More GO transit service would bring growth, but region must show demand: expert

Increased service along the Kitchener line will mean better economic growth and better desirability for Kitchener, says a Ryerson University transit expert

Transit expert says GO Train expansion drives housing plans and business growth

One transit expert says expanded GO service will help build communities and make affordable housing more accessible. (CBC)

Increased service along the Kitchener line will mean better economic growth and desirability for the city, but the municipalities must show that there's a demand for more service, says a transit expert. ​​​​

Murtaza Haider, a professor at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management, says the region needs to showcase demand not just during peak hours, but off-peak hours as well to ensure more trains go from Toronto's Union Station to Kitchener.

"If you see that trains are running empty, it's hard to justify more service," he told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. "You have to wait for a point where off-peak travel is also at a level that one can sustain rapid service." 

He said that while Kitchener-Waterloo is already largely established community, it could do more to develop not just as a place where people live, but also a place where people could work.

"Kitchener is a very important technical hub," he said. "There is a need to link the Bay Street in Toronto better with the innovation hubs in Kitchener-Waterloo."

Haider said GO train expansion also drives housing planning and housing affordability. He said this kind of expansion has a major impact on city-building when people choose to live in communities outside of the GTA. With expanded GO service, that notion is made more accessible.

"When you look at Barrie [Ont.], once Metrolinx and GO expanded the service, it had a marked and noticeable increase in the pace of development, especially housing development."

But Haider said if GO train service were to increase, it could also drive economic growth with people choosing to set up shop here in the region. 

"If a business could not start something in Toronto because it was too expensive or the rent was high, or the taxes were high, efficient transit systems allow individuals and firms to relocate to places that are still accessible but not expensive," he explained. 

He said this first round of increases in service should lead the Region to have "serious conversations with the development industry" about relocating businesses to the Region.

On Thursday, the Provincial government announced new and expanded train service along the Kitchener GO line.