Burlington’s renovated Fairview St. GO station, which will be able to accommodate more than 10 GO Transit and City of Burlington buses, is now partially open and due for completion by June.
Several challenges put the completion date back two years, including a change of design, a change in contractors and inclement weather. The station has been under construction since the fall of 2012 and commuters have had to park, buy their tickets and proceed to trains from the north side of the track off Queensway Dr.
GO officials already have admitted that the cost of the project will surpass the original estimate of $13.2 million.
In addition, construction has begun on the five-phase Paradigm high-rise complex beside the GO station. It will have an indoor pool and rooftop skydeck. Residents will be able to leave their units, take the elevator down, walk to the GO station through a tunnel then go directly to events at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto without even feeling a drop of rain.
The Fairview St. station is used by more than 7,000 commuters on a daily basis. Passengers can connect to Burlington Transit buses, which travel 16 different routes throughout the day.
Burlington is one of the geographically widest communities in Canada, stretching more than seven miles from its border with Hamilton on the west to its border with Oakville on the east. The City covers an area of 73 square miles, although much of that is rural land.
Metrolinx also has announced that Burlington will be getting a fourth station on the line to Toronto. A location has not been announced, but speculation is that it will be somewhere in the area of Walkers Line.
Public meetings will be held to inform stakeholders and get input from the community.
Plans are in the works for electrification of the rail line and the Ontario government has said there will be trains traveling on the Lakeshore West line every 15 minutes within in the next eight years.
At the recent City forum on public transit, seniors complained that the downtown bus station on John Street looks like a hole in the wall. At one time city staff recommended it be demolished, but council vetoed that and it was saved.
Mayor Rick Goldring says Oakville spends twice as much on public transit as Burlington, yet that results in only 35 per cent more ridership. There always is a debate at council when the issue of adding service arises.
Burlington seniors are pushing the City to implement a free day pass for them one day a week, claiming it has the potential to increase ridership. One of every six citizens of Burlington is a senior.
At the 2015 Transit Users Forum, citizens gave Burlington Transit bus drivers an A for their helpfulness, but gave the authority an F for the level of fares and lack of convenience.
Burlington fares are among the highest in the Greater Toronto area. And bus service on Sundays and holidays is so infrequent, it forces some seniors to pay as much as $50 for a taxi fare. The cash bus fare has increased from 95 cents in 1991 to $3 today.
Another issue affecting many transit users is that buses no longer go into Mapleview Mall and Burlington Mall. The walk from the closest bus stops to a mall entrance is not
pedestrian-friendly and it can be dangerous in winter conditions, especially for people with limited mobility and for those who use walkers and wheelchairs.
A recent study revealed that affluent Burlington has more households with three cars than any city in Canada.
Parking around the city can be tight, especially in the downtown area, where a lot on Pearl St. beside the Ukrainian Catholic Church is now designated private. It used to be an ideal spot for shoppers to park their vehicles and make the short two-block walk to Brant St.
In a questionable move, the Mayrose-Tycon development company wound up with the property in a land swap with the City.
Last summer the first charging station in Burlington for electric cars was unveiled and it was announced almost 100 Burlingtonians already have electric cars. The parking garage on Locust St., beside the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, houses the station.
Written by: Denis Gibbons