GO expansion could lead to huge changes

In November, Metrolinx published its plans for improving rail service in the GTA. If they were to go ahead, they would revolutionize train travel in the GTA and greatly change commutes in Weston.

By 2031, if the plans are implemented (that’s a big ‘if’) GO service in Weston will be:

  • Electrified
  • Every 10 minutes
  • Faster, with a 13-minute trip between Weston and Union
  • Less expensive, because it will use electric trains much of the time
  • More accessible, with station improvements.

The plan would also improve Union Station, allowing the UP Express to run four-car trains, and GO to double train capacity.

The GO Expansion Business Case does not say what will happen to the UP Express in Weston. It seems likely, however, that it would be axed. The UPX will also be stopping in Mount Dennis and Bloor, slowing the train en route to the airport.

But improved GO service, would, in some ways, make the GO train even better than the UP Express. It would be as fast, but more frequent in the rush hour. The trains would be larger, and riders may have a better chance of getting a seat. The locomotives would also be electric, instead of diesel, allaying concerns about pollution and noise.

On the downside, it is not clear how long the trains would run every day. I love that the UPX runs late and early. Nor are GO trains as fancy as the UPX, and we’d have to bring your own in-ride magazines. (Has anybody seen an On The UP lately?)

Service would be improved between Union and Bramalea on the Kitchener Line

Metrolinx forecasts that GO ridership in Weston would nearly double, as it would system-wide. Perhaps optimistically, they also say that the increased ridership would pay for the system expansion. Your correspondent has his doubts.

These are the same people who built the UP Express, which was supposed to be a  premium-fare, deluxo trip to the airport for the world-weary traveller willing to pay $29 one-way. It got rolling at exactly the same time as Uber, and ridership was dismal until the province forced Metrolinx to slash fares and let the proles ride. The UPX still loses about $20 million (by my conservative calculation) every year—about $6 for every rider.

 

Just another reason for optimism

Marion from the BIA sent along a bit of news I hadn’t heard: the Greater Toronto Airports Authority is working on a plan to make the Pearson airport area “Union Station West”—a second major hub for jobs and transit.

According to the GTAA, the airport alone employs 49,000 people, and the number is growing very fast. A further 250,000 people work in the area, making it the second-largest employment zone in Canada.¹ Yet almost 95% of the workers get there by car—and it’s a death zone for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

The GTAA is looking to fix that by building Toronto’s second major transit hub, just outside Terminals 1 and 3. This should improve commutes, draw employers, and smooth transit through the region.

What business is this of WestonWeb? Have a look at the map.

One of the seven transit routes planned to link up at Union Station West² currently makes it there: the UPX. We have a monopoly on commuter rail. Better, though: Three of the seven planned lines will stop in Weston or Mount Dennis.

Sure, it’s a dream right now, but as Union Station West grows, Weston and Mount Dennis are perfectly placed to be bedroom communities. A quick hop on a comfy, uncongested train could take you to your job uptown.


¹ I have my doubts about that last bit.

² They’re going to need another name.

Letter of the week: Bus stop at the UP Express Station

From stevemunro.ca

Anne T commented on the news that Uber and Metrolinx have come to an arrangement. She quite sensibly wonders why Metrolinx and the TTC haven’t entered into a similar arrangement.

What would make even MORE SENSE is to have a TTC bus stop right at the front doors of the UP Weston station where presently many passengers are either picked up or dropped off.  I’m a frequent UP user who takes the Weston 89 bus to the station and have to walk through the parking lot.  DEFINITELY a TTC  bus stop makes more sense!

Why should UBER have their own taxi stand?  Why the special privilege for just UBER and not other taxi companies? Is Metrolinx making money on this UBER/Metrolinx deal?   And why should we sell the parking lot to private developers?  It’s bad enough that we sold the 407 to Spain.  When will we finally put an end to this insanity?

If Metrolinx is trying to encourage people to leave their cars at home, a convenient stop at the station entrance would be welcomed bu UP and GO riders. A very frosty person at Metrolinx’s phone reception said that it would be up to the TTC to get the ball rolling on this. I’ve left a message with the TTC at their suggestions page.

Readers who like this idea may wish to contact the TTC and Metrolinx to lend your support.

TTC suggestion page here

TTC phone line – 7:00 am – 10:00 pm: 416.393.3030

Metrolinx suggestion page here.

Metrolinx phone line: 416.874.5900

Uber teams with UP Express

Uber and UP Express have worked a mutual deal so that Uber will have a designated pick-up spot at Weston Station. Logically, it makes sense for Metrolinx to provide alternatives to parking at the much used station. The plan all along has been for Metrolinx to eventually sell much of the current parking space to developers.

Read more here.

How much does the UPX cost us?

Neither the new Conservative government nor Metrolinx will say how much it costs to run the UPX, according to The Star.

Metrolinx has long dissembled about the chronically mismanaged line. Now

a spokesperson for the agency [told The Star] it couldn’t release figures showing how much it costs to operate the UP Express, or how much each ride is subsidized by taxpayers, because “Metrolinx considers all of its rail operations — GO and UP — to be part of one network.”

As if.

Since Metrolinx won’t do the math, I will.

The UP Express in Weston Station (file).

The line costs about $65 million a year to run. About 3.5 million people ride it annually, for an average cost per rider of about $18.50. The average fare is a bit of a mystery, but Metrolinx says that about 75% of the riders are going between the airport and downtown–with the remainder paying lower fares. I’ll assume, then, that the average fare per rider is about $9.25—the Presto fare (which is slightly lower than the infrequent traveller fare and higher than the commuter fare).

By happy coincidence, the per-rider subsidy is also about $9.25, for an annual total cost of $32.5 million.

Rail path may one day come to Weston. One day.

Last week, City Council asked Metrolinx to make sure that there is enough space along the rail corridor to have “multi-use trails like the West Toronto Railpath” as Metrolinx works on its electrification plans.

Frances Nunziata told council that “residents and community groups of Ward 11 have long advocated for a bicycle path along the Kitchener Corridor”—and when she says “long”, she means it. She asked Metrolinx for a rail path back in 2010.

From Toronto.ca

This new ask comes from the Pedestrian Safety and Cycling Committee, which met with Metrolinx. Metrolinx said, bless them, that they should know whether a bike path will fit sometime in 2022.

No, that’s not a typo.

Some reflections

We’re officially in the summer doldrums – at least I am. Adam’s still incredibly productive.

In spite of having a new premier with his early announcements and the delicious prospect of October’s civic election, my side of Weston Web’s virtual office is eerily quiet with ceiling fans gently moving stale air over the desks, typewriters and silent telephones.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

Before the civic election campaigns begin in earnest, this might be a good time to take a breath and reflect on some of the almost 3000 articles that have appeared on Weston Web since Adam began publishing in 2010. Incidentally, every article written on Weston Web is still available and can be searched by topic or date.

WestonWeb uses WordPress which keeps statistics on the number of times each article is viewed. Interestingly, some articles have a life of their own and are constantly being read – even years after publication. Many of these most popular articles were written by student writers who are paid a small stipend for their efforts.

Grab a beverage and get comfortable; here’s a list with links to the 20 most popular Weston Web articles of all time – in reverse order. You’ll have to supply your own roll of the drums.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

19. Weston Wins. February 2016. This is about former Premier Wynne’s (those were the days, remember?) decision to lower fares on the UP Express that resulted in dramatically increased ridership.

18. Drake general store pop up hits Mount Dennis. December 2016. Whenever you have an article with the words ‘Drake’ and ‘Weston’ in it, there’s bound to be lots of interest. Sadly for Drake fans, this was a Drake Hotel pop up.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

16. 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. May 2010. As a mark of Weston’s transformation over the past eight years, all of these buildings have disappeared entirely except for the Plank House which continues to sit empty and unloved.

15. TV show filming in Weston. March 2011. An interesting article on Weston’s film operations at the time. Scroll down to view an informative comment from Weston Historical Society’s Martin Proctor.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

4. P&M: Ready for the Move. January 2015. The story of P&M Restaurant in the weeks before moving to its spanking new location in May 2015.

3. Irving Tissue expanding. July 2012. Irving Tissue is the last of the big employers on Weston Road and guest writer Laurie Mace covered the proposed expansion of the plant.

2. Scarlett Heights Academy to close. October 2017. There has been intense interest around the closing of this school which is not strictly in Weston but obviously of interest to residents locally.

1. Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination. December 2014. The dramatic federal Liberal Party nomination of Ahmed Hussen astonished pundits who expected former councillor Bill Saundercook to win. This story has been accessed more than 2000 times.

Just a couple of observations: the restaurants reviewed in our top 20 are still in operation. If you want them to stick around, keep patronizing them. It’s easy to forget that Weston has undergone some quite remarkable changes in the past eight years with more still in the pipeline. With large numbers of people about to make Weston their new home, the next few years will be interesting.