- Jun 14, 2011
- Reaction score
Again...those are single point destinations and the bus runs right to them. Using Algonquin as an example, the closest the train gets to Algonquin is Huntsville.....32km to the south east of Algonquin Outfitters at the southern tip of the park. So still needing some transport to get to the park...about 30 minutes by road along 60....if I recall the Northlander was scheduled for a bit more than 3 hours to get to Huntsville (never experienced it being on time and my longest journey was a bit more than 4 1/2 hours)....so allowing for transfer time at the station...a train to bus (or other modern "last 32km solution") has a travel time of about 4 hours.....parkbus takes 4 hours to the same location without any transfers (and the uncertainty they present).
I am all for spreading economic wealth throughout Ontario and encouraging local tourism (vs spending money overseas). We need more opportunities for people to explore the towns and cities around Toronto who don't have a car (Huntsville, Stratford, KW/St Jacobs, Niagara, Kingston, etc). And if there is a way to do it without blowing the bank even the better. Huntsville may be the best bet (after Niagara).
There are a lot of families who stay up in Huntsville area over the summer while one person works downtown (so the kids/spouse can afford the cottage). If the target market is this spouse the last mile is not the problem. They will be met at the station.
To get to Huntsville it normally takes 2.5 hours. On a Friday it will take between 3.5 and 4.5 hours if you leave at 4:30pm. Plus bringing a second car up to the cottage (if you have a second car).
GO does have lots of train sets sitting empty after 6pm. If you continued an existing Richmond Hill train north that was out of service at the end of the day Friday then the capex would be minimal. It would only have operating costs.
If they can make it to Huntsville in 3.5 hours there would likely be summer demand. The Ontario Northland schedule was 3 hours (but GO will have to make its regular stops along the route so 3.5 is reasonable). It can stop at Rama (replacing Washago), Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville. The existing GO stops can be used by people not working downtown to get to the service and park for the weekend.
The bigger resorts (Deerhurst, Marriott, etc) would likely run a shuttle (and advertise it for those living downtown without a car). A second target market can be kids going to summer camp....to ease the parents concern you can have each camp reserve the top floor and have an employee or two start the camp experience on the train (get to know each other games). And there would not be locals trying to make a few extra bucks (quite a few are struggling) by offering a shuttle to a cottage.
Schedule would be one train out of Union around 5pm on Friday. Back Sunday night (leaving around 5pm). If there is demand there can be a second train on Sat AM (leaving at 8:30am) and returning Monday AM (5:30am to get to Union at 9am).
Of course there is the cost of having crew up in Huntsville over the weekend (or transporting them back to Toronto). Probably purchase a mini-van for them to use to get them back (stays in Huntsville over the weekdays).