Thursday, November 14, 2013

A quest for washroom facilities on GO buses -- one man's *extremely honest* open letter to GO Transit

I was sent a link to a blog posting yesterday via email from a reader and I managed to track down the author on Twitter. Dave Reed (@derjur) has kindly granted me permission to share it with my readership in its entirety. Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time on a GO bus will understand.

I laughed til I cried.

An Open Letter to GO Transit

Dear GO Transit

Curiosity certainly hit me hard this morning, as I sat on the QEW Express from Hamilton to Union Station. Curiosity as to why there are no washrooms on the GO Buses. Somehow, the magnitude of perplexment I was experiencing began to manifest itself physically within my own body.
It started with the feeling that I had to burp. However the pressure in my torso seemed reluctant to simply pass through my esophagus, instead gurgling deeper into my stomach and beyond. It was then that I heard a disembodied voice within my own head.
“No” it said, “you need to experience the lack of toilet facilities to its absolute fullest if you are to truly understand your destiny”.
At this point, my shamanic guide left me, confused and bewildered. What could this mean? Why me? Why now?
By this time, we were already on the highway. Barely. It was too late to ask the driver to pull over. The gurgling in my stomach turned into an intense pain, just below my ribs. I held on to the side of my seat as the pain dulled and washed away. *phew*. The gurgling continued. I was nearing the approach of my daily nap, when another sharp pain, this one a few inches over, woke me up with a terrifying amount of OUCH, accompanied by profuse sweating and chills. Clearly, something was up.
This went on, with the pain moving along inside of me with each passing wave. Everytime it would get worse, until we were in Mississauga. I thought I was done for. The pain had finally reached my back door, and it was knocking hard to get out. Each wave now, was accompanied by the danger that with one wrong move, I could very likely dump a half litre of hot mud into my trousers. Clenching proved extremely difficult because of the cramping I was experiencing in my abdomen muscles.
At one point, I was so absorbed by my pain and situation that I found myself moaning out loud. Luckily no one on the bus acknowledged my involuntary groans. Panic struck me at one point, and I was prepared to ask the driver to stop. This was it. I was going to explode. I held back simply based on the fact that I didn’t have a fucking clue where the fuck we were. I held fast, and found relief at the end of yet another wave. Scenes of the chestburster from Alien were starting to feel like a reality. More like ass-burster, amirite?
The sight of Union Station was certainly to my relief. I was first to stand up to get off, however my way was blocked by about 20+ people. Waiting felt like an eternity. Finally, it was my turn, just as the next pressure wave came on, this time MUCH stronger as I was standing up.
Now, have you ever heard of the phenomenon where toilet proximity strongly affects your ability to “hang in there”, so that the closer you get to the toilet, the more your body wants to expel whatever happens to be in the torpedo bay?
Well, this was one of those cases. I knew that I was on the home stretch, and with a sense of determination, I somehow managed to dash across the platform, get inside the bus terminal, then slam into the mens bathroom at an unruly speed. At this point, my proximity to clench ratio was beginning to reach a dangerous point.
I rounded the corner of the bathroom to find that the only stall in the men’s room was occupied. THE ONLY STALL. Just one! For the entire Bus terminal! I quickly shot down the idea of doing a bow-legged hustle into the train area of Union Station, and thought better to simply stroll calmly into the women’s bathroom and hope to remain unseen.
With a quick pucker of my back end, I relented to simply stand there in complete agony. The most intense, crushing wave of pain slipped over me. It felt like I’d ingested 8 litres of hot motor oil, full of carnivorous ants that all had mini chainsaws and were slowly dismantling me from the inside. I stood there, out of breath, sweating, entertaining thoughts of simply depanting myself and letting loose into the urinal, when the toilet flushed! The young man stepped out, looked at me like I was a drug addict, eager to get my nose into whatever I had in my pocket. I’m sure I looked like a wreck. Wide-eyed, disheveled hair, sweating, white-knuckled and clammy.
I won’t go into too much detail about the rest, however I will certainly comment on the cleanliness (or rather, the lack thereof) of the stall, even at 8:45AM on a Monday. Simply disgusting. I would NOT take my family there for a picnic. Pitiful and disgusting. That said, it was an emergency, so I cleaned the seat as best I could, turned around, had my pants down faster than the speed of sound (which turned out to be a good thing. The sonic boom masked the whooshing sound of about 4 litres of hot stomach acid, and the young man that was still washing his hands didn’t have to hear what sounded like 12 third graders all puking into a garbage can overtop of me giggling hysterically at my victorious accomplishment of having actually made it to the toilet).
So my question to you, GO Transit, is why are there no toilets on the GO Buses? I travel on average 2.5 hours a day on the QEW express and have for 5 years. I know that I’m not the only one that’s experienced toilet angst. I myself have already had to have the driver pull over once a few years back so I could let fly my last 4 pints of the night with my willy dangling into oncoming traffic. I can think of many other times we’ve stopped to let someone vomit, or urinate, or worse. In the winter, it’s even worse. I’ve been stuck in traffic up to 3 hours before. One driver was nice enough to pull over at a Tim Hortons and let us all use the bathroom and then grab a coffee and get back on the bus.

Love always,

P.S. I still do appreciate the ride to work everyday.

Originally published September 20th, 2010 on
Republished with permission


Squiggles said...

I'm not certain which made my laugh harder. Poor Dave's story up above or this oldie but goodie:

Mind you, as I have only taken the GO bus a couple of times, I can appreciate that there could be a need for a bathroom for those in it for the long-haul. The only problem is the stench coming from said bathroom would be enough to make me hurl (as it is, I sit as far from the toilet on the train as possible).

MATT said...

I often sit on the mid-level of the train, and find myself near the toilet more than once in a while. Only once in all my travels have I ever regretted that decision (when someone decided to leave their coach, drop the kids off at the pool in mine, and then return to their coach). Ironically, the only time I've ever needed one, I couldn't find one. I was borderline delerious with some sort of bug that was enticing me to vomit explosively, and in my brief tour of the train, I couldn't find the washroom, so I gave up and sat down before I passed out. But I digress...

Typically, the washrooms on the train aren't used much in my experience, but having them there for these "emergencies" are important. If GO decided to have washrooms on buses, I don't think there'd be an instant and constant stench so thick that you could lean against it.

Bicky said...

I can so relate to this. Poor guy.

Anonymous said...

funniest. email. ever.

Poor guy,

Peter said...

Dave, if you’re reading this, I truly am sorry to hear about your experience. Did GO Transit ever satisfy curiosity?

And, BTW, the new $800K+ double-decker buses are not equipped with a washroom either. But there is a pilot project to install a digital Audio Video Recording System (AVRS), so GO Transit will have a record of the gurgling in your stomach, your loud moans, and your painful facial expressions.

mark p said...

there was only one series of buses with washrooms, but thats because they were second hand, i dont know if the washroom was operational though (doubt it) those second hand coaches are long gone though...

Unknown said...

I've ridden on Greyhound, MegaBus, and other such lines.
For the most part, as long as people are courteous (and most times they are), and the companies clean the washrooms every so often, the smell doesn't often 'leech' outside the designated bathroom.
The one time I had to sit at the back of a bus, the smell I smelt, was the overpowering smell of the blue cleanser. That's it.

Anonymous said...

The secondhand GO buses with the washrooms had them sealed off, and they weren't available for GO passenger use. See:

Anonymous said...

OMG - this is one of my worst fears ever!!