Transit Update and GO Train Expansion

GO Transit’s railway corridors have sufficient space to accommodate two sets of tracks to implement my plan of two-way, all-day GO Train service. Photo credit: Chin Lee.
GO Transit’s railway corridors have sufficient space to accommodate two sets of tracks to implement my plan of two-way, all-day GO Train service. Photo credit: Chin Lee.

At a meeting hosted by the Sheppard East Village Business Improvement Area, Metrolinx gave an update that it is nearing completion of a study to expand the Stouffville line and plans to have all day service by 2020. Brief presentations were also given on the LRT and Scarborough Subway. See: http://www.sharesheppard.ca/node/352 for more information.

The Ontario Government has committed to electrify all of its GO rail lines, run two-way, all-day service and increase service frequency within an aggressive 10-year time-frame.GO service is much faster than subways due to more direct routes, less stations, and faster trains. The train ride from Kennedy to Union GO Stations is 17 minutes. The same trip on the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge subways takes more than 37 minutes.

At the November 2013 Toronto City Council meeting, I submitted motion M41.15 directing the Chief Planner to incorporate the report, “A Vision for the Future” into the City’s Official Plan. The report recommends electrifying the entire GO Train network, running two-way, all-day service and improving service to every 3.5 minutes during rush hours and every 15 minutes in off-peak periods.

In December 2013, Michael Schabas authored a report for the Neptis Foundation titled, “Review of Metrolinx’s Big Move,” which called for increasing service on GO Transit’s rail corridors to every 15 minutes. Both independent reports come to the same conclusion as I have – that the GO Train system can provide faster service at a fraction of the cost of building subways. The full cost of just the Downtown Relief Line is now estimated to be $12 billion.

Any plan to improve GO Train service needs to address a missing link in the network: an east-west line in north Toronto to allow faster travel in this corridor without the need to transverse Union Station. The province’s proposal to increase GO Train service and replace diesel trains with electric multiple units will be paid for by a new $15 billion transit fund, which will reallocate $1.2 billion collected from the gas tax and $130 million collected from HST on gasoline and diesel fuel on an annual basis.

To better serve all transit users, and influence transit users’ behaviour, we must consider variable transit fares, and integrating the fare system of the various transit authorities. With an electronic fare system like Presto, that is possible. At July’s Toronto City Council meeting, I successfully amended motion EX43.18 asking the TTC to consider fare reductions for seniors and off-peak users.

Eglinton Light Rail Transit construction is progressing on schedule. There is a campaign of misinformation about Light Rail Transit going around, and I would like to point you to another view-point at http://lrt.daxack.ca/Myths.html.

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