Getting on the GO now ‘double’ the fun

Starting this April, students, faculty and staff travelling to York’s Keele campus will have an opportunity to "elevate" their trip when they take the GO Bus to York. They’ll be some of the first riders in Ontario to travel to the Keele campus on GO’s new Enviro 500 double-decker buses.

Last Thursday, York President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden, now a member of the board of directors for GO Transit, was front and centre at GO’s Steeprock Facility in North York to help unveil the first of a fleet of new double-decker vehicles.

Left: Back in the driver’s seat, York President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden shows off GO Transit’s new double-decker bus

“We have something wonderful to unveil today,” said a delighted Marsden. “All of us at York University – my last job – know how important the GO bus service is for getting students, faculty and staff to the Keele campus.”

Manufactured by Alexander Dennis Limited of Scotland, the buses will be on the road by the end of April 2008. Marsden was joined by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty,Transportation  Minister Jim Bradley and David Kaplan, minister for infrastructure renewal, for the ceremonial unveiling of the first double-decker bus to arrive at GO’s main bus facility.

“Each one can carry 21 more riders than the standard GO bus. That means more people can leave their cars at home,” said Bradley, "and this means a greener, healthier Ontario."

A first for GO’s fleet, the double-deckers can seat 78 people – 46 on the upper level and 32 on the lower level – offering more seating capacity than regular highway buses. “This will not only improve service on GO’s busiest routes, but will also reduce the amount of fuel consumed and harmful emissions produced per passenger,” said  Bradley.

“I’ve been to London, England, and I always liked to ride the double-decker buses,” said McGuinty with a smile. "These buses will mean a better quality of life for residents of Ontario."

Right: Premier Dalton McGuinty

More than 180,000 people in Ontario use GO Transit buses and trains each day to commute to work, said the Ontario premier.

McGuinty also made use of the event to make a pre-budget announcement of $1 billion in new infrastructure investment, which he says will go to helping Ontario’s municipalities repair and build roads and bridges, as well as improve public transit and create new affordable housing and 10,000 new construction jobs. 

The new buses feature reclining seats, individually adjustable air vents, individual reading lights and 12-volt power outlets – two on the lower level and four on the upper level. The new vehicles are also accessible. They each have two wheelchair locations, a kneeling (lowering) feature, a powered wheelchair ramp, wide aisles and front door, and low floors.

Left: Marsden (right) with GO Transit executive Gary McNeil on the new double-decker bus

"We can carry about 50 per cent more customers on this one bus and it keeps our costs down,"s aid Gary McNeil (BA Hons. ’72), GO Transit’s managing director and chief executive, and a graduate of York’s geography program. "The buses will run along the 407 and 403 routes. We are carrying about 12,000 people on those routes and most are destined for York University. For every one double-decker bus it means the equivalent of one and one half buses. GO is the first in Ontario to bring these buses into service."

"I am delighted for the students, faculty and staff who use GO Transit to get to the Keele campus – they will really see the benefit from these buses," said Marsden. "The buses are safe, they are very comfortable and everyone can now get a seat!"

The double deckers will run on Hwy. 403 and Hwy. 407 between Oakville GO Station and York University, with stops at Square One GO Bus Terminal and Bramalea GO Station. GO’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service along Hwy. 407 is very successful, said McNeil, and the service makes over 500 trips every weekday during the school year. The new buses will increase capacity to help meet the rising demand.

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor