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Kingston-to-Toronto GO Train Expansion

go train, kingston, election, downes, mayor, candidate, ontario, toronto, gta, railMayor Gerretsen’s recent decision to seek the soon-to-be-vacant federal Liberal nomination caught a lot of people by surprise, including city councilors and prospective mayoral candidates.  One such councilor, Rick Downes, saw the announcement as an opportunity to launch his third bid for the city’s mayoralty.  While Downes has served as a councilor for numerous terms that span over two decades, and he arguably has experience dealing with issues that surface at the municipal level, his platform was not necessarily finalized when he filed papers for this Fall’s election.  Nevertheless, one of the initial components his campaign touched on is that of accessibility, both in the City of Kingston and in relation to our neighbours in the Greater Toronto Area.

The headline was hard to miss: “Downes proposes Kingston-to-Toronto GO Train“, and the lofty proposal instantly attracted a chorus of jeers and criticism.  The notion of expanding GO Transit service this far east of the GTA is undeniably unprecedented and mired in questions pertaining to its execution.  Rail lines between Kingston and the GO Train’s most easterly station in Oshawa are in short supply, while those CNR lines are already heavily used for both freight and Via passenger service.  How would a twice daily, non-stop GO Train traveling between Kingston and the GTA fit with the existing rail traffic?  How much of a premium could Kingstonian’s expect to pay to piggyback on the GTA’s popular GO Transit service?  How many Kingstonians would actually make use of the service daily, weekly etc…  Wouldn’t a GO bus station in Kingston be a more practical and less costly way of gauging demand?  Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:

Should GO Train service be expanded to include Kingston?

  • Yes, absolutely. (73%, 193 Votes)
  • No way. (19%, 49 Votes)
  • Let's talk after the election. (6%, 17 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (5%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 264

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Personally, I would welcome consultation with the various players who are ultimately responsible for expansion of GO Transit services to determine its feasibility in the next 20 to 30 years.  Having made use of GO Transit’s ultra-affordable day pass in the past, expansion of this service could provide Kingstonian’s greater and more economical access into the GTA and vice versa.  With so many growing communities between Oshawa and Kingston, it’s not a surprise that leaders in other municipalities east of the GTA (ie Port Hope, Coburg, Peterborough, Belleville) have proposed similar GO transit expansions to the east.  In the absence of a highspeed rail corridor in Southern Ontario, and with all due respect to the craziness we encounter on the 401, what’s the harm it exploring this option for the benefit of future generations?

Photo credit to wyliepoon.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

6 thoughts on “Kingston-to-Toronto GO Train Expansion

  • September 2, 2014 at 10:46 am
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    Do you seriously believe that GO Transit will run a 700 seat GO Train out to Kingston when it will run almost empty for most of the trip? Have you ridden on a GO Train lately? They are commuter trains with seating that is quite uncomfortable for trips of an hour. VIA Rail already provides Kingston with almost 15 daily departures and it's less than $24 each way with a Commuter ePass. Plus there is good bus service, including MegaBus. People in Bowmanville, Port Hope and Cobourg have been fighting to get GO service for years without success. Expecting them to come to Kingston is just dreaming.

  • September 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm
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    You could run a smaller than 700 seat train. Only as many cars as demand would require. However, something needs to compete with via. Via's prices are so high compared to almost anywhere else in the world for train service. And with such old equipment. Now that Megabus has jacked up prices to be closer to Grayhound's, and sued other start up competing buses out of existence. It's too expensive for my to travel to Toronto or near Toronto.

    • September 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm
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      The average GO rail trip is 33km, and carrying 790 passengers (they have a max capacity of almost 2,000). That includes the couple lines they run during the day that presumably lower the ridership average. There is no way, zero chance, there would be anywhere near enough people here for that to be possible. The whole idea that we'd have the ON gov subsidized GO come and compete with the federal government subsidized VIA is absurd .

      Ignoring reality, what advantage would anyone see in that happening? Surely people don't expect the fare to here would be the same as a packed train going a fraction of the distance? There will always be more bang for the government to spend on transit in the GTA and west then to the population here

      Bus service in ON is highly regulated to prevent competitors putting each other out of business and ending up with only the most used routes left. There is no way GO transit is going to come here to compete with what we have.

      Downes website isn't up, curious if he'll have some explanation on what makes him think this is possible, and what advantage it would even be compared to the trains and buses we have throughout the day.

  • September 2, 2014 at 4:33 pm
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    GO Services are in heavy demand in the GTA. They simply don't have a few cars to take out of the regular service to send up to Kingston for the few people each day who are going to ride their somewhat uncomfortable and slower trains. GO trains stop everywhere — they're a commuter service. It will take you over 3 hours to get to Toronto and 3 hours to go back. Most people won't bother trying to save $10 each way to spend that amount on a train with "basic" washrooms and no food or beverage service. More importantly, there's not enough demand to justify GO coming out this far. They're a commuter service. VIA is the intercity service, and they're not that expensive. If you plan your travel, you can get tickets at $39 each way. That's hardly outrageously expensive.

  • September 9, 2014 at 9:27 am
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    Good grief Metro North in NYC doesn't go 120 miles out of NYC…keep that pipe dream Kingston lmao.

  • December 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm
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    I would like to see via rail Lrc train back in service ?

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