More than one-third of local tech workers commute from Toronto: city
Commuting from Waterloo Region to Toronto is no picnic.
Heavy traffic is a constant. Estimating an arrival time is nearly impossible. And that’s without taking into account the steady stream of collisions complicating the matter further.
But what about people coming in the other direction?
According to the City of Kitchener, a typical day sees 10,000 more people leave the Greater Toronto Area to work in Waterloo Region than do their commute the other way around.
That number includes a little more than one-third of the region’s tech workforce – people like Brandon Riddell, who says it can be an arduous task.
“I can try my best to navigate around traffic, but … no matter what, I’m always hitting traffic,” he said.
Riddell works flexible hours, which he says makes it difficult to work carsharing, public transit or anything other than driving into his commute.
In the past, he lived and worked in the Greater Toronto Ara and was able to take GO Transit to work.
That would still be his preference, he says – both for environmental reasons and because he was able to get things done during his commute in those days.
“It wasn’t just idle time sitting behind the wheel,” he said.
Stories like his can help explain why Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and other local officials continue to push for more GO trains running between the region and Toronto.
Currently, two trains leave Kitchener in the morning and two trains arrive from Toronto in the evening.
Calls for increased service have been heard for years, and the province has listened to an extent.
Four more trips are expected to be added in 2016, although specific details have never been made public.
Vrbanovic was at Kitchener’s train station early Wednesday morning to talk to commuters about increasing service – and ask them to make it a federal election issue.
GO Transit is funded by the province, but Vrbanovic said the federal government still has a role to play in that it can fund needed improvements to the rail line itself.
“The business plan for this is built around economic development, and growing jobs in the Toronto-to-Waterloo Region tech corridor,” he told reporters.
“We want to make sure that this region can continue to prosper.”
His message resonated with train riders like Jason Robe, who described Highway 401 as “mayhem” and said he’d like to see more frequent train service.
“There’s a lot of people who get stranded out there,” he said.
Vrbanovic said that a lack of GO trains between Waterloo Region and Toronto are often cited by local tech companies as the biggest constraint on their growth.