More GO trains 'not a real solution:' Thalmic CEO Stephen Lake

Stephen Lake, one of Waterloo Region's most prominent startup founders, is criticizing the Ontario Liberals plans for two-way, all-day train service between Kitchener and Toronto, saying it will take too long to establish a commuter service that won't meet anyone's needs.

Lake calls four-hour round trip between Kitchener to Toronto on the rails "crazy"

More GO trains not the answer to commuting issues in Kitchener, says Stephen Lake, because they don't go fast enough. (Gary Graves/CBC)

A prominent Waterloo Region technology magnate is slamming the Ontario Liberal government's efforts to establish a more robust commuter train service between Kitchener and Toronto, saying it's taking the government too long to build a service that doesn't even live up to the current needs of local people and business. 

"I'm worried about this project now in spending so long to achieve what will not be that useful for anybody," Thalmic Labs CEO Stephen Lake told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Wednesday. 

"We're talking about this intermediate step to be a big, huge thing to celebrate," he said. "Two-way all-day GO train service, again, is still two-hour train service, which really doesn't help the whole link between Toronto. You might as well hop on the 401 for a two-hour drive."

"We need trains that are going to be a reasonable time to get back and forth. Four hours each day if you're commuting back and forth, that's crazy."

Two-way GO stymied again

Lake's comments come after Kitchener Centre Liberal MPP Daiene Vernile said Monday that the two-way, all-day GO train service originally promised by the Liberals by 2019, likely wouldn't be a reality until at least 2026 because of an ongoing dispute between the province and the Canadian National Railway over the use of company-owned track. 

It's the latest setback for a service that's long been on the wish list of local businesses and politicians, including former Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr who welcomed the Liberal announcement as a "game-changer." 

"Not more incubators... not more talent programs... let's have proper transit to Toronto-Stephen Lake

"Probably the number one governmental problem we hear from startups here about what can the government do to help, it's not more incubators, it's not more talent programs, it's let's have proper transit to Toronto," Lake said Wednesday.

Lake said what exacerbates the situation is that the province has so far only provided GO train service from Kitchener to Toronto and not the other way around, which is what Waterloo Region startups are really after. 

"It doesn't help the businesses here because the real problem we have is, how do we get the people we have from Toronto to Kitchener for the companies in the region," he said. 

Thalmic Labs CEO Stephen Lake says even with two-way, all-day GO Train Service it takes too long to move between Toronto and Kitchener by rail. "Four hours each day if you're commuting back and forth, that's crazy." (Stephen Lake/Twitter)

Time the real toll on the 401

"It's a challenge keeping those people when they spend three hours a day on the road keeping them productive, motivated. They love working here, but it takes a toll when you're sitting on that 401 day-in, day-out."

"Toronto might as well be New York," he said. "Because when it's an hour and a half, two hours away it's a whole different city."

Lake said the province needs a reasonable goal that's what he calls "a real solution." 

"That goal should be real solution which is not two-way, all-day GO. It's how do we have a reasonably high speed link from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo, two-way, in a reasonable time frame."