Over the past weekend, a post appeared briefly on Facebook describing proposed changes to GO Transit bus service that were presented to ATU Local 1587 members on Wednesday, July 17. Normally I would take info like this with a grain of salt based on decades of hearing various half-baked stories about TTC plans that pop up from railfan speculation and internal TTC rumours. However, this was too detailed a list and from a first-hand source, and it cannot be ignored.
Updated July 23, 2019 at 8:55 am: The following email was sent to me by ATU 1587 who represent the GO Transit Workers:
A.T.U. Local 1587 was not aware of a posting on social media of service cuts produced by Metrolinx. It was brought to our attention from you, Steve. Thank you.
Metrolinx has however, brought to the union, approx. a month ago, of service cuts in bus that affected Beaverton, Oshawa, Waterloo, Bolton, Cambridge.
Metrolinx is trying to reduce bus service, and force passengers onto trains, which means less local access for our passengers. If there is local transit, then they will have to take that system and transfer once they are close to a GO station, if not then they will have to use their personal vehicle.
Our members provide an excellent service overall. We don’t however, create the schedules of where we go or don’t go. Our members have voiced their disbelief about the cuts to trips not only for our seniors that use our service for appointments, but our university students as well. Everyone who uses GO Transit/Metrolinx is using us for a reason. Our members are proud of what they do, helping those with disabilities, seniors, children, etc. The pride does not stop at our drivers. Everyone from plant maintenance to station attendants, to our coach tech’s (mechanics), transit safety officers, OFPT. We are all proud of the job we do for the public, our passengers.
A.T.U. Local 1587
Updated 4:44 pm July 22: Metrolinx claims that the information posted on Facebook is not true.
The rumours are not accurate.
Buses form a vital connection between trains and communities not connected to train service or with limited train service.
Buses will always be an important part of our regional transportation plan. In fact, we are actively recruiting bus drivers to join our team.
We currently have a fleet of 532 buses and approximately 420 are used for service. We have more buses on the road today than we ever have and every year since our existence they have increased.
We are always monitoring our services to ensure we are making the best use of our resources.
We are embarking on the largest expansion of rail service in our history.
At times, when new train service is introduced it makes sense to redeploy bus services to other communities. Trains can carry far more passengers and shorten the trip.
It is difficult for us to comment on the presentation made to union members as we were not there. [Email from Fannie Sunshine 4:35 pm, July 22]
Original post below:
According to the post, train service is now Metrolinx’ priority and all train-bus service will be eliminated during daylight hours. Buses will only operate overnight and some Sunday services when there are no trains. This is an intriguing starting point given that the full rollout of GO RER frequent service across the network is still years away.
Metrolinx took some well-deserved flak for recent cuts to Cambridge and Bolton services that entailed no public consultation and, based on comments at a Town Hall, no co-ordination with local transit agencies who might take over the service.
Pending cutbacks (with links to current schedules) include:
- Orangeville service
- Brantford reduced to one bus each way daily
- Beaverton service shifts to Durham Region Transit
- Kitchener buses are cut except for rush hour buses to York Mills
- Lincolnville buses are cut except for two late trips
- Barrie buses are cut
- Milton bus service is reduced
- QEW express buses will be cut in March 2020
In one improvement, routes 25 (Waterloo) and 29 (Guelph) which now terminate at Square One will be extended to Kipling subway station bridging an annoying gap between the TTC and GO.
With the reduction in scope of operations, Brampton GO bus garage will close, and buses will no longer be stored at Barrie Transit, Canada Coach or the Ministry of Transportation. GO buses will continue to use host garages in Brantford (which offers free parking and bus washing) and in Niagara Falls where there is a contract in place.
GO Transit drivers will have to decide before October 19 to decide if they wish to stay as employees or not. The extent of the staff reduction was not included in the available information.
If this is an indication of where Metrolinx is headed, it is clear that they want to get out of the bus business leaving only their rail network which will be entirely contracted out under RER. Indeed, this begs the question of why Metrolinx needs to exist at all beyond a small planning and contract management function.
As a mark of Provincial commitment to transit, these cuts, if confirmed, show a government that really does not care about transit, certainly not about the role of a regional network beyond its own trains. Those who advocate a Provincial takeover of local transit should view these cuts as a cautionary tale.
I asked Metrolinx for comment on this story on Saturday, July 22. Their only response to date has been:
When is your deadline? Won’t be able to get you anything over the weekend. [Email from Fannie Sunshine, July 20 at 12:54 pm]
I advised that I would be publishing Monday afternoon, and have not heard back further.
I also await comment from ATU 1587, the GO Transit local.