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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ontario PC government takes credit for 15-minute GO train service on Lakeshore East and West lines. Service set to begin September 24

As the Toronto Star pointed out, Metrolinx has been adjusting its operations for months in order to add service to the Lakeshore corridors; these initiative predates the Conservatives’ election victory in June.

We all knew this. The Liberals promised us all day GO train service years ago.

The PC MPPs touting this announcement as a "Promises Made, Promises Kept" on Twitter is eye-rolling. Albeit, at least it wasn't cancelled.

So there is that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Apple picking in Durham. You can do it by GO train and GO bus


When I posted this photo on Instagram, I had to make sure I pointed out that it was staged. I did *not* throw an apple. Problem is, I was a real trouble-maker as a kid and hands down, my mom and dad, when shown the picture, would have called me, tsking, "Some things never change". It's a legacy I can't live down.

I've become a huge supporter of local area farms within a cycling or GO bus distance to my house in Courtice. The photo above was taken at Archibald Orchard on North Liberty Street in Bowmanville, a 35km round-trip bicycle ride from my house. Because I can't ride back with a 1/2 bushel of apples, hubby met me there with the car. Recently I was asked by a follower on Twitter if he were to gather the family and travel from their downtown condo to apple pick without renting a car, how would this be done, on a Saturday?

And surprisingly, it can be. GO train to Oshawa, catch the Newcastle 90 and exit the bus at Maple Grove Road on Highway 2 in Bowmanville. Watson Farms is just west of the bus stop. You can't miss it as the bus travels right past it. There's all kinds of "pick your own" produce and a play area for kids. Bring a suitcase for easier transport of your fruits and vegetables!

I have no idea how one would use GO Transit to apple pick anywhere else in the GTA but this farm is right on a route, and if you're also a downtown Toronto dweller that randomly reads my site, please try the Paula Reds, they are delicious at this time of year!

Yep, the video circulating on instagram of a dude riding on top of a GO train is legit

Mr. Rogers could teach a thing or two to Metrolinx about being a good neighbour

Back in December I published a report from a resident who lives next to the east rail corridor that feeds Go trains into Union Station. Here is an update of how things are progressing:

You're gonna need more than peashooters when Metrolinx brings out a weapon like TPAP
Submitted by Anonymous
Exclusive to ThisCrazyTrain.com

Metrolinx has a secret weapon. It’s called a ‘TPAP’. It is big and heavy and if you get in its line of fire - prepare to be eviscerated!

TPAP stands for ‘Transit Project Assessment Process’. It’s the process Metrolinx uses to evaluate the impact of RER (Metrolinx Regional Express Rail) on surrounding neighbourhoods.

Our neighbourhood recently stared down both barrels of this bazooka and wow – did we ever get burned.

The TPAP was locked and loaded to assess the impacts of electrification along the GTA rail corridors. My neighbours and I live close to the tracks – something we’ve done for years with no major problems. But - just as any other resident would worry when their neighbour talks about moving the fence, chopping down a tree or, ‘running some power to the shed so I can rock out to Death Metal’ - we were keen to know what 3 new tracks, lots of big electricity poles, and trains every 15 minutes would mean to our everyday lives.

So we called Metrolinx.

Metrolinx sent us their TPAP report and then held a series of public meetings to talk to us about their plans.

The meetings did not go well.

The main problem Metrolinx has with its community relations is that they cannot seem to answer very basic questions. TCT readers know this all too well. During one particularly memorable exchange, when a resident asked why Metrolinx was allowed to circumvent its own guidelines which stipulate no new construction within 100 metres of a track, the response was:

‘Well this isn’t new construction and you’re already within 50 metres so…’ 

Cue the shouting and the swearing.

One resident was actually standing on a sofa, shaking his fist...

In the meeting we learned that one of the new tracks, 'Track E-Zero', will run 13 feet north of the existing northernmost track, between Parliament and Sherbourne (that's right after the Distillery if you're heading in from the east).

TCT readers may be familiar with the already intimate experience of riding along the northerly tracks as you approach Union from the east. Perhaps you saw one of us bending over while doing our laundry, eating our cornflakes or getting our kids ready for school.

Well cuddle up folks - we're about to get a lot closer!

Building E-Zero will not only bring us closer together, it will also decimate our beloved tree canopy. As the pictures below show, this canopy helps to transform our sleepy back laneway (named after the First Nations Marathon runner, Tom Longboat) into a virtual back-yard.




E-Zero will be used for the Richmond Hill line which operates diesel trains. We're all familiar with the noise and vibration of diesel engines - there's a reason we're happy to stand back of that yellow line at the station. It's a shame for us all that, despite being closer and more visible, we won't be able to stop and chat.

After the public meeting debacle we asked for a copy of the TPAP report.

And that's when the barrage began:

-    Kalop! The weight of the report knocked us back. It was massive - too big for one person to absorb. As we flailed around under the 1000+ pages, we realized that we needed help. So we formed a neighbourhood association to divvy up the work and spread the pain.

  - Ker-huh? The TPAP is technical. Holy crap. It is supposedly scripted for a general audience but the subject matter involves egg-headed engineering principles, mind-numbing electrification specifications and oddball environmental jargon I doubt even David Suzuki would comprehend.

How is an ‘ordinary’ person supposed to review this...?

 - Be-oing! The metrics in the TPAP are backwards. For example - if you live close to the tracks and the noise levels are already above federal guidelines – like ours are – the TPAP doesn’t care! It only flags increases in current levels above 5 decibels. So, if your already loud noise is going to get just 4 louder - tough luck!

- Wooosh! Just as with the public meetings, most of our typed out TPAP questions flew over Metrolinx’s heads.

Metrolinx does not listen too well. The Q&A process with the Metrolinx Community Relations Department reminded me of that scene in Seinfeld where Jerry tries to pick up his hire car.

'Sure you can take a question, but if it's not here when I come to pick it up...'

It's not just Metrolinx that has trouble shooting straight. When the TPAP got approved last December, more than 30 of our questions were greeted by garbled answers. But when our group complained to the MoE, they ignored us for several weeks, approved the report, and then sent us an answer to someone else’s question.

After plucking out the TPAP shrapnel and licking our wounds, we decided to seek out another form of defense. Surely the law will defend us? We have rights - right?

Hmm...not really. We've got useless ammunition!

It turns out that when it comes to railways - there are no laws. Not for us anyway. Municipal bylaws are powder-less. Federal laws are blanks (because they are actually only guidelines). The only legislation with any penetration is the Railway Act, which is built to protect railways from people and not the other way around.

No wonder Metrolinx treats us like cannon fodder...Fire at will!

Knowing we were effectively defenseless, we re-grouped and tried to fire back with our little pea-shooters:

'Why do you not have to meet federal guidelines on noise and vibration levels?' we squeaked.

‘Well, we do our best,' boomed Metrolinx

'Er, h-how do you do your best?' we stuttered, 'Because you are not doing too good right now.'

'They aren't laws, they’re guidelines’, they blasted.

Battling with Metrolinx is exhausting. They have bigger guns, better equipment and more manpower.

We are battle-worn, bloodied and weary. The TPAP weapon alone is wearing us down never mind all the other little skirmishes.

But the white flags are not going up just yet. The sirens have sounded again - another TPAP has landed and we are hoping this one doesn't blow up in our faces.

We're not asking for a war with Metrolinx. We support rail expansion. But when it comes to preserving our environment, our safety and our neighbourhood - we just want a fighting chance.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Oakville to get trains every 15 minutes starting late 2018 and then Burlington in 2019?

I can't confirm or deny if we'll see this rolled out this year but Metrolinx appears to be getting serious about moving commuters faster in and out of the core at rush hour. Here's more info. But, let's not pull out the Consumers Catalog just yet - we don't know what Dougie and his merry band of policy pirates have planned.

Metrolinx's goal is 15-minute service on all its lines by 2025 (peak-only on Milton and Richmond Hill lines; all-day on the others).

I checked Google Maps to see if the Lakeshore West would be getting 15-minute peak service for September as GO's schedules have been uploaded, but it's not showing anything.

Stay tuned!

When you get too punny

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We interrupt this blog's sleepy slumber for this important "Cindy's ongoing fitness journey" update

It's been an interesting summer for me. In the Spring, frustrated with some personal health issues, I met with my doctor to discuss a laundry list of ailments but top of mind was my weight. The scale had been holding steady at 256 pounds since January. No matter what I did such as increasing cardio, adding weights, and cycling my caloric intake, my body was a big bag of "nope".

As I wait to enter a clinical program to deal with the underlying disease that doctors claim contributes to my insulin resistance, which in turns contributes to my very slow metabolic rate, my doctor asked me if I had ever considered intermittent fasting, along with reducing carbohydrates and adding more protein to my diet. This was almost a month ago, on July 13. On the following Monday, after researching intermittent fasting, insulin resistance and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome based diets, I started eating within a 10-hour window and then for 14 hours I did not consume a single calorie. I also increased my exercise where I biked five days a week, regardless of weather, for 20-23 km, as opposed to three days a week for 27 km. When I weighed myself on July 16, I was 257 pounds. Exactly a year before, I weighed this much:


Here's what I weighed this past Monday:



I'm pretty sure I lost weight in my feet. A nine pound weight loss in one month is pretty amazing. It's also not sustainable. Most of it is probably water loss due to the heat, and exercising in this heat, so I think it's fair to say I've lost seven pounds since meeting with my doctor.

Remarkably, my body is responding to intermittent fasting and now I'm eating in an eight hour window with breakfast at 10:30 am, lunch at 2 pm and dinner at 6 pm. From 6:30 pm all the way to 10:30 am the next morning I consume nothing with a calorie. I drink a ton of water, too. My weight loss app is set to calorie cycling so the intake varies from day to day, but it's anywhere from 1247 to 1658 calories a day depending on the amount of physical activity the day before. The only thing I've worked hard to omit is sugar and anything white, with the exception of basmati rice and yellow-flesh potatoes. NO ONE WILL TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.

If you're still reading, I'm hoping this post helps others struggling with PCOS, obesity or insulin resistance. Please talk to your doctor if this style of eating, coupled with 375 or more minutes of exercise weekly is healthy for you.

I've logged over 2200 km on my bike since April 23, 2017. I've pushed that bike so hard that I'm probably going to need to overhaul most of its components by the end of the year.

WHAT A MESS

An entire area of Toronto that used to be Lake Ontario before being filled in during the 1920s and well into the 1940s with no thought process about future development, drainage or natural floodplains, was/is under water today and hundreds of people are blaming climate change.

I'm not a scientist, I can't tell you if 50-75 mm of rain is driven by Nature pushing back, but I can tell you that Toronto's most southern communities, those south of Front Street, and its underground city running south of Queen Street, won't be able to cope with future rainfall if something isn't done to address stormwater runoff and management. You've got entire neighbourhoods and streets that used to be a lake. There's bound to be consequences when you fill in natural tributaries and bury rivers under concrete and steel. What a mess.

Summer storms aren't a new weather phenomenon, especially when cold fronts meet days long heat waves. This is only going to get worse. It throws thousands of people living in the city and commuting into the city into chaos. I blame years of provincial government stalling and Toronto politics for this garbage.

I'm working from home today so I missed the free wading pool at the York Concourse.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Guess the hotels were full



SUBMITTED

Earlier today I was riding the TTC's Bloor-Danforth subway line from Victoria Park to Bathurst when I saw this guy lying down on three seats and putting his suitcase on two other seats. As if hogging FIVE seats wasn't bad enough, the three seats he was lying across were the blue seats reserved for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant women.