Starting today, travellers can forgo the 90-second ferry ride on their way to and from Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport thanks to a new underground pedestrian tunnel that runs under Lake Ontario.
The tunnel officially opened today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor John Tory and Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt.
Mayor John Tory called the project a “modern, practical connection between the airport and the mainland.”
The tunnel cost $82.5 million to build. There is a $20 airport improvement fee departing passengers pay, with a cost of about $8.6 million a year to cover the tunnel’s construction, maintenance and operating costs.
Instead of that short ferry ride, passengers heading to the airport will descend 30 metres (about 10 stories) underground using elevators. From there, four moving sidewalks — two travelling in each direction — will carry travellers 240 metres at a rate of 2.3 kilometres an hour.
On the island side of the tunnel one of the longest escalator systems in the country will connect passengers to an atrium and the airport check-in.
The entire trip through the tunnel will take about six minutes.
This should be a big improvement to the ferry trips, which currently operate five times every hour. During peak periods, the ferry often leaves passengers stuck on the shore because the vessel has a 200-passenger limit. The tunnel should also ease congestion at security and check-in counters because passengers will no longer arrive in waves created by each ferry arrival.
Those the nostalgic for the ferry ride can still take it across the water as it will continue to operate.
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