Liberty Village wants integrated GO fare for commuters

Dennis Hanagan —

A plan to set up an integrated GO fare for Liberty Village residents and perhaps build a second GO station there could be the start of something big, according to Liberty Village BIA executive director Lynn Clay.

“This is like a first wave” in new transit planning for the booming village, she said in an interview.

She was commenting on a plan by Trinity-Spadina councilor Mike Layton who’s spoken with Metrolinx (that oversees GO Transit) about a new fare arrangement and station to serve the village.

“Let’s readjust the transit system that we’ve got and make it so it is serving this growing community,” said Clay.

The King streetcar serves the village but is often so crowded at peak periods that users let several pass before there’s one with enough room to board. It’s the same whether they’re heading Downtown or coming home.

“The King streetcar is frustrating in both directions,” said Clay.

Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig has told Layton Metrolinx “looks forward to exploring” his fare and station ideas.

Layton told McCuaig in a letter that with 7,500 people working in the village and an estimated 6,000 living there by next fall “close to 15,000 people are attempting to move in and out of Liberty Village each day.”

He’s asking for an integrated fare with GO Transit to make it affordable for villagers to take the train from the Exhibition GO station to Union Station then hop on the TTC “without paying twice as much to travel a shorter distance.”

Right now that two-km King streetcar commute to St. Andrew subway station can take up to 40 minutes and costs close to $8 when combined with a TTC fare, said Layton. He notes commuters could use a Presto card to calculate the cost of their trip.

He’s also calling for a Liberty Village-King Street West station for GO’s Kitchener line on the village’s north side that could be built in tandem with future land development. The city is building a bicycle-pedestrian bridge over the line that could serve the station.

Clay said people “will absolutely” make use of an integrated fare. It’ll benefit village business, too, she said. “Anything that eases the transportation to get you’re workers to work is a good thing.”

She’d like to see the name Liberty Village incorporated into the existing Exhibition GO station name. It would help identify the stop as a destination for events, shopping, visiting and would attract tourists, she said.