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Metrolinx terminating GO bus service to York U campus

Last Updated Nov 6, 2018 at 6:15 pm EDT

Students board a GO bus at York University's Keele campus on Nov. 6, 2018. The bus service will be terminated in January 2019. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

As of January, students using public transit to York University’s Keele campus will have an extra stop added to their commute.

According to a notice on the university’s website posted Tuesday, the GO bus that currently stops on campus will now be re-routed to the Highway 407 bus and train station at Jane Street and the 407.

Students will then need to hop off the bus and take the TTC subway to the Pioneer Village or York University stops along the new Line 1 extension that opened in December last year.

Along with the added stop, an additional fare is required to transfer from the GO to the TTC. To facilitate the move, GO Transit has introduced a double discounted fare (DDF) of $1.50 in cooperation with the TTC. However in order to take advantage of the DDF, a Presto card is required. The university website says they will “continue to advocate for a full fare integration.”

The removal comes on the heels of the suspension of York Regional Transit’s Viva bus service to the campus back in September. Since then, the Viva buses were redirected to the Pioneer Village stop and students have to either walk 15-20 minutes to campus or take the TTC subway one stop to York University station.

The GO bus service was supposed to run till the end of the school term in early spring, but will now be terminated months earlier, on Jan. 5, 2019.

CityNews received several tips from concerned viewers about the service change citing five main problems:

  • Added travel time
  • Added expense
  • Mandatory purchase of a Presto card for the double discounted fare
  • Added inconvenience to those with disabilities
  • Safety of walking at night or in adverse weather conditions

A source tells CityNews the President of York University, Rhonda Lenton, specifically asked Metrolinx to remove their buses from campus sooner than planned.

The source says when the faculty strike ended, York University requested that the GO buses not return to the bus loop on campus, citing plans to create a fully pedestrianized area free of all vehicular traffic.

However, in a statement to CityNews, York University says it was Metrolinx that chose to cease service.

“The decision by GO transit to cease servicing our Keele Campus is disappointing. The University has recently urged Metrolinx to reconsider the timing of this decision in the absence of full fare integration,” says spokeswoman Janice Walls.

Anne Marie Aikins, spokeswoman for Metrolinx says it was a matter of safety and accessibility. Metrolinx was asked to consider alternate locations on campus where the bus service could operate, but did not find a suitable spot.

“When you get to York, we didn’t have a place that we felt was accessible, and fully safe in order to accommodate our buses, and it was much safer at the 407 station,” adding that the change has “always been our plan. It was a temporary solution to go directly into York.”

Aikins says the new route will prove to be more reliable and convenient.

“Our buses have to deal with traffic, especially during rush hour and so forth,” she says. “This way, (commuters will) get to the new subway station, they can get on a subway and get to the university.”

Sebastian Lalonde from the York Federation of Students says students are outraged that accessibility to campus is now under threat. With the removal of both Viva and GO buses, he says there will no longer be any buses that go directly to campus, adding that the new TTC subway stations do not effectively fill the void.

“A lot of our students come from Brampton, Mississauga – these are areas that are not accessible through the TTC,” he said. “The subway is a great addition and we’re happy to see it here, but that didn’t mean, to us, that we would also be losing out on all of these other transit providers. We thought that it would be easier to access the TTC on top of YRT, on top of GO.”

Lalonde says a petition asking York Regional Transit and GO Transit to return to the Keele campus garnered over 4000 signatures in a matter of two hours on Tuesday morning. The petition now has over 7000 signatures and counting.

“That to me says a lot about the outrage,” he says.

“York University is known as a commuter school. A majority of the reason a lot of our students…decided to come to York University at the Keele campus is specifically because we have four transit providers on campus…it just made it a lot easier for people to access the campus. That isn’t the case anymore.”