Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Broken PRESTO card contest takes a turn for humanity

from: Cindy (Cj) Smith 
to: Rav Gill
date: Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 10:57 PM
subject: Congratulations! Steak (or coffee) is on me!

Hi Rav!
On August 8th you submitted an entry into my broken Presto card contest. Guess what!? My cat, using a very scientific process, sat on your email and declared you the winner.
You have a choice between $25 to spend at Starbucks or The Keg.
Please let me know if you are able to meet tomorrow in front of the Dairy Queen at Union Station for 4:45 pm, or a time convenient for you, to collect your gift card. I will pick up the card up on my way down.


from: Rav Gill 
to: Cindy (Cj) Smith 
date: Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 2:31 PM
subject: Re: Congratulations! Steak (or coffee) is on me!

Hi Cj!

This is amazing. But you know what's amazing? Your website and your desuire to right all that is wrong with this fare card. Truth be told as much I'd like to see you spend that money on me I have a request. Don't be mad. But do you think I can suggest a charitable donation to something that is dear to my heart? And you can make it in my name? You can keep the receipt. Or if it's too little, don't worry. It's the principle of it. I lost my dad and my brother to cancer. I participate in the Terry Fox run every year and in their memories. Would you consider a donation? I hope I'm not overstepping what you were trying to do here and I hope it doesn't cause a problem among those who entered.


from: Cindy (Cj) Smith 
to: Rav Gill
date: Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 3:19 PM
subject: Re: Congratulations! Steak (or coffee) is on me!

That's a wonderful gesture. As for hard feelings among other entrants, I am using my own money to fund the prize so I don't think it matters how it's spent or if you would rather be charitable. I'm all for it. I'll look into the donation and I think you should get the receipt because I believe a $25 donation is tax deductible. If you're comfortable, please send me your mailing address, otherwise, I'll use my information but make it on behalf of you (as requested), or better yet, how about you give me your dad and brother's name?
I do have to announce the winner today and will publish what we chatted about online. Okay to use your full name and where you're from?

from: Rav Gill 
to: Cindy (Cj) Smith 
date: Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 3:24 PM
subject: Re: Congratulations! Steak (or coffee) is on me!

Absolutely! My home address is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Mississauga, ON XXXXXXX You're too kind. Thank you for this honour. And it's ok to publish my name and any other details you wish to share.

Fashion Plate - The "game" was called Fashion Plate


So amazing.

Here's the toy (mine is definitely buried deep in the ground in Vaughan at the former Keele Valley dump) I was trying to remember the name of.


On the train this morning, I overheard two women talking about this "game" they had as kids where you could colour outfits onto paper.

I had the biggest 'Nam flashback and like them, I struggled with the name.

It came to me as I rode the elevator up to my office and like an idiot, I actually proclaimed out loud, with strangers in the elevator, "Fashion Plate!" which caused one woman to self-consciously check herself out in the reflection of the doors.

I guess you had to be there. It was pretty funny.

I apologized, blamed my turrets and hurriedly exited at my floor.

But seriously, remember this?

And since we're on the topic of flashbacks of toys from when we were kids (those who hover around my age - 40) I've been trying to remember the name of a toy I had that was like the broke-ass cousin of the Etch-A-Sketch. 

It was red. It had a round, dome, plastic display and you had these plastic plates you put over a small Joystick. 

You moved the Joystick around to make a pattern. Anyone?

The Interview

Last Friday, because of the hype over the 72 Pape Bus Leprechaun aka Colossal Douchebag, I was contacted by Global News for an interview by email.

Here`s the full interview for those who are interested. I thought the reporter asked some great questions.

1)      What are some of the worst transit horror stories you experience or heard about?

I haven't witnessed it myself but there have been reports to me about people, when drunk, urinating in the aisle of a GO train and on the subway. But people are just as bad when they are sober. I once watched a man brush his teeth next to me on the GO train. He had two water bottles. One was empty and one had water. He used the one with water to rinse his mouth and he used the other to spit into it.

2)      What was your first reaction to reading about the “colossal douchebag” on a 72 TTC bus?

I'm actually glad the victim didn't attempt to retaliate after the alleged suspect pushed her. We live in a society where we have no idea the headspace of another person. Does he have a knife? Sometimes it's best not to engage or push back, whether physically or verbally. It can get ugly real quick. Generally people move a bag or feet when asked, but the reaction of this man, that's very telling all is not well upstairs.

3)      Any nice transit stories to share? There have to be some nice people out there!

GO Transit has some amazing bus operators (and front line workers) who go above and beyond the duties of the job, and I have fellow passengers who have big hearts. The nicest act of kindness I witnessed was when this elderly woman boarded a bus on my route. She had never taken GO Transit before and was heading to St. Mike's to visit her sister who had suffered a massive stroke the day before. Her husband had died earlier in the year and with no family nearby, transit was her only option as her husband did all the driving. The driver made sure she got on the train okay and myself and two other passengers stayed with her during the ride and helped her navigate Union Station and get on the TTC subway. The man who was with us then walked with her from Queen subway to St. Mike's and said he would pick her up after he was done work to help her get home. Despite everything I've covered on my blog, I still have faith in humanity.

4)      Have any of the “inconsiderate” commuters that you have posted or written about contacted you after and perhaps even apologized?

I can recall three people who I confronted directly approaching me after the fact to admit they were out of line. If anyone has "recognized" themselves in a post, no, no one has come forward to apologize. But I have received emails from people who feel they must come to the Church of the Crazy Train and confess their commuter sins of not paying fare, riding with wet boots or shoes on seats, or using seats as their personal luggage compartment.

5)      What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to commuting?

"Backpersons" aka backpacks. I have no idea why people going to work need to carry their worldly possessions with them. Some of these backpacks are the equivalent of carrying a 4-year-old on one's back and most backpack folks are oblivious to the amount of room their backperson actually take up, especially on a subway. Second are those folks who travel with wheelie suitcases. I was tripped once by a person who crossed over right in front of me, completely unaware of the dangers her sudden lane change caused as the crowd moved through Union. I happened to be carrying a Tupperware container of muffins at the time for a company bake sale. They didn't make it. Third, the "Oh my god I need to phone my aunt and tell her all about my gynecological results" cellphone yappers. No one needs to hear your personal business.

6)      Three rules all commuters should follow:

1. Be aware - you're not in a bubble. Check the volume of your music and your mobile notifications.
2. Keep your feet off the seat.
3. Keep your personal life to text messaging.

7)      When did you start your blog and why?

February 2010. There wasn't any other GO train blog online. I had been posting status updates about funny commuter incidents or gross observations on Facebook and friends suggested I blog.

8)      What has been the feedback to your blog (from the public, perhaps even the TTC or GO officials if they ever contacted you).

I like  to think I provide an amazing public relations service for Metrolinx. I am on good terms with GO Transit representatives and have great respect for their customer relations team and their security team who, if I get wind of a story or am told something I think is wrong or needs investigating, they are always willing to provide guidance about how to address the issue and what to write to my audience. Brad Ross of the TTC is one of the most amazing examples of what an effective front line ambassador of customer service is. The TTC needs to hang onto him.

9)   After all the horror stories, do you ever consider commuting to work another way (i.e. by car)?

I have no desire to own my own car ever again. I decided at the end of 2011, and when my lease was up, to go car free. I'm richer for it (a savings of almost $8000/year), healthier for it, (I've lost over 80 pounds) and I get to engage in situations with people, good or bad, that I wouldn't have while isolated in a car. It's not for everyone but it suits me just fine.

Happy GO Train Operator is happy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This guy

Apparently old enough to be my father told a passenger (not me) who asked he take his empty coffee cup and empty DQ container with him to dispose of - once the train emptied - to do it himself.

"You're not the boss of me," he called after the passenger, who also reminded him to keep his feet off the seats next time.

A lot of these donkeys really need to check their privilege.

GoPro footage of train passing over camera causing a stir among rail enthusiasts and rail safety advocates

I will admit it's cool footage but here's what was said:
As a conductor (moderator) of /r/Trains over on Reddit and well-respected train safety advocate in the Southwest, I want you to know that placing any sort of object on/or near live train tracks is a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. It sickens me to think you put the lives of the operating staff and any additional passengers at risk for some sophomoric fun and Youtube views. As such I have sent this video to the AZ Department of Transportation to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.
-Eugene Tilsir

Will buses have right of way? Or will it be more of the same?

Union Station office tower development to feature new GO bus terminal

Monday, September 29, 2014

I've never felt a desire to "air" out my feet in public - I don't understand those who do

Ouch! Passenger injured in extraordinary Istanbul subway accident

A passenger was injured by an iron bar thrust into his body on an Istanbul subway train on Sept. 29.

The iron bar broke through the window of the metro carriage and thrust through the hip of the passenger, who was then photographed lying on the ground with the iron bar stuck into him. The photo has been widely shared on social media. 

The accident occurred as the train was proceeding between the Seyrantepe and Sanayi stops.

The injured passenger has been identified as 33-year-old Fatih Çoban. He was rushed into surgery after being taken to the Okmeydanı Research and Training Hospital.


More frequent service for Kitchener passengers?

GO buys Kitchener track west of Georgetown

Meanwhile, at Brampton GO Station

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Don't toss away that broken PRESTO card!

Please submit a photo of your snapped or split card to Please include how long you owned the card and the approximate date it snapped. As an incentive, from all the pictures I receive, I will conduct a random draw from all the entries for a $25 Starbucks gift card or a $25 Keg gift card. 

Please submit your pic by September 30, 2014. The draw will be held October 1, 2014. The winner agrees to meet me in the GO Concourse at Union Station on October 2nd, 2014 at at time to be arranged to collect the gift card and hopefully agree to a photo for the winner's circle.

I can't even...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sorry for no dated Newspaper. Walking through Hudson's Bay Queen Street, when suddenly...

This is perfect for "What does Bill say?"

I've sent this email off to the head of GO Transit Security for a response although I suspect we'll have answers in the comments faster than Bill on his iPhone.

to: ""
date: Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM
subject: Thanks for being so cool + what's a code 23-23 on the GO train?

Hi CJ,

First things first, love the blog/content/twitter account!

I'm a second year university student in the city and my parents live in the boonies (Milton) so I've become fairly accustomed to the GO life, and definitely appreciate it.

Nonetheless, I have noticed that irksome things that come with it - bags on seats, feet on seats, unwillingness to share legroom. You know all this. It's precisely why I think your blog to be so great! It addresses a lot of the less-than-pleasant behaviour we otherwise brush under the rug.

I also appreciate the insider perspective. You demonstrate an initiative and dig deeper when you want to know something. That's admirable, when most people wouldn't even bother.

I had an experience yesterday on the Milton train westbound to the 'burbs where right as the train was slowing down to pull into Lisgar, a chime sounded on the PA followed by an announcement of a "code 23-23 on car" 2326 or something. I looked up to discover that's not the car I was in, but was nonetheless extremely curious.

Do you have any leads as to what a Code 23-23 is?

Again, you're extremely hilarious and the premise of the blog is totally necessary. A service to all of- okay, some of us. :)

Thanks in advance!

Well this is somewhat disturbing

GO Transit in the dark on details of dangerous goods shipments

We were doing great til she whacked her head

Jayde and I are headed into work together and this afternoon we're off to Ripleys Aquarium.

She wanted to sit on the top level of the Double Decker bus and I obliged and the ride went swimmingly until it was time to alight. We were in the suicide seats and as Jayde got up, she whacked her head against the monitor (awesome design placement by the way). It sounded awful and sounded like it hurt.

My kid, for some reason, always puts on a brave face. I don't know if it's part of her autism disorder but she's never been a crier.  But this morning, she couldn't hold it in.

Bus driver D. was very sweet, trying to make her laugh while I coaxed her off the bus. She and I  hugged it out on the platform with more snot and tears. I felt really bad.

Here we are before it all went south.