, is estimated to be the highest generator of generator of trips to work in the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe. It is the second largest cluster of jobs, yet less than 10 per cent of commuters use transit. A hub at Toronto Pearson could have a major impact on reducing commuter traffic for Mississauga.
- Jobs: Jobs are being kept out of reach of Mississauga's residents by a lack of convenient transit options. A more seamless network of regional transit that enables travel across municipal boundaries could help Mississauga's workers take advantage of new employment opportunities.
- The GTA is falling behind: About 90 per cent of American metropolitan areas with 5-7 million people have at least two major hubs.
- Community building: A major transit hub would connect residents in underserviced or low-income communities to new jobs and opportunity, giving them the upward income mobility.
Preliminary concept plans for "Union Station West" were first unveiled by GTAA president and CEO Howard Eng at the Brampton BOT’s State of the City event in February 2017.
“Toronto Pearson is a world-class airport in every respect, and Southern Ontario is a diverse and dynamic region,” said Eng.
“By the time New York and Chicago were the size that Toronto is today, they each had at least two major transportation hubs. Now is the time to ensure that better transit options are in place; otherwise we risk squandering the significant opportunities that are part and parcel of the exciting growth that the airport, the city and the region are experiencing.”
The need for the hub is pronounced--especially in light of a series of incoming transit projects. Also, Pearson indeed employs an enormous number of people from Mississauga and the overall Peel region and the lion’s share of those employees have to drive to and from work.
There are, In fact, more than 300,000 people working in the zone that includes parts of Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto (that’s a lot of commuters).
Due to the lack of transit, the area generates more than 1 million car trips daily.
As of now, the Union Pearson Express is the only rail-line connected to the airport.
Back in 2017, the GTAA said the centre will be located across Airport Road from Terminals 1 and 3 and should be accessible from the 409, the 427 and Airport Road. The centre will also be at the heart of a new mixed use commercial area that will include space for offices, retail, hotel(s) and other commercial space.
Do you think a "Union Station West" is needed in Mississauga?