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GO adjusts schedules to reflect real trip times

Riders on all bus and train routes should check their schedules
starting April 3

By Tess Kalinowksi
Transportation Reporter

For the first time in 40 years GO Transit is overhauling its schedules to an extent that virtually all of its train riders and many bus riders will be affected.

The changes, effective April 3, are being made to better reflect real trip times. Riders are being advised to check their route schedules in advance at GO Transit’s website.

About 40 train trips will be adjusted by one to eight minutes — three minutes on average — in response to GO’s ridership growth, which has increased from about 36 million passengers annually in 1998 to about 55 million.

More riders translates to longer stops as passengers board and exit the trains. It is taking trains two to three minutes longer on average than it once did to arrive at Union Station, said GO managing director Gary McNeil.

He asked GO staff to investigate real trip times after hearing about a similar move in Boston, where transit officials adjusted many schedules by 12 minutes.

The changes are good news for some eastern commuters. They’ll make room for an additional westbound trip on the Lakeshore East line, departing Oshawa at 6:47 a.m. and making all stops to Pickering, then running express to Union Station.

But six, off-peak trains on the Georgetown corridor that run every 90 minutes are being cancelled temporarily. They will be replaced by 22 buses to allow work crews better access to the track, which is undergoing a major expansion.

“Once the major construction is finished we can put the trains back and ultimately we hope to go to an hourly off-peak service as opposed to a 90-minute off-peak service on the Georgetown corridor,” said GO managing director Gary McNeil.

The average ridership on those trains is about 90 people.

To make buses available for the Georgetown run, some other routes are being eliminated, including the Newmarket bus to York University and the 62 B Newmarket run to York Mills. GO will no longer offer buses from the Mississauga City Centre to the airport.

York Region Transit and Mississauga Transit operate similar routes that can carry those passengers.

“It’s a reallocation. It’s a question of, where can we get the resources, as opposed to buying new buses and hiring new drivers. And because of the duplication of the service on the Newmarket corridor, there’s an opportunity to do it (in a) relatively revenue- neutral (way),” said McNeil.

Many of the 500 commuters who are losing their GO ride on the Newmarket routes say the alternative service will take them more time and money.

Metrolinx and GO officials have agreed to a meeting with MPP Frank Klees (Newmarket-Aurora) to discuss whether those riders can be accommodated. One possibility is a month’s free pass on YRT/Viva as an incentive to try the local service.

A few other early-morning GO buses will be eliminated where the ridership is so low it makes no sense to keep the service, said McNeil.

“It does mean some people will have to adjust their work styles,” he acknowledged.

There will be more train service on the busy Lakeshore line once the third track construction is finished in the fall. But putting on more rush-hour trains will be a challenge as renovations to the Union Station train shed requires closing some platforms temporarily.

It makes sense to put more trains on the shoulders of the rush hour, however, said McNeil. Capacity will be increased as more 12-car trains come on-line. About half the trains on Lakeshore should have 12, rather than 10 cars, by the end of the year.

Later in the year, GO expects to publish new, easier-to-read schedules.

Last year, GO’s operations were taken over by the province’s regional transportation agency, Metrolinx.




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