Metrolinx, the company behind the transit system that many people rely on to get around the Greater Toronto Area, says they will continue to provide the public service despite an Indigenous solidarity protest, which blocked commuter travel on Tuesday.
In total, the GO train runs seven lines in and around the GTA. On Tuesday evening, GO Transit warned of “developing safety incidents” near Kipling and Guildwood stations, adding to what provincial police called a “solidarity demonstration blockade” on the Lakeshore West line earlier in the day.
Demonstrators initially erected blockades to the GO Transit tracks in Hamilton. The protest was in response to the Ontario Provincial Police’s move to put an end to a roadblock on a rail line on Monday by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga close to Belleville, about two hours east of Toronto.
As a result, the ongoing police investigation is impacting the ability to run trains through Aldershot station in Burlington, through to Hamilton, St. Catherines and Niagara. At the initial time of publication, the only trains that were running on the Lakeshore West line were between Aldershot and Union station in downtown Toronto.
Commuters who need to go to one of the two stations in Hamilton or beyond needed to take a GO bus from either Aldershot or Burlington station.
“It’s not ideal for people going on their normal rush hour train,” says Scott Money, a media relations advisor at Metrolinx. “If those are your trips, you’ll be impacted. You’ll have to get on a GO bus...but we’re doing everything we can to get people where they need to go.”
Preparing for more disruptions
Officials from the transit system are in close contact with local law enforcement, as well as the company’s operations and transit safety division. Money says that they’re staying on top of the situation and will be ready to jump into action to plan different scenarios, should things change.
“We are experienced in this regard,” he says about the disruption to service. “There are service interruptions all times of year...so we are able to plan alternate arrangements. We’re adaptable and nimble. We have people working on this 24/7 and ready to get people where they need to go.”
As for the results of the impact of these distributions, Money says GO and Metrolinx are a public entity and it’s their job to provide a public service.
“(The blockade) does affect our job to run trains in and out of Hamilton but we are going to keep running buses and we’ll keep doing it,” he says.
Money adds that layoffs in the company aren’t being considered at this time. In recent weeks, Via Rail and CN have announced the need to discharge a number of employees as a result of the transit disruptions.
“We’re a public agency and we fall under a provincial jurisdiction and we’ll continue to run that service,” he says. “That’s not a consideration at the moment.”
Service announcement updates for GO trains can be found here.