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Monday, September 30, 2013

You had ONE job, Presto. ONE JOB!



This poster is a lie. Never have to worry about your balance? Pffft!

Inklings that something was awry with the Presto card autoload feature happened around September 18th.

From: TM
Date: Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Subject: FW: Contracts Modified
To: "cj@thiscrazytrain.com"
Just called Presto, apparently everybody is receiving this email. They said all autoload contracts were deleted and must be re-set up in the next few days. I asked if they would be sending an email to inform everyone of this and they said they don't know yet as they just found out about. Pass the popcorn, this should be good.


From: prestomailer@prestocard.ca
To: xxxxx@hotmail.com
Subject: Contracts Modified
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 11:45:05 -0400
Dear T------,
Your request to modify the Autoload contract associated with the PRESTO Card has been successfully processed. The contract ID number is 000539248_133.
Please note the contract number in your records, or keep this letter for future reference should you need to contact the PRESTO Call Centre for inquiries regarding this contract.
PRESTO is committed to providing you with the highest level of customer satisfaction possible. If you have any questions or comments, we would be delighted to hear from you. To contact us, please call our toll free number at 1-8-PRESTO-123 (1-877-378-6123), or visit us at www.prestocard.ca.
Thank you for using PRESTO.
Sincerely,
The PRESTO Team

On September 19th, on Twitter, the complaints and the apologies flowed like a river. At no point did Presto think that maybe it would be a good idea to email all of their Autoload customers and advise them that problems could happen with their accounts and to check balances before leaving the house/office. 

Why?
Because this:

From: Amanda S 
Date: Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:42 PM
Subject: Presto Card Woes!!
To: cj@thiscrazytrain.com
Have you heard about the recent Presto debacle? I went to the GO station this morning, fortunately the traffic was sparse and I got all the greens, because when I tapped my card, I got an interesting message on the presto mating to see customer service.
When I spoke to the agent at the wicket and asked her what what up with my card, she told me that I'd fallen victim to the lasted Presto F-Up.
Apparently, something like 20,000 users were affected by an issue caused when Moneris (presumably the company who manages the money movement for Presto) made changes to their system, causing auto-loads to reverse themselves magically!
What fun! I had a $200 autoload on the 20th, and now, 5 days later, my autoload was reversed, leaving me with a balance of negative $15. I had to load with my debit card, fortunately for me, no biggie.
After waiting on hold for 30 minutes, I spoke to a lovely rep at Presto, who confirmed that auto loads that were put through on the 20th (and only the 20th) were all declined by Moneris.
The falsely declined transaction (which actually never made it to my credit card at all) seems to have triggered the cancellation of my autoload contract, meaning I have to wait till tomorrow, input all my credit card information again, and wait up to 5 business days for the autoload to activate again.

Oi! Presto… plz get your stuffs together!!!!

Anyway, hope anyone who had this happen gets it all sorted. And they should call presto so they can complete an investigation to make sure there are no other issues. Presto is investigating each case that they hear about in hopes of fixing/preventing this issue.

And once it appeared Presto fixed the problem, they seemed to fix it so well that the system (once again!) began to double dip from customers' credit cards:

Subject: Your PRESTO Account / Votre compte PRESTO
From: info@prestocard.ca
To: jxxxxx@hotmail.com
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2013 11:42:26 -0400

PRESTO logo
Version fran├žais ci-dessous


Dear PRESTO customer:
We are writing to inform you that we have recently identified a situation that has impacted your recent PRESTO transactions.
In reviewing your account, it was determined that there was a duplicate charge to your method of Autoload/Auto-renew payment. We are currently in the process of refunding the duplicated amount on your behalf. The offsetting credit will be processed within the next 3-4 business days. Please note that it may take another 3-5 days for your bank or credit card company to process the credit.
Please accept our sincerest apology for any inconvenience this has caused. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at 1-877-378-6123.
Thank you,
The PRESTO Team

Moral to the story? Ignore the poster. 
Today, tomorrow and forever.

Like a boss



Photo by: sonihots via Instragram

Well isn't he comfy?


And yes, that is a pillow.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Former CN Construction Supervisor claims CN charged GO Transit millions of dollars for unrelated expenses

“They were using ‘partially worn' material, which is used material being charged for new,” Holmes told CBC News. “[They charged GO transit for] millions of dollars of equipment working out on CN territory, not even on the GO territory. If [that equipment] was there three weeks a year, you'd be lucky. [CN was] upgrading CN tracks that have nothing to do with GO Transit."

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

I need a megaphone and someone who is willing to film me while I troll smokers smoking where they shouldn't

This idea came to me after I held my breath longer than I thought possible as I walked behind a smoker last night who exited the train when I did and lit up her cancer stick the second her foot hit the ground.

I can't smoke anyone's cigarette. I will die.

Worst, her friend lit up too and no single fucks were given about the people behind them or beside them.

As we approached the gates, more smokers stood, like an army of ignorant rebel soldiers, puffing away right under a huge no smoking sign forcing everyone to walk through their cloud of toxic soup. As I rounded the corner to the bus platform, there stood three more smokers happily smoking in line for my bus.

It's time to take this to the next level. All of these assholes behaved themselves for two weeks while Transit Safety Officers blitzed Oshawa in early September. Once the smokers realized the alert had ended, they resumed their douchepick ways.

Here's what I want to do which won't get me arrested and I dare any employee at the Oshawa GO Station to ask me not to do what I am hoping to do - walk up to every smoker with a megaphone (aka bullhorn) and yell at the top of my lungs, like some crazed military sergeant, that there is no smoking allowed anywhere on GO Transit property. And I would do this right in their faces. I would continue to yell until they moved, butted out, or threw a punch (which I welcome by the way - bring it).

And if someone decides to go into the station to complain about me, I am following them into the station and will repeat every sentence they say using the bullhorn while they speak with an employee. As far as I know, there is no law that prohibits me from using a bullhorn on government property.

The megaphone I want to buy is available at Staples.ca for $216 - it's expensive. But it has a goddamn strobe light and I bet it's loud as hell as it has a range of 100 yards. Perfect. I also like this one because it has a separate microphone... holy crap, would I ever look official as hell using one of them. I'm not sure if I want to crowdfund to pay for one or if I just buy it.

However, free is better. If you have one I can borrow, please email me (cj@thiscrazytrain.com).

I also need someone willing to meet up with me in the morning at Oshawa GO Station for approximately one week and in the evenings, too. I am certain we can get some excellent footage for a video that will be posted to YouTube where you can share it with friends and family (and the media ... or Ellen DeGeneres).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The VIA train is not your personal hotel room

She paid for one seat. One.


Submitted by AVS

You! In the Quiet Zone, be quiet!



Can't you see the lady next to you is trying to sleep?  (tooth-kiss)

Submitted by Four Seasons

It was 3 degrees yesterday morning, but this bare ass foot riding honey badger don't care... P.S. Photo needs more chainsaw

Submitted by DK

Photo needs more blowtorch

Photo via Instagram

Just realized what the new GO Transit colours look like ...

Photo from DavidHicks.ca

The wheels on the bus go "Nope, won't have none of your shit today"

This morning a woman tried to wrestle onto the GO bus what was the largest suitcase I've ever seen in my whole damn life. It wasn't gonna happen. The bus was full of students with backpacks nicely snuggled next to each of them and all of them pretending to be asleep - oblivious to her plight.

The driver got off to open the cargo doors for her suitcase but she declared she wasn't putting it in the cargo bay. It was riding with her. The only problem was that it had to be placed in the aisle and it took up the width of the aisle.

The driver wasn't arguing with her and for this, I was impressed. It wasn't his problem. It was her problem. She pushed her boulder to the back of the bus and made a student move his backpack so she could sit.

I pulled out my emergency bag of popcorn, waiting anxiously for the checkpoint where all the students get off to make their way onto other buses for university and college and when I figured the show would start.

When we got to the corner where all the students get off, she got up to let the kid next to her out and then sat down in the window seat and pretended like she had no idea there was this small line of seven people waiting for her to move her suitcase so they could exit the bus. She ignored them all.

One by one they hopped over the suitcase with several of them making some choice (and vulgar) remarks. She remained poker face.

Once everyone was off, she got up and pushed her boulder further to the back of the bus and she stayed there with a satisfied smile on her face.

Clearly, she felt she was winning at something.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One year living almost 100% sugar-free*!

This time last year, I weighed an incredible and embarrassingly 304 pounds.

As of today, I weigh 259.5. My highest ever weight was recorded by my doctor on August 16, 2011. I was 318 pounds.

Forty-four and half pounds later (and a grand total of 58.5 pounds lost) I'm here to tell you how I did it, why I keep losing and why I will keep losing.

After that awful weigh-in in August 2011, I told my husband that once the lease was up on my SUV at the end of the year, I would go car-free and take the bus and/or walk to wherever I needed to go.

I made good on that commitment despite friends and family who doubted I could live without my own vehicle for more than six months, let alone forever. It's been 20 months. I'm still car-less, suckers!

That's not to say it was an easy decision. Having access to a vehicle leads to an incredible amount of impulsive freedom ... and impulsive eating. Food on the go is more accessible when you can swing through a drive-thru, and this was my biggest downfall. I was notoriously bad for eating and driving on the go which resulted in very poor food choices.

In the Spring of 2012, I bought myself a bike and a bike trailer and I pedaled my daughter to daycare for five months straight. Despite all that exercise where the ride back was uphill 80% of the way, I only lost nine pounds. I was baffled. I wasn't eating more than usual and in fact, I was eating less but the weight wasn't coming off as fast as I had imagined.

My husband is a Type 2, non-insulin diabetic. In an effort to help him cope with his disease, I borrowed several books about diabetes and sugar addiction from the library around this time last year and I made an interesting discovery. This isn't new, it's just that I was slow to make the connection - sugar makes you fat.

In all of the studies mentioned in the books, each of the subjects, once diagnosed and having changed their diets, lost anywhere from 40 pounds or more in the first year of what becomes a life-long commitment to eating sugar-free.

I told my husband that I was quitting sugar. No more Frosted Flakes, no more croissants, no more Too Tall Cakes from M&M Meat Shops. No more chocolate. No more Passion Flakies (god damn, I loved those). No more jams, jellies, syrups, ice cream, fudge, pudding or Dairy Queen. I was done.

The first three months, which saw me go through three major food holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, I felt like a junkie who had quit meth. I chewed so much sugar-free gum, that some days it hurt just to smile. By the end of February, I was down 15 pounds. This was with no exercise. Just a change in diet.

In March, I switched my daughter from her daycare centre back to her former babysitter. She was too big for the bike trailer and the daycare was too far to walk to, and back, if I wanted to catch a bus that got me to the GO station and on a train before 8 am. It was a 25 minute bike ride. To walk the same route would take an hour, plus, it would mean walking on a rural road with no sidewalk and very little shoulder - way too dangerous at 6:00 am when most drivers are barely awake, and if they are, they're too busy texting to notice two pedestrians at the side of the road. I had three close calls when on the bike, I wasn't taking any more risks by walking.

It's a 25 minute walk to the babysitter from my house and another 10 minutes after I drop my daughter off to the bus stop. I walk 35 minutes for a total distance of 2.65 km each morning, and walk another 1.9 km to work and back once I get to Toronto. Guaranteed, I walk a total of 4.55 km five days a week and walk anywhere from another 2 km to 5 km on weekends, or throughout the work day, if I want to hit the PATH during my lunch hour. This exercise, coupled with further changes in my diet, has resulted in a loss of 30 pounds in 4.5 months. I also quit bread, aspartame, potato chips, reduced my dairy intake to consuming only 2% milk and ditched red meat from my diet. If I eat steak, it's once every two months.

I now eat more chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Instead of ice cream, I blend some fruit with watered down 2% milk and add chia seeds for a satisfying smoothie. For additional flavour, I'll add a teaspoon of vanilla.

Some days, I mourn the way I used to eat. I know there are former sugar/salt/cheese/starch addicts out there who lie and say they never could imagine going back to the way they used to be. I can imagine just fine, thank you very much. There are nights where I lie in bed and fight the cravings where I fantasize about Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzards, Passion Flakies, Too Tall Lemon Cakes, Nestle Drumsticks, Chicken McNuggets, Calzones, Pepperoni Pizza with Anchovies, President Choice Double Chunk Cookies and Doritos. Fuck, I love Doritos. Cool Ranch, that was my vice, man.

Saturday, I had a bad day. I don't know if it was hormones, my mood, high tide, some food holiday in a part of the world I've never been to but I could not, as hard as I tried, fight the desire to eat a bowl of Chapman's Blueberry Cheesecake ice cream.

I paced. I played 500 rounds of Candy Crush Saga. I ironed 10 shirts and organized my daughter's sock and underwear drawer, but the craving would not subside. I had the ice cream and I felt awful for hours afterward and all day Sunday. By Sunday night, I let it go. I have to understand the cravings for what they are. I don't know what the hell that is, but there has to be a reason why they happen and I need to learn how to handle them. I realize it's okay to eat a little bit but it's the remorse I struggle with. A cup of ice cream isn't going to pile fifty pounds back on, but it's the thought of how easy it can be to do exactly that. I didn't get to 318 pounds free-basing rice cakes.

I wrote this post because people keep asking me how I've managed to lose what I've lost. When I mention the sugar, people refuse to believe it could be that simple and also refuse to believe they can do it "because sugar is in everything"! No, it's not in everything. Bad sugar is in things you really shouldn't be eating more than once a month. Good sugar is in things you should eat everyday, like fruit. So you're not necessarily quitting sugar, you're quitting bad sugar, the high fructose corn syrup sugar, the added sugar and the junk food sugar.

I've watched people go vegan, gluten-free, low-fat and vegetarian and lose next to nothing after two years of eating this way. There's still sugar in those diets. A quick look at Vegan Snacks is very revealing. You know why all those snacks taste so good? Sugar.

I eat what my husband eats. I'm not a diabetic but I was well on way to being one. If you're obese and you've given up on all the diets, try eliminating sugar. Talk to your doctor. He won't say no.

*Of bad sugar. Very bad sugar

Monday, September 23, 2013

It gonna be cray-cray y'alls

Just giving you all a heads-up about editorial work round here at ThisCrazyTrain.com

I have a helluva two weeks coming up and free time isn't much to be had.

So, what that means is, posting will be sporadic at best.

I know. I know. This sucks for you. Great for me, sucky for you.

But y'all are loyal. You know I'll get back to regular programming eventually.

Just hang tight. I'll post when I can.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My husband's second cousin hit the subway with his friend to shit disturb and record the results

Josh and Sam are Humber College Comedy Writing students (I love that this is an actual course).

They took to the streets, or in this case, the subway for some "SHOCK VALUE" - to see if they could get a rise out of some of the people - and in some ways, their own reality show.

I thought this was all kinds of awesome.

PS: Due to language, this is NSFW.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wynne on board with transit blah, blah, blah - what the hell?


This snapshot, clipped from the Toronto Star's digital paper, shows our Premier on a GO train (with her feet on the floor - good - or else I'd have to dial up @HULKGORIDER) but wait, what's that in the background? Whose crap is on the seat and on the floor?

For God's sake, can someone lead by example here? Get your crap off the seats and keep your belongings to yourself and this means politicians, camera people, media folk and ALL YOU DONKEYS! I don't care if it's an empty train. Courtesy is a 24 hour job.

The article itself is worthy of a read and hopefully, she's not just another talking head just talking about other talking heads.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Won't you show you care?

from: MM
to: "cj@thiscrazytrain.com" 
date: Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 9:16 PM
subject: Won't you show you care?

I was back on the regular commute today for the first time this fall... and it started out irregularly. The Oakville Transit Bus was 10  minutes late so I missed the connection to my usual GO bus at Oakville station.

It was there that I came on this tragic case - or rather, he and his cigarette smoke flowed into my life.

I was sitting by the entrance doors and this guy walked up, sat down, and pulled out a pack of coffin nails. I pointed out that this was a posted no smoking area and asked him to please not smoke. His heart breaking reply?

"I don't care"

Imagine that people - sucking on burning butts has cauterized this man of all feeling. A pathetic apathetic smoke sucker.

So people, I put it to you, until either he or the Bylaw Enforcement people at GO Transit show a sign that THEY care, I'm going to show how much I care by taking as many pictures of these apathetic addicts as I can - and I ask that yo do the same.

Maybe if enough pics pile up we'll get some caring going somewheres...

Lawyer cat does not care about your idle threat



Just rub his belly.

Remember, I pay him for this advice. The photo stays.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Picture is from March but still valid

from: Tanya
to: "cj@thiscrazytrain.com" 
date: Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 2:23 AM
subject: Your site is awesome. Here's my parking story

Hi!
Okay, I've spent way too long on your site after discovering it earlier tonight. Back in March I got blocked in at Brampton by a douche parking donkey. Here's what I came back to when I got off the train. My car is the white one. You can see the person actually got out and pushed in the mirror on the passenger side. There wasn't a car on their driver side when I showed up so I don't know if there is more to the story, but I wasn't happy. I went in through the passenger side of my car to drive off.

Rewarding good behaviour. You're doing it right

Les harrowing tales of woe

Photo by @emilymariahh via Instragram
GO passengers line up at York Mills GO Bus Terminal for buses into Durham Region

As I play my violin, leave the tale of your journey into the LSE shitshow last night in the comments.
One friend of mine made it to Oshawa by 9:30pm last night.
I got into Ajax at six myself where my husband hooked up with me to complete the ride home, but not without having dinner first with my chauffeur and his lovely wife (twist my arm).
We dined at Mazza, a Lebanese place at Bayley and Westney Roads.
It was delicious.
Food can always help make a bad situation a good situation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yes, you will have to take a bus from Yorkdale, Sheppard, York Mills, Finch or Scarborough Town Centre

Or you can do what I did and hunt down a co-worker with a car and a kind heart.

The LSE is a shitshow tonight. Trains are not running between Union and Pickering and then it's shuttle trains between Pickering and Oshawa which means it's probably a 4-car length train that only holds 400 passengers and it's only ONE train.

I'm being driven as far as Ajax. I'm sure it will be a shitshow for me from there as I join the thousands of other people on buses.

Ugh.

Hopefully my co-worker will take me all the way home. I'm going to use my Puss n' Boots face. Or I call my husband and beg.

Counting to potato. You're doing it right.

Ottawa Double Decker transit bus struck by VIA train in Ottawa


Photo by @GiacomoPanico via Twitter

A Double Decker bus, just like the ones operated by GO Transit, collided with a VIA train this morning resulting in multiple fatalities according to news reports.

The crash happened at 8:48 a.m.near the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road.

There is no further information as of 10:05 am this morning as to why and how the collision happened.

Click here for a photo of the front of the bus.

Has university become so exhausting that students have to claim two seats on a busy express train to sleep off the stress?

The following story is true

On the bus.
Last night.
Double decker.
Sat on top level.
Just me and this other couple.
They are young, early 20s.
I look over.
He has his hand in between in her legs.
She's not wearing tights under her skirt.

I'll believe it when I see it


From GO's official Facebook page (with a supportive comment from Yours Truly)

Monday, September 16, 2013

I swear there are forces that work against me

For the past couple of weeks, I had noticed that my Samsung Galaxy Note was really, really, really slow to charge.

I own other Samsung devices so I started swapping out cables and wall chargers but no dice, the phone still took over 12 hours to fully charge. I called Rogers who told me to call stores that accept repairs and make sure loaner Android phones were available before I brought the device in.

As of Friday, I was ready to go phone-less entirely if it meant remedying the situation.

Today, despite my MacGuyver method of balancing the phone on the edge of my desk and using a coffee cup to weigh down the cable so it bent at a 15 degree angle, which is how the phone would charge at all, the phone finally decided to quit this bitch. It died a slow, ugly death at 2 pm this afternoon.

After spreading the word around the office about my wireless woes, a colleague gave me her old BlackBerry circa 2006. I am so rocking this beast.

It's pretty awful. First world problems right here, folks.

Out of 12 Rogers stores, seven of those being within a 55-minute drive from my home and the rest being in the downtown core, only one had loaner phones and none of them were Android. Beggars can't be choosers, so I took my colleague's BlackBerry which required no $50 deposit.

At the very least, I can still watch episodes of Breaking Bad, which is what will save me from complete and total boredom on the train/bus rides for the next two weeks.  What I can't do is Tweet, Facebook, blog, surf, play Candy Crush Saga, cream my friends in Scrabble or slaughter pigs. Without a BlackBerry plan, I have no data.

All this and still paying $64.99 a month!

I have no idea why the phone decided to circumcise itself. I just hope it can be fixed.

I have a friend who went through this with her iPhone. Turns out something had come loose inside the phone and it was welded back on or something like that. I'm hoping my problem is that simple. I didn't realize how attached I had become to this phone.

I really miss it. The train ride home was torture.

Just so you know this isn't a battle I wage on my own. There are soldiers who fight this fight with me (passively, of course)

Parking donkeys! I have found your leader


The person who emailed this to me (K.L.) swears on a stack of newborn babies this is legit. It happened at Maple GO Station last week.

Despite numerous available spots, clearly noticeable in the photo, the mentally challenged owner of this KIA parked and left the car right where it sits.

If this doesn't justify a towing, I really would like to know what sets the bar for GO Transit Safety personnel, considering all the recent emails I've gotten lately about "practicing safe parking". 

This person didn't even try.

You know what this needs? HULK SMASH!

Here are some other donkeys photographed elsewhere at GO train stations.



So much for colouring between the lines.

There's a Blogger app

I just learned this.

Previously, I would try to blog from my phone but it was awkward and buggy. Now there's an app for that. 

Let's do a test run, shall we?

What was annoying about this train ride is this lady had rested her wet umbrella on the arm rest between us and when I asked her to move it, she asked me if it was bothering her.

That's when I got out my blow torch.

Needless to say, the umbrella is no longer an issue but the right side of my pant leg is wet.

What's wrong with people? Are you that far into your bubble?

People like this woman:
 

Put your goddamn shoes on and keep your feet on the floor!

Holy Christ.

We are not in your living room.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nothing beats staring at this during the train ride home



I mean, why even bother with "shorts"?

You stay classy girlfriend.

- Submitted (regretfully)

Pyromania

During Tuesday night's GO bus ride home, a young MAN (not a kid) was at the back of the bus lighting matches and blowing them out. It didn't take long for the bus to fill with the smell of sulfur.

I was fucking pissed.

Who does that? On a fucking bus with one exit and full of people?

I'm not giving any more details other than to say the situation was handled very poorly. It resulted in me phoning the police when I exited the bus well before my stop.

At one point, this pyromaniac, who looked to be about 20, was called "a kid" and his match lighting was described as something "kids do".

Please.

Boys younger than this douchebag went off to war.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There's more than just footriding in this picture

Someone also left DNA behind.

Kudos to PK for zoom.

As gross as it is ... look at alll the money in this one shot.

Marketing transit safety. You're doing it right

On August 28th, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig was a guest columnist in the Toronto Sun

He wrote an Opinion piece that reads like a Manifesto.

I have respect for the guy but he works for the Province of Ontario and we've all learned from past mishaps and mishandling of large projects that this province's government is as efficient and transparent as a snail in mud.

In fact, after reading through his chest thumping, I couldn't help but feel insulted both as a Presto customer and a GO Transit passenger.

He claims everyone deserves to be consulted and Metrolinx has followed through on this transparency by holding focus groups to collect feedback from passengers about changes and improvements to GO Transit and its website. One of those focus groups was to discuss the online schedule changes page which GO was in the process of redesigning and improving.

One person in the group wrote to tell me he was paid $75 for his time and input only to learn when the new schedule page was officially launched, none of the recommendations, changes or suggested improvements made by the group had been implemented. The schedule application was launched looking exactly the way it did when the group was first introduced to it.

Adding further insult to injury, on July 24th, just mere days after the new schedule application was launched, it failed to work. I was emailed by half a dozen passengers expressing frustration with the Schedule Finder. I was sent screenshots with detailed explanations that routes weren't appearing, train times were blank and after several minutes of waiting, no results would appear. By the following Monday, the application appeared to have been fixed. So much for stress testing before a launch!

But it's still not perfect. Last week, Twitter exploded with tweeted frustrations from university and college students new to the system who find the schedule finder application confusing and not user-friendly. One person joked he hitched his way to Humber College because he gave up trying to understand what train and bus connection he needed to make to get to school. Even I have trouble with the bus schedules.

McCuaig writes there are more than 750,000 Presto cards in use on the system. He admits the numbers involved in the Presto project are "huge" resulting in 122 million "taps" and $479 million in fares and yet, yet ... Presto still holds GO Transit passengers' money hostage. Presto takes our money but often leaves us holding an empty bag in return. McCuaig seems to have forgotten about 2011's autoload malfuction where passengers' credit cards were charged repeatedly in a 48-hour timeframe but the money failed to show up anywhere where Presto could find it. Presto is far from a success and nothing to brag about.

He also doesn't mention that GO Transit forced its five times weekly ridership into using Presto and for many of us, we played along very unwillingly. One only has to spend an hour or two on Twitter to read about all the Presto pains, muddled information and nonsense customers have had to put up with. No need to pay a focus group for that "valuable" feedback.

As of right now, there was a widespread system glitch affecting the Presto website on September 8th that resulted in passengers who used the online load feature to put money into their Presto e-wallets to have no updated balance.  Once debited from passengers' bank accounts, this money failed to make its way into e-wallets. Passengers have been out these funds since Sunday and have had to go into stations to deposit more money into their e-wallets so they could have funds available to get to work. Worse, Presto can't even commit to a timeframe as to when these passengers will see the funds they transferred on Sunday in their Presto accounts. This is wrong. It should be illegal for any corporation to withhold funds from customers who made these transactions in good faith. For some passengers, these screw-ups cause financial hardship and inconvenience. Equally unimpressive is when GO Transit CSRs remind passengers to deposit funds at the counter at stations in order to avoid these delays. For months GO Transit promoted Presto as an ALTERNATIVE to lining up at the station and touted the fact that we could all use an online system to load the card. In fact, this was marketed as one of the benefits of Presto. And when it does work, we have to wait up to 24 hours for the funds to be deposited into our Presto accounts. Yet, I can get a coffee card from Starbucks, load it online right now with $25 and use those funds immediately.

There are claims in emails from GO Transit that Metrolinx listens to its passengers and in July, GO Transit rolled out the Quiet Zone "pilot" project across the system to respond to requests for "quiet cars". This is a project that involves no real effort on behalf of GO, other than having printed up some signs and brochures.

CSAs are instructed to give announcements during rush hour about the Quiet Zone, but provide no verbal instructions about what is expected of passengers and give no information about what it is. And for some reason, GO decided to launch this project during the summer months when the Exhibition is in full swing and tourists and families are on board. What transpired was a complete and total shit show. It got so bad that accounts were created on Twitter to mock the project and passengers were left to enforce the rules, resulting in one fist fight on August 23rd where Transit Security had to escort two passengers off the platform at Union Station from a rush hour LSE train, according to Twitter user @GregCrone.

On the Richmond Hill line, the CSAs have stopped making announcements entirely. On my line, the Lakeshore East, only one announcement was made shortly after we left Oshawa at 7:15 am this morning, and nothing after that. On the ride home last night, on the 5:10 pm train, no announcements were made.

GO Transit passengers still deserve better.

Sorry Bruce, but you've got a lot more work to do. I know your hands are tied with bureaucratic red tape on a lot of this stuff, but you really need to address the Presto problems and the GO Transit website's lack of ease of use.

If you truly want us to believe Metrolinx listens to customers, please review the recommendations that were made by the focus groups and actually put them into practice. Then you'll have me on-board in believing you when you say you are willing to use every tool available to provide effective communication, but not just about projects, but the GO system itself. Email alerts about system interruptions, delays and buses that disappear from routes due to "operational errors" should be immediate, not an hour after the delay happened or long after it's been cleared. Sometimes we don't get any information at all about why a train was late or why a bus never showed up.

Metrolinx can do better.

Girl sits on bus. Girl takes photos of herself giving duck face for entire bus ride



Photo courtesy of Stef S.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

STAND BACK BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE YOU DONK---, oh wait ...

If you've ever filed a complaint with Metrolinx, you'll understand...

from: CC
to: "cj@thiscrazytrain.com" 
date: Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 9:23 AM
subject: Perhaps one of your blog readers?

Hey CJ,
Thought you'd enjoy this little bit of rebellious consumer-related frustration, vented in blue ink, that I spotted on the Yorkdale bus this morning.
This was scrawled on that "GO's Passenger Charter" notice at the front of every bus telling you all the glorious features of GO's customer service. It seems they've penned their own disclaimer.
It reads: "Charter to be used only when convenient to Metrolinx."
Stickin' it to the man, indeed.

Rode a DD this morning

Didn't like it.

There are LCD monitors inside the bus. Why is there no entertainment? I had to stare at the GO Transit logo for the entire ride.

Boooooooring! 

At they very least, they could have this video on loop or any one of these videos. Christ, I could listen to Richard talk about how much he loves being a CSA all damn day.

 

Sorry for the glare but the glare is where the monitors are.

Secondly, the seats are terrible. There is no cushioned comfort. You don't sink into these things like you would into a giant marshmallow like the regular GO buses. Nothing reclines. There's no bungy basket in front of you to put your shit in and worse, WORSE, is that if you want to turn on the overhead light, YOU HAVE TO STAND THE HELL UP.

At this point, if I had an abuela, she'd be crossing herself and changing the channel. She'd be so done with this mess.

There is no way in hell I could stand more than 30 minutes on one of these things. The top level gave me vertigo when the driver rounded the corner of the bus loop into the GO Station, so I won't be sitting up there any time soon. I almost tasted my breakfast again.

Blech.

These things can go right back to Scotland for all I care.

I'm calling them Ghetto Sleds from now on.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Part 3 of a new installment, exclusive to This Crazy Train, "Meet the Deckers"

Editor's note: If you have safety concerns about Double Decker buses, drop me a line cj@thiscrazytrain.com

Read Parts 1 and 2
Photo from GO Transit's official Facebook page

Special to This Crazy Train

What would Ralph Nader say?
by Ali Gator (not his real name)

In this segment of the series, Meet the Deckers, I look at safety concerns with the Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL) double-decker (DD) buses that GO Transit has deployed on Route 12, between Niagara Falls and Burlington GO Transit stations.  Let me start by saying that I have not been involved in any incident that has caused bodily injury to myself or others while commuting on these buses.  What other passengers and I fear are what will happen should a mishap occur with one of these buses on the QEW.  Let me say that I have the utmost regard for the drivers on Route 12; their track record is not under scrutiny.

So what are the concerns?

From the first day I travelled on an ADL DD in June of 2011, I was convinced it was a bus suited for intra-city commuters, not inter-city travellers/tourists.  Route 12 draws much tourist traffic with folks heading to Niagara Falls, especially in summer, and with that comes luggage, strollers and bicycles – and plenty of them.  Unlike the traditional MCI coaches, the double-deckers have negligible cargo capacity.  Items that are normally stored underneath the bus on a MCI model are brought on board a DD.


The cargo area is essentially the luggage rack over the front wheel well.  This picture shows an average amount of luggage, four strollers, each with an infant.   On the QEW, the bus can reach speeds of up to 109 km/hr.  Note how low the seat backs are in comparison to those on a MCI bus.


When the luggage rack is full, suitcases, etc. overflow into the accessibility area as shown in the photo above.  Occasionally, a suitcase on wheels will break away from the pack and roll down the aisle.  Have you ever seen a happier group of passengers?


Did I mention bicycles?  When the bike rack is full, supervisors authorize drivers to allow bicycles inside the bus with passengers.  This one doesn’t look to be secured with bungee cords or duct tape, does it?

And what happens when a driver is required to transport nine bicycles?  Well, two are mounted on the bike rack, three go in the rear cargo closet, four ride inside the bus, the trip is delayed, the train connection in Burlington is missed, and passengers are very unhappy

You’re probably wondering, what’s all this all leading to?  The QEW is very unforgiving when something goes wrong.  I was on an early morning bus to Burlington when we came upon this collision that had happened shortly before we got to the scene: Woman killed by flying tire on Ontario highway.  Earlier this year, the QEW near St. Catharines was closed because of this fatal crash.  Both these fatalities would have turned baggage and bicycles into projectiles within the bus.  Even a lesser crash, like this one – which turned the Niagara bound lanes into a salad bar – would have wreaked havoc on board the bus.

I know what you’re thinking.  Weren’t the double-deckers modified to have a cargo bay (of sorts) added to the back of the bus?  You’re absolutely right!  However, that cargo bay is rarely used because of safety concerns for the drivers.  I’ll address the “cargo closet” in a future article.

So, with all that stuff crammed inside the bus, how do these double-deckers manage to conform to the PublicVehicles Act?  You know, the part that says:

  1. Where a public vehicle is used for the transportation of passengers or express freight, the licensee shall provide accommodation therefor so that there is no interference with the free and ready ingress and egress of passengers to and from the vehicle and the accommodation shall be so constructed as to prevent the property or freight from injuring a passenger.  R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 982, s. 17.
They obviously don't ... unless there are exceptions I don't know about.

Scary stuff, right?

If any of you reading are highly knowledgeable (in the legal sense) of traffic laws and the Act, your input is welcome.

Let's move on.


The decorative aluminum strip on the driver’s door has sharp burrs on the corners.  Two drivers showed me the gouges they received when they brushed against these corners.  And we all know what job-related injuries mean – WSIB paperwork!


Whereas MCI buses allow up to 19 standing passengers, for safety reasons, none are allowed to stand on double-deckers – anywhere.  The following photo shows three standing passengers; two on the stairs – a definite no-no!  I’ve heard reports of triple that number standing.

OC Transpo in Ottawa also operates ADL double-decker buses in their fleet.  Last winter, two DDs were blown off Woodroffe Avenue.  Per this CBC article, the buses will not operate on that municipal road this coming winter.  The union representing the transit workers was quite vociferous in influencing that decision.
Imagine this in green and white …(click here for the CBC story and video)

In 2011 and 2012, GO Transit operated the double-deckers on Route 12 only during the summer months.  I’ve asked the drivers when the DDs are leaving this year, and I’ve been told that they’re staying.  In spite of what happened in Ottawa, it appears Metrolinx has decided to run those buses at freeway speeds across the windswept Burlington and Garden City Skyway bridges during the periods of what is the worst weather in the Golden Horseshoe.  Why?  As far as I know, the GO Transit bus drivers’ union has remained mum on this matter.  Will it take an incident on the QEW to force a discussion? Why are brass waiting for something to happen?!

Recently, I received an invitation to take another Let GO Know survey.  GO Transit wants to initiate yet another “pilot program” - this one to install a digital Audio Video Recording System (AVRS) on some double-decker buses.  Yes, Big Brother is coming to a DD on a route near you.  Supposedly, recording everything we say and do on the bus will make the trips safer for us.  The introduction to the survey never   explained how increased safety would be achieved.

If you completed the survey and can explain how electronic surveillance equipment will mitigate the issues I've outlined, could you share your insights, please?

My word. What would Ralph Nader say? 

The one about a Niagara Falls bus ride

from: Janine
to: cj@thiscrazytrain.com
date: Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 8:52 PM
subject: Excellent customer service!

Hi! I came across your blog and figured you would want to know what a fabulous things GO Transit did for a friend of mine! My friend was heading for the train to Niagara Falls a weekend or so again at Union and she missed the last train. She was franctic. Well wouldn't you know that arrangements were made to have a bus take her there so she could get home. Isn't that amazing? It was customer service at its finest. Made me a GO customer for life, I tell ya.
If you use this, please just use my first name.

from: C.J. Smith
to: Janine
date: Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 9:06 PM
subject: Re: Excellent customer service!

Sorry, what?
So your friend missed the train and you're telling me GO Transit summoned up a bus to drive her to Niagara Falls from downtown Toronto?! Was this a bus in service or did they actually put a bus in service for her? Sure, that's great customer service but at what cost?
I would think a cab would have been cheaper or a night's stay at a downtown Toronto hotel.
Your friend does realize that GO is funded by taxpayer dollars and the fare thousands of us pay to ride the buses and trains.
Don't get me wrong. It's wonderful GO helped her out but the expense was unnecessary, unwarranted and a waste of money. Unless it was a matter there was a bus going there anyway, then I don't see what was so great about what GO did.
Hit me back with more deets.

Cj

---

I never heard back from Janine so I don't know if this story is true, is missing a whole bunch of facts, or she misunderstood how this trip went down. If it's true and it was a bus put solely into service to drive a woman home for two hours there and return, then this is a complete waste of tax dollars. It would have not been worth the almost $18 fare, especially if she was the only passenger on the bus!
I'd love to know what made her so important for this happen.

It's probably not true. It better not be true.

Indecent exposure

Some guy  tweeted a picture of himself holding his junk on a GO train on Twitter.

I was sent a link to the photo (on Twitter).  There is not enough bleach in Canada for my eyes after seeing that. If you're crafty and savvy enough, you should be able to figure out how you see it yourself, if you're so inclined and be warned, the photo is NOT SAFE FOR WORK (NSFW). I think I posted enough clues ...(cough I have a Twitter feed to the right of the post cough)

Not sure what the laws are around this. My lawyercats know nothing about this topic seeing that it is indecent exposure ALL THE TIME in my house. Those jerks don't even wear pants for cripes sake.

I'm back. Time to get this dog and pony show back on the road

Ahhhhh, it was so nice... Vacation.

Got some work done around the house. Discovered I can't paint 10-foot tall porch columns. Window washing blows and cleaning out the rubber ring on a front loading washing machine is worse than pulling out rotting, human hair out of a bath tub drain. Dry heaves upon dry heaves.

But I did it, and my washer smells a thousands times better.

I played way too much online Scrabble, Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga and walked a total of 40 kilometres. I didn't eat away my vacation. Instead, I lost another two pounds. My total weight loss in the past 25 months stands at 57 pounds. I have lost an entire six year old!

I looked forward to coming back to work so I can break my Candy Crash Saga dependency, although I tried really hard not to play an episode on the train. The ride was uneventful and extremely quiet in the Quiet Zone, which was good, because I'm not afraid to break fingers.

I have a lot of catching up to do with respect to submitted content for this site, so hold tight, calm your tits and I'll get this show back on stage.

Don't care if it's late at night, you're still a donkey

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For all of y'all who have been busy Googling "how often does GO check Presto" and "risks of not tapping Presto" and ...

  • is there a fine for riding go train without ticket
  • does someone check your presto card on the go train
  • who checks GO fare
  • best place to sit on GO train to avoid being checked for Presto Card
  • how many times a week can I ride free on GO train
  • busiest times for Presto checking
  • what happens when a go transit officer catches you
  • Go train ticket fine how much
  • do i really need a go train ticket
  • what does a go train officer look like
  • what station does the go train officer get off at
  • Can two people use the same Presto card or pass it back
  • Do GO officers take your picture if you don't tap your Presto card
  • how to ride go train to union for free
  • do I really need to tap Presto card every go train ride
  • how to make your own Presto card with no money but it will beep if GO people check it
You must all be new to GO Transit and you must all be first year college and university students because in the three years I've been online with this blog, this is the most activity I've witnessed with respect to searches about defrauding the system. Considering the time period, it's the only conclusion I can make.

You see, when you use Google and your search query lands you at my website (aka this GO train blog), my metrics software captures your "hit" and I can review a report of the latest search terms.

And judging by recent Twitter activity currently being monitored by @GoTrainsit, it appears that many of you feel you are not obligated to pay your fare or feel that because Presto cards aren't checked every day, hour on the hour, you're wasting money when you tap.

How about Googling the word "integrity"?

So put on your big kid pants and pay your fare like the rest of us do. M'kay?

By the way, the very last search phrase was the best one yet. A+

Found "Dave" on a TTC bus


Pop culture reference here

Took my daughter to the Ex, saw a Crosstown LRT. My daughter didn't have a banana for scale