Too many times I have landed at airports and either wondered how I was supposed to get where I was going from there or been frustrated trying to do so. I have seen too many cities whose airports are badly connected to the public transit system; this is inexplicable to me since the most worthwhile routes for public transit are those to or from local hubs or destinations many people need to cross, and the local airport should certainly qualify as one. I have seen too many airports where the available transit is poorly documented; this is also inexplicable to me since it is the place through which first time visitors who don't know the system overwhelmingly enter.
This list documents and compares public transit available between the airport and city centre in several different cities.
I expect the list to grow soon. It's not that these are the only airports I've been to of course but rather that these are the only airports I've been to since starting this list.
|City||Difficulty||Time (min)||Cost||Traffic||Fossil Fuels|
|Boston||Very easy (connect from subway)||25||$1.25||Probably not||Natural Gas, part of the way|
|Calgary||Easy (direct from C-Train, closeby)||40 ~ 60||$2.25||No||1 bus (half the way)|
|Montreal||Difficult (2 transfers if using Metro, badly documented and complicated)||70 ~ 80||$2.50 or $6.75||Avoid via train||2 buses or 1 bus + diesel train (the whole way)|
|東京 羽田 (Tōkyō Haneda)||Easy (1 transfer if connecting from/to 山手)||40||¥470||No||No|
|東京 成田 (Tōkyō Narita)||Easy (1 transfer if connecting from/to 山手)||50||¥1920||No||No|
|Toronto Pearson||Very easy (1 transfer)||40||$2.75||No||1 bus|
|Vancouver||Easy (2 transfers if using SkyTrain)||40 ~ 50||$2.25 or $3.25||Unavoidable||2 buses (the whole way)|
To downtown: The T provides two options for transit from the airport. The Silver Line is the one that goes downtown the most directly but there is also a shuttle bus to the Blue Line which might be better depending on your destination. The Silver Line runs every 15 minutes (10 minutes during peak periods) and goes to South Station. It takes about 25 minutes and costs $1.25. When you get to South Station, you can transfer to the Red Line at no additional fare. Both the the Silver Line and Blue Line shuttle stop at each terminal and the location of the stops is well indicated.
To airport: From South Station, take the Silver Line to the airport. You can transfer directly from the Red Line. There is a sign inside the bus showing which terminal you need to go to for each airline. You can also get to the airport via a shuttle bus from the Blue Line.
Time: About 25 minutes to South Station.
Comment: The Silver Line bus operates on CNG (compressed natural gas) part of the way and electricity the rest of the way.
To downtown: Exit on the arrivals (lower) level at the Westjet end of the terminal (“D” gates). There is a reserved bay for #57 bus. Take this bus to Whitehorn station. Transfer to the C-Train (LRT). This line will lead downtown.
To airport: Take the C-Train (LRT) to Whitehorn (end of line). Transfer to #57 bus. Take this bus to the airport terminal.
Time: 40 to 60 minutes depending on wait time for bus 57.
Comment: Considering the size of Calgary and the distance to the airport, this is one of the best public transit airport connections I've seen. The airport is one short bus ride away from the CTrain.
To downtown: Exit on the arrivals (lower) level and cross the first pavement lane. #204 will pull up on the second pavement lane. There are two bus stops for the same line right next to each other. Make sure to take the correct one. The word Montréal is scrawled on the correct one in black marker. The ride is 5 minutes and will take you to the Dorval train station. If during morning rush hour, transfer to the commuter train at this point in order to avoid traffic on the highway and to get closer to downtown. Otherwise, transfer to #211 bus. The bus stop for 211 is just ahead of the drop off stop. Keep your transfer for getting on the Metro later. The commuter train will take you to the Bell Centre (Metro Lucien L'Allier). The 211 bus will take you to Lionel Groulx. From either location you can walk or take the Metro.
To airport: If during afternoon rush hour, take the commuter train toward Dorion/Rigaud to avoid traffic. You can take it from either Vendôme or Lucien L'Allier. If not during afternoon rish hour, go to Lionel Groulx and take #211 bus. Either way, get off at the Dorval train station (20 minute travel time). Transfer to #204 bus. Read the signs, the bus stop is at different places at different times of day and week (very confusing!). This will take you to the terminal.
Time: #204 bus runs infrequently. Travel time may be up to 70 or 80 minutes. Typical: 50 minutes.
Cost: $2.50 (discount for 6 tickets). If taking the commuter train, add $4.25.
Comment: There is no direct route from downtown to the airport, a transfer is required at the Dorval train station. This is a reasonable strategy since it leverages the 211 bus which does run frequently because it is one of the most important routes to the west island and it would be unreasonable to deviate the 211 through the airport. But the service on the 204 line is unacceptable. What is required is a short shuttle between the train station and airport terminal that runs nearly continuously. The need for this bus is even greater considering that the airport designers did not even have the decency to install a footpath between these two points (it would only be a 10 minute walk), forcing users who wish to forego the 204 bus to walk across traffic lanes and muddy ditches.
To 浜松町: Take the 東京 Monorail. You can transfer directly to the JR 山手 from there for other destinations. 浜松町 is at the end of the line.
To airport: Take the 東京 Monorail from 浜松町. You can transfer directly from JR. The monorail will stop at both terminals. Make sure you know which terminal you need to go to: some airlines are at terminal 1 and the others are at terminal 2. The airport is at the end of the line.
Time: about 40 minutes.
Cost: 470 yen.
Comment: Trains are quite frequent and there should be no trouble or delays getting to or from the airport at any time of the day.
To 東京: There are several options including the well known Narita Express but only one is described here. From the lower level of the terminal, buy a ticket to 上野 for the 京成電鉄 Skyliner at the counter. The tracks are down one more level. This train will take you to 京成's 上野 station which is almost across the street from the JR 上野 station.
To airport: Go to 京成's 上野 station which is almost across the street from the JR 上野 station. Buy a ticket to 成田. Be aware of which terminal you need to go to. Some airlines are at terminal 1 and the others are at terminal 2. The train will stop at both terminals.
Time: 成田 is actually nowhere near 東京 and the trip will take almost one hour.
Cost: 1920 yen.
Comment: Trains are quite frequent and there should be no trouble or delays getting to or from the airport at any time of the day. Note that there is a 京成 local train that follows the same route as the Skyliner express but takes longer.
To downtown: The TTC provides information about airport service. The easiest and most convenient is probably the 192 Airport Rocket bus. There is more than one bus stop (for more than one terminal) but it is very well indicated. This bus will take you to the closest subway station, which is Kipling, the end of the Bloor street line. You can take the subway to downtown. There is no need to obtain a transfer from the bus driver because you will enter directly into the fare paid zone at Kipling (this scheme is used at several subway stations in Toronto).
To airport: Take the Bloor street subway line to Kipling, the west terminus. Transfer to bus #192 Airport Rocket wich will take you to the airport.
Time: 40 minutes. The subway and bus route is very efficient, the bus runs frequently, and you will encounter no traffic near the city centre since that portion of the journey is on the subway, but Pearson airport is still quite far from Toronto.
To downtown: Descend one level below the arrivals lounge before exiting the terminal. There's a lower level traffic lane which is not obviously seen from the arrivals level and that's where the bus is. The #424 bus stop is at the extreme right after you exit the terminal. This bus is a short shuttle that will take you to Airport Station, where you can get the 98B line northbound to downtown.
To airport: Take the 98B line from downtown sourthbound towards Richmond. Shortly after you cross the bridge into Richmond, get off at Airport Station. Transfer to bus #424 which will take you to the airport terminal.
Time: 98B line runs often and 424 runs reasonably often too, but travel time will depend on traffic. Typical (I think): 40 minutes.
Cost: 2 zones required. Weekdays during the day: $3.25; other times: $2.25.
Comment: The 98B line is sensitive to traffic. Additionally, though Vancouver has many electric trolley buses, 98B line is not one of them. The upcoming Canada Line will improve transportation to and from the airport TREMENDOUSLY. Southbound rapid transit is long overdue for Vancouver. A transfer is required to get to the airport but both buses run often enough for this to be OK.