Bramalea GO Station
Earlier this week, I took a train from Union Station to Bramalea, as I was preparing for a walk that I will hosting on Sunday exploring Canada’s first satellite city.
Bramalea Station opened in 1973 when the Georgetown GO train service — GO Transit’s second commuter rail line — was inaugurated. The station is located at the southwest corner of Steeles Avenue and Bramalea Road, surrounded by factories, warehouses and busy roads and highways.
There’s little to fault GO Transit for locating its station where it is. In 1973, GO was still in its infancy, launching its first rail services along the Lakeshore Line in 1967. It wasn’t anything more than a commuter rail service, offering downtown-bound commuters an alternative to driving all the way in; free and ample parking was part of that successful model. In 1967, GO Transit was created to reduce the need to upgrade provincial highways; it allowed Downtown Toronto to become a bustling global financial centre without needing huge parking lots and garages and more freeways feeding into it; .
The GO station is located in Bramalea’s south end, next to the CN mainline, surrounded by land designated for industrial development since 1959, when work began on that new suburb. The station is located near a waste-to-energy plant (an incinerator), and is located under Pearson Airport’s flight paths. Since GO insists on providing free parking to its customers, Bramalea (unlike, say, Downtown Brampton) isn’t a bad place to put lots of parking spots; in total, Bramalea has 2,377 parking spots. And since Bramalea Station is adjacent to Highway 407, it’s a major transfer point for GO bus routes to York University, Hamilton, Guelph and Kitchener.
But like too many GO stations, Bramalea is needlessly hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, and is even hostile for many local transit users. As Metrolinx, the agency responsible for GO Transit, pursues Regional Express Rail (RER), it has a responsibility to improve Bramalea Station. As it exists right now, Bramalea is a terrible transit terminal.