On a recent visit to my hometown of Brampton, I noticed a new GO Transit bike shelter freshly installed in front of the downtown Brampton station. The bike racks themselves have yet to be installed, but a surprising amount of thought went into the shelter’s construction – not only does the shelter protect locked bikes from the elements, it also sports a clever steel bicycle frame on top that is made to resemble the distinctive, 41-year old GO Transit logo.
The placement of the bicycle storage area is also interesting. Not only is it placed right in front of the 1907 station (which is also used by VIA Rail) to maximize visibility and convenience, it also replaces two parking spaces. As described earlier, Brampton is one of the most urban GO Stations in the 905, with a bus terminal downstairs and a suddenly booming high-density growth centre, with four nearby condo and rental towers under construction. Brampton Station (along with some other 905 stations like Port Credit, Aurora and Hamilton) is relatively easy to walk or bike to from nearby neighbourhoods, and has decent local transit bus connections. It is also not overwhelmed by parking spaces, unlike many of GO’s purpose-built stations.
A second platform, already under construction, will facilitate more regular train service to Brampton, and the recent announcement of a plan for 30-minute rail service all-day service on most corridors by 2020, and the electrification of the Lakeshore and possibly the Georgetown Corridor, means that GO Transit will slowly transform from a commuter service to a true regional rail system. Something as simple as a new bike shelter is, at least as I see it, a small symbol of GO’s potential transformation. Especially as in the past GO Transit has focused on providing parking space, rather than living up to its potential as a something much more.