Vancouver International Airport is "ready" for the launch of rideshare

Sep 13 2019, 10:53 pm

The head of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) says he wants the long lines and waits for a taxi on the curbside of the terminal building to be a thing of the past.

During his address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Tuesday, Craig Richmond, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said the airport is “ready” for rideshare and have already identified places on the curbside for the drop-off and pick-up areas for ridehailing vehicles.

Airport planners have learned from other airports that have ridehailing zones, and they have been consulting with various companies in the industry.

“I’d like to see more cabs, I’d like to see ridehailing. Anything to make sure you spend 30 seconds on the curb and you’re gone,” he said. “If ridehailing comes into effect, they’ll be at the airport.”

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“I want you to get the service that you want, that is all we want. I hate to see those lineups, I’m all over my people when I see them. The problem is there aren’t enough taxi cabs in downtown Vancouver, and they’re not serving us on Friday and Saturday night.”

Vancouver International Airport YVR

Artistic rendering of Vancouver International Airport’s parkade expansion and new geothermal power plant. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

But he says the airport authority’s initial curbside area for the ridehailing zone is not as large as planners would prefer due to the temporary impacts from the adjacent construction of the new additional parkade, and central utilities/geoexchange building.

There will be more curbside areas once the additional parkade is complete; a new curbside area between the new parkade and existing parkade has been identified as a potential location for taxis, ridehailing, and buses to take more vehicles off the curbside areas of the main thoroughfares that serve the terminal building.

These projects are major components of the airport’s 20-year, $9.1-billion expansion and improvement program.

Richmond also noted that, as part of the program, the expansion of the US transborder terminal — Pier F, also known as the east concourse, extending the terminal building eastward — will result in a straightened realignment of Grant McConachie Way, effectively providing more curbside space. However, he previously told Daily Hive construction on Pier F is unlikely to begin for some time after the opening of the Pier D international terminal expansion in the spring of 2020.

Diagram of Vancouver International Airport’s planned ‘central’ terminal building expansion over 20 years. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

Based on the airport authority’s most recent public consultation for its updated master plan, airlines and the community informed planners that the most significant issue with YVR dealt with its ground access, but he asserts that most of the traffic congestion is currently a result of construction.

Richmond expects there will be “a bit of stress” from the construction activity with the parkade and central utilities/geoexchange building.

The limited transportation options available during the overnight hours are also another area of concern, especially with the airport’s growing number of airline routes and air passenger traffic.

“As we grow, we’re having more and more late flights. There used to be nothing after 11 pm, but now there’s about 14 flights from 10 pm to 2 am,” he said.

The problem of limited ground access options during these hours is not only an issue for air passengers but also the workers of airlines and airport operations.

SkyTrain service to the airport is also limited during the overnight hours; Canada Line trains on Sea Island operate every 20 minutes leading towards the last train departing YVR Airport Station at 12:56 am. The first train arrives for the next day of service departs at 5:07 am.

The airport’s public transit modal share is already high to the extent that it leads North American airports. Based on the airport’s assessment, 25% of all people — both air passengers and workers — now use public transit to and from the airport. For the public transit modal share of air passengers specifically, it is 21%.

While ridehailing vehicles will be able to pick up and drop off passengers at the airport terminal building, there will be a ban on ridehailing vehicles in the area around the Canada Place cruise ship terminal due to the limited road space of Canada Place Way.

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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