Vanity can easily overtake wisdom….

Vanity can easily overtake wisdom. It usually overtakes common sense. – Julian Casablancas

I am not that upset that the theoretical, not yet under construction, High Speed Rail line won’t be stopping in “Downtown” Brampton.

And let’s be honest, when people say “Brampton” should have an HSR stop, they aren’t talking about Bramalea. Some might be talking about Mount Pleasant, maybe, unlikely, but possibly. The majority are talking about Four Corners.

But don’t get me wrong, it would certainly be pleasant to have a third (3rd) rail option to get to Toronto. Yes, I said third. GO Train and VIA Rail both stop in Four Corners. I rode VIA Rail back and forth to universities (Waterloo and Western) for over 5 years, I should know.

But truth be told, it’s a vanity project. As the minister told the Brampton delegation, there is no evidence of ridership from Brampton to Windsor. Anecdotally, I can verify that was true up until 2002, the year I stopped rail commuting between Four Corners and Downtown London, Ontario. Very few people were boarding with me.

So as Brampton works itself into a lather about being snubbed, let’s think about the Minister’s answer, which had two parts to it. The first, ridership on this line travels east, to Toronto, not back. And second, Brampton’s eastbound needs are already being serviced, and that service is scheduled for enhancement, by the GO Network.  Again, anecdotally, I can’t argue with these observations. I’d be interested to know the actual stats, but I want to come at this from the other perspective.

For people who are in fact reverse commuting, what does this mean?

Brampton to HSR

(14 minute GO train ride, 10.43km trip)

Okay. So they can either drive to, or take the GO Train to, the Malton station, and board the HSR at that station. Ya, going east to travel west seems wonky and wasteful, but once you are on board the HSR, it’s going to save you over an hour and half to get to Windsor. Not a bad time investment.  Whereas having a stop so close to the Malton Stop would mean the HSR can’t travel at the High Speed for the 12 km interval, which would have two spill over effects: a) the line itself slows down, and people boarding east of Brampton will all lose the 14 minutes the very few people originating right in Downtown Brampton are saving; and b) the line will no longer tunnel under Brampton independently of all the other rail traffic that has to be scheduled, so again, less service and slower service.  I’m starting to think that 14 minute investment may not be such a high price to pay, as counter-intuitive as it may seem.

Then again, lots of people living in Toronto who are travelling north use the Subway to get to Union Station for their transfers.

I think I’m convinced. This is not a big deal from a travel perspective. Only Downtown Brampton is actually affected, as everywhere in the city was always in the position of getting to the HSR station first anyways.

But what about the “Snub” I’ve been hearing so much about?

Square One to Malton

(41 min GO Bus ride, 12.28km AS THE BIRD FLIES, which isn’t even relevant!)

You know, when you think about the difference in population and jobs densities, the fact that the Malton stop is actually farther away from Downtown Mississauga in every conceivable way is actually more of an issue here. I think if Brampton wants an HSR stop in Downtown, for you know…. reasons, their best bet is to highlight the fact that Malton is so damn far away from Square One. Downtown Brampton is only 14km (more or less) straight up Hurontario from Square One, with many transit and driving options between the two (and we know how Metrolinx and the Ontario Liberals love straight lines that go right up Main Street!).

Asking that we put a stop in Downtown Brampton is just a Vanity Project.  If Ontario wants a High Speed connection between Toronto and Windsor, the line simply can’t stop at every intersection where local leaders want lip service.  The facts are, this plan maintains overall line speed, and it puts the HSR a lot closer to Downtown Brampton than it does Downtown Mississauga (and don’t give me that Square One isn’t Downtown Mississauga bullshit, either).

We are being challenged to make it easier to get to Malton. We are being challenged to repatriate jobs to Brampton to make travel less necessary. But I still don’t think we are being snubbed. It was worth an ask, and I thank our councillors for making the pitch. I don’t slam them, condemn them, or cast aspersions in their direction, any more than I would criticize Daniel Negreanu for losing a hand with a pair of 2’s.  Sometimes, the cards just aren’t in your hand.


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