The City Council subcommittee on transportation on Wednesday directed Los Angeles World Airports staff to report back in 30 days after exploring any options to connect ONT with rail or ground transportation system.
Rosendahl, who oversees the committee, said the connection is the missing link for the struggling Ontario airport, which lacks a hookup with the rail transportation system.
"I'm not for selling Ontario," he said. "I want to make Ontario a lot more successful."
That connection could make the airport appealing to international airlines and freight carriers, Rosendahl said. Those efforts could coincide with what Rosendahl says will be a shift in passengers traveling pattern.
He said it will only be a matter of years before all the modernization costs at Los Angeles International Airport will result in higher costs to the airlines.
Which, in turn, will lead to higher ticket prices for travelers, Rosendahl said.
"Ontario airport will become more and more attractive," he said.
If the airport is connected to a ground transportation system such as Metrolink, then there is the ability to connect ONT to travelers as far north as Santa Barbara and south as San Diego, Rosendahl said.
One of the challenges for travelers could be scheduling conflicts between Metrolink's frequency and getting a shuttle in time for a flight at ONT, said Mark Adams, Government Affairs manager for Los Angeles World Airports.
"There is a whole host of things that we need to explore," Adams said. "We will break down the key obstacles and what might be done."
Other options could include adding the Flyaway program.
The Flyaway shuttle service is currently offered by LAWA for LAX and Van Nuys airports. It provides round-trip service, seven days a week.
The funding has yet to be determined for the connection and it is not clear if it could come from airport funds.
LAWA, a Los Angeles agency, operates Los Angeles International, Van Nuys and Ontario airports.
Rosendahl suggested that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa use Measure R funds to help fund such a connection. The transportation measure was approved by Los Angeles voters in 2008 and set aside $40 billion for transportation upgrades throughout the county over the next 30 years.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, who got a 90-minute tour of ONT on Monday from Adams and airport manager Jess Romo, said he agreed with efforts to not only connect ONT to ground transportation, but the efforts also being made at LAX to connect it to the Metro Green Line.
Patricia Torres-Bruno, government and regulatory affairs manager at Metrolink, cautioned the subcommittee about some restrictions with the Metrolink lines.
Of the two lines that run near ONT, the south line - the Riverside-Los Angeles route - is at capacity, she said. The line is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, which strictly limits its schedule. The San Bernardino-Los Angeles line is two miles north of the airport, she said.
Rosendahl's comments about not selling the airport confused some of the committee members due to the ongoing negotiations to sell ONT between Los Angeles and the Ontario International Airport Authority.
The authority was designed to oversee the transfer of ONT from LAWA to local control.
Adams assured the subcommittee that negotiations are ongoing.
In the meantime, "we are working to grow Ontario as best as we can," he said.
News of the recommendation was met with support from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office. The supervisor, who presides over the Metropolitan Transit Authority, in July presented a plan to connect all regional airports to ground transportation systems.
The Regional Airport Connectivity Plan proposes in the future to connect ONT to the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Metrolink as well as Amtrak, said Michael Cano, transportation deputy for the supervisor.
Cano said all three regional rail systems serve different markets.
His plan also proposed to connect the Gold Line and Orange line buses to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and improved Metrolink service from Palmdale to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
"There is no reason why we can't combine forces as much as possible and talk about regional airport connections and making it an actual plan," he said, referring to the Los Angeles councilman's recent push to connect ONT to the Metrolink.
Antonovich's plan proposes to add a train connection from the south line along the airport, something that hasn't been brought up in Rosendahl's motion. The plan also proposes to help ONT create a multimodal system to accommodate regional ground transportation, Cano said.
The biggest obstacle is addressing what Cano refers to as the "blind spot" in how to address transportation funding.
Currently, airports and ground transportation operators receive separate funds and there are no coordinated efforts to bring them together, he said.
Cano said there needs to be a move to unify efforts to advocate for local and state federal funds.
"Funding is always going to be a challenge until we make it a priority. If we want it, we have to elevate connecting our airports to regional transportation to the top priority," he said.