#19 – Train time in Babel.

When my older brother was promoted to head office of Alcan, he moved his family to Montreal. Born and educated in Ontario, he and his wife only spoke English. With their limited language skills, real estate people pointed them to the west island area of Greater Montreal where a high percentage of the households were Anglophone. They bought a new home in a development in Pointe Claire. And as Alcan’s head office was in Place Ville Marie, quite close to the central train station, for the next 20 some years, my brother was a regular train commuter to and from his work.

While, in time, his company made sure that he became quite proficient speaking French and his children became, to varying degrees, bilingual, he and his family enjoyed the mix of language skills in their Pointe Claire neighbourhood. What he also enjoyed was the convenience and comfort offered by the trains he took to and from work. He was an enthusiastic booster of commuting. That was probably reinforced daily as his train breezed towards downtown and he could see the ever present congestion on the parallel Route 2 highway to downtown.

The only drawback I could see to his arrangement was that he lived about three kilometres (just less than two miles) from the train station. He was philosophical about this as his was a quite sedentary job in his office all day and he felt that the combination of his walk to and from the station and walking the dog helped keep him fit. I did note though that as he got older, he did appreciate someone picking him up at the station in inclement weather.

This background is by way of explaining my expectations pertaining to our GO trains here in Babel. A while ago, a gentleman from Babel wrote a letter to the editor of our freebie newspaper. In the letter, he complained about the plans now afoot to create a boarding point for the GO trains in the area of our historic Allandale station. Since this is the point where Canadian National Railways has the layover yard for the GO trains, where the trains are stored and cleaned overnight, for their next day’s run to the big smoke, it does seem dumb to not let passengers board there.

But this gentleman objects. He claims that the need for people to park their cars, makes this a very bad place to allow people to board the trains. He disagrees with the business case study that shows that boarding the trains in this central Babel location will attract as many as 140 new riders. At the same time, he wails piteously about his projection of at least 150 more cars that would want to park at this new boarding point. This mathematical whiz feels that we would be wasting the funds recently used to increase the parking spaces at the station down at the south end of Babel.

One wonders if this genius has taken a look around and considered that this excellent location was chosen more than 100 years ago as a terminus for tourists attracted to Babel’s beautiful bay. Yet his concern is that parking for tourists will be foreshortened because of the commuters taking up the preferred parking places. The first question that comes to mind is why he thinks tourists would want to park at the same time as commuters? One further ponders the question as to whether this citizen has actually contemplated that today there are many thousands of people living within an easy walk of this location. Have the days of walking become a thing of the past?

Many of us in Babel are tiring of the ludicrous arguments that people get into over the historic train station. What should have been done first was to bring back the trains to Allandale Station. Smart developers would have followed.

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