If You Build It, Technology Companies Will Come – GO Train is Expanding Rail Service in Ontario to Kitchener-Waterloo

Posted by Andrea Wahbe

The following is a guest post written by Andrea Wahbe and was published earlier this week on her blog TheRunningStart.

I was chatting with someone at a party about a month ago about what Ontario needs to help kick-start our already budding technology industry into high gear and make us even more like “Silicon Valley North”.  We got on the topic of why there needs to be a GO Train service from Waterloo to Toronto – just like the Caltrain in California from Palo Alto to San Francisco.  The distances between these cities in California and Ontario are very similar and having a train from Waterloo to Toronto would tie the cities closer together - with Waterloo as an R&D technology hub and Toronto as a major business center in Ontario.

Someone from Metrolinx must have been listening in on our conversation – or at least had the idea before we did.  A week ago, I read the good news that GO Transit announced that it will be expanding rail service on the Georgetown line to Acton, Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo by the end of 2011.  Until this happens, you can only take the GO Train as far as Milton from Toronto and then you have to take a bus or drive from Milton to Waterloo (see the Google Maps images above).

Having just left a very large technology company that had offices in both Toronto and Waterloo, I am very much aware of the challenge in commuting between the two cities for meetings.  I had a co-worker who lived in Waterloo and took a GO Bus to Toronto at 5am every morning to come in to work.  I can’t even fathom what his commute must be like every day. We also had clients in Waterloo and we had to rent a car to drive there from Toronto every time we wanted to go for a meeting.  It’s not that driving is so bad but having a train would be so much better for getting work done while commuting.  It would also make for a much more enjoyable commute in harsh winter weather.

I believe that building this train is a major leap forward towards making Toronto/Waterloo a world-class technology and innovation center.  A major parallel between Toronto/Waterloo and San Francisco/Palo Alto is their proximity to high-profile technology universities in Waterloo and Palo Alto (Stanford).  I truly believe that building this train will attract more technology companies to set-up shop in Ontario.

Please share your thoughts on what else you think is needed to make us a true “Silicon Valley North”?

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Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who has contributed to the growth of online media businesses in Canada, such as AOL and Google. By day, Andrea writes about digital media and marketing trends and tips for Canadian startups and SMEs. By night, she’s an analog book reader, master swimmer and experimental chef.  more



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