York University GO Station was my local train station for many years. But for most of that time, I never used it because it was only served by two trains per weekday, which were not at useful times for me. In more recent years, I used it a bit more, thanks to an ever-increasing number of train departures. But after the end of 2017, I will likely not be using the station at all – as it is planned to be closed permanently. In its place will be the new Downsview Park station at Sheppard Avenue, on the new extension of the TTC’s subway Line 1.
The decision to close York University GO Station has not yet been finalized, but it would be rather difficult to justify maintaining the station. It currently serves only 225 passengers per weekday, which makes it the least-used train station in Toronto. And it’s not hard to figure out why – it’s nearly impossible to get to. The station is located deep in an industrial area, so there is little to no walk-up traffic. There is no car parking, so park-and-ride isn’t an option either. There are also no public transit connections – the only bus which serves the station is a private shuttle operated by York University for its members. That shuttle only connects to certain weekday train trips, and there is no service at all on weekends. Not being a York University member, the only ways I could access the station were to cycle on some rather unfriendly North York roads or get someone to drop me off with a car.
York University Station surroundings. (Image from Google Earth)
As with any station closure, there is some amount of controversy. Over the past couple years, there have been periodically been protest posters and petitions plastered on the fence at the station, and more recently the CBC published a story featuring people who are upset about the possible closure.
According to a York student, “it would be a disaster” to travel from the GO Train to York University on a subway train rather than a bus, because there could be subway delays. And according to the York University manager of transportation, the new configuration would add 20 minutes to the trip to campus for train passengers coming from the north.
But the article fails to point out that neither of these statements are based in reality. While subway delays certainly do exist, the same is true with any mode of transportation. And in general, a subway line will be more dependable than an individual bus driving in mixed traffic between the campus and the station. And whereas the current shuttle bus only connects to select weekday GO trains, the subway will operate frequently all day every day, thereby connecting to every GO train departure.