Wmtc has a flurry of new readers lately. Many people seem to be finding me through the expatriate connection. Friends of wmtc who file themselves under "Expatriate Bloggers" are (in alpha order) Expat Traveler, Melusina, Nicole in London, Suitcase Jenny (I love your name!) and Traveller One. The Student Nurse is soon to become an expatriate, and I feel I should mention one of wmtc's most longtime readers, the Canadian Expatriates. Did I miss anyone? Don't be shy!
No matter how you stumbled on our little community, welcome. This blog has become, among other things, my invaluable resource for learning about Canada, Canadians and what people are thinking.
Yesterday, people were thinking about the GO trains. I'll tell you what I know, then others who know much more can fill things in. At least one transpotter reads wmtc, as well as several GTA folks who may want to add to my impressions.
According to their own website, GO Transit "is Canada's first, and Ontario's only, interregional public transit system, linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)." Several train and bus lines connect Toronto-area suburbs and exurbs with downtown T.O. Here's a map of the system; train lines are in color, buses in black. All the train lines feed into Union Station.
Our line, Lakeshore, is in red, running from Hamilton in the west (Hi ALPF!) to Oshawa in the east. We're the Port Credit stop. Our house is a ten-minute walk or a two-minute drive from the station.
The GO trains are clean, fast and reliable. They're the first double-decker trains I've ever seen. (Here's a picture.) Riding isn't cheap, but the fares don't seem outrageous, at least to someone from the New York metro area. As I've noted elsewhere, payment is mostly on the honour system. Allan, who has ridden much more than me because he's been temping, has never seen a ticket check. I saw one: one morning, a GO employee was cruising through the cars asking everyone to show their tickets.
The downside, in my opinion, is the infrequency of service. We were originally looking at townhouses further out in Mississauga (look for the Meadowvale stop on the orange line). In researching the area, we naturally checked out the train schedules, to see how much commuting would cost. We were shocked to learn that the trains only operate for standard commuting hours. A few trains run inbound (from the suburbs to the downtown), say from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., then a few trains run outbound (from downtown back to the suburbs) from around 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.. And that's it. Nothing during the day, no nights, and no weekends.
This strikes me as very poor planning. As a former (very former, a small lifetime ago) theatre administrator, I immediately thought of all the cultural organizations who are effectively cut off from a commuter audience. If you wanted to do something downtown after work, you'd have to drive in, which means dealing with traffic and paying for parking, and you'd have to plan ahead. You could never just stay in the city spontaneously, to go to a Blue Jays game or take in some music. For Allan and I, working nontraditional hours, it would be disastrous. Looking deeper into the schedules, we learned that the Lakeshore Line had service all day and on weekends, and determined that we had to live near those trains. (Long-time readers must be so friggin sick of reading that!) There were many other reasons we wanted to live in Port Credit, but the train service was a huge factor.
I think that's all I know about GO.