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Riders pledge to drive as GO kills bus routes

By Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

While the Ontario government is investing billions in public transit, hundreds of York Region riders are accusing GO Transit of driving them back into their cars by cancelling two Newmarket bus routes.

Citing low ridership and the need to integrate with York Region’s regular service and Viva express buses, GO will discontinue the 92B bus to York Mills on April 5, and the Newmarket-York University bus on April 26.

The move makes commutes longer and more expensive, said more than 200 GO riders who attended a meeting Tuesday with GO and York Region officials.

About 500 people ride the two Newmarket routes, which operate on weekdays. GO did not say how many riders are needed to make the routes viable.

Many of the riders the Star contacted Wednesday said they would rather drive than use York Region Transit buses, which they say are slower and more expensive.

Jennifer McCue said she’ll have to drive because the local buses won’t get her home in time for her to pick up her baby from daycare.

“If you want to take transit you have to leave work early every day. Timing-wise, it just doesn’t work,” she said.

“I pay $180 per month to travel to and from work,” said Nancy Andrews.

The cancellation drives her travel costs up to $271 per month, a 51 per cent increase.

York University student Francis Babu says he will probably drive to school rather than endure a commute made 90 minutes longer by the service cancellation.

The economic climate is forcing GO to make tough choices, said a spokesperson for the agency. However, “the motivation for no longer operating this service was not solely a cost-saving measure.” It has always been a part of GO’s plan to withdraw some services as local transit matures, said Vanessa Thomas.

YRT general manager Richard Leary said he was disappointed GO cancelled the routes on short notice, after running them for five years.

But YRT has capacity to carry those riders, and YRT staff are reviewing service to see whether there is a way to shave time off the existing routes, he said.

“I’m anxious to have these riders join our service,” said Leary. “There’s an opportunity there. If we can increase ridership, that’s what we’re all about. The best thing is that there’s an outcry for more and better public transportation.”