Union Station revitalization stops commuters in their tracks

By Mallory Chate

bay concourse featured image

Students and commuters have to learn new routes while the Bay Street concourse undergoes renovations. (Kira Wakeam/Ryersonian Staff)

It’s a new world for Ryerson commuters this year, as they get in the swing of navigating through Union Station after the closure of the Bay Street concourse.

The concourse will be closed for renovations until 2017 as part of the Union Station revitalization project. Until then, commuters will have to get used to some of the new changes, including accessing GO trains from the renovated York Street concourse instead.

“I’m also an individual with no sense of direction, so without a doubt it’s going to take some time getting used to and learning which way to go in order to find the new York concourse,” said second-year creative industries student Claudia Yung.

She travels from Mississauga to Ryerson on the Lakeshore West GO line, and says that the renovations have made commuting more complicated. Yung’s biggest challenge has been re-learning her routes to fit with the changes that followed the closing of the concourse.

“I previously memorized where to get on at each platform for doors to open right at the door I needed to exit at when pulling into my station at Clarkson,” she said. “But now, I basically have to re-learn that.”

She isn’t the only student confused by the changes. First-year business management student Sabeeka Zaidi travels from Ajax and felt anxious her first time commuting but says all of the staff at GO were friendly and helpful.

“I can understand the frustration of those who used it all the time and eventually had to figure out alternative routes due to the changes,” said Zaidi.

Apart from York concourse serving as the new platform for GO transit, all food and drink shops have been shut down as a result of the closure. Most of them won’t be returning once the renovations are finished.

Mark Ostler, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that the closure is a big step in the revitalization project, and the goal is to create a more efficient platform that holds a bigger capacity for transit users.

“The renovation will increase the total size of the Bay GO Concourse from 40,000 sq. feet to 61,000 sq. feet.There will also be enhanced retail services giving customers more options and variety,” said Ostler.

The Bay concourse renovations will include an entirely new look filled with new businesses. Until then, many restaurants have set up booths as part of the Front Street Market in front of Union Station. It will be open until Sept. 27 and includes popular restaurants like Uncle Tetsu, Fresh Off The Boat and Holy Chuck burger.

Ostler added that once renovations are finished, GO users can expect a platform three times bigger than what they are used to, an accessible concourse area and increased options for customer service.

Read below for a Storify roundup of social media’s reaction to the Union Station changes.

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