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Guelph VIA Commuters: Kiss your free parking good bye in 2009

By shost at 10:28 pm on Monday, February 25, 2008

To all Guelph VIA Commuters: Your parking spots at the Guelph Station are about to be kissed goodbye, thanks to the new Transit Hub scheduled for 2009. Essentially, the parking lot is in the way of the Transit Hub, and will all be removed in favour of integrated station servicing Guelph City Transit, GO Bus, Greyhound, and VIA Rail.

While not without precedent (Kitchener VIA Commuters have had to pay for parking for 3+ Years) it would seem communication of this problem has not proceeded all that smoothly.

Parking for Commuters has become quite an issue for patrons of VIA Rail in Guelph – there are so few free parking spots every single inch of useable space has been squeezed by the regulars to park their cars. In this Authors opinion and experience using Guelph’s commuter trains, the problem jeopardizes the safety of the premesis due to blockage of fire routes. Usually by 7 AM, when Train 86 departs, the lot is already full with yet another train (#84) yet to arrive. Every single inch of parkable space is utilized, blocking the Park and Ride, Garbage disposal unit, and Handicapped Parking spaces.

The inability of Parking for VIA to be sustained downtown raises the following points:

a) With all this success with VIA Commuter service (as illustrated by the parking problems), what will be done to maintain their parking spaces and ensure continued levels of VIA patronage?

b) What will happen if GO Trains come to Guelph? Virtually ALL GO stations have a reasonable measure of park and ride capabilities, handling hundreds of parking spaces at NO charge (as long as you buy a Train Ticket).

Incentives should be provided  — such as a Free or discounted parking pass for users of the Macdonnell St Parking Garage which is adjacent the Station. (The price is currently $60/month for a pass)

I applaud the City for putting together an intermodal Transit Hub — the first of it’s kind since the Toronto Suburban Railway ran into St Georges Square in 1930 (From Toronto). But let us make sure we move along existing initiatives and think clearly about the future of Transit — Parking lots are a neccesary intermediary between the highway-driven culture of today, and the transit-integrated future of Tomorrow.

- Steve Host


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