Metrolinx is making major service changes to its GO Transit schedules starting Tuesday and changes to its rail and bus lines after Labour Day include the reintroduction of services reduced because of COVID-19.
The provincial transit agency says it is changing nearly every single train and bus time across the board.
"We really want to remind our customers to go ahead and check their schedules before heading out the door on Tuesday morning. And that's because, in addition to adding a whole bunch of service back to our network, we're also basically hitting reset on our timetable," Matt Llewellyn, spokesperson for Metrolinx, said this week.
"Even if you've been taking GO throughout the entire pandemic or since March, you may notice that your train times are going to change slightly. This is going to affect just about every single GO customer."
The service changes are listed on the GO Transit website.
Metrolinx said it is making the changes now because ridership is increasing. Some people are returning to their workplaces, while thousands of students are heading back to school.
"We really want to make sure that we're able to provide the right level of service for our customers. We have been monitoring our ridership levels very closely throughout the entire pandemic and making those adjustments as required," Llewellyn said.
"This is just the next step in that to make sure that we're there to be able to meet demand. We want to make sure that people have the right choices because we know that there's a lot of uncertainty right now and we want to make sure that transit is something that you don't really have to think about."
Compliance with mandatory face coverings policy is 98%
Metrolinx has made a number of changes on board its buses and trains, since the pandemic hit Ontario in March, to keep commuters safe, he said. These changes include mandatory face coverings, plastic dividers between seats, and stickers, or "directional wayfinding," to encourage customers to walk in one direction.
Compliance with the mandatory face coverings policy has been 98 per cent among riders, he added.
Here are some of the scheduling changes:
- On Lakeshore West, Metrolinx is reintroducing 15- to 30-minute train service during rush hours, and hourly or more frequently in midday, evenings and on weekends. All trains will continue to make all stops. The change means Metrolinx will run 71 trips each weekday. That's 26 trips more trips a day compared to the service right now. It also equals 60 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service, which was 119 per weekday.
- On Lakeshore East, Metrolinx is reintroducing 15- to 30-minute train service during rush hours, and hourly or more frequently in midday, evenings and on weekends. All trains will continue to make all stops. It will be running 66 trips each weekday, an addition of 21 trips compared to the service right now. The number is still 51.2 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service, which was 129 per weekday.
- On the Milton Line, Metrolinx is adding two more trips, to bring the service to 50 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 levels, with eight trips each weekday.
- On the Kitchener Line, Metrolinx is adding five more trips, to bring the service to 35 trips each weekday. That's 81 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service, which was 43 trips per weekday.
- On the Barrie line, Metrolinx will be resuming most train service to give customers access to rail service throughout most of the day. It will be running 29 trips each weekday, an addition of 12 trips compared to the service right now. This number is 81 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service, which was 36 per weekday. On the weekend, the Barrie line will have 29 trips, up from 25 before the pandemic. Barrie train service was moved to bus over the summer to allow for construction on the line.
- On the Stouffville line, 94 per cent of pre-COVID-19 rail service will be restored, as 20 trips are added to the line. There will now be 32 trips each weekday, just shy of the 34 before COVID-19. On the weekend, there will be 30 weekend trips a day, or about 94 per cent of the 32 offered before the pandemic. Over the summer, no trains were running as construction work took over the line.
- And on the Richmond Hill line, one morning and one afternoon train trip will resume to give customers trains between 30 and 45 minutes in the morning peak. Metrolinx will be running eight trips each weekday, an addition of two trips from the service right now. This number is about 67 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service, which was 12 per weekday.