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  #11841  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 8:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
This is something Olivia Chow campaigned on when she ran for mayor a few years ago.


Even if not accurate Toronto's GDP is on par with all of Alberta's and all of Quebec's but this city doesn't seem to receive the investments it deserves. Anytime money is spent here we get the "Why should Ontario" or "Why should Canada" pick up the tab when this is never the case. If Toronto could even keep 25% of it's tax revenue we could build a subway system like London. NYC, or Paris over time.
I don't have an issue with the amount of money invested in Toronto. I have an issue with what that money is invested in. There seems to be a major priority issue in the GTA with billions poured into subways for the suburbs while the Yong-University Line is at a breaking point. From what I gather however, we agree on this.
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  #11842  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Reecemartin View Post
I think people are missing the point that this GO train can actually provide a lot of utility to people commuting to Hamilton as well, of course the issue is that the early schedule makes this much less convenient.
Yes it definitely can, if those people can get to their work places easily enough from West Harbour station. In 2016, 3400 people commuted to Hamilton from Grimsby, 2400 from St. Catharines, and almost 700 from Niagara Falls. Plus others from the other smaller towns in Niagara Region near the line.
https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-r...NAMEE=&VNAMEF=

The early schedule is inconvenient but unless trips can be sped up -- by improving rail quality between Hamilton and St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, eliminating the conflicts with CN freight west of Aldershot (which is a biggie) and offering express service from Burlington if demand warrants -- the timing will need to reflect the realities of getting commuters to Toronto by start of work day. Regardless of how many are getting off in Hamilton.
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  #11843  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mister F View Post
It's an urban region with 450,000 people served by a highway with daily traffic of over 100,000 that's perpetually jammed all summer ("just" driving to Hamilton isn't so easy). Not to mention 14 million annual tourists, most of whom are domestic and coming from the GTA. In any other part of the world there would be fast, frequent, electrified trains serving this region. It would be an absolute no brainer and many such links exist. But here in timid Canada we quibble about canal crossings and doubts about demand when the demand is staring us in the face.

There's renewed talk of the mid-peninsula highway, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars and would make our transportation system even more skewed to driving than it already is. Putting that money into a rail link instead (yes, including a canal crossing) would be a much wiser move. If there's demand for not one but two freeways then there's demand for rail.
The totals are useful for marketing purposes, but for transit planning there's a need to delve into details. A business case isn't made on total market potentials. It's just not that simple.

This line is unique among others because it potentially serves two markets: the tourists, and the commuters to/from Hamilton and Toronto. (acknowledging that there are tourist trips heading into Toronto along all the lines on weekends and holidays, GO service depending)

For tourism, it's not just the total. We need to consider how those people are currently getting to Niagara from wherever they originate (Toronto area, other Canadian origin, the US, international) and where they are going once they get to Niagara: the Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, wineries. Would the train be a viable option in terms of cost and convenience? For all types of tourists? (singles, couples, families). If the train were an option, would there be viable options for them to get to their tourist destinations from St. Catharines or Niagara Falls stations?

Niagara Region does have 450,000 people, but those residents are spread among a number of urban areas across a bigger area that's largely rural. StatsCan's commuting flow data shows that the vast majority of workers in the local CMA (88%) commute within the region. For Niagara commuters travelling beyond, can the trip to Hamilton/Burlington/Oakville/Mississauga/Toronto be done efficiently by train with good connections at the destination end? Would there be a travel time savings? Would the cost savings be worthwhile?

These are all considerations that need to be made when establishing the current demand for a service. Then there's a need to consider what the trends say about the future. And whether there is latent demand to think about too. It's complicated.

Re: the mid-pen, I don't think it's warranted yet but I could see this government making a political decision that goes against the recommendations of the last provincial study. That study established a basis for route planning between the QEW in Fort Erie and the 406 to provide an alternate corridor from the Peace Bridge, and further study of transportation needs in the west section, but to monitor travel in the middle until 2031. Personally I don't think there will be a need for a full new highway for a long time if the QEW can be expanded and managed well enough.
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  #11844  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 2:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ScreamingViking View Post
The totals are useful for marketing purposes, but for transit planning there's a need to delve into details. A business case isn't made on total market potentials. It's just not that simple.

This line is unique among others because it potentially serves two markets: the tourists, and the commuters to/from Hamilton and Toronto. (acknowledging that there are tourist trips heading into Toronto along all the lines on weekends and holidays, GO service depending)

...

These are all considerations that need to be made when establishing the current demand for a service. Then there's a need to consider what the trends say about the future. And whether there is latent demand to think about too. It's complicated.
You've put some thought into this, and I agree with what you say.

I don't think the train is viable in a conventional sense - few intercity trains really are - but if you can account for lost productivity from road congestion on the QEW, potential economic development in parts of the Niagara region, and maybe hitch this train to some land development on the Niagara Falls side then I think it could get off the ground. FEC's Brightline passenger train in Florida is a useful model.

The tunnel under the Welland canal and any capital infrastructure will have to be government-funded, but I could see a smart operator teaming up with the major Niagara Falls tourist attractions to chip in some operational funding. It's in the interest of places like the casino to bring in as many gamblers as possible while subsidizing the fewest parking spaces.

There's a relatively generous hydro corridor that runs from the railway to within walking distance of the Falls themselves. This could be the right of way for the new line and a terminus station, with portions sold off for development.

Of course, I'd prefer if this money were invested in fully-public intracity public transit projects, but I wouldn't consider a Niagara train to be a white elephant and I'd actually use it a lot.
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  #11845  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 2:13 PM
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Speaking of that, you know what we’re missing in GTHA? A Go Bus along Highway 6 between Aberfoyle (Highway 401@ Wellington County Road 46) and McMaster that ties in with 29 (or the 48) <U Guelph bound> and 25 <U Waterloo bound>.

I still remember the days when going to Burlington from Waterloo requires transferring at Mississauga. Like... excuse me???
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  #11846  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 4:58 PM
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People have been talking about that missing bus link for a while - I'm sorry of surprised it hasn't happened yet.
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  #11847  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:06 PM
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I'd think that the 6 & 24 corridor get busy enough to warrant consistent public transit service. After all, KWCG and Brantford aren't small places.

Politics' at play, obviously.
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Q: ON-11 or ON-17, which one should we twin (assuming there's political will)?

A: Hook up a trailer to the back of the pickup truck and get from one Bay to the other Bay. Then you can understand which is more of a better highway to upgrade.
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  #11848  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:27 PM
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^I'd like to see Burlington GO be a sort of western "super hub" for the GO transit system.

You'd have express trains to Union running every half hour stopping maybe only at Oakville, and Burlington station would be the terminus for:

- Hwy 407 service (instead of Oakville)
- Mississauga City Centre & Pearson express service
- Niagara service
- express service to Hamilton GO and McMaster
- a Highway 6/7 express that goes to Guelph and Waterloo
- a bus to Brantford

There's already TOD at Burlington GO and you can kind of tie it into downtown Burlington through higher density development too.
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  #11849  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:46 PM
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There are a lot of comment that Uber/Lyft are negatively affecting transit ridership in American cities? In the long run, this just increases the use of individual vehicles and adds to congestion, while damaging transit viability.

How are Uber/Lyft affecting transit in Canadian cities? Is this a major concern for the future?
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  #11850  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:49 PM
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I use uber express pool to work some mornings, it's cut my transit ridership marginally. Mind you I rarely take the TTC anyway - usually I bike.
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  #11851  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 5:51 PM
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Q: ON-11 or ON-17, which one should we twin (assuming there's political will)?

A: Hook up a trailer to the back of the pickup truck and get from one Bay to the other Bay. Then you can understand which is more of a better highway to upgrade.
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  #11852  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 6:23 PM
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On the Hamilton issue, I think people need to relax a bit. While the current service is really nothing to be too excited about its a lot harder to cut back on a service like this in the future which signals a degree of longer term commitment.

On the issue of speeds etc. I am not super concerned, plenty of work is already being done to improve speed on the corridor and the commute time will be decreased markedly when some of the works around West Harbour are completed. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another trip extended to NF in the future when we see more stations opening on this section of the line.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see a train terminating at West Harbour, I’m surprised that even among this crowd people aren’t seeing the utility of transit the serves areas beyond the age old suburb to downtown commute pattern that left us with the frustrating service pattern being used on several GO lines today.
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  #11853  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 6:27 PM
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I also want to make the point that I am amazed people here are questioning the benefit of a new rail service when you can drive in 1/2 or 2/3 the time. Plenty of people would rather take a train than drive for numerous reasons:

- Even with a high ticket price gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, car ownership is expensive
- You cannot sleep on your commute if you are driving
- You cannot safely go on your phone or laptop and do work while driving
- Driving is much less inconsistent and does not operate on a schedule

There are plenty of benefits over driving offered by various transit services, even within Toronto unless you are on the subway it is seldom faster to take the TTC vs. Driving and yet plenty of people do, and theres a wide gamut of reasons why.


On the issue of the subway upload I really don’t get why people are complaining about Toronto getting more investment in its infrastructure etc. The Cons seem fairly committed on the relief line as well . . . .

As was mentioned Torontos economy is what bank rolls a lot of transit for the rest of the province which is rarely as well utilized or as good at recovering cost.
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  #11854  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 7:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reecemartin View Post
I also want to make the point that I am amazed people here are questioning the benefit of a new rail service when you can drive in 1/2 or 2/3 the time. Plenty of people would rather take a train than drive for numerous reasons:

- Even with a high ticket price gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, car ownership is expensive
- You cannot sleep on your commute if you are driving
- You cannot safely go on your phone or laptop and do work while driving
- Driving is much less inconsistent and does not operate on a schedule

There are plenty of benefits over driving offered by various transit services, even within Toronto unless you are on the subway it is seldom faster to take the TTC vs. Driving and yet plenty of people do, and theres a wide gamut of reasons why.


On the issue of the subway upload I really don’t get why people are complaining about Toronto getting more investment in its infrastructure etc. The Cons seem fairly committed on the relief line as well . . . .

As was mentioned Torontos economy is what bank rolls a lot of transit for the rest of the province which is rarely as well utilized or as good at recovering cost.
I commuted to work by bus for 20+ years for those very reasons. Mostly so I could read while on the bus instead of wasting my time sitting in traffic.
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  #11855  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 7:42 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
There are a lot of comment that Uber/Lyft are negatively affecting transit ridership in American cities? In the long run, this just increases the use of individual vehicles and adds to congestion, while damaging transit viability.

How are Uber/Lyft affecting transit in Canadian cities? Is this a major concern for the future?
I think it's a wash. Because while Uber/Lyft does take away from trips that are transit, I think in other ways it increases transit ridership by making it easier to live carfree. That's what happens with me.

To expound on what this means: I don't own a car even though I could afford one. I walk to most of my daily errands (I live in an urban neighbourhood), and when I have to go somewhere further, I'll either take transit or I'll take Uber/Lyft, and it depends what makes more sense for where I'm going. But if Uber/Lyft didn't exist and I have no choice but to take transit everywhere, I probably would have bought a car by now, and I'd never take transit at all.
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  #11856  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 7:45 PM
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Originally Posted by J.OT13 View Post
I don't know about the 4 cents on the dollar, but I would say that the previous Liberal Government did a fairly good job of keeping the transit funding proportional across the province. This is from an Ottawa perspective when looking at OT vs. GTA. I can't speak for the rest of Ontario. .
For all her faults, this is one area where Kathleen Wynne did very well, IMO--her government did a very good job addressing the needs of all the province's regions and balancing spending between them fairly. She did much better than McGuinty on that front. Which is kind of ironic as Kathleen Wynne was a Toronto MPP whose caucus was pretty GTA-dominant, whereas McGuinty was an Ottawa MPP whose caucus was less GTA-dominant.
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  #11857  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 8:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ScreamingViking View Post
The totals are useful for marketing purposes, but for transit planning there's a need to delve into details. A business case isn't made on total market potentials. It's just not that simple.

This line is unique among others because it potentially serves two markets: the tourists, and the commuters to/from Hamilton and Toronto. (acknowledging that there are tourist trips heading into Toronto along all the lines on weekends and holidays, GO service depending)

For tourism, it's not just the total. We need to consider how those people are currently getting to Niagara from wherever they originate (Toronto area, other Canadian origin, the US, international) and where they are going once they get to Niagara: the Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, wineries. Would the train be a viable option in terms of cost and convenience? For all types of tourists? (singles, couples, families). If the train were an option, would there be viable options for them to get to their tourist destinations from St. Catharines or Niagara Falls stations?
Of course it would be an option. With QEW volumes in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day (many of which are buses) at any given point, and that number dropping off dramatically at Niagara Falls, it doesn't take a very large fraction of that number taking the train to make it successful. It would be just like tourists going to any other destination in the world on the train, which they do in large numbers. There are any number of options to get people from the train station to hotels and destinations - Uber/Lyft, taxis, tourist shuttles, regular transit, car rentals. It's not rocket science. Further, many of the tourist attractions in Niagara Falls are highly centralized and can be reached on foot. Most of the action is in the Clifton Hill/Fallsview area, which is easy to reach from the train station.

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Originally Posted by ScreamingViking View Post
Niagara Region does have 450,000 people, but those residents are spread among a number of urban areas across a bigger area that's largely rural. StatsCan's commuting flow data shows that the vast majority of workers in the local CMA (88%) commute within the region. For Niagara commuters travelling beyond, can the trip to Hamilton/Burlington/Oakville/Mississauga/Toronto be done efficiently by train with good connections at the destination end? Would there be a travel time savings? Would the cost savings be worthwhile?

These are all considerations that need to be made when establishing the current demand for a service. Then there's a need to consider what the trends say about the future. And whether there is latent demand to think about too. It's complicated.
The population of Niagara Region is almost entirely urban and the largest of those urban areas are directly served by the train. The route has very high travel demand and a higher population density than much of Europe. It's perfect for rail.

Your arguments against this service could be used for hundreds of rail routes all over the world, whether they carry a lot of tourists or not. Take a look at Inverness, Scotland for example. It's much less populated than the Niagara area, more isolated, a longer distance from large urban centres and with fewer people travelling there. Yet there are 13 trains that go there from Glasgow every day. There are countless other routes like it. You really do have to see how the rest of the world operates to understand how backwards our transportation system is. The improvements to GO that have been in progress the last few years, including the new Niagara service, are baby steps.

Ah, but it's complicated. Might as well throw our hands in the air and give up. How Canadian.

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Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
I don't think the train is viable in a conventional sense - few intercity trains really are - but if you can account for lost productivity from road congestion on the QEW, potential economic development in parts of the Niagara region, and maybe hitch this train to some land development on the Niagara Falls side then I think it could get off the ground. FEC's Brightline passenger train in Florida is a useful model.

The tunnel under the Welland canal and any capital infrastructure will have to be government-funded, but I could see a smart operator teaming up with the major Niagara Falls tourist attractions to chip in some operational funding. It's in the interest of places like the casino to bring in as many gamblers as possible while subsidizing the fewest parking spaces.

There's a relatively generous hydro corridor that runs from the railway to within walking distance of the Falls themselves. This could be the right of way for the new line and a terminus station, with portions sold off for development.

Of course, I'd prefer if this money were invested in fully-public intracity public transit projects, but I wouldn't consider a Niagara train to be a white elephant and I'd actually use it a lot.
I'm curious what you mean by "viable in a conventional sense". Viable isn't the same thing as profitable. Few intercity travel options are profitable (including highways). But that doesn't mean they're not viable. The route to Niagara is a short, high demand, congested, densely populated and highly urban route. It doesn't get much more viable for passenger rail than that.

Last edited by Mister F; Jan 12, 2019 at 8:21 PM.
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  #11858  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 10:52 PM
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Of course it would be an option. With QEW volumes in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day (many of which are buses) at any given point, and that number dropping off dramatically at Niagara Falls, it doesn't take a very large fraction of that number taking the train to make it successful. It would be just like tourists going to any other destination in the world on the train, which they do in large numbers. There are any number of options to get people from the train station to hotels and destinations - Uber/Lyft, taxis, tourist shuttles, regular transit, car rentals. It's not rocket science. Further, many of the tourist attractions in Niagara Falls are highly centralized and can be reached on foot. Most of the action is in the Clifton Hill/Fallsview area, which is easy to reach from the train station.


The population of Niagara Region is almost entirely urban and the largest of those urban areas are directly served by the train. The route has very high travel demand and a higher population density than much of Europe. It's perfect for rail.

Your arguments against this service could be used for hundreds of rail routes all over the world, whether they carry a lot of tourists or not. Take a look at Inverness, Scotland for example. It's much less populated than the Niagara area, more isolated, a longer distance from large urban centres and with fewer people travelling there. Yet there are 13 trains that go there from Glasgow every day. There are countless other routes like it. You really do have to see how the rest of the world operates to understand how backwards our transportation system is. The improvements to GO that have been in progress the last few years, including the new Niagara service, are baby steps.

Ah, but it's complicated. Might as well throw our hands in the air and give up. How Canadian.
You seem to be taking this personally... it's not personal, it's business case.

I was trying to explain how travel demand for specific transportation projects is determined, as part of a business case -- that is what I was referring to as complicated. It's not a simplistic reasoning to "throw hands in the air and give up". Current trip projections in the corridor on the Metrolinx site for the project aren't that high: daily two-way trip estimates in the Niagara portion of the corridor are 1,050-1,900 (current/2016) and 2,200-3,000 by 2031. The most cost-effective way to serve that demand is a key issue -- as it stands, IMO the numbers don't make a strong case for a lot of rail service. It will be interesting to see Metrolinx's updated full business case for this, that looks at the net economic and financial benefits/costs.

And we do have to consider whether the ridership estimates are correct. Maybe they are, but maybe the service will take off more than projected. Maybe small-ish investment to improve the corridor would boost them. Maybe population and commuter projections will differ. Or maybe propensity to drive will change and people will embrace transit in a bigger way (a lot of that last one may be influenced by how much and how fast connected/automated vehicles become part of the transportation system over the coming decades, and related to that the rate shared mobility becomes embraced on a greater level using CV/AVs... how will it all mesh with transit use?).

This is definitely "baby steps" considering it's introducing something new, despite the seasonal weekend service catering to tourism. I also agree there is a lot we can learn from global examples of transportation. There's also a lot we need to do to change the driving culture here to promote public transit use, but that's an issue many other places outside of Canada and the U.S. don't have to deal with to the extent we do here.

I think we just need to be realistic in discussions about this stuff. If something is relatively cheap and easy (which this early service seems to be, for now) then fine it's worth trying. But if more means spending hundreds of millions of dollars of public money, the project needs scrutiny and needs to stand up to questions... it can't just be labelled a "no brainer" without that.

Last edited by ScreamingViking; Jan 12, 2019 at 11:05 PM.
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  #11859  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2019, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Reecemartin View Post
On the Hamilton issue, I think people need to relax a bit. While the current service is really nothing to be too excited about its a lot harder to cut back on a service like this in the future which signals a degree of longer term commitment.

On the issue of speeds etc. I am not super concerned, plenty of work is already being done to improve speed on the corridor and the commute time will be decreased markedly when some of the works around West Harbour are completed. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another trip extended to NF in the future when we see more stations opening on this section of the line.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see a train terminating at West Harbour, I’m surprised that even among this crowd people aren’t seeing the utility of transit the serves areas beyond the age old suburb to downtown commute pattern that left us with the frustrating service pattern being used on several GO lines today.
Relax? It's all just discussion.

As the GO system expands and service levels go up drastically, I think it makes a lot of sense for there to be other nodes around the region that are the focal points of services, as both commuting destinations themselves and places where there are connections to core transit service to/from downtown Toronto. Hamilton, Kitchener, YYZ, Oshawa, etc.
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  #11860  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2019, 12:12 AM
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We need to consider that Toronto and Niagara Falls are Ontario's two biggest tourist areas and are only two hours apart, with half of it, already with very good rail infrastructure.

Also, car travel particularly between Toronto and Burlington is already very congested.

There are opportunities for tourists to make even day trips back and forth, or to move one location to the next that is not dependent on car rentals if we could provide decent two way rail service.

Also, is it possible to consider something other than massive GO trains particularly for the leg from Burlington to Niagara Falls? Surely, smaller, more economical trains are available that could connect at Burlington (Aldershot) with existing GO trains.

The challenge is to make strategic rail improvements to make the trip significantly faster than it is today. Rail service cannot generate ridership unless the service is more time competitive than it is today. Often these rail improvements can be made incrementally.
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