Monday, January 6, 2014

GO needs to step it up because you're breaking your promise

This morning, over at GO Transit headquarters, someone had the wherewithal to send out an email telling subscribed customers that the train that arrives at Oshawa at 7:11 had been cancelled. What this person then failed to do was to email passengers that the 7:28 train, which the 7:11 train eventually becomes, would be cancelled.

I guess GO figured people would realize that. Sure, but only if you know the train schedule at Oshawa and you're on the ball like I am.

When I received that email at 6:53 am, I knew the 7:11 train when it arrives becomes the 7:28 to Union. Unfortunately, a lot of other people didn't make this connection such as some of my bus mates who never run for the 7:15 when our bus arrives (usually at 7:11) at Oshawa GO. Some didn't care to heed my announcement that the next train would be the 7:53 (which was also delayed). I tried to warn them but unless they see it written in black and white, I'm just the crazy bitch who wouldn't let them get electrocuted.

Only a handful of us made it onto the 7:15. The rest had their cigarettes, bought their coffees and waited for a train that didn't come and got on a train that left 13 minutes late (which also did not result in an email from GO).

I'm not saying GO didn't send out an email. They will. And I'll get it 12 hours later just like the one I got Friday night. See below.

I used to tell readers that the reason why these alerts come in so late is because Metrolinx gave GO a shitty bulk email program. I'm now thinking that's no longer the case. I think these email delays happen because whoever is in charge of these alerts gets lazy or distracted, or just enjoys messing with us. To save face, this person then sends an email hours later so he or she can say it was done and then blames the server.

The email I received this morning about the 7:11 cancellation came in just at the right time for passengers like myself to make a decision and haul ass for the earlier train. How hard would it have been to add in a second sentence that read, "The 7:28 Oshawa to Union train is now cancelled. Passengers can take the 7:15 or wait for the 7:53 train trip". This is not rocket science. This is called providing clear communication.

Friday's email and the poor communication from this morning goes against GO Passenger Charter. The same charter that helped the company win that fancy transit award.  These are the five promises GO made in 2011. Number three (not four as I erroneously counted) reads:

We will keep you in the know
Whether it’s information that can help you plan your journey, late-breaking news that impacts your trip with us, or a station announcement you need to hear, we will be clear and consistent in our communications.

Well, you're not. You failed on Friday and you failed today. 

I want to finger Metrolinx for this but I don't think it's a Metrolinx failing. Someone in communications at GO Transit is dropping the ball. I feel so let down.

In three weeks, we will all be paying more to ride GO Transit. When this kind of communication break-down happens (inconsistent email, late emails or no emails at all) that results in hundreds of passengers being left stranded on a platform for close to an hour, it's bad business and very, very, very unfair.

PS. The fact that GO sent emails out this morning (around 3:30 am) warning passengers that the poor weather conditions could severely impact service does not excuse this morning's lack of communication. The weather does not impact email. GO proved with the 6:53 am email that I received that they are capable of sending out emails in a timely fashion that allows passengers to make decisions about their commute. Unfortunately, that email lacked important details that allowed for some passengers to make an informed decision.


Squiggles said...

Yeah. Their announcements blow. Big time. Too bad the fare hike isn't going towards better communication.

All of the cancellations/delays/etc. started after my normal train, but as a "Just in case", I got up a 1/2 hr early and caught the earlier bus/train.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to point out that no announcement was made on the platform for those of us waiting for the 7:28 to take the 7:15 when it was learned at the time you mentioned that the 7:28 wasn't coming. I am usually at the Oshawa station by 7:05 but I wait for a friend who comes in by bus and we take the 7:28.
Also the CSA on the 7:15 could have also made an announcement on the outside speakers of that train telling those of us waiting on the 7:28 to get on the 7:15
It takes a village, right? GO doesn't understand ... so frustrating!!!
GO can't tell me that station employees and employees already on the train don't know what's going on. That's impossible. They have iPhones and phones and radio communication. I wound up being an 45 minutes late for work.

manik79 said...

CJ, they also failed to inform passengers on the website that the express 8:25am from Oshawa to Union was cancelled until I tweeted them at 8:50am. Had I known the train was cancelled i would not have even gone to the station.

There service the last 2 months has been atrocious at best.

Al said...

Ha ha,

you said finger metrolinx.

I wouldnt they dont deserve the pleasure.

Todd said...

You should sign up for the txt alerts. I got two alerts this morning at the same time about the cancellation of the Union6:13-Oshawa7:11 and OSHA7:28-Union8:18.

April said...

I got an email.

I got an email at 6:20 a.m. saying the Union 6:13 to Oshawa 7:11 train was cancelled. At 6:28 a.m. I got an email saying the Oshawa 7:28 was cancelled.

Anonymous said...

I think most of us agree that GO does a good and professional job for the most part and on occasion make an error. But their biggest problem is communication. Well that and squandering money.

These communication failures are, at the same time, surprising and not surprising.

Twice last winter I can recount how the 7:36 Bramalea, which originates from there, was cancelled and yet no email was sent in either case. Whether they figured out this would happen a while before 7:36 or one minute before, it's important to communicate this. If we had known the 7:36 would be cancelled then we could have skipped the morning coffee or whatever and be sure to get there and take the 7:30, which I assume did come and go. But who knows, since they couldn't be bothered to send emails.

MATT said...

"we will be clear and consistent in our communications"

Yeah...consistently inconsistent.

I got the January 3 email over 14 and a half hours late.

C.J. Smith said...

I swear to baby Jesus, I have no emails about the cancelled 7:28 train. Matt sent me an email where he was notified.
My friend Vanessa didn't get any emails at all and she is definitely subscribed.
I have signed up for the text alerts as well.
I have recommended others do the same.

April said...

CJ, I also go the 8:25 train cancelation at 7:40 a.m., the one manik79 says he didn't get.

Is it possible your email spam filters picked them up?

It is not only possible, but highly probable that their email system is messed up. I can't count how many times I have received an email that a train is cancelled or delayed hours after the problem.

I won't sign up for text messages. They never worked in the past and I doubt they will now.

George said...

I got all the text messages about all of the delays on the LSW this morning on time and adjusted my trip accordingly.

I wonder why the difference in service between east and west on the same line?

George said...

Oops forgot..I got the emails too because I checked at home before leaving for work. I'm too cheap to use email on my phone..:) text messages work fine.

Unknown said...

"I want to finger Metrolinx"
*chuckles like a school boy*
CJ ... I didn't realize you were kinky like that. Sorry couldn't resist. Did you forget 'point a' between to and finger!

C.J. Smith said...

Hi April
I just got the emails that you got earlier in the morning at noon today. They all came in one after the other