10.30.2005

go

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.

15 comments:

James said...

We were shocked to learn that the trains only operate for standard commuting hours.
[...]
This strikes me as very poor planning.


IIRC, the system wasn't originally designed that way, but was cut back to this schedule during the last provincial Tory government, who were on a "run government like a business" kick.

The last Federal Tory government did something similar to Via Rail.

Peregrinato said...

Wmtc has a flurry of new readers lately. Many people seem to be finding me through the expatriate connection.

You were linked to RepublicofT (a friend of mine from many years, pre-blog), and I was delighted when I saw your blog. In many ways it has served as a catalyst for some long-held (and long ignored) desires to intentionally wander (that is what pilgrims do!) north. I'm not sure what's going to become of this, but since reading your blog, I've been reading, and rereading, and re-rereading the CIC material, and getting in touch with professional contacts as well as colleagues in Canada. Your blog is a wonderful examination of the process of relocating (both the bureaucratic and the psychological processes) and resettling, particularly as the American messianic complex grows to greater and greater hubris. Thanks!

L-girl said...

Peregrinato, thanks so much. If this blog has inspired you to investigate some dreams, I'm thrilled.

I did see Republic of T's link to me. I was amazed! He's an excellent (and very well known) blogger. Cool that you know him outside of the blogosphere. The internet is so full of these great connections.

Thanks for reading, and for your kind words.

L-girl said...

IIRC, the system wasn't originally designed that way, but was cut back to this schedule during the last provincial Tory government, who were on a "run government like a business" kick.

Heh. What a surprise. /sarcasm

Expat Traveler said...

Hey Laura - thanks for giving credit to the folks who have been giving you traffic. I think it's a mutual effort of course.

As a side note, google is in the proccess of a large update right now so if your traffic is going up, it's because you are doing something right along the lines of SEO.

On a separate subject. I loved the Go site and all of your explanation about it. The train line looks like something out of Paris. The lines in Paris have double trains too. Other places that have double trains are Switzerland on the Inter Regio as well as Amtrak in California.

James said...

[Go] was cut back to this schedule during the last provincial Tory government, who were on a "run government like a business" kick.

Heh. What a surprise. /sarcasm


BTW, that was the same kick which gutted low-income housing, resulting in the huge jump in homelessness in Toronto.

Suitcase Jenny said...

I actually found your blog through Rududu on the Road. Thanks for the awknowledgement and compliment. I am all smiles.

L-girl said...

On a separate subject. I loved the Go site and all of your explanation about it.

Thank you! Every time I post something I think is mundane and boring, someone tells me they enjoy it. It makes me realize nothing is boring - to someone. If you know what I mean.

The train line looks like something out of Paris. The lines in Paris have double trains too.

Really? I took trains from Paris and never saw them. Wish I had!

I actually found your blog through Rududu on the Road. Thanks for the awknowledgement and compliment. I am all smiles.

Then I'm happy!

God, I love Rududu's site, but he makes me so jealous! So much travel. In another life, that's what I'd be doing.

Anonymous said...

Hey L-Girl
ALPF

THe Hamilton service is "pathetic" to say the least. Around 10 years ago they renovated our old "TH&B" train station in downtown. A beautiful old staion and it looks just great now, however, they only run 3 trains a day to Toronto and there is no parking lot anywhere around the station. I have several friends and family members who have to drive to Burlington or Oakville every morning to get on the train. One of the big reasons my wife gave up her great job in Toronto was the stress of the commute to Oakville and the transfer to the train every day...

BTW - "TH&B"
Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo train service many, many years ago.

L-girl said...

Wow, that sucks. A bad commute takes so much out of your life.

Suitcase Jenny said...

I like Rududu's site too! I am biased though, because he is my husband:)

L-girl said...

I like Rududu's site too! I am biased though, because he is my husband:)

Suitcase Jenny is married to Rududu on the Road! How great!! Love all these connections.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the system wasn't originally designed that way, but was cut back to this schedule during the last provincial Tory government, who were on a "run government like a business" kick.

I think the non-Lakeshore lines have always been anemic that way. I was taking GO Transit from Etobicoke, near the airport, in late 1989, and we got four or five trains inbound in the morning, then the same number outbound at night. That was near the end of the Peterson Liberal government, and right in the middle of the first ten-year period the Tories had been out of office in decades.

The northern lines also don't run very consistently. The rails that GO runs on are not dedicated to it; they're leased from CN/CP. I remember several December mornings when I stood shivering on the platform at Etobicoke North, watching as a higher-priority VIA train thundered by. Our GO Train would limp in, fifteen minutes late, in its wake.

I'm not sure how the Lakeshore line manages to stick to its schedule. I guess they use it enough that they've worked out all the glitches.

apukwa said...

In many cases, GO simply cannot run all-day two-way trains. The line I'm on, Bradford, is a single-track line with only one siding at York University stop. As well, the track has diamonds with two double-track main lines. What does this mean?

Well, put simply, if you only have one track with no passing (no sidings), you can only run trains in one direction at a time if you want to have frequent service. In the morning, for instance, there are now four trains coming down only 30 minutes after each other.

The entire length of the track takes 65 minutes to run non-stop, 80 minutes if you do. So, if you were to run one train down and run it back, it would take a minimum 160 minutes before it was back at it's first location. Figure a minimum 10 minutes at each terminus and... voila! The best you could ever hope for is one train every three hours.

Yes, there are some tricks you could do such as run 4 trains down followed by one really long train containing all 4 trains, then run four trains down again, but still you would never get better service in the "non-priority" direction than once every 3-5 hours.

So... can you blame a government for not having all day service? Ultimately yes, you could blame them for not having a double-track service. That being said, it's really, really expensive to do and the payoff just wouldn't be there.

GO does have other options though. Folks in all corridors can take advantage of Train-Bus service that, generally, gets them to their location faster than the train during non-peak periods. Train-bus service is where GO runs busses from Union staiton express to different stations on a line. Depending on the station, there are different levels of service.

Sadly, the service to my station, East Gwillimbury, is one of the worst. Other than the four trains we have, there is only 2 northbound buses and one Southbound bus. There are no interconnecting buses. They have promised, however, that things will be better at the end of the month. Cross your fingers.

L-girl said...

So... can you blame a government for not having all day service? Ultimately yes, you could blame them for not having a double-track service. That being said, it's really, really expensive to do and the payoff just wouldn't be there.

I wasn't blaming "the government". I am merely saying that this is poor planning, and makes the suburbs completely dependent on the automobile, which has huge negative impacts. In places where good public transportation is available, people use it.

Investing in double tracks (or whatever it takes) would certainly pay off in the long run. It's been proven in cities and suburbs all over North America and all over the world.

Hey, thanks for stopping by. :)