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By Taline McPhedran
It can feel like an eternity waiting for GO Transit, but commuting students can look forward to shorter wait and travel times on five rail lines over the next five to 10 years.
The Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East, Stouffville, Kitchener and Barrie lines will travel at 15-minute intervals with new service additions promised by GO Transit — part of major investments in regional transit announced by the Ontario government in this year’s budget.
The lines currently run every 30 minutes to one hour.
On top of the shorter wait for trains, there is a plan to replace the existing diesel-engine fleet by electrifying the rails. This will result in a 20 per cent reduction in travel times, according to the GO Transit.
Students are set to benefit from the more flexible schedules.
“Students aren’t typical commuters who travel from nine to five,” said Matti Siemiatycki, a geography and planning professor at the University of Toronto and a representative of Student Move T.O., an initiative organized by Toronto’s four university presidents to lobby for transit improvements.
“There are too many students that are trying to engage in student life that have to leave early to catch the last train home,” Siemiatycki said.
The alternative to leaving early is missing your train, which can result in spending a lot of extra money and time trying to find a way home, Siemiatycki said.
Only three per cent of students live on campus, while 97 per cent are commuters, according to Ryerson’s website.
The service additions are part of Metrolinx’s Regional Express Rail project that aims to provide “more frequent, convenient GO service” on the existing Metrolinx rail network, according to Mark Ostler, a spokesmen for GO Transit.
Currently, only the Lakeshore West and East lines run at 30-minute intervals with added service during peak hours, while other lines run every hour.
The Milton and Richmond Hill lines will continue to run only during morning and evening rush hours, but will benefit from a 30 per cent increase in trips with additional trains running.
The implementation of the Presto payment card system on all municipal transit systems is also expected to speed commutes.