Two controversial GO stations get approval

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Concerns about political interference in the initial approval of two controversial GO Transit stations were set aside this week by Metrolinx which sees no reason to drop the two contentious GO Transit stations from a planned expansion of the commuter rail service.

The agency has determined all 12 stations its board approved in 2016 should advance to the final planning stages for GO’s regional express rail plan, according to a source with knowledge of Metrolinx’s plans.

The list of 12 includes Kirby and Lawrence East stations.

Initial business cases for the two stations determined they would lead to a net loss of ridership on the GO network, and a report Metrolinx commissioned recommended neither be considered for at least another 10 years.

Kirby is in Del Duca’s riding of Vaughan, and Lawrence East in Scarborough is a key component of Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

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The initial analysis assumed GO trains would stop at each station on a line driving up the travel time which in turn runs the risk of Metrolinx losing riders who board at the start of the trip.

The new analysis considered express service at some stations; only four of six trains travelling GO’s Barrie line each hour would stop at Kirby, while four of seven trains travelling on the Stouffville line would stop at Lawrence East.

The new analysis also assumed GO will implement both fare integration with the TTC, which is expected to make travel on the GO network more attractive and boarding at the platform level (not using steps to enter the train), which allows for shorter stopping times at stations.

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While the business cases have improved dramatically, Metrolinx expects to arrive at a final list of stations for the $13.5-billion regional express rail program by the end of the year.

As populations keep moving into new regions, it will be a matter of time before more stops will be recommended and with it comes the risk that travel time will increase to a point it may make more sense to simply take the car. – CINEWS

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