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Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am on the 410 LSE and this coach smells like foul diarrhea

I am not moving. There is no where to go.

This train is packed.

It's amazing how once we have a seat, we will cling to it and suffer through anything, including what smells like a thousand, hard-boiled eggs died a terrible death in someone's colon.

That is all.

That is all I will say about this.

Damn you Megan Jones and your common name says the blogger with an equally common name

I got this email last night.
I guess it was supposed to make me feel bad and drive me to drown my sorrow in a 2-litre tub of peanut butter ice cream, but it didn't.
All it did was make me want to find out where Megan Jones works so I could add her to my ever-growing Christmas card list. Problem is, there are tons of Megan Jones on LinkedIN and I'm too scared to re-import my contact list (she's not on it so she must be a second connection? To one of you?) because I don't want to bombard 800 or so people again.

from: Jones, Megan
to: cj@thiscrazytrain.com
date: Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 6:21 PM
subject: LinkedIN

Thank you not so very much for your LinkedIN request.
Are you that desperate in your overzealous quest for popularity that you now have to beg complete strangers to be friends with you?
I was surprised when I saw the email. Then I felt sorry for you. I'm not sure what you were hoping to accomplish but I see others were more than happy to accommodate you as your connections have grown to over 80 people.
Congratulations.
You are a sad woman. I feel sorry for your husband and your daughter.
If running amok across the internet and social media is how you manage your self-esteem, your daughter is going to have a tough go at it in life.

Regards,
Megan Jones

Some guy made a complilation video of train snow plows and it's pretty awesome

WHERE DO I SIGN UP TO BE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF ONE OF THESE?

Presented without comment

The one with the empty gas tank

My husband has left Canada on a US football pilgrimage to Green Bay which leaves me the car and the babysitter runs it entails. This morning I was pumped to catch the 7 am Oshawa GO train but when I started the car at 6:32 am in my garage in Courtice, I noticed the 12 KM to empty warning on the dash.

You summabitch.

I love my husband. I really do. I know why he did this because we're trading the car in tomorrow for a 2014 model to replace our 2009 model of Ford Flex and he's keen on handing it over with as little gas as possible. Clearly, he didn't think this through on his way home from work yesterday because the new car is Brampton. Was I going to fly there?

I dropped the kid off at the babysitter and drove down to Bloor where I planned to hit up the Husky at Simcoe in Oshawa to fill up. I had no idea Bloor was a clusterfuck at Ritson and I sat in traffic, idling for 10 minutes, and watching the gas gauge with the same level of anxiety I used to watch it as a kid on our family treks to New Brunswick, always convinced my dad was going to run out of gas.

I coasted into the Husky with 2 KM to empty. This has to be a new record.

I missed the 7 am train and I missed the opportunity to finally meet my favourite CSA turned train operator, Dylan, who was running the 7 am out of Oshawa this morning. This was a bummer.

But on a high note, I found a great parking spot, told off a smoker who was smoking in the shelter - on the platform (said he was cold), asked a lady to kindly remove her UGGs from the seat (she did AND APOLOGIZED - yes I'm buying a lottery ticket) and ran into an old friend who I haven't seen since 2010. This makes up for the empty gas tank.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Presto launches on TTC streetcars this Sunday

My reaction when the crazy dude at the bus stop this morning asked me if I was in my last year of high school


I told him I turned 40 in June. He took a long drag on his cigarette, blew the smoke upward and shook his head no. AND I SWEAR ON EVERY SINGLE BIBLE THERE IS ON THE PLANET, he then said:

"That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."

No. No. OH HELLS NO.

This guy was creepy. He was creepier than the guy who hit me up on the bus last week who asked me to show him how Twitter works, his breath stinking like he drank an entire LCBO. He really needed to invest in some quality mouthwash.

"Our Man on the Train" - Columnist chronicles his commute for the London Telegraph

Phil (love you, man) sent me an email to ask me if I knew about "Our Man on the Train".

Phil moved here from the UK this past summer and commutes from Stouffville to Union Station. He found my blog early this morning and said I immediately made him homesick. I have no idea why. Ain't nothin' British about me.

The column is called "Commuter Spy" and it's written by an anonymous columnist simply known as "Our Man on the Train". THIS WOULD BE MY DREAM JOB, Y'ALL!!!

This guy could easily be me, especially this story about the banana.

Click here to read more of his work.

Airport workers to get a discount on new Union Station-Pearson train

In Russia, you push plane, ya? If plane too cold to fly

This woman just broke the first rule for what not to do on public transit


Is she... ?


She's not ...


She totally is!

So this happens pretty much every night when GO trains go to sleep

Oh for god's sake ... I think I pulled a Facebook-style please play this game stunt

... on LinkedIN

So it was suggested I set up a profile, and I did, and although I painstakingly went through almost 800 contacts that were pulled in from my cj@thiscrazytrain.com Gmail account, and deselected over a hundred people (including my husband), I believe an invitation to join my newly created network was sent to EVERYONE (sorry!).

What was interesting about the exercise is that I now know where a majority of my haters work, along with photos of what they look like.

You can run but you can't hide?

Of course, other than creeping their profiles, there isn't anything else to gain from this information except to show up at my number one "fan"'s work and tell the receptionist I am there to take Richard out to lunch. Then I would have Richard paged and I'd wait patiently in the lobby for Richard.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This is worthy of a repost - Tired of bag riders? Try this



Thanks to Elaine for sending it in - but Cindy had it first.

Someone better check on the gerbil

My favourite part is the "insert empathy statement".

Here's one for you. Sorry the gerbil died.

from: Pacman
to: cj@thiscrazytrain.com
date: Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM
subject: Fwd: GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx CR0006001409

I thought you would like this. This is a reply I received about a question asking why my trip was not eligible for refund since we sat at union with door issues. We were late already and by the time they got them open it was 18 minutes over the arrival time.
In trust you will remove any names/e-mail addresses.
Thanks,
Pacman

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "GO Transit Customer Relations"
Date: Nov 25, 2014 10:55 AM
Subject: GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx CR0006001409
To: "Pacman"
Cc:

Dear Mr.,
Thank you for your {email/letter/fax regarding} regarding {insert details of commendation}.
{Insert empathy statement if applicable}
{Insert details regarding concern/inquiry and resolution}
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to address this {concern/inquiry}.
Sincerely,
Name Customer Service Representative
GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx
20 Bay Street, Suite 600, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2W3
customerrelations@gotransit.com
This e-mail message is privileged, confidential and subject to copyright. Any unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Metrolinx bus purchase to improve service and create jobs

TORONTO, November 24, 2014 - Metrolinx has signed an agreement with Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) to purchase 253 fully accessible, low floor, double-decker buses to provide better GO bus service and create up to 30 new full-time jobs in Ontario.

Under the agreement, ADL will supply and deliver the 253 buses over the next five years and establish a bus chassis assembly facility in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that will create up to 30 full-time jobs. Construction of the chassis facility is expected to begin in mid-2015 and the first order of buses is expected by 2016. If needed, there is an option for Metrolinx to purchase an additional 150 buses over the five-year contract, up to 30 per year.

The buses will support service growth throughout the region and will ensure continued service reliability for GO Transit customers by replacing older vehicles at the end of their lifecycle. With a lower height, they will enable higher capacity service on all of GO Transit’s bus routes since they will be able to access four major terminals that cannot be served by existing double-decker buses due to height restrictions — Hamilton, Yorkdale, York Mills and the Union Station bus terminals.

“We believe everyone should have access to fast, convenient and integrated transit,” said Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig. “These buses represent the future of our bus fleet and set a new standard for the service we provide. Their lower floors will allow customers with limited mobility to board with ease, and their lower height will allow us to bring double-decker service to all of our routes.”

“The agreement to purchase 253 new buses is part of Ontario’s plan to make taking public transit even more attractive and will bring jobs to Ontario,” said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation. “This is proof of our government’s commitment to making the daily commute and quality of life better for Ontario families, and creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives.”

“We are delighted to be working with Metrolinx on this further multi-year agreement,” said Robert Davey, Group Commercial and Business Development Director at ADL. “Our relationship goes back to 2007, and we currently have nearly 125 ADL double decks operating in the Toronto area. This latest contract will add significantly to that number, demonstrating that high-capacity double decks are not only popular with passengers but can make a unique contribution at the heart of sophisticated transport systems.”

Each bus will also come equipped with the following accessibility improvements:

  • a lower floor and a longer, more gradual entrance ramp for easier boarding and exiting
  • a wider area for individuals with wheeled mobility devices to manoeuvre and 120V charging outlets for motorized wheelchairs
  • automated next-stop announcements and displays.

This purchase is part of Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan to provide residents and businesses in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area with fast, convenient and integrated transit. Working through its divisions GO Transit, PRESTO, and Union Pearson Express, Metrolinx is transforming the way the region moves.

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 30: PRESTO? No. It’s more a matter of hurry up and wait …

All 29 chapters of the Presto Chronicles start here

The entry was written by Frank E. Futor:

This chapter of the Presto Chronicles has its genesis over a year ago.  I finally have some time to knit together the various events and bits of evidence to try to relate what happened.

My son, “N”, was an early adopter of PRESTO.  He liked the Autoload feature until it stopped working for him.  No one knows what went wrong, but he had to resort to loading funds manually to his e-Purse, which did not sit well with him.  After one agonizing trip (I’ll spare you the colourful language) last spring, I told him to give me his card and access to his online account.  After some investigation, I dashed off the following e-mail:

From: FF
Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:01 AM
To: Greg Percy
Cc: Robert Hollis; C.J. Smith
Subject: Yet another PRESTO problem – Autoload doesn't

Dear Mr Percy,

My son, N, approached me with a problem he has had with his PRESTO card (3124*****23090007) since last autumn, namely, Autoload does not work.  Despite discussing the matter with PRESTO CSRs and cancelling and recreating Autoload "contracts", the matter persists.

Here is a snapshot of how Autoload is configured for the card:


Here is a snippet of the transaction history showing that Autoload did not trigger:


Here is the card status as viewed on a GO Transit bus.  Why is the Autoload status "Disabled"?


Is this yet another PRESTO bug, or a case of “users unfamiliarity with the features”?

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

I extend to Ms. Cindy Smith the rights to publish this e-mail as she sees fit on her blog site, ThisCrazyTrain.com.

Sincerely,
FF

In response, I received the following e-mail:

From: L. B.
Date: Fri, 23 May 2014 13:15:20 +0000
To: FF
Cc: J. S., C. T.
Subject: FW: Yet another PRESTO problem – Autoload doesn't URGENT

Mr F,

My name is L. B. with the PRESTO Customer Care team.   I left a message for you this morning and just wanted to follow up with an email to ensure you had my contact information.

Thank you for your recent email to Greg Percy, President of GO Transit and Robert Hollis, Executive Vice President of PRESTO. Please allow me to respond on their behalf. I’m very sorry to hear of the challenges your son has experienced with his autoload contract.   On behalf of the entire PRESTO organization, please accept our apologies for these issues and the inconvenience they have caused him.

My investigation has determined that the autoload contract that was set up on October 20th, 2014 was not picked up.  After the contract is set up online, the card must be tapped to pick up or activate the contract.  If the card is not tapped within 30 days, the contract activation request expires.  According to the transaction history on the card, the next tap did not occur until December 20th.  At that point, 30 days had passed and the activation request had expired.

We can have the autoload contract activation resent, then after 24 hours (but within 30 days) you can tap the card, and the contract will be activated.  Please contact me to have this done if it is something you are interested in.

Also note that we have not determined what happened to the original contract.  To investigate this further, I would need to speak to you to gather more information.  I can arrange a call if you would like this investigated.

Thank you for bringing these matters to our attention and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
L.
Senior Business Analyst - Customer Care - PRESTO

Problem solved.  Right?  Not so fast!  The investigation by PRESTO staff wasn’t as thorough as it should have been.  They completely missed the following attempt to reestablish the Autoload by tying it to a different credit card on April 18.  The PRESTO system fired off the following e-mail:

From: PRESTO Customer Service
Date: 2014-04-18 12:14 GMT-04:00
Subject: Contracts Modified / Modification de contrats
To: N

Dear N,

Congratulations, your request to modify the Autoload contract associated with the PRESTO Card 3124*****23090007 has been successfully processed. The contract ID number is 000618687_133.

Please take note of the contract number in your records, or keep this letter for future reference should you need to contact the PRESTO Call Centre for inquiries regarding this contract.

PRESTO is committed to providing you with the best customer experience possible. If you have any questions or comments, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please visit us at www.prestocard.ca or call our toll free number at 1-8-PRESTO-123 (1-877-378-6123).

Thank you for choosing PRESTO.

Sincerely,
The PRESTO Team

The team continued to investigate, but first they “pushed” the Autoload contract to the field, and my son activated it after waiting 24 hours.  So, why was Autoload still not working after the e-mail was sent?  As L. B. explained:

Subject: RE: Contracts Modified / Modification de contrats
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2014 14:21:53 +0000
From: L. B.
To: N

Hello N,

I just wanted to let you know that our technical team completed their investigation into why your contract did not kick in in April.  It appears that while the contract you set up in October of last year expired because it was not picked up in 30 days, it did still appear in your account (which is normal, but misleading).  When you went into your profile in April it appears you altered that contract (changed your credit card info, I think you said?).  That triggered the ‘Congratulations’ message you received, but unfortunately, because the contract was not ‘active’, nothing was pushed out.  Interestingly enough, I have been told that if you had changed your threshold, or top up amount, it would have reactivated the contract and sent this info out to the devices and you would have been able to pick it up with no problem.  As you know, after I contacted our technical team, they resent the action (contract) and you were able to pick up the contract and start receiving autoloads.  And because you had changed the billing info, it is billing to the correct card.

Well, I just wanted to pass on that information.  As always, contact me if you have questions.

Regards,
L

Post Mortem Analysis

On October 20, 2013, my son talked to a PRESTO CSR who admitted "something doesn't look quite right" with the current Autoload setup.  My son informed the CSR he had to catch a GO train within the hour, so with the CSR still on the line, the existing contract was cleared and a new one created.  The CSR confirmed that the new contract was set up correctly in the system and would be activated on the next tap ON and that my son was good to travel.  This advice wasn't quite correct.

When an Autoload contract is created, the PRESTO system requires up to twenty-four (24) hours to push the contract request to all card interface points in the field.  In order for the contract to be applied to the card, the customer must tap the card after this one day synchronization period and within thirty (30) days of the Autoload contract's creation.  Because the October 20 tap ON was within an hour of the creation of the contract, the card did not pick up the Autoload request, and because there was no card usage until December 20, the Autoload request expired.

Even though the October 20 contract had expired, it remained tied to the PRESTO card and displayed a status of Active, although the PRESTO technical team stated it was not active.  This situation cannot be viewed as normal.  It's clearly a deficiency – a bug – that must be rectified.

It should be noted that PRESTO’s congratulatory e-mail confirmations state nothing about actions required by the customer to activate the contract.  If the system requires specific synchronization steps to be followed by the cardholder, then it would behoove PRESTO to communicate those instructions to the customer at every opportunity.  Otherwise, as we've seen, a race condition is created wherein the results are indeterminate, i.e. a bug.  Hence, the e-mail confirmations need to be revised to include the same timing constraints that are displayed after an Autoload contract is completed online.  CSRs need to remind customers of the timing constraints, too.

Thank you to L.B. and her team for resolving nine months of Autoload grief for my son.

PRESTO’s Autoload advertising, “Set it up once.  Never have to think twice.” remains pure balderdash.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Florida's "GO trains" have tables

Sun Rail runs the same locos and coaches as GO Transit, which are manufactured by Bombardier.

Them bitches got tables. Tables!

Buffalo fans of ThisCrazyTrain.com share their pics

Our friends south of us don't get their transit system back til Monday ... maybe Tuesday...

I like how the bus states the obvious.



So this exists on commuter trains in Galway, Ireland

Transit advocates pushing for affordable fares on Union-Pearson air rail link

Our Union Pearson Coalition is planning a series of rallies and canvassing events right up until Dec. 11, when Metrolinx is expected to officially announce the fare levels for the four-stop rail service offering rapid trips between Terminal One of Pearson International Airport and Union Station, beginning in the spring of 2015.

It’s been speculated fares will cost between $20 and $30 for a regular one-way trip traveling the full length of the line. In recent months Metrolinx officials have publicly stated there’s room for “alternative” pricing.

That’s not good enough for coalition spokesperson Jessica Bell, who said Thursday, Nov. 6 all UP fares should be fixed at the level of TTC cash fares: around $3 per trip.

“It’s outrageous,” said Bell, who is also chair of the transit advocacy group TTCriders. “What we don’t understand is why would you take this massive 23-kilometre line and turn it into a service for just the One Percent.”

“Why should we be paying 20 or 30 dollars when it should be a true transit line?”

KEEP READING

Metrolinx's UP Express to use American firm's app to accept mobile payments (you mean PRESTO can't support mobile payments?!)

Toronto’s new airport line will be using a mobile ticketing app when it opens next year.

The Union Pearson Express will be using an app from New York-based Bytemark, which lets passengers buy and present tickets using their smart phones, in a move targeting visitors to the city.

KEEP READING

Is arriving at Toronto's Union Station from Kitchener by GO train seven minutes sooner worth $900 million?

Electrifying the GO train line between Kitchener and Toronto — something the Liberals have promised to do within the next 10 years at great cost — would save only seven minutes of travel time each way and cost $800 to $900 million in 2010 dollars, according to a report completed by Metrolinx.

To shorten the travel time on the Kitchener line by more than seven minutes, GO Transit president Greg Percy told Metrolinx's board of directors in September that the agency will need to add a new rail track parallel to the existing one and work with CN Rail to co-ordinate boosted train service.

KEEP READING

What's with this aversion to opening doors all of a sudden?!


PULL. THE. DOOR. OPEN.

For your Friday night train ride home