Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Recent improvements and expansion at the Unionville GO station will result in increased accessibility and faster travel times for local commuters.
The many changes along the 17-kilometre Stouffville-Toronto line will help accommodate ongoing population growth and the need for more efficient and versatile transportation options for commuters.
Enhancements to the Unionville station include the addition of 286 new parking spots, safe pedestrian walkways throughout the parking lot, new ramps from the parking lot to the station, and a bicycle storage room.
New pedestrian tunnels and elevators offer enhanced accessibility to the expanded platform system that offers protection from the elements with canopies, integrated shelters, and built-in snow melting systems. Improved signage and lighting throughout the entire station provide improved convenience and safety.
The addition of a five-kilometre-long second track and a new turnaround track allows trains to travel in both directions. It will enable a substantial increase in the number of trips the line can run, with the potential for service to triple from 50 to 170 trips per week.
While the expansion is happening to accommodate increased passenger volume resulting from population growth, the potential impact of COVID-19 is yet to be determined. The pandemic has caused over two years of dismal demand for public transit due to work-at-home arrangements.
As of June 2022, GO Transit has regained 50 per cent of pre-pandemic riders due to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, more in-person events, and a gradual return to office work.
“We are keeping a close eye on trends during recovery, and we know it will take time to recover,” explains James Wattie, senior advisor for Metrolinx. “We are addressing those new trends and making it easier and more affordable to take transit for leisure activities.”
GO Transit is currently offering discounted weekend travel e-tickets as one incentive.
The completion target date for the Stouffville-Toronto line expansion is 2025.
The project includes electrification of the corridor to accommodate an electric train fleet, the addition of a second track and signals, plus improvements to stations and railway crossings.
A 400 per cent increase in line service capacity will accommodate demand growing from 1,500 to 6,000 trips per week. The aim is to offer convenience to riders with increased accessibility, improved amenities and faster travel times while benefiting our environment.
A cleaner and more sustainable electric operating train system plus the reduction in the number of cars on the roads will minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
Photo: Integrated shelters, canopies, and an expanded platform are among the recent enhancements at the Unionville GO station.