This Saturday, GO Transit begins summer weekend train service to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, and it seems local authorities down that way are finally paying attention to tourists who don’t happen to arrive by car.
The Niagara area offers a wide range of worthwhile activities, and yet when transit-savvy visitors from Japan, Europe or even the GTA would arrive in town, the near-invisibility of local transport options made the place look backwards.
The intercity bus and train depots in Niagara Falls are not near the waterfalls. But instead of simply hopping on a local bus, many new arrivals found it easier to just pay for a cab.
VIA Rail, Coach Canada and Greyhound travel throughout the day to Niagara Falls and beyond, as they have for years. Thankfully, the expected arrival of four large GO trains every Saturday, Sunday and holiday has local transport providers scrambling to accommodate hoped-for crowds.
The two local bus services aimed at visitors are the “Falls Shuttle” of Niagara Transit and the Niagara Parks “People Mover.”
They are barely integrated so you should decide beforehand which is best for you. Both serve the Falls and major destinations.
I’ve prepared a list of local transit tips and links. See the blog post at metronews.ca/eddrass as well as a special page of eddrass.com, under “Niagara.”
Here are the basics: GO rail service runs weekends and holidays from Saturday through Thanksgiving. Consult gotransit.com for schedules, fares and other key details.
During this period Niagara Falls Transit plans to beef up the hourly Falls Shuttle service which stops very close to the VIA Rail station. Day passes are good on both the Shuttle network and regular city bus routes.
The Niagara Parks People Mover buses stop a few blocks from the rail station at White Water Walk, where day passes are sold. You may need to ask directions.
The Niagara Region has one of the most developed bicycle path networks in Ontario, and a limited number of bikes are allowed on the GO trains. VIA Rail is again offering special bike transport to Niagara this year; see biketrain.ca to reserve a spot and plan a tour.