GO Transit’s Addiction to Parking Lots

The GO Rail system has for years depended on parking lots small and large to bring riders to its trains.  Local bus services do some of the work, but the parking lots are the mainstay of GO ridership.

With the recent announcement of substantial increase in GO capacity and reach, especially on the Lake Shore corridor, the linkage between parking lot construction and GO rail service must be drastically reduced.  There is an upper limit to the amount of land available for parking, and huge lots poison the land around stations — natural focal points for communities — by limiting development.  I have even heard a politician complain about the opening of a GO station because of the traffic it will generate through her community enroute to the parking lot down the road.

GO has started to think about developing the land around its stations, but this is still in the context of even more parking.  Garages are expensive, and GO hopes to defray this cost by including them in condo developments or office buildings.  This is a very short-sighted view.

A major gap in MoveOntario is the absence of funding for local transit operations, especially lines that will feed new and expanded regional services.  Many families cannot afford to have enough cars that each person can drive to the GO station as and when they need to use the service.  GO’s ridership is already at a level where they cannot provide parking for everyone, and even before MoveOntario was announced demand was expected to double over the next 20 years.

Today, I learned that about one third of the riders boarding at Oakville Station come by transit.  The rest drive in either to park or be dropped off.  As the Lake Shore line becomes a frequent, all-day service, accessing GO by car will not be a realistic way to travel because the lot will be full early in the morning.

MoveOntario forces all of the GTTA to change the way it thinks about transit both regionally and locally, although I’m not sure Dalton McGuinty’s advisors thought that far down the road when they cooked up this scheme.

GO must break its dependence on parking if it is to grow out of its role as a peak-period commuter network, and the local systems must expand to complement the regional improvements.  I am not saying we should close GO parking lots, but we have to think hard about stopping expansion plans, especially on heavy routes with present or soon-to-come all-day service.

49 thoughts on “GO Transit’s Addiction to Parking Lots

  1. There is one “line” of thought given to this. Agreed, this has not been sufficiently addressed, but three particularly busy stations (Brampton, Cooksville, and PC) will be linked to each other via the Hwy10 LRT. Hopefully they have the foresight to integrate these LRT stations DIRECTLY into the GO Station (something along the lines of having the LRT stop in the passage that goes below the tracks, a feature that all 3 stations happen to sport). It may not be physically possible to do exactly that, but efforts to get close to this should be strongly considered as it makes an attractive connection that would actually be superior to the car. Now the problem comes to the other stations that are not given this degree of attention.

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  2. This parking issue is happening in Whitby. They want to add to the parking with a parking garage.

    I certainly do not want my tax dollars for Move Ontario moving into supporting parking garages.

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  3. I have mixed feelings about this. Certainly there should be better feeder services into GO stations, but at the same time it is intended to take people that are already in cars and attract them to the service. We are dealing with people of a whole different mindset. I live less than a kilometre from the Richmond Hill GO station and one of the YRT GO Shuttle routes stops almost at the foot of my driveway. If I had to commute downtown, I would be using that route for 50 cents to get to the GO station, but that’s me.

    In fact, a little over a year ago, they opened up a new parking lot on the east side of Newkirk Road. I find it bizzare that someone will choose to drive their car or SUV to park in that lot where they face a 200 metre walk (perhaps more, I’ve never measured it) to get to the train. There is some sort of mental block that tells them it is not right to get on a bus for 50 cents that takes them to a stop that is about 15 metres from the train.

    I was in Denver a couple of weeks ago on business and had the chance to check out their LRT system. The new southeast branch added 13 new stations to the system and 12 of those stations had free parking facilities. What I found surprizing is that instead of acres of parking wasteland around stations, many had a small outdoor parking lot and a multi-level parking garage. It somehow seemed to be an expensive overkill, but at the same time they had to deal with the reality of pulling people out of their cars to use transit.

    There needs to be a balance between the two and Kent’s idea of charging for parking to help reduce fares is not bad – I suspect that the future of making things more environmentally friendly is going to have to shift user costs to less friendly methods AND away from more friendly methods, which would include charging for parking and reducing fares.

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  4. That seems to be a problem right across the country. Car Parks seems to go hand in hand with Transit Expansion.

    Vancouver’s evergreen line expansion, has included some parking around the stations. Although they do have good bus routes to the stations and some very good bike facilities. Parking is not comparable to what you have around the GO-Trains.

    Calgary is a nightmare. Every LRT station built in Suburban Calgary, is surrounded by massive car parks and in some cases mega malls. The recent expansion to McKnight-Westwinds shows some promise, but a lot of the same old. The city build the new line with room for 200 bikes (the current stations have room for about 8 bikes). But it is surrounded by a large shopping mall and one of the largest Park ‘n’ Ride lot in the system. The city is calling this the “balanced” apporch.

    Edmonton seems to be bucking the trend though. The parking is in the form of a parking tower and only the last two stations will have the car park. Rest of the stations will have good bus routes and limited parking. Edmonton has a very though landuse bylaw on car parks, they limit the surface area of every car park. Everytime I go to Edmonton I am always impressed by the layout of the city, it has the same population as Calgary but covers a much smaller surface area.

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  5. Hear! Hear! (to the article)

    Transit and urban planners need to work together and look at the whole trip – door to door. The first step would to define the catchment area (purposely not using the buzzword “commutershed” as not all riders are commuters, not by a long shot) of each station.

    Then, these areas would need to be examined to determine the paths people might take to and from the stations. Ideally, every person in a station’s catchment area should be able to walk or bike to a station in say, under 15 minutes. This should be a major service standard just like the idea that you shouldn’t have to wait longer than a certain maximum for a bus or streetcar.

    A network of tributary bike/pedestrian paths would have to be established for each station. Am I making sense? Of course, feeder buses would still be needed.

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  6. Calvin I think the reason that someone would walk the 200 or more metres in the wet, cold and snow after parking their car, suv or land yacht is that it is still better than a 20 minute or better wait for a bus.

    If it only takes 5 minutes to drive to the GO Station and park, but it takes 20 minutes plus whatever wait time the logic becomes much clearer.
    Frequent feeder service that’s reliable would get people out of cars.

    Charging for parking is more likely to have people drive in congested traffic and demand highways be built, especially without a viable alternative.

    Move Ontario is sadly lacking in the local transit initiatives area. It’s drive to the GO, subway, BRT or LRT station and all aboard… which is just not a good solution.

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  7. The other thing to keep in mind is that many GO stations are in areas with extremely low population density, in some cases too low to support frequent local bus service. This certainly would be the case with Milton, Georgetown, Uxbridge, Bradford. In addition, the catchment area for a commuter rail station is much bigger than it perhaps would be even for a subway station. As for Mobius, there is no way we could have enough GO stations to make sure everybody can walk to one in 15 minutes – the number of stations required would make service much too slow.

    Stations in denser areas like Mississauga and Brampton are good candidates to have parking replaced with Transit Oriented Development – if there is eventually frequent all day and evening service (not just rush hours) on the Georgetown, Lakeshore and Milton lines (every hour during the mid day and evening doesn’t cut it). However, parking will in the foreseeable future be necessary at GO’s many exurban stations.

    Steve: I agree with your outlook, but in writing this piece, I hope to get people thinking that vast parking capacity is not absolutely essential to every GO station, especially existing ones on lines with plans for big service improvements.

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  8. Accessing the GO Lakeshore line by car is already a little bit unrealistic in some places, unless you are on an early train. I commuted downtown all last year via Clarkson station, and if you aren’t there before the 7:58 train leaves, you aren’t going to find a parking space. In fact, by this point people are already double parking, parking in the lanes meant for driving, etc, just to find a spot.

    The transit service to the GO station via Mississauga Transit in the mornings is a bit of a problem, as it does take at least twice as long, and service is spotty. The 50 cent fare is, however, quite attractive. The bigger problem is the almost complete lack of shelters at Misssauga Transit stops. Makes catching the bus on a rainy or snowy day quite unattractive.

    There is another big problem with GO parking lots that is worth mentioning: vandalism and theft. I had my car broken into at Clarkson GO in the fall, and have seen many other cars with smashed windows etc. while walking through the parking lot to get to my car.

    If the local transit was better, I’d have taken it 100% of the time for sure. Getting off a busy rush hour train home, it can take a good 10 minutes in the congestion just to drive OUT of the GO parking lot. Being able to hop on a bus and go without that aggravation, but still get home in time for the evening news, would be a godsend. I think the first thing to think about would be better feeder service during rush hours (maybe double the service), and then slowly expand out from there into off-peak times.

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  9. Michael Vanner’s comments regarding having to wait 20 minutes for a bus might be applicable in some locations, but with a GO station served by a YRT shuttle route, it is nullified. The shuttles are set up to run through residential neighbourhoods with timing designed to get you to the station several minutes before train departure (and the opposite, with a bus waiting for train arrival in the afternoon).

    Also, I am not in favour of “charging for parking”. I am in favour of “charging for parking AND reducing fares”. For someone driving to the station, there should be little increase in cost (ideally, none).

    Say we charged $2 for parking, but reduced the fare by 75 cents each way ($1.50 per day). For the driver, their cost went up by 50 cents per day, BUT they could take the shuttle route for $1 per day to avoid the $2 parking cost which would result in a net SAVINGS of 50 cents per day.

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  10. Charging for parking is a non-starter. It’s bad enough trying to get into and out of the GO parking lots. If you’re not one of the first dozen people doing the 200-metre (or yard) dash madly to your car to be out of there, you can expect it to take quite a while to get out, especially from a busy station with a large lot such as Clarkson or Oakville. Ditto for getting in – many people arrive just in time to catch their train, factoring in the dash to get their Metro paper, punch their ticket and get to the platform. Creating a bottle neck in either direction would be a cause of a lot of frustration, and probably not enough to persuade people to take the local bus. I could see this might work if it were done electronically like the 407 transponder or on a flat weekly/monthly fee basis, but not with a booth with various forms of manual payments being taken.

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  11. To those pointing to Clarkson and Oakville stations as examples of GO’s parking problem across the board, it should be noted that those two station are (or at least have previously been) both ranked in the top 3 busiest stations in the network and are among the largest parking lots in the network as well. If Oakville is getting 1/3rd of its riders from the local bus service (and Oakville Transit is not a prize winner IMO), given that particular station’s high GO ridership in the network, it’s a good start (but let’s be clear this should only be looked at as a start 😉 ).

    One thing that is compounding the problem with GO Train station access, especially on foot if they densify the immediate station areas, is the station’s self-isolation. It is very blatant at some stations. Bramalea being a particularly awful offender, not only do they have a massive parking lot, but guess where the Brampton Transit busses happen to stop at this GO station? Not only is it in the parking lot, but in the corner of the parking lot, in the farthest possible spot away from the train platform underpass access. Transit users are punished and forced to walk across Bramalea’s entire parking lot to get to their connecting train. Gee, thanks.

    This means that many GO Train stations are designed to have you walk across an asphalt desert, unless you are one of the first drivers there – or qualify for a handicapped space. A large-scale station redevelopment policy needs to be produced and it must make the stations conveniently accessible by foot and bus and bike, at the expense of the car if necessary (but should try to be avoided, for the sake of keeping their current rider base). For some stations, including Bramalea, the station’s actual location itself poses a problem.

    One thing that I’d argue should be strongly considered for SuperGO is use of air-rights, with development directly on top of GO Train stations and platforms. If done well, this can bring fabulous results… but it has to handled with a lot of care, as it is easy to botch.

    “If you build it, they will come If you build it well, they will stay”

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  12. In a way GO already does charge for parking… They have the reserved parking spots, which cost I forget how much, but guarantee you a spot in a somewhat convenient spot in the lot. There are enough people out there that pay for these, but I imagine this is little more than a cash-grab on GO’s part.

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  13. Steve – I don’t necessarily agree that developing GO lots and potentially building parking garages is short-sighted. I think that condos or offices is the wrong use though – they should be building something like a Real Canadian Superstore or Wal-Mart right over top of the existing parking lots. Most shoppers go to these stores on evenings and weekends while GO commuters use the lots during the day. This would turn underutilized land into maximum use (parking utilized 7 days a week with a commercial use over top). The other reason I say big box (god forbid) is because it would be really convenient to get off the GO train and pick up a few things after work. This would potentially alleviate the “crunch” leaving the lot every time a train arrives and would reduce the need to meander around the arterial roads to the big box pod down the street.

    Climate change and peak oil discussions aside – big box retail is here to stay for at least another 20-30 years and something like the above would be transit-oriented big box.

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  14. My cousin lives in Richmond Hill & takes the GO train from the Richmond Hill station. There’s a YRT GO train shuttle he can take from his house near Bathurst, but he doesn’t because it’s often late. There’s so much traffic even on sidestreets there that the bus misses it’s scheduled GO Train. So he gets up early & has to drive, either to there or the Maple station on the Bradford line. Bradford station’s brutal for parking he says, because there’s only one entrance/exit.

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  15. At the Don Valley Brickworks market on Saturday mornings there are two parking lots – a free one and a lot which costs $2. The $2 lot is closer.

    Now imagine it this way. GO station X has a directly attached multi-story car park and an open lot. The open lot is free but will never be expanded. The multi-story is modular and expanded through the income of cars parking there. Cars parking in the multi-story wouldn’t have to worry about clearing snow in the winter, with the possible exception of roof parking, and higher levels of security could be offered via CCTV.

    Steve: There are only two problems with this model. First, people who don’t drive (or have access to an extra car) won’t be able to use the improve GO services without good local bus feeders. Second, $2/day doesn’t pay the cost of building and operating a parking structure.

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  16. Don’t forget parking is also a revenue source for GO! I’m surprised no one has brought up reserved parking yet. $700/year gets you your very own reserved spot at almost any station. Oakville and Clarkson stations seem to have more than 100 of these spots now.

    I can imagine GO management salivating over the thought of many more people wanting a reserved parking spot once all day service spreads to more lines. Many occasional riders would be more than happy to shell out$60/month to know that they would always have a spot open for them in the middle of the day. Also they may see this as a way to pay for parking lot expansion.

    To quote the GO webiste: “Your mornings are hectic enough without having to search for somewhere to park.”

    Steve: There’s no question that GO can make money by selling parking, but we should not be planning growth of ridership on the assumption that parking will be the main way for people to get to the train. We cannot expand parking forever, it is a blighting land use, and parking structures cannot recover their costs without high fees.

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  17. I think charging for parking at GO stations could be a reasonable way to encourage people to take the local transit to the train under one scenario, and that is a scenario that includes road tolls.

    Say a new road toll comes into effect, and it costs 10 dollars a day to drive from Clarkson to the downtown core. Further assume that it costs 5 dollars to park at Clarkson GO for the day. Now assuming that 5 dollar parking charge was introduced without the road toll, sure a lot of people would drive. But in this scenario, when faced with either 5 dollar parking, or 10 dollar road toll… thats a little more encouragement to take transit, but those who still want to drive to the GO station have enough of a dis-incentive that they won’t drive all the way downtown.

    Now in this situation, the parking and road toll fees could go into a GTTA ‘pot’, where they could be doled out to improve local transit, based on where one gets on the highway or parks. So the parking fees at Clarkson station, would be applied directly to improving Clarkson station feeder services. Ditto for the road tolls, although that may require some splitting between stations in similar areas.

    Steve: You are assuming a level of integrated planning and revenue management that seems to escape most of the agencies involved.

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  18. It is hard to get people onto transit in the 905 to access GO Stations when the service is so sparse. Many transit systems do time their buses with GO Transit services. But not all trips are timed outside of rush hour. So it does make it hard for many people to take the local bus to the station. Add very weird long circular routes like in Durham, and it is no surprise many people drive to the station.

    TTC shows that if you offer frequent bus service, people will use it to access rapid transit.

    Also having different fares does not encourage transit use. Yes driving the car costs money. But it is still thought of as free so to speak compared to paying 50 cents for each bus trip to the station and having to have different tickets, etc.

    But the lack of transit use to the stations can only be blamed on the 905 transit systems for not stepping up to the plate better to accomodate GO Train riders more then they do.

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  19. “As for Mobius, there is no way we could have enough GO stations to make sure everybody can walk to one in 15 minutes ”

    Whether it’s 15 or 50 minutes the point is planning communities and stations with bike and pedestrian access in mind would help to offset the need for vast parking lots and increase sustainability and population health for that matter. That goes for TTC stations as well.

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  20. GO should just offer local shuttles timed to meet the trains, and the trains should wait if the buses are late. Local transit to GO doesn’t really work because the buses are often late. Unless they go to multi-level parking garages, increasing GO service won’t do much good. I always said that if they had small van-like community buses in the suburbs that penetrated residential communities, transit use would increase. GO could do that — wasn’t there a dial-a-bus service in the 70s?

    Steve: Yes, we had a brief fling with dial-a-bus. Cabs would be cheaper, and parking spaces cheaper than cabs. The issue is to make local service frequent enough that the train meet doesn’t depend on one bus every half hour (or worse).

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  21. I think a key component of MoveOntario should be a requirement around major new lines and existing GO stations to develop “Station Area Plans” that would require non-car connectivity to surrounding commercial, office and residential nodes, rezoned for high density development. As part of this, networks of “walkways” should be developed that might run along property lines for example, instead of the sidewalks along busy roads that would connect key office parks, retail and condo towers within a ten minute walk. They would be wide, well lit, and landscaped; something like many university campuses have. I think as well that some transportation corridors like the Mississauga Transitway, and some GO rail routes, should include “bikeways” that would be grade separated fairly wide (~3 m) paved paths. One could bike to a nearest station, put your bike in a secure locker, and head to your office, shopping, etc.

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  22. Perhaps users of GO Transit should be given FREE transit to and from GO train stations (and GO bus stations too!). Not 50 cents, but free. This might encourage the use of feeder buses.

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  23. One thing the GTTA might be able to persuade local transit agencies other than the TTC to do is to compound the 50-cent discounted fare into a card, either weekly or monthly formats and be a common card valid for all. The card would be valid on any non-TTC local transit agency that services a GO Station (only valid for travel to/from GO Stations), and you could integrate it directly into the IC/smartcard GO Monthly Pass. By being able to use it on all suburban transit agencies, someone that is travelling from say Hamilton to Mississauga has a higher incentive now using GO plus local transit. This is still a small demographic though since around 95% of the train-riding GO Passengers end up using Union Station (but that could certainly change by 2020).

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  24. Mimmo Briganti said …
    “GO should just offer local shuttles timed to meet the trains, and the trains should wait if the buses are late. Local transit to GO doesn’t really work because the buses are often late.”

    No, please no, trains should absolutely not, under any circumstances, wait for tardy busses, that’d be a disaster. What we can certainly try to do though is get special bus lanes that spread out radially from a GO Station, offering various routes in relative “straight lines” to the GO station.

    One thing that I think VIVA screwed up on a lot was GO Train integration, as it services areas near GO Stations but not the GO Stations themselves. Even though the stations only receive rush hour use, I still find that to be a rather shocking oversight on VIVA’s part.

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  25. Steve

    I wasn’t proposing a $2/day a charge for a day’s worth of parking! However, what I would say is that there should be a hierarchy of charges
    – cycling lockers should be *very* cheap but reservable on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis to ensure there will be one when you arrive
    – feeder buses should be cheap but not as cheap as cycling
    – parking should be more expensive than taking the feeder each way.

    Ideally, GO Stations would be surrounded by development or parkland of some kind which would make expanding the parking lots difficult even if car-crazy local pols got into power.

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  26. That’s what I’m talking about, Tom B!

    Many posts on this thread relate to the difficulties of having efficient feeder services and various options which have failed in the past. This is mainly due to the lack of density in the areas we’re talking about. What is more negating than waiting for a half-hourly feeder bus out at some industrial park byway or suburban hinterland? And it kind of defeats part of the purpose of efficient transit to have fleets of 90% empty feeder buses trundling about.

    So not only new stations should have good bike and pedestrian access. Older ones (and their communities) could get an overhaul as well.

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  27. Karl Junkin wrote, “One thing that I think VIVA screwed up on a lot was GO Train integration”.

    Currently, their connection with the Unionville GO Station is it, though they are now finally building a pedestrian bridge between the Richmond Hill Centre terminal and the Langstaff GO Station (why this wasn’t part of the original RHC construction mystifies me).

    I believe that the mindset when VIVA was being developed was to create a faster alternative for current patterns. This meant travel to Finch station. An early report I read identified connections to Don Mills and Downsview stations would be part of the plan, but GO integration was not considered as a primary concern as it was rush hour only.

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  28. Karl,

    GO Transit finally fixed the joke that was Bramalea Station last year, by building a new bus loop (third incarnation at that site) that finally got rid of the parking lot dash to get to the buses.

    As for charging for parking, it would be very easy to implement with pay-and-display and monthly parking passes. Scatter the pay-and-display machines around and offer a monthly parking pass (say $30-50) that would eliminate the rush to pay at a machine. No additional congestion entering or exiting the parking lot either (knowing they are congested enough after an afternoon train enters the station).

    As for running to cancel your ticket, isn’t Presto supposed to solve that problem? 😉

    And, two years after opening, the Richmond Hill YRT terminal is finally seeing construction of the bridge to the Langstaff GO Station across the rail line. I can’t believe it took them that long to figure that out.

    Finally, getting people to and from the GO Station is the only thing that Oakville Transit does well – all the bus times (even weekends) are designed to meet the trains.

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  29. Whether GO keeps the parking lots or not, there should be some kind of high-density development around the stations. Not only will there be densification, it would give an incentive to run frequent local services, as they would actually serve other places that people want to go to other than a GO station. In many areas, frequent local service just can’t be justified without a connection to GO.

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  30. Some of the problem in creating high densities around the GO stations is that there is/was a lot of industrial land along the rail lines and stations. Where stations and the nearby corridors are in a primarily residential area this could work quite well to develop a sort of “village” around the station. In areas where the land use is primarily industrial around the station and the rail corridor, this can be more difficult as there isn’t much of anything to support a residential development.

    There needs to be a push to get the development of stations as high density hubs, including an incentive to rezone land immediately around the stations from industrial to residential and commercial, and it would have to be part of a comprehensive redevelopment. It would be quite difficult to sell condos in a building surrounded by a gypsum recycling facility on one side, a compressed gas facility on the other side, and a petroleum tank farm across the street, (unless you happen to work in one of those places!)

    A dense village around the station would need to be connected to other places, but without any good service to a nearby commercial district, everyone would just hop into their car and go to the nearest big box complex the same as most other suburban residents.

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  31. Tom B. wrote:

    “I think a key component of MoveOntario should be a requirement around major new lines and existing GO stations to develop “Station Area Plans” that would require non-car connectivity to surrounding commercial, office and residential nodes, rezoned for high density development. As part of this, networks of “walkways” should be developed that might run along property lines for example, instead of the sidewalks along busy roads that would connect key office parks, retail and condo towers within a ten minute walk. They would be wide, well lit, and landscaped; something like many university campuses have.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    An excellent example of this is in Peachtree City, Georgia, USA. I spent considerable time there in 2003-4 and can attest to how well this path system functions.

    See a description on Peachtree’s official web site at:

    http://www.peachtree-city.org/index.asp?NID=154

    And an incredibly detailed academic study at:

    http://www.peachtree-city.org/documents/Planning%20and%20Zoning/Multi%20Use%20Path%20System/pathstudy.pdf

    As the study makes clear, this path system was retrofitted into an existing suburban city.

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  32. I frequently travel to Burlington as I have relatives that live there. Burlington’s GO station provides a good example of many of the issues that have been raised here. For example:

    1. Local transit. Burlington Transit is largely set up to deliver people to the GO station, which acts as a transit hub and node of local transit connections. As a result, once one is on the bus the trip to the GO station is usually fast and direct. There is a seperate bus entrance and driveway through the station so that bus traffic is seperated from car traffic. This is important because during peak hours there is significant congestion in the parking lot and cars can experience significant delays in exiting the lot. Bus passengers zip by this congestion and are delivered very close to the train platforms. There is a concession fare of 50 cents to travel to/from the GO station on Burlington Transit.

    However, the maximum frequency of peak service on BT’s major routes is only 15 minutes, which increases to 30 minutes off-peak. My relatives live in the Tyendaga neighbourhood, served by the #7 bus, which is not one of the major routes. As a result it has a 20 minute frequency of service and only runs during peak hours. Needless to say, it is not heavily used. My own, completely unscientific estimate, is that only 5-10% of GO passengers use Burlington Transit (BT) to get to/from the GO station.

    2. Parking. GO is in the process of building a parking garage at the Burlington station. The overwhelming majority of passengers drive private cars to the GO station. From the hours of 7:45 AM to until the arrival of the 2:38 PM train the parking lot is usually full. As a result, people using the GO train during this time period will either pay for a reserved parking spot or drive their cars to the Appleby GO station and park there. Indeed, one of the stated reasons for building the Appleby station was to provide additional parking for when the Burlington station’s lot is full. My estimate of only 5-10% BT users also applies to when the parking lot is full.

    Interestingly enough, I know several people who do live on major bus routes where it would be faster to take the bus than to drive to and from Appleby. This is largely due to the serious congestion on the QEW during peak hours. However, they choose to spend longer in their cars rather than take the bus. Why? Cultural reasons. They just don’t do busses.

    3. Bad land use patterns near the station. There are very few trip generators near the Burlington GO station. Interestingly enough, a Wal-Mart store is proposed to be built in the future near the station. One of the posters on this thread was commenting on having a Wal-Mart near a GO station. Burlington will do this.

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  33. The bridge between Richmond Hill Centre and Langstaff GO Station had been on the books since before the terminal even opened, so this wasn’t a case of someone ‘finally figuring something out.’

    Unfortunately, there is a huge psychological stigma with GO customers about using buses, whether their local buses to get to the station, or train-buses running outside of rush hours, as many will prefer not to travel at all if they can’t take train than have to ride a bus. Years of education on this by GO and local transits has done little to change this, and until its done effectively, I doubt we’ll see any changes to the demand for parking.

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  34. Dave mentioned that the Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff GO Station bridge was on the books since before the terminal opened.

    While we are dealing with a majority of people who have a thing about buses, the capital cost of the bridge was chosen to be put on hold since they could continue to serve the GO Station with other routes. There are two problems with this logic that has likely caught up with YRT and thus the need to build the bridge now.

    YRT route 87 is the only route that normally passes Langstaff GO Station in both directions, so serving it has minimal impact on costs. However during rush hours, the GO Station is also served by an extension of route 83/83A from Richmond Hill Centre. This has the bus run from RHC out to highway 7, over the bridge, then up Red Maple to the GO Station, then back again. The two stations are about 50 metres from each other, but the bus schedule allows 5 minutes for the trip, which is somewhere between 500 metres and 1 km of travel over the bridge.

    Route 1 loops clockwise on Red Maple, so in the morning the station is on its run. In the afternoon, the eastbound runs do a dog-leg branch to the station after they leave RHC.

    The first problem with the logic, as I see it, is that there are extra fuel and operator (schedulling) costs associated with having routes 1 and 83/83A providing this service. Since the opening of the terminal, fuel prices have risen some 20%.

    The bigger issue, and one I believe is a case of someone “finally figuring something out,” is that while many GO passengers in this area would snub buses, some of them are a little open to using a service such as VIVA. However, under the current operation, they have to take a bus to get to the place where they can board VIVA. Having been on the occasional bus that pulls into Langstaff GO Station, I believe it is safe to say that not too many people are taking a bus from there to RHC.

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  35. I posted the following to the transit-toronto mailing list about a month ago. Fits in with this topic!

    The GO combination of flat-rate fare increases no matter what the distance travelled is, and the GO habit of providing massive free parking lots, is bothering me more and more.

    As a relatively short-haul rider, the flat-rate fare increases make my fare increase by a disproportionately high precentage. As someone who does not use GO parking, and likely never will, my 25-cent fare increase appears to be subsidizing commuter parking in Whitby and Burlington.

    I have some ideas:

    1) Close the parking lot at Long Branch station, and sell the land for redevelopment. There are two large condo developments going up in the vicinity that I know of; the parking lot lands could be mixed residential/commercial. (I’d suggest a nice LCBO store.) Take the sale proceeds and make Long Branch accessible; Mimico too if there’s money left over. (I haven’t noticed if there’s parking at Mimico or not; if there is, sell it too.)

    2) Charge for parking. Actually, I’d prefer a discount if I wasn’t using parking; this way car drivers may be less annoyed. If then there’s an extra charge for my bicycle, maybe it all works out on those days when I bring my bike on the train.

    Closing parking lots when the station is in the middle of an industrial area in Oakville may not work very well, but Long Branch has a fair population within walking distance (soon to increase substantially) and is the terminus for two Mississagua Transit and three TTC routes. There’s no need for parking there, although more bike racks may be nice.

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  36. Living a 25 min walk away from Long Branch GO, and being a sometime user, I find the 501 Queen car schedule problems a great incentive to driving to Long Branch. Even in the morning you can never rely on the 501 car being on schedule. So I sometimes drive.

    Steve: I have been looking at details of the Queen service to Long Branch and it really is a mess. Stay tuned.

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  37. I’ll make this observation here only because the last poster tied 501 service problems to his need for the Long Branch parking lot.

    Would it not make sense to restore the 507 to provide a more consistent service within Etobicoke, but maintain rush-hour and Blue Night service to Long Branch on the 501? Would this at all help stabilize the remainder of the 501 line? Could the same be done with a dedicated ‘Neville Park Shuttle’ in the east beyond Kingston Road (“Route 51x Beach”)?

    Steve: Several years ago I proposed a reorganization of services to give Long Branch more dedicated service, but the TTC never responded, probably because it would have required more vehicles. In brief, the 507 would run to Dundas West (providing added service to supplement the 504s on Roncesvalles) and a peak period 508 would run to downtown. The 501 would terminate at Humber. This has a lot of overlap on purpose to allow for the inevitable short turns so that something resembling decent service would remain.

    A Neville Park shuttle is a bit trickier because there is no logical place for a western terminus unless we were to end the 501s at Woodbine Loop and run the Beach Shuttle as an unscheduled set of cars going back and forth as best they could from, say Connaught to Neville. Of course, if we did that, we would find all of the 501s short-turning Broadview .

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  38. Sean, the Oakville Transit scheduling works very well indeed so long as you’re travelling to and from Toronto. I’m a student at McMaster, and save for a few rush hour routes (that would require me skipping a large number of classes to use), I’m looking at a 55 minute wait for the next bus. With a 6.2km walk home, it’s frequently faster to walk home than wait for the bus. If I had a car, I’d use it exclusively – not the sort of behaviour public transit should encourage.

    Further, on train trips with an unusually large number of people getting off at Oakville (say, Saturday after an FC game), the buses frequently leave before the platform’s even cleared. This, again, means a one hour wait for the next bus.

    Any of these would be more bearable were there more than twelve places to sit in the terminal.

    As for Burlington Transit, they seem to insist of scheduling routes based on best possible round-trip time. Consequence is that I’ve had buses that are supposed to run every half hour… 75-80 minutes late. The locals I talked to all seem to know this, and don’t use transit much as a consequence.

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  39. Has anyone heard of bikes? It’s the most convenient way to get from the Go station to your destination. Especially in the suburban areas where the local transit’s service frequency is so atrocious that walking is usually faster.

    I’m perpetually amazed at how few people get to the Go station on bikes. It’s the most obvious solution. Sure, people have objections about what to do in the winter or if it rains, but people also complain about having to stand on a train platform for 5 minutes if it’s cold! Those people might as well be stuck in traffic trying to keep comfortable.

    For people who can’t come up with the idea of having 2 bikes, one at the origin and one at the destination station (surprisingly more people than you would think), how about adding more bike capacity to trains and eliminating the rush hour restriction? It’s cheaper than building parking lots.

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