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2009 and 2010 GO Ridership Figures

canarob

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Last year I emailed GO for a breakdown of 2008 ridership by line because this was not included in GO's annual report as in previous years (http://urbantoronto.ca/showthread.php?11077-2008-GO-Ridership-Figures).

This year I emailed Metrolinx and they sent me figures for both 2009 and 2010. The biggest surprise is that ridership on Lakeshore East still hasn't recovered to its 2008 peak. Also, you can really see how the recession stalled system-wide growth. Otherwise, Barrie growing the fastest between 08-09 and Milton growing the fastest between 09-10 are hardly surprising results.

The format I'm using is 2010 Figure (Change over 2009) | 2009 Figure (Change over 2008) | 2008 Figure | 2001 Figure (Change from 2001 to 2010). 2001 figures are the oldest I have.

Barrie: 3,462,500 (5.16%) | 3,292,600 (6.73%) | 3,084,900 | 1,153,500 (200.17%)
Stouffville: 3,597,900 (6.97%) | 3,363,600 (1.96%) | 3,299,100 | 1,384,500 (159.87%)
Richmond Hill: 2,330,700 (1.89%) | 2,287,500 (0.81%) | 2,269,200 | 1,774,500 (31.34%)
Georgetown: 4,634,200 (6.79%) | 4,339,700 (0.55%) | 4,315,800 | 3,030,000 (52.94%)
Milton: 7,348,200 (7.67%) | 6,824,900 (1.75%) | 6,707,600 | 4,766,500 (54.16%)
Lakeshore East: 11,818,800 (1.41%) | 11,654,800 (-3.20%) | 12,040,200 | 10,428,500 (13.33%)
Lakeshore West: 14,849,600 (1.96%) | 14,564,000 (-1.37%) | 14,766,700 | 12,468,500 (19.10%)

Train & Related subtotal: 48,041,900 (3.70%) | 46,327,100 (-0.34%) | 46,483,500 | 35,006,000 (37.24%)

GO Bus subtotal: 9,056,100 (5.67%) | 8,570,400 (4.53%) | 8,199,100 | 8,333,610 (8.67%*)

*Note: 2001 GO bus figure includes Langstaff route that was transferred to YRT

Total: 57,098,000 (4.01%) | 54,897,500 (0.39%) | 54,682,600 | 43,339,610 (31.75%)

2008-2010 Increase in Number of Riders

Barrie: 377,600
Stouffville: 298,800
Richmond Hill: 61,500
Georgetown: 318,400
Milton: 640,600
Lakeshore East: -221,400
Lakeshore West: 82,900

As a Stouffville rider, I don't want to hear about half-hour frequencies on Lakeshore until we at least get something close to all-day service (and weekend trains!). I'm sure Barrie, Georgetown and Milton riders would agree!

2001-2010 Increase in Number of Riders

Barrie: 2,309,000
Stouffville: 2,213,400
Richmond Hill: 556,200
Georgetown: 1,604,200
Milton: 2,581,700
Lakeshore East: 1,390,300
Lakeshore West: 2,381,100
 

adeel

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Another stouffville rider here...really hoping all day service comes around some time sooon
 

nfitz

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As a Stouffville rider, I don't want to hear about half-hour frequencies on Lakeshore until we at least get something close to all-day service (and weekend trains!). I'm sure Barrie, Georgetown and Milton riders would agree!
The province of Ontario has been promising an increase in Lakeshore frequencies for nearly 40 years. Your not concerned about broken promises? If not, then GO 2020 might not occur until 2060!
 

canarob

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The province of Ontario has been promising an increase in Lakeshore frequencies for nearly 40 years. Your not concerned about broken promises? If not, then GO 2020 might not occur until 2060!
My point was just that the other lines are absorbing far more growth and need improved service before we start running half-empty trains off-peak every half hour on Lakeshore. I feel the same way about extending the lines to more distant areas. It's a great idea, but let's work on serving existing riders first.
 

kEiThZ

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What explains the drop in ridership on Lakeshore East? Surely, it's not just the recession.
 

Platform 27

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What explains the drop in ridership on Lakeshore East? Surely, it's not just the recession.
I think there's got to be a bit underlying demography at play there.

In terms of raw population growth, Durham Region has been growing significantly slower than much of the rest of 905. Between 2005 and 2010, not only was Durham's cumulative growth rate roughly half of somewhere like York or Halton, but you can also see the rate of growth levelling off over that span.

Furthermore, the new residential growth in Durham has either been on the northern fringes of Pickering/Ajax/Whitby/Oshawa or in Courtice/Bowmanville, which are relatively less convenient in geographic terms to feed into GO stations compared to new growth in places like Brampton, Markham or Milton. To get from a new subdivision in Ajax to the GO station, you're fighting your way southwards on the roads through the entire existing built-up area and the associated local traffic. Stations like Mt. Joy and Mt. Pleasant have been right in the thick of new home construction during these last few years and are presumably better placed to draw new riders from greenfield growth than an Ajax or a Pickering station.

However, that alone shouldn't explain net declines on Lakeshore East, only slower growth.

If you were to look at how the recession affected employment levels int the Toronto CBD in 08/09 you would likely see existing GO riders on all seven lines getting laid off and dropping out of the ridership figures. However, while those seats were being re-filled as fast as they were being vacated in areas of high residential growth, that wasn't the case along Lakeshore East.

Similarly, one thing that's worth remembering is that those 2008 ridership numbers were at least to some extent pushed to where they were by the fact that gas prices were at a high and the financial case for taking GO was never stronger up until that September. The recession meant gas prices fell (while GO fares did not), which might have nudged some folks back into their cars across the network. Again, while there was pent-up demand to fill those seats back up as they became available, there was comparatively less pent-up demand on Lakeshore East.
 
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smallspy

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One point of note of those ridership numbers...

Milton's ridership was more-or-less stagnant since 2003 or so - basically every single train was operating at or above capacity, and they couldn't stuff more people in. The sudden large increase in 2009 was due to the switch to 12-car trains, and the immediate increase in corridor capacity by 20%.

If you look at the numbers year-to-year going back to 2006 or so, you'll note that there are always huge ridership increases on the lines where more services are added, and then they plateau quickly as the excess capacity fills. Kind of like highway capacity.

Dan
Toronto, Ont.
 

unimaginative2

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Milton is maybe even better suited to more service than Georgetown. The need is pretty desperate and it's really a shame that CP seems to be such a pain in the ass for GO. We've added so many tracks but there doesn't seem to be any commensurate increase in service. GO definitely needs a pair of tracks of its own, at least as far as Lisgar.
 

Mapleson

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Milton is maybe even better suited to more service than Georgetown. The need is pretty desperate and it's really a shame that CP seems to be such a pain in the ass for GO. We've added so many tracks but there doesn't seem to be any commensurate increase in service. GO definitely needs a pair of tracks of its own, at least as far as Lisgar.
Why is it that CP is being "a pain in the ass"? They are only running their business as a business. Which should come first making money by doing your core business or selling excess capacity to third parties? GO/Metrolinx is going through the motions to work out all the corridor upgrades needed and doing their business case and environmental assessments.

For both the Stouville and Milton lines the largest capacity constraint beyond track slots is actually yards. On the Milton line they are looking at adding a two-train layover in Cambridge. Full-day two-way service is going to cost around $1.5 billion. On the Stouville line they've almost completed the new bus and train layover. There is plans to work towards all-day service on all the lines, but it'll take at least 10-15 years to get all the grade seperations and passenger rail tracks build to support it.
 

lesouris

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My point was just that the other lines are absorbing far more growth and need improved service before we start running half-empty trains off-peak every half hour on Lakeshore. I feel the same way about extending the lines to more distant areas. It's a great idea, but let's work on serving existing riders first.
While I agree that increased service for existing riders is essential, Lakeshore West does have tremendous potential. Unlike other GO lines, it does have the 9th largest city in the country at its terminus, and increased service to Hamilton could drive up counter-peak ridership, especially if gas prices continue to skyrocket and that the huge economic/cultural potential for Hamilton's core begins to be realized (something made more likely with investments in transit like full-day GO service, extensions into its Western suburbs, and the planned LRT network). Of course it could take years, possibly even decades, for that potential to materialize fully by which time developments in Southern Etobicoke, Port Credit, Clarkson, and Oakville Midtown (not to mention Northern Oakville) will already be driving up demand - each of these developments made more attractive by more frequent service).

I'd like to see some station-specific ridership numbers, but I'd suspect one reason for the stagnant numbers on Lakeshore East also has to do with what's going on in Scarborough in addition to Durham. Development in Scarborough isn't occuring very much near the Lakeshore line (compared to say Etobicoke), the demographics of the borough are changing, and TTC service is not as integrated with the GO system as it is in the outter suburbs. Even comparing Danforth station to Exhibition, we can see a huge burst of development in the West without much going on in the East (and, when it comes to Danforth, the proximity of the subway might be pulling away potential ridership).

That said, extensions through Oshawa and into Clarington should drive up ridership in the East. Oshawa GO station is too disconnected from the rest of the city to be all that useful for residents, and if you're going to have to drive several kilometres to the station, you might as well just stay on the 401 and take it all the way into Toronto.
 

canarob

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Ok, I agree with increasing service to Hamilton and Oshawa. It was more the Guelph, Kitchener, Peterborough, Niagara, etc., proposed extensions that I think should wait until service is improved on existing lines.
 

smallspy

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Why is it that CP is being "a pain in the ass"? They are only running their business as a business. Which should come first making money by doing your core business or selling excess capacity to third parties? GO/Metrolinx is going through the motions to work out all the corridor upgrades needed and doing their business case and environmental assessments.
CP is being a "pain in the ass" by requiring capacity improvements far above and beyond what is actually necessary. For instance, they require that GO or VIA build a second track into Hamilton before any additional passenger service is instituted. Meanwhile they run but 8 trains a day on that line, so the track is unused for long stretches of time.

Another prime example is the expansion of service on the Milton Line. They have long required that GO build at least a third mainline track should they want to run even limited mid-day service. And this is despite the majority of freight traffic on that line runs east and north of West Toronto, not west.

For both the Stouville and Milton lines the largest capacity constraint beyond track slots is actually yards. On the Milton line they are looking at adding a two-train layover in Cambridge. Full-day two-way service is going to cost around $1.5 billion. On the Stouville line they've almost completed the new bus and train layover. There is plans to work towards all-day service on all the lines, but it'll take at least 10-15 years to get all the grade seperations and passenger rail tracks build to support it.
On the Stouffville line, that's not so. The largest capacity constraint is the signalling system - the yard at Lincolnville is designed for up to 8 trainsets, but any further expansion is useless until they can fit more trains into the rush hour periods. And for that you need CTC.

The yard in Milton is designed for a maximum of 6 storage tracks - 12 trains - and 1 PM bay. There is no capacity constraint there.

Dan
Toronto, Ont.
 

gweed123

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One point of note of those ridership numbers...

Milton's ridership was more-or-less stagnant since 2003 or so - basically every single train was operating at or above capacity, and they couldn't stuff more people in. The sudden large increase in 2009 was due to the switch to 12-car trains, and the immediate increase in corridor capacity by 20%.

If you look at the numbers year-to-year going back to 2006 or so, you'll note that there are always huge ridership increases on the lines where more services are added, and then they plateau quickly as the excess capacity fills. Kind of like highway capacity.

Dan
Toronto, Ont.
This is a very good point. One thing that I'd like to see (although I'm pretty sure it would be very hard to qualify) is the amount of latent demand that each of these corridors has. What I mean by latent demand is the number of people who would potentially use the upgraded service if it was offered.

If the latent demand on the Milton corridor is higher than the latent demand on the Lakeshore corridor, and the cost of implementing the improved service is about the same, the money should go to the Milton corridor. But if investing the same amount of money into the Lakeshore corridor is going to generate twice as many riders, then the economics would dictate that the increased service should go there instead.

I think the question here pretty much boils down to which would generate the greater increase ridership: 1 hr frequencies on the Milton or Georgetown or Stouffville lines, or going to 30 min frequencies on the Lakeshore line? Which corridor(s) have the highest latent demand on them?
 

smallspy

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Has anyone ever seen station by station GO ridership numbers?
Yes, I have several years worth buried away at home. They are not things they make publicly available unless you specifically ask for them.

I've transcribed some of them here: http://www.cptdb.ca/index.php?showtopic=5282&hl=ridership&st=0

This is a very good point. One thing that I'd like to see (although I'm pretty sure it would be very hard to qualify) is the amount of latent demand that each of these corridors has. What I mean by latent demand is the number of people who would potentially use the upgraded service if it was offered.

If the latent demand on the Milton corridor is higher than the latent demand on the Lakeshore corridor, and the cost of implementing the improved service is about the same, the money should go to the Milton corridor. But if investing the same amount of money into the Lakeshore corridor is going to generate twice as many riders, then the economics would dictate that the increased service should go there instead.

I think the question here pretty much boils down to which would generate the greater increase ridership: 1 hr frequencies on the Milton or Georgetown or Stouffville lines, or going to 30 min frequencies on the Lakeshore line? Which corridor(s) have the highest latent demand on them?
I'm sure that some parts of GO have such numbers, although I've never seen them. But I can tell you right now that the capital outlay for improving mid-day service on the Lakeshore lines is virtually nil, whereas all of the other lines have fairly large capital costs due to things like new signalling systems, additional tracks, grade separations, etc. The projected or latent demand on the other lines would have to be pretty damn high to overcome it by those metrics.

Dan
Toronto, Ont.
 
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