Slowly but surely Metrolinx is becoming a household brand-name as it offers greater visibility for it’s exciting expansions of Ontario’s mass-transit infrastructure. Through new services in it’s operational GO Transit division, which is already very well known to all Commuters here in Southern Ontario, Metrolinx is also making a big push to break away from the commuting pack into much more leisurely and adventurous modes of rail travel as well. Not only can GO Transit enthuse weekend sightseers, but it’s also purposely re-geared itself for the pleasures of cycling as well. Most obviously with the provision of specially equipped trains that can carry our bikes down to spectacular routes and scenery that surround Niagara Falls!
GO Transit now offers an additional trip on Friday evenings to facilitate longer weekend getaways both down to The Falls, as well as offering a quick weekend train trip in the opposite direction back into Toronto from the Niagara Peninsula. From June 24 to September 5th passengers can take their bikes along to tour The Falls and Vineyards of this famous wine-growing area at no extra charge! So let’s consider the new experiences that easy service opens up to even the most casual cycling enthusiast…
One of the Big Moves being mapped out by the Ontario Government’s public transit planning arm called Metrolinx, is a bold initiative called Air Rail Link (ARL) which promises to finally connect Toronto’s downtown core with Pearson International Airport via a dedicated express train…All in time for the 2015 Pan American Games! Just to make things really challenging though, Metrolinx is also trying to implement electrified services along it’s key corridors which include a stretch of the railway route that will service the ARL, so this means selecting new locomotives that can go into service for 2015 that won’t be outdated by the electrification of this rail corridor . So effectively, the ARL project has become a lightning rod for concerns about transit expansion, railway electrification, new diesel technology, dedicated passenger rail lines, and all the political, bureacratic, and technical challenges that go along with it as well. So if the ARL is indeed to become a model project for the Future of transit and rail travel in the GTA, what stands in the way of this happening in the Present?
Well here we are on the first day of December, on the first day of Rob Ford’s mayoral mandate, and already we’re provided with the first examples of the kinds of media events and posturing that will either draw the first jeers of ridicule for the new regime, or the first signs of suburban solidarity from the 50% of Torontonians who brought Ford to power…Depending on which side of the tracks you’re sitting when the Rob Ford’s gravy-less train to municipal prosperity either rolls past, away from, or right over your neighborhood in it’s headlong rush to dismantle everything that doesn’t sit well with the new administration at City Hall.
If first impressions are anything to base our outlook on, then today’s events should be a telling reminder of what we can look forward to during at least one term of reactionary, pandering, and short-sighted politics here in Toronto, and the backlash driven political desires of it’s dispossessed suburbs.
Whether we’re dealing with the results of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, or the U.S. Recovery Plan….Anybody who’s had to use roadways during the hot and dusty Summer of 2010 isn’t about to soon forget the ravaged pavement surfaces and miserable traffic congestion created by all the government sponsored stimulus projects. This is because most of them are are still clogging up our roads in their ongoing efforts to presumably continue stimulating the economy, as well as testing our personal patience with their lengthy reparations.
Ironically, even though these private and public works projects were designed to keep key sectors of the economy well primed with cash, and the economy rolling along, during this time most North-Americans had no idea that the entire Industry almost came to a screeching halt due to a critical shortage in the supply of road and highway paint…A shortage that not only threatened to block the completion of those endless road projects, but which also hinted at some even bigger industrial concerns further up the supply chain. This supply issue tips us off to an even bigger story that goes far beyond the possibility of a cash grab by suppliers and contractors during a public-backed construction boom…and actually points to some fascinating possibilities in the Future.
Most people are pretty good at thinking on their feet, but nobody’s arguing that we couldn’t use better set protocols to fall back on as well…Especially when trying to avoid dangerous urban traffic snags, or at least unsnarling any incidents with an added measure of basic diplomacy. But how do we optimize the flow, and smooth the social bumps, without conceding our freedom and Autonomy to some vision of greater “efficiency”. Some pre-Orwellian version Central Traffic Control that safely auto-pilots us around within rails and fences like well-tempered livestock…
Deep down, most people might prefer being enabled with better social protocols available to them when it comes to negotiating their way through traffic. Systems that don’t dictate, but rather relate conditions (such as who arrived first at an intersection!) in a more universally effective fashion without needing to rely on systems that need to change the world around us first.
Unfortunately, popularised use of public CB Radio never made it past the 70’s, so the only usable ‘public broadcast’ tools that we have on the road are a handful of visual signals, and our crude but effectively alarming horns and bells. Nevertheless, since Cyclists still have the most safety to lose in any traffic mêlées, let’s pause to consider a communications experiment that involves our existing but oddly underused bike bells…Rather than just ringing them willy-nilly without rhythm or good reason.
Go Transit is a name that’s been synonymous with ‘commuting’ since it was first established by the Government of Ontario in 1967. Most Commuters in Southern Ontario are already quite familiar with the essential services provided through GO Transit to nearly 55 million passengers a year via a transport network that spans over 10,000 square kilometers. Yet many might still be surprised to learn just how progressively expansive the reach of the entire organization really is, just by peering behind the scenes to see what’s being projected (and already underway!) within Metrolinx – The overseeing and organizing agency for GO Transit, which provisions us all with an enormous operating network of trusted GO trains and buses!
Metrolinx isn’t household brand-name (yet!), much less one that’s synonymous with casual weekend getaways and bicycle touring excursions. However, through it’s operational GO Transit division, which is indeed very well known to all Commuters here in Southern Ontario, Metrolinx has provided the GO trains with a big push to surpass their trusted role as the mover of work-a-day Ontarians, and break away from the commuting pack into a much more leisurely and adventurous class of rail travel. The best part of this service expansion is that it won’t just enthuse Sightseers, but it’s also purposely geared towards the pleasure of Cyclists as well, with the provision of specially equipped trains to carry bikes down to expansive scenery that surrounds Niagara Falls!
After last Summers successful inauguration of ZIP train service into the Niagara Region, GO Transit hopes to augment last years total of over 50,000 weekend passengers by adding an additional trip on Friday evenings to facilitate longer weekend getaways both to The Falls, as well as offering a quick weekend train trip in the opposite direction back into Toronto from the Peninsula. From May 21 to September 26 passengers can not only avoid all traffic, and effortlessly get to the magnificent sights, routes, and attractions of the area in about 2 hours, but new for this season, they can also take their bikes along to tour The Falls and Vineyards of this famous wine-growing area as well at no extra charge! As such, you might be very surprised by the easy options that this service opens up to even the most average Cycling enthusiast…