Thursday, February 23, 2017

So this happened

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GO Train Schedules Displayed for Highway Commuters? So... how's that going?

When I received this submission for publication, I reached out to the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario for comment. So far, a week later, crickets.  For all I know, my email was filed under "G", for garbage.

Another burgeoning boondoggle for Burlington?

Special to This Crazy Train
By Iona Pintó

For a few moments, let’s set aside the engineering embarrassment that is Burlington GO station (and its parking garage).and look at Metrolinx’s latest experiment for that city.

I’m sure you recall the provincial government’s announcement on October 14, 2016 of “a year-long pilot that will use electronic highway signs to show drivers nearby transit information and promote alternative travel options, to help manage congestion and get people where they're going sooner”.

Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon, positively gushed with excitement in Inside Halton’s news article when she gave the following example of the signs’ benefits:

“So, I’m sitting on the QEW westbound in lane two, I just hear on my radio… there’s a collision on Mississauga Road on the QEW and you suddenly realize that you’re now not going to make your 9 a.m. meeting,”

“You look up and the sign says GO train 12 minutes…. I’m going to do that. Why? Because I can sit on the GO train and make a phone call hands-free to my staff saying I’m not going to make that meeting, please tell the folks I can join them by phone… and have my material infront [sic] of me.”

“.... There I am, I haven’t missed the meeting, I haven’t wasted anyone’s time and I can actively participate because I can sit on the train and I’m leveraging my personal technology to participate,”

What?!  There are some things I just don’t understand about what Eleanor said, like the following:
  1. Is it safe to assume Eleanor is making her way from her constituency into Toronto?  If so, why is Eleanor heading westbound?
  2. If Eleanor is in lane two, she better hope there isn’t an eighteen wheeler or other large commercial vehicle to her right, because she won’t see that sign.
  3. In order to make that GO train in “12 minutes”, does Eleanor believe there is a reserved parking spot for her close to the platform?  Has Eleanor paid for a reserved parking spot at a GO station?  If she hasn’t, she’ll be hiking in from the “back forty” of the parking lot.
  4. Does Eleanor think she’ll get a seat on the train?  If she does, what if it’s in the Quiet Zone?

Neither the Ontario government, nor Inside Halton bothered to provide locations for the signs.  The best they could do is state “near Appleby GO station”.  WTF does that mean?

The QEW interchange before Appleby Line (Toronto bound) is Walkers Line.  The star on the map identifies the vicinity of a sign matching the description given in the news article.

A recent drive by captured the following information displayed on the sign:

Play the video as many times as you want; there’s NOTHING displayed on that sign.  Is this the correct sign?  Perhaps readers of This Crazy Train can provide the exact location of any working sign along the QEW with GO train information.

Given that we’re four months into a one year pilot project, I’d like to know where these signs are, so I can provide meaningful feedback to Eleanor and Metrolinx (as I’m sure we’d all like to).

It's like a black hole, isn't it?

From: name withheld
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 3:44 PM
Subject: Learnings from a long trip home

Hi CJ.

Back on Jan. 25th, I was on the Stouffville train departing Union at 16:18...that was involved in the trespasser fatality.I wanted to share a couple of learnings:

1.  Be sure to check the Presto website, particularly if your trip is delayed.
I tapped on at Union around 4:15.
When we finally arrived at Unionville, around 7:45, I dutifully tapped off.
The usual fare (with Presto) for these two stations is $7.28.
For my trip home on the 25th, I was charged a total of $25.40:
$5.30 for the tap-on at Union
$11.90 for a missed tap off
$5.30 for a tap-on at Unionville (in reality, this was me tapping-off)
$2.90 for a missed tap off…that was applied a few days later (on my next GO trip using Presto)

To be fair: GO has refunded me the full $25.40; I was expecting them to refund only the amount I was overcharged. It took a call to start the investigation (where the rep told me I could submit this request on their website...which is not what their social media team told me), and a follow-up email as the first credit was short.

I get that these types of incidents are beyond GO’s control, but perhaps a better protocol could be put in place (maybe announcement by CSAs to not tap-off and call customer service for proper adjustment).

2.    Don’t trust the Presto website
After logging-in, the bottom part of the home screen (under the heading “My PRESTO Card Activity”) shows my last 5 transactions.
The pulldown menus default to ALL (for Agency) and February 2017 (for Date).
If I change the Date menu to “All 3 months”, I see 5 transactions from December 2016…and nothing from 2017.
The behaviour is similarly inaccurate if you follow the “Go to Card Activity” link. (I’ll spare you the list of Agency/Date combinations and results.)

Please feel free to share this info with your readership if you deem it worthy.


PS: But please keep my name/email to yourself.

From: Cindy (Cj) Smith 
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 4:35 PM
Subject: Re: Learnings from a long trip home
To: name withheld

Huge failing on the CSA to not advise you all not to tap. And of course, there's no communication between presto and GO.
It's absolute crap. So much of it is manually done. Zero automation. 
Your secrets are safe with me.

And it's almost as if it's on queue

I publish a post about Burlington GO and three days later...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "GO Transit" <>
Date: Feb 17, 2017 7:06 PM
Subject: Burlington GO Construction Update
To: name withheld

Burlington GO Station passengers: We want to give you another update on the work happening at your Burlington GO Station: Work is progressing on the exterior of the station building, bus loop and canopy. The building roof is being prepared for the cladding and solar panels. We've posted the latest information here. You can also see the notices found at the station.

We know that construction is taking longer than expected and we will continue working with the contractor to ensure the work is done to our standards. We'll also continue to update you on our progress in future emails and notices posted at the station. Thank you for your continued patience as we work to improve your Burlington GO Station. 

Well damn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

If you thought the TTC was expensive now, brace yourselves!

- Signed everyone on the GO Train
Link to story here

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And the hits just keep coming for Burlington GO

Have you had problems parking at the Burlington GO station lately?
You're not alone.
Metrolinx says parking spaces are a premium at the station lately because of a boost in ridership. Still, for several days this winter, the top floor of the station's parking garage has remained empty — because the ramp leading up to it can't withstand poor winter weather conditions.

So I heard some of you like to geek out on trains, well, here ya go

I have choo choos and choo choo accessories.