Saturday, December 13, 2008

2020 - A fine year for wine and GO Transit

Yesterday, GO Transit unveiled their service targets for 2020, giving us an indication oh how service will evolve to meet the regional transportation plan. While there are some differences between the GO vision and the Metrolinx vision, this document shows us in a practical way how the lofty targets we've set will be achieved.

According to GO Transit:

By 2010, off-peak service on the Lakeshore line will increase to two trains per hour, and off peak service on portions of the Stouffville and Barrie lines will be introduced at one train per hour.

By 2016, all rail and bus services will be accessible - while many train stations and bus stops still need to be made accessible, the bus and train fleet is already accessible.

By 2020, off-peak service will come to all corridors in GO's core network (more or less the network we have now) at two trains per hour, and peak hour service on the core network running at four trains per hour in the commuter direction. If high ridership requires more trains than this, then an express/local service profile will be introduced. The bus network will run just as frequently, and service on the 407 corridor will run as frequent as many of the local bus routes in Toronto. The proposed lines, like the Bolton, Seaton and Midtown corridors will offer peak service only with off-peak train buses. Electrification will be considered for high-frequency lines, and new service to the long mentioned expansion areas (Niagara, Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo and Peterborough) will be introduced. To facilitate these service levels, GO will purchase railway corridors from the freight railways and lease them back if necessary.

When you look at the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan, the only real differences are that the Lakeshore and portions of the Georgetown corridor will see four trains per hour or better by 2023. There are budgetary differences, but capital expansion for GO and Metrolinx are currently coming from two different provincial funds (Metrolinx from the MoveOntario 2020 commitment, GO from the general budget) and it may be too soon to guess at what will happen when Metrolinx and GO are merged in the future. The way I see it (and yes I do have a pro-Metrolinx bias), this document is a statement of how GO plans to work towards the RTP's vision. I think that it's a bit of a stretch to call it an alternative plan (sorry Steve).

GO has always been the arms that tie the different municipalities of this region together, and it's very refreshing to see them planning for a future of high-quality regional travel. Not everyone can live in the 416, so we'll need a strong regional network to move people long distances quickly and in comfort. In addition, these trains will have a transformative effect on the suburbs, making it more likely for the areas around stations to redevelop into the types of destinations only found around a TTC subway station.

Now that the TTC and GO have plans in place to meet the regional goals, I can't wait to see how the other transit agencies plan to improve service to support the rapid transit network just over the horizon.

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