Niagara Falls volunteers begin welcoming seasonal GO train customers

Barbara Burrows has made it a point to stand on the train platform in downtown Niagara Falls every summer for 10 years now. She volunteers her time regularly to act as an “ambassador” for the city, as visitors arrive by rail during the summer months.

While waving and smiling, Burrows began greeting GO Transit customers, using the seasonal service, by handing out pamphlets with tourist information over the weekend. She was one of a team of people donning green vests and offering directions to attractions on arrival.

“We’re helping and having the people come from Toronto and various other places,” said Burrows. “To see us here, they know that they’re coming to a welcome Niagara Falls.”

Visitors from around the world have been enjoying seasonal, weekend train trips from GO Transit between Toronto and the Niagara region since 2009. During that time, the number of passengers has grown significantly, including a 29% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati says GO trains travelling to and from the city every summer provides a huge boost. “The seasonal service has been a godsend,” he said.

As part of Metrolinx’s GO expansion plans, regular year-round service to Niagara is expected by 2023.

This year, weekend train service is being offered from June 22 to Sept. 3, and during Thanksgiving weekend. Trains running during the summer will have two to four cars with room for eighteen bikes on each.

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Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin welcome cyclists on board GO Transit ‘s regional service to the area June 23, 2018

Eleven bikes were among the 285 passengers to arrive in Niagara Falls on the first train from Toronto on Saturday morning. “Seasonal service was great,” said Matt Colautti. “We were really impressed that the train had four cars for bikes. It was really civilized to lock up and a really comfortable ride.”

Burrows and her team of volunteers, meanwhile, can’t wait for the next chance to greet more visitors and welcome them to the place she calls home.

“It’s a community feeling that I have,” she said. “I like to volunteer and we also want to promote the GO train.”