In a June press release, GO Transit announced day-long train service on the Stouffville line.
“Starting June 26th,” it said, “there’ll be a lot more train service on our Stouffville Line. A lot, as in, you can travel from Unionville GO Station to Union Station almost all day long—thanks to our new midday and evening service.”
What the release neglected to mention was that most of the trains would terminate at Unionville and there would be a big reduction in direct bus service to and from points north, including Stouffville. As well, those having to transfer from train to bus are now stuck with a considerably longer commute.
Check out the July 26 post on thiscrazytrain.com and click on the link to GO’s Facebook page to see people’s reactions to the ‘improvements’ and the depressingly rote responses from GO. Many people expressed frustration that the press release only told part of the story and failed to address cutbacks for all passengers travelling north of Unionville.
An email I sent about the new schedule received this response, “These changes are just the first steps towards offering ‘two-way, all-day’ train options between Stouffville and downtown Toronto, as we move towards GO Expansion as part of Regional Express Rail (RER). I recognize that schedules with transfers have a longer overall travel time, but the benefit is that the customers can expect more reliable arrivals by removing the uncertainty of DVP traffic from their trip.”
From my experience as a regular rider in off-peak hours, it’s a lot quicker and more convenient to take the bus than to use the bus/train combination. I took the bus frequently when I lived in Stouffville, and up until recently, on my visits back to my old home town. We often used to go downtown in the evening for a show or dinner and the buses were always busy in both directions, especially when there was a game on at SkyDome or Maple Leaf Gardens.
Now, while early evening southbound buses are still frequent, the new return schedule is much reduced and missing your connection can mean more than an hour’s wait for the next bus.
People are constantly being urged to use transit and leave their cars at home, and in recent years GO has wisely encouraged this by increasing service and making public transit a truly viable alternative to the car. Now everything seems to be going backwards ‘going forward’, as the ghastly jargon has it.
On a more positive note, GO weekend service is not affected by the cutbacks, which means getting to the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 17 should be a breeze. I may not live in Stouffville anymore, but this is one community event I will participate in as long as I am able to run (just kidding, given my athletic prowess, I’ll stick to walking).
As one of the earliest charity runs, Terry Fox maintains its dedication to Terry’s vision of a grassroots event, with no minimum donation or major corporate tie-ins. It is open to all; runners, walkers, cyclists, people using wheelchairs and those of all ages, from infants in strollers to raging grannies like yours truly, who is allergic to gyms and anything remotely competitive.
Over the years, Whitchurch-Stouffville has raised close to two million dollars for cancer research and has consistently been among the top fundraisers in the province. I hope you will join me and hundreds of others on September 17 at Memorial Park to raise funds for cancer research and celebrate the courage and dedication of Canada’s enduring hero, Terry Fox.