Metrolinx officials say, 'there's a lot more to come'
It was a big day for transit in Niagara as the first of Go Transit's daily trains from Niagara Falls to Toronto left the station this morning.
It was still dark as the train opened the doors in Niagara Falls just before 5:20 a.m. with around 50 people already waiting on the platform.
Metrolinx officials were on hand as the crowd climbed aboard, and spokesperson Matt Llewellyn says, "This is the first step and, of course, we're always looking to expand service and so I'll just say to all the listeners out there, I know this train is early, but stay tuned, hopefully we'll have some more news."
After leaving Niagara Falls, the train made a stop in St. Catharines where one of the next people to climb aboard was St. Catharines' Mayor Walter Sendzik.
Sendzik said he believes the service will be well used. "I had to park in the overflow so I'm going to say 30 - 50 people were there, some of them were just there to take the maiden voyage, and then there were others that I talked to who said, no I'm going to downtown Toronto. I've got a job in downtown Toronto and I'm going to use this system."
One of those people looking forward to taking the train to work everyday is Joanne McKee. She says she lives in Niagara, but rents a property in Toronto because the commute to her job at Ryerson University can be challenging. "If the train service continues and there's commitment, I will stop renting and commute daily."
Sendzik believes the train brings plenty of opportunity to the region. "We're going to have much more interest now coming into the Niagara marketplace, you're going to have more people continuing to look at Niagara as a place to live, and I do think you're going to have businesses that are going to look at Niagara as an opportunity to invest, to expand their business, to look at Niagara as a market they can move to, and that they have connectivity to the GTA, so it's a benefit all around."
Critics of the daily train service from Niagara Falls have keyed in on the fact that there is only one train each way per day; the train leaves Niagara Falls at 5:19 a.m. and departs Toronto's Union Station at 5:15 p.m.
Chief Operating Officer Metrolinx Greg Percy acknowledges those concerns, "We need to give people in Niagara train choice, both coming into Toronto and going home again. So this is just the beginning, and there's a lot more to come, but it will take some time. We'll add service as the ridership grows."