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GO PIC #2 results

GOKW.org has posted the boards from the Kitchener service PIC #2 that took place yesterday. I'm out of town and can not attend any of the three PICs, but from talking to some who attended and reading the boards I have a few quick comments. First: GO is accepting the city's recommendation to go with a downtown station only in Guelph, which isn't surprising as GO will have no desire to fight with the city. But the plans call for a parking lot at Neeve St to be provided by Guelph (which the papers have already picked up on). With the city government arleady taking flack for wanting to build two hugely expensive parking lots downtown, at at least $15M a piece, committing to a third such lot that will in no way be adequate for future needs near downtown is not something I consider completely rational.

GO's own projections see nearly 2000 people a day commuting out of Guelph by 2031, a third of them in the westbound direction. Three 500-stall lots in the downtown core might accomodate that, but downtown business will have a net loss of parking on an investment of at least $45M in multi-level lots if those traffic projections are right. But I must remind all that their projections tend to be conservative. Barrie was projected to have 150 passengers per day, but within two months their 430-stall lot was inadequate to handle the demand. And the world won't stop turning in 2031 when those projections are set for. We have no allowance for parking in 2046 or 2075 or 2109, when more heavily developped areas will have to be bulldozed to make way for service that is nearly back to the levels we had in 1917.

Having the city of Guelph commit to funding GO's parking is a far from ideal solution, reflects continued poor advance planning, and is something that we will all live to regret. We have opportunities now that will not exist in 5, 10, 20, 100 years to make getting in and out of Guelph easy for those who need to and, from this PIC, Guelph is opting to take on that responsibility by committing to providing a lot at Neeve St that may be adequate for a couple of years, and releasing GO from the responsibility of providing parking for the Guelph market.

GO'so PIC itself is almost entirely positive, aside from this huge thorn Guelph has inserted into its own side for no apparent reason, laying out plans for expanded bi-directional service to Kitchener, with track upgrades, longer sidings, and eventually double tracking of the Guelph subdivision through the entire service area.

Bi-directional service is integral to the success of transit in and around Guelph. Guelph and Kitchener are the big commuter markets to eachother, and the expansion of transit service between the cities should be a much higher priority than the construction of a $400M divided highway between them (which is getting under way this year). The fact that GO is considering bi-directional service is a positive sign that it will evolve into a more comprehensive commuter service, not focused on getting everyone to Toronto Union Station, but just on getting people where they need to go.

Earlier signs that this service would not immediately go all the way to Kitchener seem to not be there any more. Service as far west as possible is important and this PIC reflects that reality. The comment period is short, with a deadline of February 27th, though this EA process has not set up its own website as some others have. Refer to the PDF linked to at the start of this entry for how to comment.

Posted at 06:01 on February 13, 2009

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