Victoria Airport Trains (YYJ)
Victoria International Airport is regarded as the ninth largest airport in Canada in terms of passenger traffic, and as the second busiest in British Columbia. It is also known as the Sidney Airport, due to its location in the Sidney area, and by its official IATA code of YYJ. Although it has around 1.5 million passengers every year, there is no Victoria International Airport train station for ground transport. Very few Canadian Airports actually have train stations, but they all have private and public buses which are useful for connections to various local and regional destinations. Train services on the Saanich Peninsula are also not extensive.
Victoria Airport is approximately 22km, or 14 miles from the city of Victoria, and consists of one terminal building that handles domestic and international flights. Its main airline carriers include Air Canada, WestJet, CanJet, Sunwing Airlines, Horizon Air and SkyWest Airlines, and flights are available to various Canadian destinations, cities in the United States of America and other international destinations such as Puerta Vallarta and Cancun in Mexico. At present, the airport does not offer U.S. border preclearance facilities, but the service is planned for the future. Although improvements have been made to the airport in recent years, and further development is scheduled for the next twenty years, there are no plans for an airport train station. Passengers will continue to use the bus services available for transport to nearby cities.
A private bus available is the Akal Airporter, which offers transport for arriving and departing passengers to and from all the hotels in the Victoria downtown area, and from various other locations in the city. The rates charged for the Akal Airporter buses are quite reasonable, however, not as cheap as the public buses available. The public buses are operated by BC Transit, the transport company of British Columbia, and routes 83, 86 and 88 pass the airport. Fares for these buses are only $2.50 per passenger, however, they do not offer much room for luggage, whereas the Akal Airporter is better equipped for oversized and extra baggage. An advanced reservation is recommended for the Akal Airporter, but no reservations are required for the public buses. The Akal Airporter leaves Victoria International Airport approximately every half an hour, while there are around twenty daily departures on public buses to the McTavish Transit Exchange.
Vancouver Airport, on mainland Canada, and in the province of British Columbia, is currently the only Canadian airport with its own train station. A few of the larger airports may in the future also acquire their own station linking them to the light rail systems of the cities they serve. However, railway transport on the island of Vancouver is not considered as a primary form of transport, and the cities of the island are not equipped with light rail systems. Public transport in Victoria began with four street cars operated by the National Electric Tramway and Light Company in 1890. However, a serious accident causing the fatality of fifty-five people forced the company into receivership, which the became the British Columbia Electric Railway in 1897. A few trolleybuses were used from 1945 to 1948, but did not prove to be very successful, finally being replaced with motor buses. Motor buses continued to provide good transport services, and today there are 260 buses on 37 conventional routes. There are also 18 community bus services that cover the Greater Victoria region. Victoria is also quite well known as the first city in North America to offer transport services on double decker buses and the first city to use hybrid double decker buses.
Victoria’s railway history is not quite as elaborate, besides the VIA Rail route that travels between Victoria and Courtenay, a city to the far north-west of the Saanich Peninsula. The line stretches for some 160km, or 100 miles, past Duncan, Nanaimo and Parksville. There are also branch lines from Parksville to Port Alberni and from just south of Nanaimo to the E&N’s main railyard and dock on the Nanaimo waterfront. The line is referred to as the E and N Railway, and the train is often called the Malahat. In previous years, it was known as the Esquimalt. The Victoria Train Station is the southern terminus for the line, however, since August 12, 2011, it has been closed. The railway service has also been suspended. The closure of the station is due to the old Johnson Street Bridge, which is in need of replacement. The train tracks used to run to the downtown area over the bridge.
In the future, Victoria may be better equipped with railway services, as a light rail system is being considered from downtown Victoria to Langford. The trains will run along Douglas Street to Uptown, alongside the Trans Canada Highway and the Galloping Goose bike path to Six Mile and then through Colwood to Langford. The E and N rail corridor is also being considered as a commuter rail link from West Shore to Victoria. Although the possibility of various rail services in Victoria exists, the future remains uncertain.
Passengers of Victoria International Airport, although without access to a nearby train station, will find the BC Transit bus services of the airport and city to be quite adequate for transport, and a very cost effective way to move around. Taxis are another form of ground transport at the airport, and are also a convenient way to reach any destination nearby.