A crowd gathers to ask a panel of Metrolinx leaders questions.

Whitby Metrolinx Town Hall hears of more options to expand GO

At this Town Hall, the crowd heard more about plans to extend GO services to beyond Oshawa.

May 3, 2019

Every seat was full. That’s how packed it was inside the room at the Abilities Centre in Whitby on May 2 as Metrolinx hosted another one of its popular community town halls.

From Lakeshore East express trains to track safety to active transportation, there was no holding back on any topic as passionate customers and interested community members stepped to the mic to address Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster and his senior management team.

The biggest talking point was the proposed extension of GO Train services into Bowmanville.  Verster told the gathering Metrolinx is considering four options to extend GO services to go past Oshawa and those new alignment discussions continue with the Region of Durham, Canadian National Rail and Canadian Pacific Rail.

“I think the Bowmanville expansion is very important because the Courtice-Bowmanville area is growing rapidly,” said local resident Melinda Shiers. “There’s no more room to handle the volume in Oshawa.”

She’s been a GO customer for 27 years and came out because she wanted to hear about what’s to come.

Those plans also include better safety measures for level crossings. When asked about safety and rail level crossings, Verster said it’s important that both motorists and pedestrians be aware of their surroundings.

Metrolinx is looking at safety measures to make it difficult to walk close to tracks. Cattle grids are being trialled at two to three locations.

While the conversation was mostly about service, there were some questions about customer experience, most notably about the seats on the new trains being uncomfortable. Metrolinx Chief Marketing Officer Mark Childs explained that last fall, GO ansit had test seats at Union Station to ask customers what they want. Metrolinx now has the data and knows what to do moving forward.

“I think it’s important that Metrolinx brings the town halls to where the people are, and not expect the people to come to them (downtown)” says Shiers.

“I found the evening very informative. I would definitely attend again in the future”.

by Nitish Bissonauth Metrolinx bilingual editorial content advisor