As of Jan. 5, Metrolinx has cancelled service to the York University Keele campus and Keele Street stops for multiple Go Bus routes, including the highway 407 47 route, which stops at the McMaster Go station.
Instead, the bus routes will end at the highway 407 Toronto Transit Commission subway station.
In a written statement, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior media manager Anne Marie Aikins said the change is part of a larger plan to move service to the highway 407 stop, which was implemented as part of Toronto’s line one subway extension in December.
“By focusing direct access on Highway 407 and TTC Line 1 Subway, customers can expect improved service reliability in the Keele Street and York University area, which can incur additional 20 minutes of travel time in peak hours due to traffic congestion,” said Aikins.
[spacer height="20px"]Aikins added that the decision was made in collaboration with York University, which has plans to turn the old Go bus loop into a pedestrian area.
McMaster students will now need to leave the 47 bus at the highway 407 subway station and take the subway two stops south to the York University station to arrive at the old bus loop.
Students will also have to pay TTC fare if they transfer, though they will receive a $1.50 discount transferring between the Go bus and the subway if they use their Presto card to pay.
Some McMaster students who rely on the York University stop have expressed concern that their commutes will be negatively affected by the change.
The 47 Go route was the only Toronto-Hamilton route that stopped at the McMaster campus.
Second-year arts and sciences student Daniella Mikanovsky frequently takes the 47 route to York before getting picked up or transferring to a TTC bus. However, with the service change, Mikanovsky says she will now likely have to take a different GO bus route all together.
“I like the 47 because it has a stop on campus. The 40 stop is at [King Street West and Dundurn Street North], so I need to take the Hamilton Street Railway before [Go transit], but with the new change, the 40 drop off is closer to my house than the 47,” said Mikanovsky.
This may pose a problem as the HSR is not known as being a particularly reliable transit system. For instance, last year, a spike in driver absenteeism resulted in thousands of bus cancellations, missed pickups and underserviced routes.
[spacer height="20px"]York University students also see Metrolinx’s decision as problematic. For instance, the York Federation of Students’ Yu Ride petition, which calls for the return of GO bus service to the Keele campus, has already gathered over 17,000 signatures.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903 at York University notes that the return of the stop would save users over $1,000 in additional transit fees. As such, the change may create serious financial pressure for users who cannot afford to pay extra transit fares.
McMaster University’s CUPE 3906 adds that Metrolinx’s decision also affects sessional faculty members who routinely teach at multiple campuses across the province.
“For a workforce that is already precarious, the additional three dollars per day in TTC costs and the additional 10 minutes in commuting time will make life even harder,” reads part of a statement from CUPE 3906.
In addition, CUPE 3906 suggests that universities continue to lobby the provincial government for direct and affordable inter-campus transit.