Service adjustments, including an impact to UP Express service between Toronto Pearson Airport and Union Station, are meant to better align with how people are currently using the transit network. These changes are the latest moves by Metrolinx to adapt to provincial calls to stay put when possible while balancing the need to provide a lifeline transit service for essential travellers.
Metrolinx is making temporary service changes, starting next week, that particularly impact weekend and evening GO Transit customers as well as UP Express riders.
Buses will replace trains along the Barrie, Stouffville and Kitchener lines during weekday evening and weekend periods, and there will be reduced service for UP Express, which connects Union Station with Toronto Pearson Airport.
Metrolinx says the service adjustments begin on Jan. 23 and will make better use of resources while demand is low.
As Ontario enters a newly announced state of emergency, GO Transit and UP Express service will still run as public transit is an essential service – however public health guidelines recommend travel be limited to essential trips only.
The planned shifts follow ridership trends the transit agency says have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and demonstrate the biggest challenge ever faced by the Canadian transit industry – as well as most Canadians.
Throughout the fight against COVID-19, Metrolinx has made constant adjustments to create a sustainable service plan that would continue to deliver lifeline transit for essential workers. That included a reduction in March 2020, as well as the introduction of several safety measures to keep customers safe while on vehicles and at stations – as well as the part travellers need to play.
Last September, some services were resumed, as trends and demands again shifted, just as some people temporarily returned to work and outings.
The latest changes come as COVID-19 cases are rising in Ontario and overall ridership is down by more than 90 per cent.
Metrolinx officials say as Ontario starts to recover, and more customers return to GO and UP, services will again be adjusted and reinstated to meet that demand.
To make better use of resources, UP Express trains will temporarily operate hourly at times of day with typically low ridership; otherwise, trains will continue to operate every 30 minutes. The operating day will also be shortened.
From Monday to Friday, UP trains will operate hourly in the midday and in the late evening with the last trains departing from Union at 10 p.m. and from Pearson at 10:27 p.m.
On weekends, UP trains will operate hourly in the mornings and evenings with the first train now departing at 6 a.m. and the last trains departing from Union at 10 p.m. and from Pearson at 10:27 p.m.
Starting Jan. 23, Barrie, Stouffville and Kitchener line GO trains will be temporarily replaced by GO buses during weekday evenings and weekends.
Specifically on the Stouffville GO corridor, the weekend train service replacements will start on the evening of the Jan. 22 to allow for construction work along the corridor. The adjusted weekday Stouffville schedules will have buses temporarily replacing trains first thing every weekday morning and in the evenings.
SAFETY NEVER STOPS
While services and schedules may shift, Metrolinx will continue to stress Safety Never Stops, for customers and transit staff who continue to keep the wheels and essential customers moving as a lifeline for Ontario.
The commitment speaks to the many measures taken on GO Transit and UP Express vehicles and facilities, such as mandating face coverings, installing physical barriers and hand sanitizer dispensers on vehicles and at stations, and enhancing cleaning of surfaces.