New carriages coming to Metrolinx GO trains as part of bike rules review

Metrolinx is set to introduce eight new, refurbished bike-specific carriages to trains in and out of Toronto as it finalizes its response to an influx of electric bikes on its network.

A huge number of people with bikes and e-bikes ride GO Transit in and out of Toronto, with many working as couriers in the city and returning home at the end of the day.

“We’re seeing a cycling revolution — e-bikes hitting our streets in huge numbers,” David Shellnutt, co-founder of The Biking Lawyer LLP in Toronto, previously said.

As part of its plans to address the explosion in bike ridership, Metrolinx has refurbished eight new carriages to carry bikes and equipped them with fire retardant to slow or stop the spread of flames at a cost of roughly $900,000.

“As you’ve seen we’ve also put in new policies around e-bikes and certified batteries, so we take the safety of this very, very seriously,” Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria told Global News.

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“And it’s something that we’re going to ensure continues to be upheld through our enforcement offices.”

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After a fierce fire on a Toronto subway on New Year’s Eve, Metrolinx confirmed in early January it had begun work on a series of policies to address e-bikes and safety on GO Trains.

As Global News previously reported, part of that process involves fare inspectors onboard trains looking at e-bikes and certifying batteries considered safe. Bikes that don’t have a certification will not be allowed to board trains.

The refurbished carriages are part of the same broader refresh of policies around bikes and electric bikes on GO trains.

They are expected to come into service in mid-May, with the potential to be deployed across the network as needed.

“I’ve heard the frustration from a lot of commuters, I’ve spoken to many of them and they’re struggling on their commute sometimes,” Sarkaria said.

“They’ve mentioned to me that there are piles of bikes as they board. We wanted to find a solution that would not only continue to encourage people to take their bikes on the train but also just improve the journey for an individual.”

Metrolinx has seen a particularly high number of bikes on its Kitchener Line into Toronto, borrowing six bike carriages from Niagara Falls trains during the winter to cope with the increase.

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“There’s many reasons for that increase in demand,” Sarkaria said.

“One is the work that Metrolinx is doing promoting transit and our government is doing on transit — our historic investments. People are really trying to switch their behaviours towards using more transit.”

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