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Newmarket's Mobility Hub Study ignores the big issues

The Mobility Hub Study for the GO rail station at the Tannery on Davis Drive will not address two key issues flagged up in the Town's Secondary Plan. 

These Mobility Hub Studies look at ways of connecting trains, buses, cars and people as seamlessly and as painlessly as possible.

The Study, undertaken by Metrolinx and partnered by the Town, is currently underway and consultation meetings have recently been held at the Seniors' Centre on Davis Drive.

Grade separation

Unfortunately, the Study will not look at grade separation and nor will it examine the possibility and desirability of co-locating the GO bus terminal at Eagle with the GO Rail station at the Tannery.

Grade separation costs an arm and a leg but in some places - such as Davis Drive - it is essential. But, amazingly, it doesn't look as if it is going to get into the plan. After all the millions of dollars spent on the corridor we shall still have a clunky level crossing with barriers, bells and flashing red lights. And, no doubt, the sizzling overhead wires suspended above the rail track that come with electrification.

Co-locating bus terminals and rail stations makes sense and it beggars belief that this option is not part and parcel of the Mobility Hub Study. True, there was talk years ago of the possibility of moving the bus terminal at Eagle on to the Upper Canada Mall site. But, as is often the way of these things, nothing has materialised. The thicker and more authoritative the planning document, the more likely it is to be ignored.

"as a minimum"

The Town's Urban Centres Secondary Plan is a perfect example that illustrates the point. Its latest version (Office consolidation October 25, 2016) solemnly promises the Mobility Hub Study Station Area Plan should address as a minimum the potential for grade separation of the rail line at Davis Drive and the integration between the GO Rail Station, the Rapidway, the future GO bus services and the GO bus terminal. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean co-location but it doesn't rule it out either.

At some point, the twin tracking which is currently planned to stop at Aurora will be extended northwards. Fast trains will slow to a crawl at Davis Drive to negotiate safely the level crossing.

Metrolinx published its GO Rail Station Access Plan last December which helpfully shows current station usage together with the 2031 forecast. It also details expansion plans for each station location. It shows that ridership is projected to more than double network-wide from a current average of close to 100,000 daily riders (2016)  to 225,000-250,000 in 2031.

Aurora the busiest Rail Station by far

The report gives details for each Rail Station. (See pages 133-142) Some of the projected ridership figures surprise me. They seem to be on the low side for areas slated for major growth. By contrast, the very high projected ridership at Aurora comes as no surprise given its 15 minute two-way all-day service.

Metrolinx hopes to persuade people to get to their home GO Rail Station by public transit, kiss and ride, and by walking and cycling.  Driving to the Rail Station and parking will be made ever more difficult.

Here are the Rail Stations in Newmarket and those most local to us.

GO Rail Station

GO Rail ridership

Current (2016)

Forecast (2031)

Aurora

Daily riders' home station

2,250

Very high (8,001 or more)

 

Daily riders' destination station

25

Average (251-1,000)

East Gwillimbury

Daily riders' home station

675

Average (2,001-4,000)

 

Daily riders' destination station

0

Nil or very low (0-25)

Newmarket GO

Daily riders' home station

575

Very low (1,000 or less)

 

Daily riders' destination station

25

Low (26-250)

Mulock GO

Daily riders' home station

Not applicable

Very low (1,000 or less)

 

Daily riders' destination station

Not applicable

Nil or very low (0-25)

The Station Area development potential for Aurora, East Gwillimbury and Newmarket is deemed "moderate". For Mulock, it is low.

Electrification

There will be a Metrolinx presentation on electrification at the Community Centre, Doug Duncan Drive, Newmarket on Wednesday 5 July 2017 from 6.30pm - 8.30pm with the presentation starting at 7pm.

This will be a great opportunity to hear more about electrification and what it means in practice.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Urban Centres Secondary Plan. Office Consolidation, October 25, 2016

9.3.3 Newmarket GO Rail Mobility Hub Station Area

i. The Newmarket GO Rail Station will be planned as an urban station that is primarily accessed by pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders, with limited park-and-ride capacity. Park-and-ride service should be focused at the East Gwillimbury GO Rail station and the future Mulock Drive GO Rail station.

ii. The Town of Newmarket will encourage Metrolinx to partner with the Town, the Region and other relevant partners to prepare a Mobility Hub Station Area Plan for the area around the Newmarket GO Rail Station, as conceptually illustrated in Schedule 5. The Mobility Hub Station Area Plan should address as a minimum, the following:

a) the long-term role and function of the Newmarket GO Rail Station within the broader GO Rail network, taking into account Policy 9.3.3 (i);

b) potential for grade separation of the rail line at Davis Drive;

c) potential re-location of theNewmarket GO Rail Station access to Main Street to improve access and reduce traffic impacts on Davis Drive;

d) integration between the GO Rail Station, the Rapidway, the future GO bus services and the GO bus terminal;

e) pedestrian connections between the Rapidway Station at Davis Drive and Main Street and the GO Rail platform;

f) pedestrian connections between the active transportation network and the GO Rail platform;

g) opportunities and constraints to development in the vicinity of the station, including floodplain restrictions; and

h) accessibility and bicycle parking considerations.

iii. An amendment to this Plan may be necessary in order to incorporate relevant findings or directions from the Mobility Hub Station Area Plan


 

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