Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately? Part 7

Previous installments of this Web Series are archived here

By Ali Gator

In this installment of Who’s Not Been Serving Us Lately? I look at last week’s announcement and photo-op by Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, regarding GO Transit deploying its 500th bus.  You recall the hoopla.

How are all those extra buses working out for you on your route?  On mine, Route 12, it’s meh – a hit and miss affair.  Sure, there are extra buses running this board period in an effort to achieve hourly service, but the one trip that is absolutely critical – the 12D Friday afternoon express – has been floundering.  On Sept. 5, it arrived in St. Catharines after the “milk run” that left Burlington station at the same time.

On Sept. 12, the 12D was cancelled altogether.  Consequently, when the all-stops Niagara Falls to Burlington bus – a half-full double-decker – arrived in St. Catharines a little late, there were 40+ passengers waiting on the platform.  The driver contacted her supervisor, and at the same time, asked Grimsby and Stoney Creek passengers to board, since this bus was scheduled to make those stops.  The driver then announced that a MCI model bus would arrive in approximately 10 minutes and operate express to Burlington.  “What to do?” I wondered to myself.

I chose to board this bus guessing that there were no spare personnel or equipment in The Falls that could offer support at this time.  The rescue bus was most likely dispatched from Hamilton, in which case the ETA of 10 minutes was wildly optimistic.  Additionally, most of the passengers on the platform were students without PRESTO cards; ticket sales would increase the time to load that bus.  I tapped on and as I made my way to one of the few empty seats in the lower saloon, I walk by a WMA passenger in the accessibility area.

A few other passengers boarded, too; most of them buying tickets, delaying our departure further.  We were almost set to leave, when the WMA passenger barked at our driver and demanded to be transferred to the express bus, which had not yet arrived.  My spirits deflated.  Would we ever get out of this town?  Our driver tried to reason with the passenger that at this point both buses would probably arrive in Burlington at about the same time.  The passenger would have none of it and insisted on taking the express bus.  The driver complied, and the passenger maneuvered his scooter out of the bus.  As he left, I wondered swhether the wheelchair lift on the MCI bus was in good working order.

We left St. Catharines over twenty minutes behind schedule.  About half way to Grimsby, I saw the rescue bus barreling down the QEW in the opposite direction.

Because of some very nice driving, we arrived at Burlington station four minutes before our connecting train.  I have no idea whether the impromptu rescue bus was successful in its mission.  If any readers were on that bus, please let This Crazy Train know what happened.

What this Friday fiasco illustrates is that it doesn’t matter that GO Transit has 500 buses in its stables.  If the resources aren’t managed properly, passengers are left in a lurch and the joint proclamation by the Minister of Transportation and Mary Proc, VP of Customer Service, amounts to no more than hollow words.

And sadly, during Friday’s misfortunes on Route 12, promise #3 of the GO Transit Passenger Charter – Keeping You in the Know – was violated, yet again!  In spite of a cancelled trip and late service on another, no e-mail alerts were issued.  You call that customer service, Ms. Proc?

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