Whitby Metrolinx Town Hall crowd hears of options to extend GO services to beyond Oshawa

Local residents and community members gathered to ask questions and find out more about transit plans in Durham – including Bowmanville.

Every seat was full. That’s how packed it was inside the room at the Abilities Centre in Whitby on May 2 as Metrolinx hosted another one of its popular community town halls.

From Lakeshore East express trains to track safety to active transportation, there was no holding back on any topic as passionate customers and interested community members stepped to the mic to address Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster and his senior management team.

The biggest talking point was the proposed extension of GO Train services into Bowmanville.  Verster told the gathering Metrolinx is considering four options to extend GO services to go past Oshawa and those new alignment discussions continue with the Region of Durham, Canadian National Rail and Canadian Pacific Rail.

Metrolinx senior management team sits on chairs on the stage at the town hall event.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster and his management team address the sizable crowd in Whitby.

“I think the Bowmanville expansion is very important because the Courtice-Bowmanville area is growing rapidly,” said local resident Melinda Shiers. “There’s no more room to handle the volume in Oshawa.”

She’s been a GO customer for 27 years and came out because she wanted to hear about what’s to come.

Those plans also include better safety measures for level crossings. When asked about safety and rail level crossings, Verster said it’s important that both motorists and pedestrians be aware of their surroundings.

Photo of the crowd of more than 150 at the town hall event.

More than 150 people packed into the Abilities Centre in Whitby for the first Ask Metrolinx Town Hall in Durham Region.

Metrolinx is looking at safety measures to make it difficult to walk close to tracks. Cattle grids are being trialled at two to three locations.

While the conversation was mostly about service, there were some questions about customer experience, most notably about the seats on the new trains being uncomfortable. Metrolinx Chief Marketing Officer Mark Childs explained that last fall, GO ansit had test seats at Union Station to ask customers what they want. Metrolinx now has the data and knows what to do moving forward.

Photo of the crowd and people stepping up to the microphone to ask questions at the town hall.

Residents and customers came from near and far to ask transit questions.

“I think it’s important that Metrolinx brings the town halls to where the people are, and not expect the people to come to them (downtown)” says Shiers.

“I found the evening very informative. I would definitely attend again in the future”.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist