City eyes second GO station
Allandale property a possible site
Posted 1 day ago
Barrie could be getting a second GO train station sooner rather than later.
City councillors will discuss developing the Allandale Station property as a commuter train venue at Monday’s meeting.
A business plan could be ready as soon as May 31, and then sent to the province.
Couns. Jeff Lehman and Jerry Moore say that higher-than-expected ridership on Barrie’s GO trains, which leave and return from the St. Paul’s station on weekdays, means a second site should be investigated by city staff immediately.
Lehman says the current ridership could be increased.
“I think there are a lot of people in the north, east, and central parts of the city who have a 20- or 30-minute drive to get to the Barrie-south (St. Paul’s) station,” he said. “Once you’re in your car for half an hour, I’m guessing a lot of people just say, ‘to heck with it’, and drive all the way (to work, and don’t take the train).”
Greg Ashbee, of GO Transit, said
St. Paul’s was chosen as the primary train station because most of its customers live in Barrie’s south end.
“But a secondary station serving the downtown area is certainly worth a look,” he said. “If the city is willing to put some money into it, certainly we would be interested.”Lehman says Allandale Station is
also inside Barrie’s ‘City Centre’ area, which the province and the city have both designated for development intensification.
“This means there will be more people living in the area who can walk, bike, or take Barrie Transit to the (Allandale) station,” he said. “The presence of the station will also probably help us attract more development.”
Lehman said stations in Oakville and Hamilton have helped attract development to those immediate areas.
“All of this I would expect to increase ridership — to attract people who aren’t taking GO today,” he said.
A GO Transit official said that while new Barrie ridership numbers won’t be released until next week, it’s estimated about 500 people are using St. Paul’s each weekday. In mid-January, that number was about 400 riders.
“I think the ridership is higher than anticipated already because conditions on the 400 (highway) are worse than they were in the past,” Lehman said. “It’s now faster to take the train,
not to mention safer, and much, much cheaper.”
He says this wasn’t the case when Barrie had a GO train in the early 1990s. There are also four trains out in the morning now, four back in the evening.
Personal technology also makes commuting more attractive now.
“More people are working with laptops and BlackBerrys today — which means time on the train is useful time — so taking the train means you get three hours of your working life back, or allows you to read, relax, etc.,” Lehman said. “All of this means more people are choosing transit.”
He says a second GO station is important to help spur revitalization of the Allandale area, provide further transit service to Barrie residents, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give people an alternative to driving on the 400.
Lehman says since the original project to return GO trains to Barrie included federal and provincial funding, he would be looking for similar cost-sharing here.
“The nice thing about this project is that the capital costs should be very, very low — just a concrete platform, a ticket machine, and a parking facility,” he said.
While Allandale Station has always been planned as a second GO site, there was no definitive timetable. But city staff and GO did include the station in the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the St. Paul’s layover yard — so it’s already approved, Lehman said.
The motion councillors will be considering Monday will ask that the Allandale Station business plan include its capital and operating costs, ridership benefits and how it would fit into development plans for the area.
A meeting with GO officials and Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll would also be arranged. Barrie MP Patrick Brown would be kept in the loop, as well.
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