Options For Homes is a non-profit condo developer with a building called ‘The Humber‘ under construction at 10 Wilby Crescent in Weston. To say that they are bullish on Weston is a bit of an understatement but they have a history of choosing and building in ‘up and coming’ neighbourhoods, calling themselves urban pioneers. Here is their take on the Weston neighbourhood.
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:
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Since Metrolinx won’t do the math, I will.
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.
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.
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.