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Watch the first GO Buses enter Union Station Bus Terminal

The first in a series of in-terminal testing is complete at new Toronto bus station.

Jun 10, 2020

There is always a first.

This time, it was GO bus No. 2576.

Many more will follow.

Recently, the first line of GO buses entered the new Union Station Bus Terminal (USBT), a 10,000-square-metre, bi-level facility, in the heart of Toronto.

It was the first time the MCI and Alexander Dennis SuperLo series of buses drove into the USBT, located at the north-east corner of Bay Street and Lake Shore Blvd, just south of the rail corridor and next door to the current terminal.

“This is an incredible milestone for the team and the organization” said Anthony Pezzetti director of Bus and Rapid Transit Services at Metrolinx.

“It’s been a long time coming.”

Anthony Pezzetti stands in front of a bus, with raised hands.

A historic moment is captured as Anthony Pezzetti, Director of Bus and Rapid Transit Services, stands next to bus #2576, the first bus to ever enter the new Union Station Bus Terminal. (Metrolinx Photos)

It was just three years ago, that the first shovels went into the ground for the project.

Several days of vehicle testing are involved with some tests requiring as many as 20 people. COVID-19 measures mean safety is always top of mind.

“A ton of collaboration, planning and execution have gone into this.” – Anthony Pezzetti, director of Bus and Rapid Transit Services at Metrolinx.

As the first buses went through last weekend (June 6), health screenings were performed and adjustments were made to the testing process to ensure physical distancing.

Pezzetti, who is leading the USBT program, said hundreds of hours have been invested in designing the actual tests.

Crews guide a bus down a ramp.

Teams are running checks as buses move around the terminal. (Metrolinx Photo)

The goal is to make sure there are no surprises with the design and measurements. The vehicle testing will also identify any potential safety concerns, identify where adjustments can be made and give a better idea as to how the terminal will operate once it’s open to customers.

“Bringing buses into the facility makes it all feel real and gives the team a view of the finish line,” said Pezzetti.

“A ton of collaboration, planning and execution have gone into this.”

The new, state of the art Union Station bus hub is designed to improve customer experience. The construction, which is a joint project between Metrolinx and Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines, includes two office towers, at 81 and 141 Bay Street.

Location. Location. Location.

The bi-level terminal, located inside the tower at 81 Bay Street, will have a total of 14 bus bays, twice as many as the current station.

“It gives me great pride,” said Pezzetti, who was nervous when he was initially asked to lead the USBT Program.

“At the same time, I realized the incredible opportunity this presented as I would have a chance to influence the customer experience, safety and our bus operation.”

a bus moving through the terminal.

Even a bike rack on the front of GO buses is factored into the testing. (Metrolinx photo)

The new terminal is indoors and the weather-protected space will connect to the city’s PATH network, allowing GO and UP Express customers to quickly and seamlessly move between bus and rail, as well as around parts of downtown Toronto.

Now the next step is to collect information from the testing and adjust procedures accordingly.  Another series of large-scale tests and exercises are planned for August, where the teams will simulate operations as if the terminal was open.

the rear of a parked GO bus.

Perfect fit. A GO bus slips into a parking area. (Metrolinx photo)

“Our goal is for customers to enter the new terminal and say, ‘wow, this is amazing’ – we want to give them the best experience possible,” said Pezzetti.

GO Transit currently runs, on average, 485 bus trips every weekday out of the current Union Station Bus Terminal, transporting around 13,600 daily weekday riders.

While the new terminal takes shape and undergoes testing, bus services at the current Union Station Bus Terminal (141 Bay St.) will continue as is until the new station is ready to move people later this year.

by Nitish Bissonauth Metrolinx bilingual editorial content advisor