Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Fare increase for 2019 GO Transit passengers doesn't appear to be on the agenda for this Thursday's Metrolinx board meeting

This has been one of my biggest worries seeing as commuting by GO now carries the financial equivalent of making a third or second car payment for many commuters. I'm at $344 a month in fare for myself (using November as a reference point).

Generally it's around this time of year that GO Transit presents a case to Metrolinx for increasing fares. I went ahead and reviewed the agenda for the December 6th board meeting and this isn't on it. There is a discussion about fare policy with 10 minutes allotted to the speakers, so I think we're safe to assume we've been spared an increase come February 2019.

But, we've been shafted before. The last increase happened in the fall of 2017 when we were all hit with a 3% hike, so we may not be completely out of the woods!

Better late than never for a feel good Go Transit Lost & Found story!

This past weekend I received a DM on Twitter asking if I had the chance to read an email a person had sent me regarding GO RER and Toronto Mayor John Tory. I did not recall said email and decided to scroll through my Gmail spam folder and stumbled across not only the email in question, but also this email from MS who forgot his Apple laptop on the train back in July.

I suspect emails from readers found their way into spam due to the filters and mail rules I have set up to avoid Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day emails. I apologized to MS who was very understanding. I also apologize to others whose emails were trapped.

from: MS
date: Jun 13, 2018, 1:37 PM
subject: Love for Go Transit: Backpack with MacBook Pro returned intact

Hi CJ,

I found your blog when googling about GoTrain lost & found histories. I like your blog a lot. I've lived in Canada for ~8 years and never used Go trains until last weekend. My family and I (wife, one 3-yrd old and a 2-weeks baby) recently moved to Whitby and decided to try the Go Train to go to the aquarium on Saturday along with my inlaws that are visiting. I work as a software engineer and sometimes we need to be 'on call' in case systems break. I was on call so I took my laptop with me. A new MacBook pro 2017. On the way back, while chasing my kid (who was excited about riding the train and going up and down the stairs) I left my backpack on the upper level seat while chasing my kid downstairs. We arrived to Whitby and checked the seats so we don't forget anything (we were all sitting on the lower level), wife, inlaws, newborn baby, my 3-yrd old, stroller, diaper bag, etc; but as you can guess, forgot my backpack in the upper level!

Needless to say it's a horrible situation. I'm 3 months into this new job and I lose the laptop! never happened to me in my life and just had to happen as I start a new job. I filed the lost & found report online that night, visited them on Sunday at Union Station and they said there was nothing else to do but wait. My backpack contained not only the laptop but also charger adapter, accessories, airpods, etc; Finally, they called me back Monday 2pm to tell me it was found!

It's a shame there's no reward for whoever found it and returned it. I'd gladly had paid a reward to whoever did this, even if people don't do it for the money, it's a huge favor done to those of us who accidentally forgot something and perhaps being able to share a reward and/or thank you note would encourage more people to report/return lost items.

Anyways, I figured this success story could help anxious people like myself when they wander at 3am in the morning if they'll see their lost items again.

Attached pic of the most important returned item.



Monday, December 3, 2018

GO train to Courtice-Bowmanville in 2024? Don't hold your breath!

The current Ontario government party in charge has put the brakes on the expansion into Niagara Region after Metrolinx sent a letter to the region saying the project had been "halted".

This makes me nervous. As with the Mimico station renovation on the Lakeshore West corridor, where a private developer was selected to build the new station, I suspect this is what will happen in Courtice and Bowmanville since the letter outlines that Grimsby will only go ahead once a third party investor has been found.

The Toronto Star also reported this may be the new normal for regional transportation infrastructure where shovels haven't yet met dirt.

I have mixed feelings about this. The area where the Courtice station is to be built could benefit from this kind of partnership as it's in the middle of a field with no subdivisions or amenities within a 5 km radius. In Bowmanville, it's a different situation where the area is over-developed and traffic would be greatly impacted if say, a condo were to built on the station site. In Oshawa, the new station is to be built where a Knob Hill Farms grocery store once stood. The area would benefit from housing, especially if it's rental housing.

This all sounds great in theory but how long do we wait? That's the billion dollar question no one in the Ford government is willing to answer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Since Metrolinx employees can't stop raving about the new Union Station Food Court on Twitter, I decided to go check it out

Where is it? York Concourse, Basement, Toronto Union Station
Hours: Monday to Friday 7am to 10pm & Saturday to Sunday 10am to 10pm
What's there to eat?

At first blush, I can appreciate the use of a vibrant colour and height so that the customer doesn't feel like he or she is trapped in a World War Two bunker, so A+ for that.

Moving stairs that actually work are an engineering marvel in this day in age. Five stars.

Tables. Chairs. Waste bins. Ambient lighting. Standing tables with charging stations really give off a, "Hey, we're here for you" kind of vibe. Almost like a hug from your favourite uncle. 

My Ukranian heritage is too scared to ask what a Loaded Pierogi is.
Some things just shouldn't be messed with.

Violet is a strong colour theme down here. Clearly the designer spent some time researching colour theory. Purple happens to be my favourite colour. It's a colour that combines blue and red where blue is a stable colour and red is energetic. Purple is supposed to evoke a feeling of calm in its subjects. The color purple is also associated with royalty and ambition. It's always been interesting to me that car manufacturers never rolled out purple as a standard car colour.

Purple also represents wealth and the illusion of grandeur (cough).

There's plenty of seating and of course, Tim Horton's makes an appearance. 

As does McDonald's. 

Probably the most depressing area of the food court had to be this space right here. We've moved into Soviet-era territory with no paint, no colour, solitary tables and a ever practical ATM. It's almost mid-eighties mall-like. My advice? Paint the pillars. 

In purple.

Photos too small? Here's the album link.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Time for some heartfelt thanks and remembrance

by Pete S.

My Decade-At-A-Glance® tells me we are fast approaching the sixth anniversary of my first article for This Crazy Train.  I’d like to thank you, Cj, for considering my submissions and publishing so many of them.  It’s been a thrill writing the stories and reading the comments to see how close I got to reporting the truth. 

Thank you for providing many of my noms de plume and allowing me to use some of my own.  Just as David Haydu filled the airwaves with his plethora of zany characters, the pseudonyms allowed me to write on a variety of topics from different perspectives.  For those readers not familiar with David, I loved listening to Pete and Geets on CHUM-FM and later on CFNY-FM.  Just as David “borrowed” his main persona, Geets Romo, from a character on the 1961 Del Close and John Brent album, How To Speak Hip, I used Warren Downe based on David’s Warren Down.  If memory serves me correctly, Warren reported morning traffic, first from the “mobile telephone booth”, and later “riding a John Deere tractor in traffic”.

Most of the experiences I shared stemmed from trips on GO Transit’s Route 12 between Niagara Falls and Burlington.  The ladies and gentlemen who drive this route are very dedicated to their passengers.  This became evident to me in my first month (October 2010) riding the bus.  The driver I rode with remembered me after only a couple of trips.  I took a later trip for a few of weeks, and when I reverted to his bus, he greeted me with, “Hello stranger!  Where have you been?”  I was astounded that he remembered me.

Commitment to excellence is hard to find today.  Allow me to tip my hat and say thank you to the following drivers who I’ve been introduced to, or who chauffeured me and allowed me to serve them by being their lead hand (I managed the luggage), treasurer (I carried an emergency float, as well as a “knuckle full of nickels” for the $x.05 fares of other pax), waiter (drivers need their tea and coffee), and navigator (on demand):

Ali (Streetsville), Anthony S, Bonnie J, Brandy-Jo B, Brenda M, Charlene (Steeprock), Charles T, Christine H, Colin B, Dave W, Debbie I, Derek W, Frances D, Fred O, Garney T, Garry S, Harley B, Heather K, Holly N, Izabela K, Jack-George M, Jack (Streetsville), Janice N, Jason W, Jim C, John P, Joshua B, Jude (Hamilton), Ken (Streetsville), Marjorie F, Mark A, Mark B, Mark K, Mark P, Mary-Jane M, Maureen D, Nestor F, Nigel H, Paul L, Ray M, Richard (Brampton), Robert I, Robert L, Rodney (Oshawa), Ron A, Ron C, Shawn S, Simon H, Steve D, Terry W, Tim C, Tim K, Viktor A, and Wayne P.

I apologize if I missed anyone or spelled your name incorrectly.  There is one driver who I’ve chatted with online, but I’ve never met, which is a little ironic, since we live in the same town.

I’d also like to thank drivers Randy (Megabus) and Frank N (St. Catharines Transit) whose valuable insights during our early morning chats found their way into my stories.

I mustn’t forget the CSAs I met along the way.  You’ll recall the concerns over missing CSA Daniel.  I located Daniel on one of my Friday trips home, and we had a good chuckle over the reports of his disappearance.  Again, I must thank CSA Katelyn who got us through the ghost train debacle.   

I would like to thank the ticket agents at Pickering station for their polite and efficient handling of transactions.  I always found it nice to start my trips with a quick chat with Ilene and Jennifer.  I always loaded my ePurse with them — never auto-load.

My thanks to fare inspectors Gerry (LSE) and Terry (LSW).  These gentlemen not only conduct business politely, they also take the time to answer passengers’ questions.  I enjoyed my brief discussions with Terry about bicycles and appreciated his tips on how to teach oneself to ride a unicycle.

I would also like to thank my neighbour, Walter at Greyhound, who mentored several employees now at GO Transit.  Because of Walter, as well as GO’s drivers, I believe I am a better automobile driver.

I’ve often wondered whether any of the stories that I wrote made a difference.  Certainly not those articles about renovations at Burlington station — six years on, and we still cannot buy a cup of coffee there.  GO Transit did mothball Route 11, the seasonal money-losing shuttle between St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake.  The manual procedure for loading funds to ePurses changed after pilferage by a systemic PRESTO problem was exposed in the Presto Chronicles.  Passenger safety enhancements were implemented on double decker buses to mitigate the hazards of luggage after the risks were documented in Meet the Deckers.  In the aftermath of the story about the bus stop from hell, the Mayor of St. Catharines reports that ticket vending machines will be installed at Fairview Mall, although Metrolinx is dragging their feet again over “infrastructure” issues.

Is there a story I wanted to write but didn’t?  Yes.  I wanted to pen an article about the double decker bus that was blown off Hwy 115 during inclement weather and poor road conditions.  I couldn’t proceed because I was not in possession of a key piece of evidence — the photo showing the bus off the road.  The photo exists, but no amount of begging and pleading could produce the picture, so no story was written.

Now it’s time to share with you, Cj, and the followers of your blog that this is my last submission to This Crazy Train.  Thank you, all, for taking the time to read my articles and to write your comments.  I mean this sincerely.  Hopefully we’ve had some fun along the way.  It’s been a blast for me!  I encourage everyone to give it a whirl.

On behalf of Warren Downe, Ali Gator, Frank E Futor, Chris P. Bacon, A.L. Gorithm, Billy Bob, Iona Pintó, Hy Perbole, Ian Cognito, Bea N. Counter, Yew Wannanohooiam, and GO Voyageur, this is Peter signing off.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Hey - it's time for an update - right?

Apologies everyone, as I know it's been pretty quiet as I continue to choose Twitter over Blogger but it's where I tend to live. I know some of you aren't on Twitter but you don't need an account to review what I've been discussing. I provide a feed on this blog and it's to the right.

Anything investigative or worthy of words longer than what tweets can handle will be posted here.

I appreciate that many continue to check the blog everyday. I'm restricted at work. It makes it difficult to post and blogging on a phone is still crappy!