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New GO Transit service to London, Ontario, sees light ridership

By | December 6, 2021

Transit agency remains supportive of pilot program despite minimal usage

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Toronto GO Transit logoTORONTO — A pilot program extending GO Transit service to London, Ontario — with travel times of almost four hours for a 118-mile trip — is drawing few passengers in its second month of operation. But provincial transit agency Metrolinx remains supportive of the project.

The Toronto Star reports the pilot program extending Kitchener Line service an additional 50 miles to London, which began Oct. 18, averaged about 32 passengers per trip as of the week of Nov. 15. The service is operating with six-car trains that can carry 162 passengers each. Currently, there is one round trip a day, with a train leaving London at 5:20 a.m. and arriving in Toronto at 9:13 a.m., while the return trip departs Toronto Union Station at 4:19 p.m. and arrives in London at 8:17 p.m.

VIA Rail Canada trains between London and Toronto, which use a more direct route, can take as little as 2 hours, 10 minutes. Driving can take as little as two hours, or up to three hours in peak periods.

But Metrolinx, which launched the two-year pilot program at an annual cost of C$2.6 million, says the trains serve smaller communities that have been hit by other transit cuts. The trains also stop at Stratford and St. Mary’s, as well as all regular stops on the Kitchener line.

“We know this is one of the province’s fastest growing regions and this (pilot) supports transit needs for today and tomorrow,” Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told the newspaper. And London Mayor Ed Holder said in a statement that he was confident the agency and Ontario government will work to improve the service: “They did not make an investment of this magnitude only to see it fail.”

7 thoughts on “New GO Transit service to London, Ontario, sees light ridership

  1. Because passenger rail isn’t about the end points. The route may be indirect but it’s highly populated. It was important service first for CNR and later VIA. I myself have ridden it on trips to Kitchener – Waterloo and Stratford. The low ridership may have less to do with the route and more to do with Trudeau fils’ insane COVID policies.

    Any of us can come up with similar examples. The route of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief via Topeka isn’t the shortest or fastest, but hey it serves Topeka.

    1. Charles, Trudeau has nothing to do with this one.
      Four hours London to Toronto is not going to get much ridership, even though it is serving an area with no rail service.

      1. What does this have to do with Trudeau? It’s a new service and new services take time for people to get used to, if it’s a fast growing area the passengers will eventually ride. I’m sure as time goes on they’ll tweak accordingly. Keep the petty politics out.

        1. Mark, In 1968 and 69 I frequently rode the go train Toronto to Hamilton, great service and fast, one trip was able to ride in one of the GP 40’s, 90 mph. It was fast and efficient almost to the level of intercity service. Now it is so painfully slow since there are so many stops, barely gets moving just to slow down for the next stop. I took it last summer and an hour to get to Aldershot. For ridership to improve they have to pick up the pace, maybe it’s just me because I am not a commuter but when you can drive a route in two hours on a good day or three hours on a bad day vs four hours on a train unless you are a tourist I just can’t see high user volumes.
          P.s., I defended Trudeau. 🙂

          1. Aldershot – Toronto takes 35 minutes for VIA. I think there is just one stop in between

  2. That’s right Frank, no Via last summer due to COVID, what’s even worse is I then had to wait over an hour for the connecting GO bus home……after surgery.

  3. It was a blatant political move because there’s a provincial election coming next summer in Ontario. Cheaper to offer a nonsense commuter train service that nobody will use and that can be cancelled silently after the election than to spend real money and bring about meaningful service improvements.

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