What they gave you with their left hand they will take away from you with their right hand.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2018



Earlier in the month the provincial government announced reductions in the cost of some GO transit services
What they are giving you with their right hand is going to be taken away with the left hand.

Premier Wynne announced last week that the cost of a trip on a GO train was going to be less.

GO train Go Bold

How you get from your house to the GO station is something you might want to re-think.

Beginning in early 2019, the province is reducing the cost of GO Transit trips to just $3 for PRESTO users who are travelling under 10 kilometres anywhere on the GO network. Ten km wouild get you from the Aldershot station to the Burlington station – no deal there.

All GO Transit and Union-Pearson Express trips anywhere within the City of Toronto will be reduced to $3

What the Minister didn’t say was that at some point in the not too distant future the free parking at GO stations was going to come to an end.

Additional parking space is going to be created at the Aldershot GO station but that, apparently, is going to be the last parking spot created at a GO station in the Burlington area.

It costs MetroLinx a reported $40,000 for every parking space they provide (no breakout on just how that cost was arrived at – but let’s take them at their word for the moment) and they just can’t afford to create parking space for that price. And the land needed isn’t really available.

The solution: They are going to dissuade people from driving to the GO stations by making people pay for a parking spot. The howling on that one when the details are announced will be louder than the public reaction to that New Street Diet.

Not to worry – don’t expect an announcement on having to pay for parking before the provincial election.

After, tighten your grip on your wallet and think about other ways to get to the GO station.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, reflections, observations and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

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4 comments to What they gave you with their left hand they will take away from you with their right hand.

  • Chris Ariens

    Charging for parking doesn’t necessarily have to mean an addition to the current fare.

    Splitting the fare between cost of train travel and cost of providing parking facilities for riders who drive to the station to store their cars is a good deal more fair than the current situation, where those who leave their car behind pay the same fare as those who don’t. They are two different services.

    Parking has value. When something of value is given away for free, it gets used more than needed. That’s the situation we have with GO now. Over half of GO transit riders live within 5 km of their station, but the vast majority take the car every day and don’t consider other ways of getting there.

    As GO ridership grows, there just isn’t the space, or the money to continue going the way things are today. This is made absolutely clear from the latest planning report. Metrolinx is already the largest parking provider in the GTA by a long run. Expanding the service to serve more riders means that they have to either buy land (now expensive) and expand parking garages at >$40K a space, or those riders have to use other means to get to stations. Simple math. The best way to encourage that change is to split the fares. People who bike, walk or transit to the stations would pay less. And this makes proximity to the transit station more attractive, for both employers and for residents, not to mention taking car traffic off the roads.

    By just charging for parking without an offsetting reduction in the train fare, what inevitably will happen is ridership will fall. No policymakers want that, nor do commuters, who are already stretched with the cost of commuting – over $350/month from Burlington at present. This would be counter-productive if the goal is to encourage use of transit. With the 15 minute service that’s coming, we’ll see more people switching to commute both directions. That will pressure parking availability at our GO transit stations immensely. Would there be cheaters who try to buck the system by parking on nearby residential or commercial streets? Most likely, but the city is certainly within its right to be proactive in enforcing the rules.

  • Steve

    The move to try and get more people commuting to Toronto on the GO train are only harmed by charging for parking at GO stations. Local transit options are not sufficient at this point and look likely to not be for many years, if ever. It seems like both municipal and provincial levels of government want to believe in these imaginary people that will simply accept any level of inconvenience and cost so they can continue taking the train, I hate to break it to them but they will not.

    If you add and 2 hours of riding the bus just to get to the train station they’ll just say screw it and drive all the way in. If you add hundreds of dollars of parking charges they’ll say screw it and just spend the extra time driving and put that money towards parking in Toronto.

    They seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how people operate. People are attracted towards things that are better services, not by making their current life worse. They think that the increased frequency of GO trains will get people out of their cars but at rush hour there is service basically every 15 minutes already. It’s not frequency that gets people on the train it’s the time and cost savings. Make it take way longer to get to the station or make the cost far higher by charging for parking and they won’t be on it anymore.

  • Dayna W

    Another problem of the pay-for-parking model is that it will encourage people to park on the city streets that may still be free. We already have the problem of the Aldershot GO Station parking overflowing on to Masonry Court (up and down the entire right side of the street) and then sometimes people illegally parking in business lots along Cooke.

    This creates extra work for the City to take on (and more money in their pockets too), because they get to ticket illegal parkers. But it also means that the City has to field more complaints from residents and their by-law enforcement office either has to hire more people or is spread thin, as the case may be.

    I am sympathetic to the parkers because they’re trying to use mass transit like the City and Province keep telling them to, but they are not supplied enough spaces to park. So, they park on Masonry Court and maybe they park near the corner of Cooke Blvd and Masonry which is illegal and they end up with a ticket.

    I am glad that the Aldershot GO Station lot will be getting the expansion it needed years ago, but we’re going to run into the same problem all over again with the pay-to-park situation. Glad you’re covering this issue!

  • Stephen White

    I travelled GO Transit to work in Toronto for over 35 years and can confirm is that there are many commuters who use this service who commute by car to GO Stations from places like Waterdown, Brantford, Grimsby, St. Catharines and Cambridge. With the increase in home prices locally many commuters are moving farther afield in order to buy affordable housing. If you now start asking them to pay for parking at GO Transit you significantly increase their commuting costs which, by the way, can easily exceed $300 per month, and we haven’t even factored into the equation the costs associated with gas, maintenance, insurance and depreciation on a car. Add into the mix the fact that the Trudeau government took away the transportation tax credit which the Harper government introduced and you a significant hit to commuters’ pocketbook.

    This is what happens when you have ideologues formulate public policy in a vacuum with limited regard to the needs of constituents and the realities of a situation. Hmmm…come to think of it, I could apply this statement to a number of things going on in Burlington right now and not just GO Transit parking: OP, Mobility Hubs, New Street Road Diet, downtown redevelopment, etc.