I’m probably going to ramble a bit in this post. When I watch railfans in Japan, it never fails to amaze me. I adore their public transportation system. I’m amazed at how they keep it easy by using trains of various designs to transport people through cities and across the world. They are unconcerned with how fancy the stations seem, having many outdoor platforms of different sizes. They focus on getting people from point A to B. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to get us to construct rail (both regional and local) in Canada, especially in the Greater Toronto Area, where there are so many corridors. We could simply take some tracks, put them in place, and get people going. I realize it isn’t that easy, but ultimately, people want to know that they can get to work and home safely and efficiently.
GO Transit & Metrolinx
With their expansion plans, GO Transit has done an outstanding job. Of course, owing to COVID-19 and the current pandemic, we’ve shifted a lot. This hasn’t deterred Metrolinx, the agency in charge of transit planning. Prior to the pandemic, trains ran every 15 to 30 minutes on some corridors. However at the moment train service is still focused on Union Station and Toronto. Everything goes downtown, then spreads outwards like a spider web. We must seriously consider linking various communities and areas in the GTA. We always think, “It’s too expensive.” Why isn’t there a rail line connecting Durham and Markham? Or maybe from Mississauga to Toronto’s midtown district? Who’s to say that a service isn’t necessary? It doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Just looking at some Japanese railfan videos tells me that we really don’t need to be overly complicated with our ideas. I was surprised to see that often enough they just use one track going through a particular area. They do have the sections where you can bypass a train, maybe meeting at a station. In the end they allow you to get from point A to point B, very simply and very easily. Some of these trains are not running every 15-30 minutes, or even every 45 minutes. Sometimes it’s every 2-3 hours or more (limited service). But the key is they are providing a service, so people can get to certain areas of the city and have a cost-effective option. Even thinking of those in unique situations, providing service for all is key.
We Can Do It
I often wonder what would happen if we had a service that allowed people to get to Bowmanville, or go to Uxbridge on a regular basis by train; giving people an option to maybe shop in different areas. We really need to think outside of the box and offer different solutions to people that are not just focused on the car or bus. We need to have options of all types, whether light or heavy rail. In many parts of the GTA there are tracks that are just sitting there, why not put a train on it? If they are CP / CN owned, why not negotiate options and give residents of the GTA a choice? Stop thinking about the cost; instead, we should increase our rail investment and expand. We need to get out of this car-centric world and simplify things.