Our Canadian Cities 2729 Views By Brian Iler

Toronto: Porter Air’s tunnel comes out of your pocket

The tunnel to Toronto Island airport to replace the efficient ferry that takes moments to cross the gap from the mainland is a growing expense to the Canadian and Toronto public.

Skyrocketing costs: The tunnel that was originally projected by the Toronto Port Authority to cost as little as $20 million (June 2009), then $38 million (August 2009, $45 million in 2010, and now $82.5 million. What happened?

· Value for Money: The TPA says the tunnel is necessary to smooth passenger flow, that tends to bunch up with ferry arrivals, leading to a few minutes delay. Is that really worth $82.5 million? Or are there better ways to spend a public agency’s revenue stream?

· Why Isn’t Porter paying? This is infrastructure that almost exclusively benefits Porter – it holds a near monopoly of the rights to fly out of that Airport. If this is such a good deal, why isn’t Porter paying?

· Will the public pay? Public-private partnerships such as this are negotiated in secret. No terms have been disclosed. The TPA is notoriously opaque when it comes to accountability. The money for this tunnel is dependant upon an income stream, essentially from Porter’s operations. The airline industry is deeply troubled, and Porter has yet to release evidence that it can achieve profitability – the last evidence available disclosed $44.5 million in accumulated losses. Has the TPA guaranteed the private investment in the tunnel?

· How does this tunnel affect our Waterfront? Porter’s CEO confirmed, in the Globe last November 16, that this tunnel is essential for further expansion of the Island Airport’s commercial operations. The TPA – and the City - have studiously avoided conducting any studies on how the current level of the Airport’s operations has impacted the millions of visitors to our Waterfront’s parks and recreational facilities, let alone the ever-intensifying residential neighbourhoods. Is that impact, and the impact of even more expansion, not worth understanding before this $82.5 million is spent? Skyrocketing costs: The tunnel that was originally projected by the Toronto Port Authority to cost as little as $20 million (June 2009), then $38 million (August 2009, $45 million in 2010, and now 82.5 million (TPA, yesterday). What happened?

· Value for Money: The TPA says the tunnel is necessary to smooth passenger flow, that tends to bunch up with ferry arrivals, leading to a few minutes delay. Is that really worth $82.5 million? Or are there better ways to spend a public agency’s revenue stream?

· Why Isn’t Porter paying? This is infrastructure that almost exclusively benefits Porter – it holds a near monopoly of the rights to fly out of that Airport. If this is such a good deal, why isn’t Porter paying?

· Will the public pay? Public-private partnerships such as this are negotiated in secret. No terms have been disclosed. The TPA is notoriously opaque when it comes to accountability. The money for this tunnel is dependant upon an income stream, essentially from Porter’s operations. The airline industry is deeply troubled, and Porter has yet to release evidence that it can achieve profitability – the last evidence available disclosed $44.5 million in accumulated losses. Has the TPA guaranteed the private investment in the tunnel?

Read more?  Go to: http://www.thebulletin.ca/cbulletin/content.jsp?sid=14296177123571824981988070962&ctid=1000136&cnid=1003088






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