GO: No firm plans for a.m. Toronto to Kitchener trains by 2016
Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency responsible for GO Transit, says there are no firm plans to deliver a morning commuter train arriving in Kitchener from Toronto by 2016.
It's a prize highly sought after by Waterloo Region's high-tech business community and believed to be key to its ability attract top talent from Toronto.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday the province is moving to effectively double the number of GO trains running between Kitchener and Toronto. She committed to four new scheduled GO Train trips: two additional trips in the morning from Kitchener to Toronto and two more in the afternoon from Toronto to Kitchener by 2016.
Currently, there are two trains from Kitchener to Toronto on weekdays at 5:49 a.m. and 7:07 a.m. and two trains from Toronto to Kitchener at 4:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
In addition to the expanded GO train service, Wynne also announced a new train layover facility would be constructed in Kitchener, along with rail corridor upgrades to reduce travel times.
Wynne's announcement on Tuesday was warmly received by Waterloo Region's high-tech industry, but a highly-coveted morning train arriving in Kitchener from Toronto isn't included for 2016.
"That doesn't mean that it won't happen in 2016," Anne Marie Aikins, a spokeswoman for Metrolinx said Thursday. "If the business community can make a business case for inbound and outbound, that's certainly something we would look at very carefully."
Right now software giant Google uses privately-funded shuttles in order to get employees who live in downtown Toronto to work at its Waterloo Region campus.
"There's more inbound traffic to Kitchener on a commuting basis than outbound every day, but we think this will make it even easier for companies in Kitchener to grow," Steve Woods, head of engineering at Google's Kitchener office, said Tuesday.
Flexibility key to future commuter success
Ultimately, the Kitchener GO train service will need to be more flexible to be successful, said Pierre Filion, a University of Waterloo professor who specializes in urban infrastructure.
"We're past the time when most people work 9 to 5. We're at the time where people have flexible hours, flexible schedules," said Fillion.
"Our goal is to get two-way, all-day GO service on all of our lines," said Aikins, noting that the transportation agency must first conduct public consultations in order to determine when the new trains would run in 2016.
"They're always looking at the ridership potential and where the business would be because they don't want to operate trains that wouldn't be effective."
Once the trains begin operations in 2016, Aikins said, Metrolinx would then reassess what worked and what didn't work.
With files from Amanda Grant