Metrolinx is making temporary service changes for GO Transit and UP Express starting next week as Ontario enters a State of Emergency and Stay at Home order.
On Thursday, Metrolinx said starting January 23, buses will replace trains along the Barrie, Stouffville and Kitchener lines during weekday evening and weekend periods, and there will be reduced service for UP Express, which connects Union Station with Toronto Pearson Airport.
The move comes to make better use of resources while “demand is low.”
“As Ontario enters a newly announced state of emergency, GO Transit and UP Express service will still run as public transit is an essential service – however public health guidelines recommend travel be limited to essential trips only,” the notice explained.
“The planned shifts follow ridership trends the transit agency says have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and demonstrate the biggest challenge ever faced by the Canadian transit industry – as well as most Canadians.”
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The transit agency said UP Express trains will operate hourly at times of day that have low ridership; otherwise, they will continue to run every 30 minutes. The operating day will also be shortened.
From Monday to Friday, UP trains will operate hourly in the midday and in the late evening with the last trains departing from Union at 10 pm and from Pearson at 10:27 pm.
On weekends, UP trains will operate hourly in the mornings and evenings with the first train now departing at 6 am and the last train departing from Union at 10 pm and from Pearson at 10:27 pm.
And for GO Transit, Barrie, Stouffville and Kitchener line GO trains will be temporarily replaced by GO buses during weekday evenings and weekends.
Specifically on the Stouffville GO corridor, the weekend train service replacements will start on the evening of January 22 to allow for construction work along the corridor. The adjusted weekday Stouffville schedules will have buses temporarily replacing trains first thing every weekday morning and in the evenings, Metrolinx added.
Metrolinx first had a reduction of services at the start of the pandemic in March, resuming some activity in September as COVID-19 trends and demands shifted.
However, as COVID-19 cases are rising in Ontario, with overall ridership down by more than 90%, reduction in service needs to be made again.