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Friday, October 20, 2017

When you have Metrolinx as a neighbour - you have the neighbour from hell

Submitted by Anonymous
Exclusive to This Crazy Train

Wait, what, the aliens... are... coming?!

I open my eyes to a Close Encounters-esque light show streaming through my bedroom black-out blinds. The beep-beep-beep of a large machine in reverse is pummeling my temples and - what’s this?
My house is shaking.
What the f…?
I roll over to check the time.
It’s 1:00 am.
I squint at my wife – she’s asleep. But…how? Oh yes, she’s drunk.
Lucky you lady.
I get up and push back the curtains. There’s nothing on the street. I live downtown - right downtown. TCT readers travelling along Lakeshore East will know my house because you can look into my back bedroom – every back bedroom on the street in fact - as you roll on by. Maybe you saw me sifting through my laundry at 7am last Monday? A paunchy middle-aged white guy…? Butt naked? Yeah, that was me.
Downtown living can be noisy, but this commotion, at this time of the morning, was something else.
I look out of my front window, up and down the street.

Beep-beep-shake…
Christ, everyone must be awake.
Turns out they were. The guy at number 67 was running around counting his kids and fumbling for the phone. The couple at 45 tried to find their pets who were hissing and cowering under the bed.
All along the street lights flicked on, kids held out their arms for a cuddle, curtains were drawn.
Beep! Rattle..Shake…

Man this is Armageddon…Well there is a madman in the White House…it was just a matter of time.
I stumble out of my room and peer out of the back bedroom window.
Holy Christ….
This is the view that greeted me:

Spielberg’s spaceship is running along the train track, screeching, clanking and beeping.
Yikes this girl has claws! I can see the drill bit fingers grinding into the earth. Everywhere there are - lights. Blinding white tractor beams poking through the branches of the trees and circling the sky.

Help!

There’s a halo of light around the whole machine, it’s like a ghost train.
But - who am I gonna call?

A few weeks ago, after Metrolinx sent us a fancy slide show showing our laneway with the trees cropped down and a shiny new track running 13 feet closer to our homes (RER is coming - hooray!), we were given a single-point of contact. ‘Michael will address all your noise concerns’ they told us. ‘Call him 24/7.’

So I did. But Michael wasn’t available 24/7, just his voice mail was. I left him a message and got a reply - two days later.

The work you noticed…is part of our ongoing project in the corridor to access and investigate underground utilities’ Michael explained, after apologizing for shaking my house, ‘I sent out the attached construction notice for this work on September 20th.

Uh, no you didn’t.

‘I’ve also been working with the project team and members of your surrounding community through the duration of this project to mitigate as much disruption as possible

Um, no you haven’t.

‘This work is now completed and the entire project will be finishing up tonight

Er, no, it won’t.

Two days later the spaceship was back. This time my wife wasn’t drunk. She woke up and got mightily upset.

‘What the f*** is wrong with these people?’ she screamed, smacking me with her pillow, ‘Don’t they know we need to sleep?’

Over the course of 5 days this week I’ve amassed about 20 hours of sleep. That’s not nearly enough. Two nights were particularly bad with only 2-3 hours to be had.

I don’t know about you but I can’t function properly when I’m sleep deprived. I can’t drive, I can’t work, I can’t exercise.  

The track work behind my street has been going on for a week and, we’ve just learned through another update from Michael, that we have another week to go. No notices were e-mailed to my neighbours to tell us that our houses are going to be rattled and our kids traumatized, no mail drop was completed.

And there were no neighbourhood consultations.

Perhaps Michael at Metrolinx was referring to discussions with the Co-op at the bottom of the street. Apparently a week prior to my alien out-of-body experience, these poor saps were turfed out of bed at 10pm to face their very own first contact. Rumour has it that insults were hurled from the laneway, and, at one point, the contractor even stopped to listen, before firing up his engine and resuming his deep earth exploration.

But this doesn’t matter. What matters is that, when you have Metrolinx as a neighbour - you have the neighbour from hell. You have Bo the hippy, whose weed wafts through your vents at all hours of the day. You have Mike the metal head, who thinks ‘loud’ is 11 to the power of 11 and anything less is fine, so what are you complaining about? And you have Tim and Shelley, who didn’t realize that was your tree, oh sorry, but not to worry we’re building a fence anyway, 20 feet high! Do you want to chip in?

I could take up the entire TCT hard drive telling you about my Metrolinx ‘consultations’ (Short version: It works like this: They talk – you listen. You complain – they don’t listen).

Do you ever wonder why, when you roll past the Caroline Coop just west of Parliament, half the embankment is treed and the other half bushes? Well that’s Metrolinx. And do you ever think, as you watch the bent-over white bloke scrabbling around for his undies, what it must be like to live that close to the tracks? Surely they can’t put them any closer? Uh, yeah, they can.

Alas, this story doesn’t even scratch the surface of what my street, and countless other GTA residents who have the pleasure of calling Metrolinx a neighbour, have to deal with on a regular basis (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-22617.pdf). Look at the LRT complaints along Eglinton (http://toronto.citynews.ca/2017/04/05/metrolinx-contractor-apologizes-for-performing-overnight-eglinton-lrt-work-without-permit/). Look what Weston folks had to deal with during the UP construction (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/08/16/metrolinx_construction_leaves_a_bad_taste_in_weston.html) (https://globalnews.ca/news/2001758/residents-frustrated-over-union-pearson-express-construction-noise-damage/). Looking at all these incidents it seems that Metrolinx’ approach to rail operations, maintenance and expansion is: Do it first, apologize later (maybe, if we get caught).

‘Engaging in Community Consultation’ is interpreted as sending out volumous reports (our street has just received a several thousand page RER noise/vibration study dossier, and been given all of 30 days to review it) and coordinating a cacophony of mass confusion (I was actually told I asked the wrong question by one rep when I complained that he’d given me the wrong answer!) until the clock winds down.

Welcome to my backyard TCT. Perhaps, next time you see me scrambling in the laundry, you could give me a friendly wave. God knows I need it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oshawa's new station opens Monday - and we get landscaping by mid-2018 guys!

By email from GO Transit

Oshawa GO Customers: We have good news to share! Your new station building will be ready for your Monday morning commute, giving you more convenient access to GO and VIA amenities including bigger washrooms and waiting areas. We've also made improvements to the Kiss & Ride and parking lot, so that it's easier for you to get in and out of the station whether you're walking or driving.

By mid-2018 we'll finish demolishing the old station building, adding a canopy connecting the new building with the VIA platforms and the VIA pedestrian bridge, as well as landscaping. 

Let’s talk TCO, broken windows, Pickering, Metrolinx, imported European glass...

Special to This Crazy Train
By GO Voyageur

Back in April, I traversed the Pickering pedestrian bridge from the GO station to the DRT bus stop on the other side.  Along the way, I noticed four shattered panes of glass…



Metrolinx and I exchanged the following tweets:



I forgot about the problem until June, when I had to cross the bridge, again.  Metrolinx and I exchanged the following tweets:


Special order of glass?!  WTH does that mean?  What exactly did the bridge engineers design and Mayor Dave Ryan endorse wholeheartedly?

In August, I strolled across the bridge one more time.  Imagine my surprise when…



“Soon”?!  Is that the same “soon” that made us wait an eternity for real-time bus info?

On Friday, as I waited for my westbound train at Pickering, a site foreman and his team armed with station blueprints, asked me to step aside, because they needed to examine the crack in the pane of glass at the foot of the stairs from the bridge to Platform 1…



I asked him why the panes of glass at Pickering station were so prone to shattering.  I mentioned the defective glass on bridge, and I pointed to the broken pane across the tracks at the foot of the stairs from the bridge to Track 2…



He couldn’t speak to the fragility of the glass, but he did explain why it takes so long to replace the panes.  You see, the sheets of glass originate in Europe and are shipped to Quebec where they are “heat treated” (his words).  Then they are shipped to Pickering for installation.  I wanted to engage him further in this discussion, but my train arrived, and I had to leave.

Well, that explained the “special order of glass”, and why six months after the problem was reported, it was still outstanding.  But so many questions remain unanswered.  Why is the original glass installed on the bridge so fragile?  Is it substandard?  Did the design engineers miscalculate something?  Is vandalism the cause for all this shattered glass?  Why do replacement panes need to be sourced from Europe?  Are there not more economical sources of glass in North America?  What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) of this structure?

Is it time Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, met with Metrolinx’s new President and CEO, Phil Verster, to get acquainted and review some numbers?