Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Metrolinx (GO Transit) does the right thing and responds to D.H.'s email, doesn't send a boilerplate reply

It's a start...

December 10, 2013
Reference No.  20130XXXXX
Mr. D.H.
Email address withheld by request

Dear Mr. H.

Thank you for your email to our President Mr. Greg Percy regarding the service disruptions on December 4th.  Please allow me to respond on his behalf.

I'm so sorry you had this unfortunate experience and appreciate the impact and inconvenience it caused our customers. I understand the frustration of being so close to Union and not having the train back up to allow passengers to deboard. The challenge was that all trains during that time were impacted by an investigation involving a VIA Rail train which brought all rail traffic to a halt and prevented us from being able to reverse your train.

GO has since debriefed the events and service recovery of that day with rail traffic control to review how we could have managed this differently to reduce the impact to customers. Your comments are very valid and I can assure you the same questions were raised during the debrief. A second debrief is scheduled to review the communications from that day to ensure we make improvements in the case of future events.

Further, we have received your recent email regarding yesterday’s pedestrian incident. I am looking into the concerns you’ve raised and I will contact you again by end of day tomorrow.

Once again please accept my apologies for the inconvenience you experienced that day. I appreciate you taking the time to give us your feedback.


Paula Edwards
Director, Customer Care, GO Transit

Cc.          Greg Percy, President, GO Transit
                Bruce McCuaig, President & CEO, Metrolinx
                Mary Proc, Vice President, Customer Service, GO Transit

                CJ Smith, This Crazy Train

Why these emails are important to you as a GO Transit customer and an Ontario taxpayer

It's not enough to take out a twitter handle and conduct some armchair activism from the comfort of your smartphone to pass the time between commercials while you wait for your favourite television show to start. Banging out 140 characters doesn't make you an advocate. In the same breath, you could easily say that neither does a blog, but I disagree. This is work. What I do is not a hobby. I do it so that you have a medium to communicate through. If you don't think this blog is your voice, you haven't been reading long enough to understand what I do here. I can't remember who said it, but I was called a GO Transit passenger lobbyist. I am flattered - thank you.

It's also not enough to bang out a complaint on Facebook and hope your valiant effort at mastering the basics of QWERTY causes change to happen. All it does is demonstrate you learned a thing or two in Mrs. Ma's keyboarding class in high school about sentence structure.

It's not enough. You have to write, and you have to write well. You also need to know who to write.

I get annoyed when people lampoon others, like D.H., for taking a more direct stand and compile thoughts in a letter (a dying art form I might add) where points are made and constructive criticism is given.

I applaud folks who do this and who include MPPs, the media, transit influencers and little ol' me in the communication.

I want to know what you think about transit and how when it doesn't work well, how that affects you as a customer. I want to know that you care as much as I do about how we get to work, when we get to work, how we get home, when we will get home and all of the logistics involved so that we can plan accordingly.

We don't ride GO Transit for free. We pay a significant amount of money to do so and it is absolutely fair of us to have expectations and seek answers when situations happen and poor communication methods are deployed.

Police, security and engineering investigations are disruptive, yet, no one at Metrolinx/GO Transit has ever taken the time to explain to us what the procedure is for rail traffic when these situations arise: why trains are left holding between stations, why trains even leave stations, why trains are cancelled and what prompts the decision to cancel.

Metrolinx, the machine behind GO Transit and god-awful PRESTO is accountable to taxpayers. We can and should ask what they do with our fare dollars and how they plan to use this money to improve service. We are entitled to ask that they funnel the money into improvements that we feel would benefit us.

Furthermore, what is an operational error? How does GO Transit lose a bus?

Don't you want to know?

I do.


MATT said...

*Slow clap*

C.J. Smith said...

Is that a John Hughes clap?

DH said...

I agree 100% (notice I didn't go higher than 100, as that's not humanly possible).

Bashing out my emails, with grammar errors and all (you try writing a cohesive email while your wife, kids, work vie for your attention) took WAY longer than I had ever expected.

It's easy to sent a rant, and it will give you instant satisfaction, but not a whole long of traction nor actual change.

It's another whole ball-o-wax, effort wise, to put forth a sound argument. One that will actually elicit a response. One where you are forced to think, gee, I wonder how I would have handled the situation. Or what do I know of how OTHER transit systems and how they function during my worldly travels. What do I know of OTHER companies that have world-class customer service, ones I actually enjoy doing business with and will go out of my way to do business with.

In the non-government run agency world, we vote with our wallets. Ultimately choosing where we'll spend our money, this spurs competition, customer service, and all that good stuff. Government agencies don't need to do this they serve a niche market, and more often then not are only profitable due to government backing and piggybacking on government funded development. Since I cannot vote with my wallet, I'm going to damn well make sure they know how irate they make their customers. That takes time, effort and energy.

Good on you CJ. I applaud the time you're taking out of your OWN personal life to bear the torch for the rest of us for FREE. You are a transit advocate, I only wish the rest of us were.

There's a fundamental truth in politics. The squeaky wheel gets the grease: see Scarborough for the latest proof. How many of you Torontontians actually TOOK the time to oppose this absurd waste of taxpayer dollars. YOUR taxpayer dollars? I sure as hell didn't, because I thought no idiot in their right mind would make such a bumbling mistake: and I regret it each and every day (even the day I actually rode the RT).

Logic, my friends, plays very little in politics, make noise, make your opinion heard. That is what makes Democracy work. You sitting on the sidelines and complaining to your friends does NOTHING to change things, other than piss off your friends with your whining.

Anonymous said...

Thank you D.H. for speaking up, and CJ. I agree more of us need to do this, this is the only way to be heard.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Shocked they replied. And it's a reasonable reply too. Go Transit. Is that you?

George said...

Maybe the Scarborough folks didn't take to the streets to protest because they wanted the subway? That's also a possibility.

Just because you say it's a waste of money DH doesn't mean it's true that everyone (or at least a majority) of people will agree with your opinion.

Good on you for getting a reply though.

DH said...

I live in Scarborough. I object to it.

Please keep in mind that the government pocketbook (at any level) is not infinite and is sourced from your pocket book. Well we can go into debt, but would you really lend against your children's future for your own benefit?

There are a multitude of projects vying for government funding. We can't be single-minded and self-interested when picking how money is spent as a city, province or country. Scarborough does not need a subway: that is the hard truth. The ridership just isn't there to support it even if it was built now, and ridership magically doubled. We, as tax payers, will be subsidising each an every ride during it's operation. It makes no economic sense.

The RT is currently crowded as there are not enough trains to serve the passengers frequently enough. Trains haven't been manufactured in a while. The RT was the original boondoggle in Scarborough, why are we repeating history by installing a lexus that serves a subset of the stops currently serviced?

Subways are nice, so are Lexuses, but they're expensive and a luxury we can't afford. Roads are wide in Scarborough, often times with an unused centre median, that's ripe for surface transit: of the right-of-way kind. The roads in Scarborough were in fact DESIGNED to accommodate surface transit: Ellesmere and Markham road for example.

Please, please give me a sound economic argument why a subway in Scarborough makes sense. I haven't seen one yet. I've seen a multitude to the contrary.

George said...

I never put forward an economic argument nor do I care to as I am not an economist and do not play one on TV.

The fact of the matter is that the Scarberians apparently wanted and got a subway despite your objections. Yours, mine and any other individual opinion means very little by itself.

Your hard truth is anothers falsehood or whatever so until the system changes, you'll have to accept what you get unless you lead the charge against it.

BTW you already do subsidize each and every ride on each and every transit system in the province though yours (and my) taxes.