Waterloo Region commuters get mixed news
GO Transit is expanding service between Kitchener and Toronto, adding trains to the existing GO bus service.
The new trains are expected to begin service by the end of 2011, running between Toronto and Kitchener with stops in Guelph and Acton.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leanna Pendergast says "We're expanding GO rail service from Georgetown to the Region of Waterloo."
The service is expected to begin with two morning trains from Kitchener to Toronto, and two return trains later in the day. The total capacity of the two trains departing Kitchener will be about 2,500 passengers.
Work on improvements to stations along the way, and to build a layover for the trains in Kitchener, is expected to begin shortly.
Metrolinx President Bruce McCuaig says "We are spending $1.4 billion in the Georgetown corridor from Union Station into the Brampton area to provide more track, better track, so we can get more service out through the Georgetown corridor."
GO bus service to Toronto was launched just over a year ago, with a pledge that trains could soon be on track to fulfill increasing demand for public transit. The improved service is also expected to compliment existing rail options.
GO Transit President Gary McNeil says "We're trying not to compete with VIA, we're actually trying to complement VIA so that the community actually has overall more train service."
There has been some discussion of extending GO trains into Stratford, but there is reportedly still work to be done before that can happen.
McCuaig says "There are some challenges with that and that's why we've chosen to go with a temporary facility here in the Kitchener area, we think that's a much quicker way to get us to service in the next year."
News not positive for commuters to Guelph
Drivers who commute between Kitchener and Guelph will have to wait a few more years to see plans for a new Highway 7 get underway.
Over 20,000 people travel the stretch of the highway between the two cities every day, but Ontario says the project is just too expensive.
While the province will continue to buy land for the highway, Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne says "We're dealing with an economic reality that at this point a $400 million project right now is not something we can take on."
Rae Gale is a regular commuter on Highway 7 and says "I think it's terrible. It's a dangerous road, they travel fast, they travel bumper to bumper."
The news comes despite the fact that plans to build a new highway or widen it have been in the works for 20 years.
Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer say it's unacceptable, "people depend on that highway…expected that the construction would have been well underway by now and to postpone that project indefinitely beyond 2014 is totally unbelievable."
Meanwhile the cost of building the new road, a four lane highway north of the existing stretch of road, is expected to continue to rise. The estimate has double in the last five years.