Friday, December 2, 2016

Yesterday's Anniversary tweet & post about the Burlington GO Station must have rattled some cages. This email went out today to passengers subscribed to Burlington GO Station updates

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "GO Transit" <>
Date: Dec 2, 2016 12:00 PM
Subject: Burlington GO Station Improvements

Burlington Customers: As work continues at Burlington GO Station, we are committed to providing you with regular updates on the improvements we're making.
Access to west tunnel, west waiting area and washrooms are already open and temporary heating will be installed soon as we continue to finish the in-floor heating system.
Increasing accessibility and providing more ways to get around the station are our priority of improvements to deliver to you. Next you'll have the option of using a new elevator and east tunnel, meaning shorter walks from the south side. The roof work is also progressing well as we add water proofing and insulation.
The ticket booth is almost ready. We are waiting on glass panels to be manufactured and delivered. Once installed, we can start the IT work required and open the ticket booth in the station building.

Thank you for your patience. We know that construction continues to take longer than expected and that it will continue into 2017. We are conducting daily check-ins, progress reports, and regular site-visits to ensure that the contractor is building the station that meets our high standards for customers.

A sad story

Pretty much everyone who lives south of Bloor in Courtice (VIA rail line and CN line). Residents hate the blaring of train horns. I'm not sympathetic.

Nobody likes a Norman


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Because Christmas is coming ... here's some "feels" and nostalgia

Check out this piece of transit history

The most describing image of the Norwegian Royal Family

Traveling the Lakeshore East before the whole Rouge to Pickering beach revamp

This is how I remember the LSE being like before the big push to tear down the houses near Rouge Hill GO and claw back the cliffs to put in a trail. It was the mid 90s and I'd travel to Whitby to visit my boyfriend at the time. I used to marvel how close to the water's edge the tracks were.

This is a painting, done in 1969 by Ontario Transport artist, Moma Markovich. Markovich painted many Ontario infrastructure projects. Some of her collection is available on Twitter and the rest can be explored online using the Archives of Ontario digital collection.

Celebrating four years of disappointment

Special to This Crazy Train
By GO Voyageur

Saturday, December 1, 2012 6:55AM … I boarded the first Burlington bound GO bus in St. Catharines.  Early morning pleasantries were exchange with the young driver, a report, who was unfamiliar to me.

We left the Fairview Mall stop promptly, as we did every other stop along the way.  This driver’s timing was impeccable, like he’d driven the route frequently.  He had no CAD/AVL to guide him — only a printed paddle sheet that was folded neatly and hung over the left side of the dashboard.

When we exited the QEW at Fairview St., I asked him, tongue in cheek, if he felt honoured being the first bus into the North bus loop at Burlington station.  Stopped at the Maple Ave. intersection, he turned, gave me a quizzical look and stated there were no advisories regarding Burlington in GO’s route information system, which he had checked the night before.  I told him I thought all Hamilton drivers knew that the South bus loop would be closed from that day to the following summer.  That’s when he told me he was from the Oshawa garage.  Neither Operations nor the Hamilton supervisor had updated him when he signed on for his shift.  I chuckled and then proceeded to navigate him along Brant St., Plains Rd. East, and onto Queensway Dr.  Coincidently, that very same day, TCT published a story about passengers assisting drivers.

Fast-forward to the present.  December 1 marks the fourth anniversary that Burlington GO station officially became a disaster zone (IMO) — a disservice to fare paying passengers and frontline staff alike.  Here is the current state of the South bus loop.

When will this boondoggle be finished?  Here is a link to the construction notice posted earlier this year.  You decide.

To the young driver I met four years ago — Sir Rodney of Brighton as we dubbed him on Route 12 — I trust all is well with you.  It was a privilege to ride your bus that morning, and a couple of times thereafter, too.

Happy anniversary, indeed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It is *not* hard to believe. One only need to look at Burlington GO Station to forgo any amazement at this news

Lots more stuff relating to Metrolinx in the Auditor General's report... the Pickering Bridge section is shown below.

[Quote, bold highlights all mine*]
4.2.2 Metrolinx Awarded a Contractor Phase 2 of Pickering Bridge Project Even Though It Had Performed Extremely Poorly on Phase 1

The contractor for Phase 1 of the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Highway 401 in Pickering performed so poorly that Metrolinx staff had to take over performing many of its duties. Nevertheless, Metrolinx hired the same contractor for Phase 2 of the project because it was the lowest bidder. On Phase 2, the contractor caused significant damage to the bridge. Nevertheless, Metrolinx paid the contractor almost the full $8 million of their contract. We noted that, after performing poorly on both Phase 1 and Phase 2, Metrolinx still awarded this contractor another major project valued at $39 million.

The bridge in question is a landmark structure allowing pedestrians to cross 14 lanes of Highway 401 between the Pickering GO Station and the evolving Pickering City Centre development. Phase 1 of the project involved the construction of the bridge and stairwells; Phase 2 involved the installation of external cladding over the bridge. The bridge was to serve, according to the City of Pickering website, “as an iconic, luminous landmark, signifying where Pickering and Durham Region begin.”

Phase 1: Contractor Demonstrated Complete Lack of Experience in Building Bridges
Although building the bridge structure and stairwells would be fairly straightforward for an experienced contractor, the contractor awarded the job was performing poorly; as a result, Metrolinx staff had to take over and manage many of its responsibilities on this $19-million project. For example, the contractor had no experience in installing the bridge trusses (a bridge truss is the metal skeleton that is the most basic component of the bridge), something that a contractor constructing a bridge would be expected to know how to do. In fact, it installed one truss upside down. Seeing this, Metrolinx project staff stepped in to manage the truss installation even though this was clearly the contractor’s responsibility. They managed the truss supplier and related sub-trades, arranged the delivery of the trusses, shut down Highway 401 during installation, and managed other aspects of traffic flow. Metrolinx staff also went so far as to find a hauling company to move the trusses to the site: work that all should have been managed by the contractor. The contractor was still paid the full $19 million in payments.

Phase 2: Contractor Again Won Contract Despite Poor Performance then Damaged the Bridge 
Although Metrolinx was aware of this contractor’s lack of experience, its poor work ethic, and its unwillingness to improve performance, Metrolinx did not restrict it from bidding on Phase 2 of this project. Because this contractor’s bid was the lowest, Metrolinx awarded it the contract for the second phase of work.

The contractor’s performance was again poor—poor enough, in fact, that Metrolinx eventually terminated its contract. But not before the contractor caused significant damage to the bridge. By improperly welding some metal components, workers splattered metal over large areas of glass. A glass expert hired by Metrolinx later identified that 87% of the glass had been damaged, and recommended that it all be replaced. Metrolinx estimates it will cost about $1 million to fix the glass.

Metrolinx also discovered that the contractor built the stairwell incorrectly (in Phase 1). Because the stairwell had been built too wide, the cladding material would break if the contractor attempted to stretch it over the stairwells. The contractor did not fix the stairwell and, at the time of our audit, the problem still had not been solved. Metrolinx was working with an engineering firm to develop a cost-efficient solution to fix the stairwell problem at its own expense. Figure 5 shows the concept of the iconic bridge, and what is in place today because of the contractor’s mistake in constructing the stairwell.

Metrolinx terminated the contract with the contractor, even though the stairwell portion of the job had not been completed. Nevertheless, Metrolinx signed a settlement agreement, and paid the contractor 99% of the contract’s original value of $8 million.

We noted that after the contractor’s poor performance on both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this project, Metrolinx awarded this contractor another project valued at $39 million. After that, Metrolinx chose not to award the contractor work on a few projects (for which the contractor provided the lowest bid) because it was not deemed qualified to perform the work based on past performance with Metrolinx. We discuss our concerns with this in Section 4.2.3 below.


*Mine being a concerned passenger who would like to stay anonymous who painfully read through the report and gave the highlights.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Can you guess what happened here?

This vehicle was left parked at Oshawa GO Station this morning.
Just as how you see it.
Window down. All smashed up.

Take note of the second photo (why are there no pylons to warn drivers???)... possible source of damage? Or is this a hit and run, then dump and run?

Anyhoo, the experts are handling it. I'm more concerned about the open hole.