Friday, January 30, 2015

Is your train delayed? Got no data? Need to Crush? Free WiFi Coming To 22 More GO Stations

TORONTO, January 30, 2015 – Metrolinx is rolling out free WiFi access at 22 more GO stations starting February 2, 2015.

This follows a successful pilot program that rolled out free WiFi at 14 stations and terminals starting in spring 2013. This second phase will provide about 80 per cent of all GO customers with free Internet access across a total of 36 stations. The remaining 31 stations and terminals across the GO network will be connected during a third and final phase later this year.

"Our unprecedented public transit investments are making transit a better choice for commuters," said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation. "This is further proof of our government’s commitment to making the daily commute more convenient and the quality of life better for Ontario families."

"We’re bringing free WiFi to our stations to make it even more convenient to take GO Transit," said Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx. "Whether it's free Internet access while you wait, an easy-to-use mobile GO website, or service alerts delivered right to your inbox, we’re committed to giving our customers the tools they need to stay in the know."

Customers can select the network name starting with “Free WiFi at GO” from their available networks to access the service, which is provided through a partnership with GO Transit’s advertising partner, IMA Outdoor, and its sponsors.

This project is part of Metrolinx’s plan to provide residents and businesses in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area with convenient and customer-friendly transit.

Working through its divisions – GO TransitPRESTO, and Union Pearson Express – Metrolinx is transforming the way the region moves.

Visit for more information.

(Cj says: Calm down about PRESTO there Metrolinx, it's not the trailblazer you think it is. It's transformed things all right - just not in the Unicorn you're riding kind of way.)

One of my biggest pet peeves

Who needs tail lights at night in a snow storm? Not this driver apparently

More about the parking lot closure at Oshawa GO

Thanks to Bicky for this information.

Thornton Road Feeder Watermain, from Wentworth Street to Champlain Avenue, in the City of Oshawa
Construction of a large diameter feeder watermain for the Zone 1 watermain on Thornton Rd., from Wentworth St. north to the CPR and from north of the CPR to Champlain Ave. The installation will be completed by both open-cut and tunnel operations. The tunneled section crosses Hwy. 401, from the northwest corner of Thornton Rd. and Champlain Ave. to the southwest corner of Thornton Rd. and Bloor St. The open-cut sections will be through the east side of the GO Transit parking to the north side of the CPR, across Thornton Rd., just south of Bloor St. and from the south side of the CPR to Wentworth St. Some work will be completed at night and on weekends to minimize inconvenience to the public, although traffic restrictions will remain in-place for the duration of the Project, for protection of both the public and workers. The Project is expected to be completed in its entirety by August 31, 2015.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Oshawa peeps, you're about to lose some of your lost (aka parking spaces)

From: 89846 (copy of text message)
To: 19054427423

January 29 2015 02:44 PM

OSHA GO: Starting Feb. 2, Region of Durham construction closes N/E corner of lost and K&R (Kiss and Ride) for 2 months. More spots at AJAX/WHIT.

Someone needs to hand this guy a crown

Morning train rider claiming all 6 seats. Notice the lovely barricade saving us all from having to sit with King-Douche


Well, I guess I need to pack up and move to the Netherlands then

From Stuff Dutch People Like:

I’ll never forget seeing a fairly rough-looking British tourist on the metro with his feet on the seat in front of him. As the metro chugged on, various Dutch passengers would approach him to tell him that this was clearly not allowed. He’d glance at each of them in an utterly bored manner and continue about his business - feet remaining firmly planted on the seat.
After about 5 stops, and 5 different lectures, an older Dutch couple marched up to him and told him loudly in English that “he should remove his feet immediately!” He finally looked up, and said loudly Really? Now what the f@# are you going to do about it?” The entire metro erupted into loud (Dutch) chatter of shock and anger. Someone summoned the driver and the next thing you know the disobedient infidele was promptly escorted off the metro, his exit met with hearty applause. (Clearly the older Dutch couple knew exactly“what the f@#$ they were going to do about it!!"

This blogger writes about trains ... and he's only 7

When (Dana) Bookman realized just how passionate her son (Nathan) was about trains, she suggested Nathan start a blog so he could document what he learned and called CP Rail to tell them about his blog.

Nathan and his mom sent the railway a letter outlining all the things he wanted to learn about the railway and include on his blog. They also asked if he could hang out with the folks at CP Rail once a month in exchange for writing about his experiences.

The company was thrilled with the idea.


I'm pretty sure that signs say NO

Apparently drivers over at the Centennial GO Station parking garage like to take shortcuts up ramps that are for cars travelling down.

Like this honey badger who can't read.

Via email:

Hi CJ - Love your blog! Just want to share with you a dangerous problem with the Centennial Station parking structure. A few inconsiderate commuters - and it's always the same few - take a "shortcut" to the upper floors by driving up the down ramp. And they force themselves back into the traffic flow when it suits them. Last year I witnessed someone almost ran over by such a driver, and another case when a verbal confrontation nearly got physical (have pictures). The following photos were taken this morning...hopefully the City of Markham can start enforcing its bylaws?  Keep up the good work! - R

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You had one job!

How long will it take to build? Seeing as Burlington GO Station is nowhere near completion

Changing a baby's diaper on a train seat - yay or nay?

You iphone people and your ipotato shortcomings - can't turn off the flash; can't turn off the shutter sound. Just let out a massive fart as you take the photo and done.

date:Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 10:39 AM

There's a lady a few rows ahead of me who walked into this coach all pissed off because the washroom upstairs didn't have a change table so she's now changing the diaper. The smell is terrible. I'd take a photo but I don't know how to not draw attention to myself. I'm pretty sure the accessibilty coach has a table but when a man told her that she said she shouldn't have to walk seven cars to change a baby. She doesn't even anything down on the seat and I don't see anything for her to sanitize her hands. What do you think? Is she in the right? I think she she do the walk.
Pezi (please hide my email, name is okay to use if you share this).

That is not how you canoe

Perfecting the art of not giving a fu--

Please hang up and try your call again

How does this even happen?

Zombie cat!

Quick! Fetch him a pillow!

My bet is on a small child

The struggle is real

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ever confronted a stranger on a train because what he or she was talking about made you mad?

Stacy Bias did and she wrote about the experience on and she described what it was like and how she felt, and it's pretty accurate. The way she felt afterward is the reason why many of us don't speak up - even if it's merely to ask someone to take his or her feet off the seat. But this was more, she was being bullied and she decided to take a stand, only it didn't go how she imagined.

Have a read: I Stood Up to a Fat-Shaming Bully on a Train Because I'm Tired of Fighting for the Right to Exist

My phone and my PRESTO card were talking to each other last night

I keep my PRESTO card in the cardholder slot of my phone case. Last night, while standing in the kitchen, I slapped my phone case shut and it made a blip sound. I opened the case and looked at the phone, expecting some kind of notification. Seeing nothing, I shut it. It blipped again.

I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I figured it had to be some kind of notification so I started scrolling to the settings and apps to see what this sound was for. Giving up, I shut the phone and it blipped.

I took all the cards out of the holder - a debit card, a credit card and the PRESTO card. As I held the PRESTO card against the phone to remove the other two cards, the phone blipped. I waved the PRESTO card over the phone again - blip!

This had me very intrigued, so I googled it. Turns out at some point I had turned on the NFC setting on my phone. This turns the phone into a payment device. 

How cool is that? I have no idea what to do with it. I'm guessing this is to support the future of how we will pay for things - using our phones. 

I haven't been paying much attention to the bank ads where apparently you can use your phone as a debit card, but I downloaded the TD app and I don't have the right SIM card to support this. 

So I'm wondering when we will be able to ditch the PRESTO card and just tap with our phones. It appears the technology is there.

When you don't realize what your middle finger is doing when you ride the train


Old New York City subway cars are dumped in the ocean and the reason why is pretty cool

Monday, January 26, 2015

People were very intrigued by this story

Post popularity on this website is always a crap shoot but if I tweet a story, the uptick is better, but never by this much. I like to think this post went wild across the emails of Metrolinx employees ... many are cheesed we care so much about their perk. For the record, I don't care that you ride for free. I do care if you are abusing the other free perk.

And really, almost 1000 people were about salt stains? I should make a whole blog about salt stain pics.

The following story is true

My husband drops me off at the stop for the GO bus during the winter. This saves me 20 minutes and a frigid 2.6 kilometre walk up a semi-rural road.

If my husband truly loved me, he'd let me sit in a nice warm car until the bus was in sight, kind of like the couple I see in the morning at my summer bus stop - the bus stop I was at this morning after my husband and I had to backtrack home to retrieve my phone. Usually I'm dropped off at one stop ahead of my summer stop, but it was easier for him to ditch me at this stop.

I got out of the car and my husband drove off. As I made my way to the bus shelter, the couple in the car motioned to me. The husband rides the same bus. I see him all the time in the summer,. The wife powered down the window. Were they offering me warmth?!


"Could you wave to us when the bus is coming"? She asked.

Being so very Canadian, I nodded. She smiled and closed the car window. I went and stood in the bus shelter. For seven very long CWT minutes (measured in Canadian Winter Time), I waited for the bus.

I did what was asked, I waved towards the car when the bus was in sight.

Her husband thanked me as he boarded.

In my head, I imagined them bantering about how cold they thought I was and if I wanted to sit in the car.

The answer is yes.

You mean you're much more classier with your fly up?

At least he wrote "please"

Time travel

Source: mpar21/Flickr

Friday, January 23, 2015


Commuting problems - in one picture


Commuter rage and the planned Danforth stop

date:Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 5:34 PM
subject:1800 stouffville rage at adding Danforth

I ride the Stouffville corridor on occasion, as it makes my ride home more calm and less rage-inducing from idiots. Also, being in a wheelchair & multiple-disabled, taking this train helps me avoid the nastiness of TTC subways at rush hour, especially Kennedy station.

Last night, a few of the regulars and I began talking about the recent release by GO/Metrolinx about the additional stop at Danforth and the fare increase.

It quickly became a heated and very interesting discussion, about the extra 5 minutes it will add to the trip, (GO claims only 2) but we all know the issues with door donkeys and accessibility needs will prolong it.

Instead of causing people who go all the way to Stouffville and Linconville to have to spend even more time on the train (its 50+ minutes now!) why not keep the stops near the subway to non-rush hour trains? Or keep it to LSE trains only?

As a former LSE regular myself, I know all too well the hell show that is the 1753 LSE. I rarely could get on, due to crowds, as I’m in a power wheelchair and also legally blind.

Why not just have the inside Toronto stops be at Kennedy (end of Bloor-Danforth subway) and Scarbourgh? This serves a very poorly transit served area and is the only way to make that area wheelchair-accessible, instead of waiting for the TTC to get Warden and Agincourt accessible? Danforth has tons of transit infrastructure now, is also is served by the LSE -- both in rush-hour & off-peak periods.

Stouffville is starved for transit, all they have is GO. Why make it more frustrating than need be? I grew up in far east end Hamilton, and lived there until 2005, I completely see their point on this one.

Also the fare increase... oh man, THAT got intense.

From my POV, I’m limited, on both the amount of GO fare I can afford (current limit is $50 a month) as well as PRESTO in all forms, website, readers & system, being inaccessible to those who are blind.

NOTE - Cj says (courtesy of ThisCrazyTrain reader who would like to remain anonymous): 

^^^ See all that information? It's one giant image. Absolutely no actual text in the important section that tells you where you can actually use PRESTO.

Providing accessible websites means more than passing WCAG 2.0 AAA. There's no excuse for this! In 30 minutes, I could do a page that looks liked this AND is acessible ... AND loads faster for everybody. Give me another hour, and I could make it work better on mobile devices than a giant image ever can.

Why should I and others like me, be forced to pay for the pathetic excuses of GO/Metrolinx? It's still lacking severely on accessibility, especially on policy on buses (don’t even get me started on THAT!) and PRESTO, more excuses by GO/Metrolinx and their minions don’t make me want to continue using it, and with gas prices dropping like a rock, how many people who DO have the option of driving, will keep putting up with GO Transit’s fare increases and excuses?

Anyhow back to buschic's email:

Several people in my area of the accessibility car, even admitted to not buying a pass for the last few months and just using GO on weekdays & driving their cars to stations farther from home, to save on GO fares.

SmartTrack plan on track: Mayor John Tory

Mayor John Tory says he’s confident SmartTrack is moving ahead on an “accelerated timetable” after his executive committee approved spending $1.65 million for further studies on the rail line plan. “We will see a full report on all of the merits of every part of it in the fall,” Tory said Thursday. City council, which must…

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A GIF after my own heart

Say it with me!


And the opposite:

Punctuating every single one of your sentences with profanity really is annoying to everyone

I love the GO bus. It really paints a wonderful portrait of both the good and bad when it comes to humanity.

Like the man who helped the mom and her two kids down the stairs of a double-decker,  a tricky maneuver when the bus is moving (side rant: it's my understanding that the drivers of these god-awful things are supposed to use the monitors when stopped to look for passengers who are leaving and wait for passengers to safely come down the stairs - this isn't the case. I will film this).Or the Durham College student who stood up and let out a stream of profanity at a woman who had asked this student if she could refrain from swearing while describing her day at school. Hey, I'm no angel and I can swear with the best of them, but being subjected to "cocksucker", "motherfucker", "stupid cunt", "fucking this and that" in sentence after sentence in a loud boisterous tone can really begin to grate on the nerves. Sorry to republish the profanity here, but it helps to paint the picture.

The reaction was unnecessary. The woman who asked for the student to tone it down wasn't being rude. She was trying to read. I gave up reading an article on my phone because this girl was so loud.

The student attempted to justify her right to swear as much as she wanted telling the woman no one else seemed to have a problem with it since she was the only one complaining. Other passengers stared out windows or straight ahead. For people like this student, silence *is* acceptance, and this only made her bolder with her accusations.

The woman who the student was screaming at got up and went downstairs. That was a smart move. There's no point in engaging these idiots. I've learned this much. 

I chose not to say anything despite wanting to. I regret it now because my silence meant this kid felt she was in the right and she wasn't. After the woman left, this kid really went off and it was downright disgusting. Even her friends seemed a little put off by her grandstanding with one telling her to calm down which was met with laughter and more profanity.

At least someone tried.

Sitting is hard


from:Roberto R
date:Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 10:17 PM

Worked late. Got on LSE train. Walked down to find a seat. Sat down. Looked down and NOPE. I couldn't bring myself to zoom but you have to trust me when I say this is a dead cockroach. A huge MotherLovin cockroach. CHECK YOUR BAGS!
This may change your outlook on bag riding. I spent the whole train ride convinced cockroaches were crawling on my body.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Metrolinx and TTC developing a plan to accelerate rollout of PRESTO


TORONTO: January 21, 2015 – Metrolinx and Toronto Transit Commission are pleased to announce that they are developing a plan that will allow transit riders to use the PRESTO fare card throughout the system a year ahead of schedule. Transit riders would be able to use their PRESTO cards on all subways, buses and streetcars by the end of 2016 making the TTC more convenient and accessible.

Subject to approvals, TTC and Metrolinx have developed the following program:

·         Mobilizing TTC and Metrolinx resources and vendors to complete enabling work as quickly as possible.

·         PRESTO will be available at 26 subway stations by July 2015, up from the current 15 stations.

·         By the end of 2015 all legacy streetcars would have PRESTO devices installed on their front doors. Accomplishing this involves Metrolinx receiving support from the TTC to divert the equipment scheduled for the new streetcars, which have been delayed, to the existing, legacy streetcars.

·         A plan to enable PRESTO on the TTC bus fleet is being developed with the TTC so that PRESTO cards can be used on all buses by the end of 2016.

·         The TTC is also working to bring brand new fare gates to all TTC stations.

·         Focusing the initial deployment on base PRESTO services currently available on the other transit services, and adding other functions, such as payment by credit and debit cards, to subsequent releases.

·         The objective is to allow customers will be able to use PRESTO cards at all 69 TTC subway stations and throughout the entire TTC by the end of 2016.

Metrolinx and the TTC are committed to ensuring that PRESTO is delivered across the TTC system as quickly as possible while maintaining quality and ensuring a positive customer experience.

This project is part of Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan to provide residents and businesses in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area with fast, convenient and integrated transit. Working through its divisions – PRESTO, GO Transit, and Union Pearson Express – Metrolinx is transforming the way the region moves.

A coach of lost souls perhaps?

GO Transit passenger alleges Metrolinx employee abusing perk

date:Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM
subject:Fuming mad!

I am on the 7:01am train from Brampton to Union Station every weekday morning.

There is a woman who gets on with me in Brampton and sits in the same area as me.

This is a very busy train and fills up quickly.  She puts her purse on the seat next to her reserving the seat for her male friend who gets on the train 3 stops later in Etobicoke North.

Yesterday, before arriving at Etobicoke North, I watched her tell two different passengers wanting to sit there that someone was already sitting there.  These passengers had to go search for another empty seat.

The kicker is that the other day when the GO officers were checking tickets, I watched her flash her Metrolinx card to the officer and told the officer that her male friend was her guest.

So this Metrolinx employee (who is riding for free) is holding a seat for her male friend who is also riding for free, while customers who presumably pay a fare are being denied a seat.  In addition, my understanding is that when the train is full, the Metrolinx employee is supposed to get up and offer the seat to a customer.  Obviously, she is not doing this either.

She is fine example of Metrolinx employee and customer service.  This sense of entitlement makes me absolutely sick.

Passenger seeking witnesses to hit and run incident at Erindale GO Station

Krystle returned to her car last night only to discover someone had damaged her vehicle and left the scene.

Krystle contacted GO Transit who informed her they will not share any security footage that may have captured this incident with her.

She has contacted Peel Regional Police.

Krystle believes the color of the vehicle that damaged her car is white based on paint residue left behind. The incident would have happened between  8 am and 6 pm. Her vehicle was parked on Level 4, Row 4B, in the southeast area, close to the exit ramp, of the multi-level parking garage

If anyone has any information please call 416-912-5144.

This BC woman is having a really bad day (missed the ferry)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two guys bring subway etiquette posters to life

Thanks for the lovely salt stains, lady

What does $60 get you? Why, standing room only!!! Yaaaaaaaaay!

So we can pick up and drop off TTC donkeys during the week, GO Transit has adjusted the LSE and Stouffville trains.

Going home the currently crowded to all hell LSE 4:10 pm train will become the 4:07 pm train beginning February 1 and will stop at Danforth GO Station. Arrival times at subsequent stations remain unchanged.

Nothing changes for the morning. All this panic on Twitter and on various newspaper sites was all for nothing. NOTHING!

However, that's not the case for our friends coming in from Stouffville, GO Transit decided to hose you guys down something fierce - TWO MINUTES HAS BEEN ADDED TO YOUR COMMUTE!


  • The weekday southbound 5:18 a.m. trip from Lincolnville GO to Union will now also stop at Danforth GO at 6:15 a.m.  Times at all other stops will remain the same including arrival at Union.
  • The weekday southbound 6:35 a.m., 6:44 a.m., 7:16 a.m. and 7:42 a.m. trips from Lincolnville GO to Union will now also stop at Danforth GO at 7:36 a.m., 7:48 a.m., 8:20 a.m. and 8:46 a.m. and will arrive at Union two minutes later, at 7:48 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 8:32 a.m. and 8:58 a.m.  Times remain the same at all other stops.
  • The weekday southbound 9:15 a.m. trip from Unionville GO to Union will now also stop at Danforth GO at 9:46 a.m. and arrive at Union at 9:58 a.m.  Times remain the same at all other stops.
  • The weekday northbound 4:18 and 4:48 p.m. trips from Union will now also stop at Danforth GO at 4:29 p.m. and 4:59 p.m. and times will be a little later at all stops from Kennedy onwards with arrival at Lincolnville GO now at 5:34 p.m. and 6:04 p.m.
  • The weekday northbound 6:00 p.m. trip from Union will now also stop at Danforth GO at 6:11 p.m. and arrive at Lincolnville GO at 7:16 p.m.  Times will be a little later at all stops from Kennedy onwards.
I suggest we riot.

Sarcasm aside, what does a "little later" mean? In what class of transportation planning is this acceptable in an essay?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Man spreaders! I have found your King!

Fitness model and actor killed while filming on train tracks

A fitness model and reality television actor  was struck and killed by a train Saturday in California.
Two men were videotaping George Plitt Jr., 37, on tracks north of the Burbank train station when Plitt was hit by a Metrolink passenger train, according to Burbank police.
Plitt also went by the name "Greg".


Toronto Mayor announces children 12 and under will ride TTC for free beginning March 1

That's all I've got.

I'm waiting on an official news release and this better be true as we're a long ways off from April 1.

But Twitter says its true and Twitter NEVER LIES.

Metrolinx CEO frequent user of free GO benefit

Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig says commuting on GO Transit for free has provided him with valuable insight into how customers experience the regional system. McCuaig, who earned $361,285 in 2013, uses GO to travel for business. He also rides from his Mississauga home to his Union Station office up to four times a week. That trip…

I made a new friend Friday

What's he smoking?

I asked him to find out (politely).

He replied, "It's called suck my ass." (rudely)

I asked if "suck my ass" was legally allowed under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. He told me to "mind your business".

Long story short, the bus driver was aware but douchepick had his tunes too loud. Also, this is the bus, not the train, so people don't stay on for very long once they've been found out.

Friday, January 16, 2015

TTC and GO Transit announce fare integration pilot project - Metropass holders to pay $60/month

Access to select GO trains will cost TTC passengers $60 a month with a valid Metropass.

The project begins February 1st. Metropass holders are identified by a sticker. The project will run on the Stouffville, LSE and LSW trains and is eligible to those boarding at Exhibition and Danforth GO stations.

Over at Blog.TO, it was pointed out many rush hour trains bypass Exhibition and Danforth, and in most cases, these morning and evening trains run at capacity. Yes, this is true, but there are trains that do service Danforth in the morning, and quite frequently, starting at 5:56 am and running from 6:36 am, 7:01 am, 7:16 am, 7:55 am and 8:27 am - all times where it's reasonable enough to get to work well before nine.

For Exhibition, there are trains that run almost every 30 minutes, beginning at 5:54 am all the way to 8:50 am.

We've discussed numerous times on this blog as a group how much we detest the thought of subsidizing TTC passengers with our fares, as high as $12 (with PRESTO) one-way for some. Yet, someone gets to ride for less than $4. True, the distance between Exhibition and Union is shorter than traveling from Oshawa, but TTC passengers feel it's unfair to pay $5.20 to travel by GO train in an effort to avoided a crowded streetcar.

The project will run for a year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Metrolinx dropped this ad today

You'd think they would have filmed this commercial in one of their new refurbished coaches with those god-awful Metrolinx green polka dots!

Metrolinx press conference about GO bus passenger fatality (Radika Nankissoor, 56, of Brampton)

In case you were wondering why the back of your pants are dirty

Meanwhile, in Chicago (Note: you can SEE the rail crossing's lights clearly engaged)

Metrolinx and GO Transit brass to meet with the media this morning

Metrolinx Chief Executive Officer Bruce McCuaig and GO Transit President Greg Percy will hold a news conference to discuss GO Transit's response to last night's tragic GO bus fatality. The conference is to take place at 10 am this morning in the executive boardroom of Metrolinx's Toronto headquarters.

According to a media release issued by Metrolinx, they will not be commenting or speculating about the investigation into the crash currently under review by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Radika Nankissoor, 56, of Brampton, has been identified as the passenger killed in this crash.

Remember the days when you could bring a guest with you for free on weekends?

All you needed was your monthly GO Transit pass.

The introduction of the PRESTO card killed that privilege back in 2009 but did you know Metrolinx and GO Transit employees can bring a guest to ride along for free?

The perk, buried deep in a collective agreement, was questioned by Premier Wynne during a session of the Legislature.

Really? That's a concern for her? What should be a concern is the thousands of GO Transit passengers who continue to be ripped off by PRESTO. I am pretty sure the money we lose to that system due to its fatal flaws far surpasses the loss in fare revenue to complimentary rides. You'd think stealing that privilege away from the fare-paying ridership (Metrolinx employees ride for free) would cancel it out.


GO Transit bus passenger killed in Highway 407 collision (Now identified as Radika Nankissoor, 56, of Brampton)

Source: @OPP_GTATraffic and @CityNews via Twitter

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The punchline that writes itself

Ear worm

What does this have to do with public transit you ask?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

-23C and suddenly everyone is a transportation planner or engineer

How cold was it this morning? So cold that we couldn't power down the windows on our now-fixed - but was brand new vehicle after it had been left sitting in the driveway overnight.

Should I be outraged at Ford Motor Company for selling me a car that can't handle a -23C morning? Should I be calling for the resignation of the CEO?

Our screen door was actually sealed to the weather stripping and made an awful sound when I pushed it open this morning. Shall I sue Anderson Doors?

A deep and sudden freeze like what happened over night (+1C at 11:00 pm and then -23C at 5:30 am) can wreak havoc on anything that might have had standing moisture on it - signals, electronics, switches, door frames, window frames, etc.

I was on the 7:15 OSH train that came to a dead stop just outside of Oshawa station, held hostage by a malfunctioning signal. Then, nearly an hour later, once we were on our way, we faced a switch issue at Whitby. These two events threw the Lakeshore East corridor into chaos.

Luckily I was stuck on a train, unlike years prior, where GO Transit WOULD NOT terminate a train and put other trains as ALL STOPS, or start trains at the next station - you'd just be left on a platform to freeze and figure it out. This time, GO Transit got it together and although Whitby passengers were stranded for 20 minutes in this god-awful weather, at least they weren't forced to wait an hour and half like years prior. I have no idea what happened to the Oshawa folks who waited for trains that never came and were replaced by shuttle buses to Whitby. I hope most of you had the sense to head back to your cars, or wait in the station (which can only hold so many people), or just drove to Whitby.

And as pissed off as people were on Twitter, these people failed to realize this was simply a shitty day based on shitty weather and not based on a shitty system. I remember the days when -2C weather would hold a train up due to frozen switches. Those days are very few and far between because mechanisms have been put in place to prevent them. And, despite passengers bitching otherwise, GO transit has listened to those of us who complained in the past and are learning to pull trains, swap trains, re-start routes at other stations, to avoid commuter headaches.

Today wasn't perfect but at least it wasn't a repeat of the winter of 2009. I also hope that whatever happened today, something was learned from it. Maybe it's time for monkeys with blowtorches on ladders.

I just received an email from a woman who drove to Oshawa to catch the 7:28 train as she does every morning, who was livid she was "made to wait over an hour for information" only to learn she'd have to catch a bus.

What do you mean, "made to wait"?

Look, let's be realistic folks, if you DROVE to the station and you notice Oshawa is a no-show, you walk back to your car and you drive to Whitby.

Anyone that waited for over an hour in this cold for a train because you were too stubborn to drive eight minutes to the next station doesn't deserve sympathy. That's just common sense.

These are the same people who complain about the lack of parking spots.

I can lead you to water ...

GO Transit winds up a loser in our year-end round-up of Metrolinx "achievements"

by Chris P. Bacon

Because the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) didn’t bestow an award on GO Transit, as it did in 2013, Metrolinx is advertising its own TOP TEN achievements for 2014.

Why didn’t GO Transit repeat as a winner in 2014?  Is it because Glen Murray was replaced by Steven Del Duca as Minister of Transportation?  Is it because former president Gary McNeil retired and was replaced by Greg Percy?  Is it that the newbies can’t work the same magic to make things happen?  Is it because the Customer Service Advisory Committee no longer meets?  Their last report was for November 2013.

Or is it something simpler?  Is it because APTA tuned in the social media channels and used our views as the true litmus test of Metrolinx’s award-worthiness?  Well, Metrolinx wants to hear from us on Twitter or Facebook.  We can provide our feedback on, thank you very much.  So, without further ado, here is our recap of 2014.

The year started badly.  The refurbishment of Burlington GO station was supposed to be finished in December 2013, but it was nowhere near ready.  Passengers had to endure another winter with the station in shambles.  The revised completion date of June 2014 came and went without a ribbon cutting ceremony.  After this blog skewered the project not once, but twice, the Toronto Star jumped on the bandwagon, because the Clarkson GO parking structure was also lagging.  Metrolinx couldn’t light a fire under the contractors (Bondfield Construction Company Ltd) to move the projects along.  Burlington GO now has a tentative completion date of June 2015.  Commuters will need to suffer through another winter without a proper train station.

The real-time bus information system was promised for January 2014, but it, too, was not delivered.  It wasn’t until November that on-board next-stop announcements and variable message signs were turned on – not without on-going problems.  The most important part of the system – next bus arrival notification – was nowhere in sight.  As one blog submitter pointed out, local municipal transit systems have had such systems in place for years.  Why can’t the laggards at Metrolinx roll out theirs?  E-mail and SMS alerts continue to fail. (Note – CJ still has yet to receive a single SMS message on her phone, a problem now 27 months in the making)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a few words about PRESTO.  In 2014, PRESTO provoked the ire of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) because the Transit Usage Reports did not conform to CRA’s requirements.  Where is the sign-off for User Acceptance Testing?

This blog exposed non-trivial bugs in the system.  We showed how PRESTO steals money from a passenger’s account when they attempt to load funds to their e-Purse when there is an “open trip” in effect.  Since this happened most often on buses, GO Transit’s response was to stop the practice of loading money to a card on buses.  This was a completely untenable position, and GO Transit eventually had to eat crow on the matter.

PRESTO can pilfer funds from your account when a bus trip is setup in the reverse direction.  The matter is still being discussed with PRESTO and GO Transit.  Stay tuned for a future article on this topic.

Then there was the Auto-load problem that went on for months (years?) and was resolved finally by one of PRESTO’s senior business analysts and her financial and technical support teams, but not before further bugs in the system were identified.

We showed how PRESTO allows double-taps prior to boarding a train, and if the passenger realizes their mistake and reverses the second tap-on, the card status during a fare inspection is a failed tap-on.

All this illustrates the requirement for cardholders to remain vigilant and audit their transaction history religiously.  No discount is big enough to compensate us for our lost time in this endeavor.  On this point alone, PRESTO is an epic failure.  Most GO Transit employees I’ve talked to long for the good ol’ days of cardboard monthly and 10-ride passes.

We looked at PRESTO’s three-hour Travel Window and how it discriminates against certain passengers.  An on-going investigation revealed that the bus system was designed to allow the Travel Window to be extended when adverse traffic or weather conditions lengthen a bus trip, but that facility does not work.  Sadly, most bus drivers do not know how to extend the Travel Window, and only one driver could confirm our findings that this part of PRESTO is broken.

Also in 2014, we saw how The Burlington GO parking lot continues to be an auto parts warehouse for thieves.  GO Transit even provided the concrete blocks that thieves used to jack up at least one victim’s vehicle.  The GO Transit Passenger Charter speaks of “creating a sense of security in our parking lots”.  What does that mean?

We don’t suspect 2015 to be a stellar year unless Metrolinx manages to fix all that was awry in 2014.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Like a glove!

You had one job, GO Transit!

You know, if this was a GO Train, that table would be used to pile bags on when the seat was full (of more bags)

date:Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 1:50 AM
subject:Trains in (somewhat) style

Writing to you from the Hague, Netherlands. On a commuter train to see a friend and the set up is nice. WiFi (hence the emailing)and  a table... It's nice :)

Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro

Two trains have collided outside Rio de Janeiro, with 229 people injured in the incident, local media cited authorities. One of the trains, which had stopped at a station, was crashed into from behind by another.


Guest blogger? Why I love guest bloggers! Here's a top 10 list (with commentary) of what Metrolinx announced as projects in 2014

to:"Cindy (Cj) Smith"
date:Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 12:00 PM
subject:Re: Fares

Metrolinx has announced its top ten projects of 2014! ( Below is a wrap up and idle commentary on their best of the best from last year:
10. Extension of GO Transit’s Richmond Hill line
Ooh it looks like we’re counting down (exciting!)…Coming in at number 10 is the announcement of a new station at Gormley. It's coming soon! (well, in 2016 + delays). Quick question: Where’s Gormley?
9. Glass atrium at Union Station
Yah it looks nice from the outside but, not to be a downer, I can’t see much difference from underneath…
8. Eglinton Crosstown tunneling completes phase 1
You have to give Metrolinx their due, if the TTC were building this it would be 10 years from completion. One thing about GO – when they get a mandate and the moola, they get stuff done (yes it's always late but it's way better than, ’the better way’ ;) (remember the St Clair debacle?))
7. The Georgetown South Project nears completion
I don’t travel on this line but I did take a look at some of the construction around Dufferin a few months ago – what a mess. This is obviously a massive project. Maybe some readers can comment on its impact…
6. PRESTO expands on TTC
Local politicians are pushing for a quicker PRESTO rollout… There’s no doubt that the current toe in the waterdeployment is finicky (when oh when will we be done with these stupid transfers? It feels like we’re stuck in the 80’s (the 1880’s…))

5. BRT expansion in York, Peel & Durham
I don’t venture into the hinterlands but this looks pretty cool. Can anyone comment on whether BRT actually works? I hear Mississauga messed it up...
4. More GO Buses coming
Hooray! More buses! CJ will be thrilled. I haven’t travelled on a GO bus for years but I know this – they need bathrooms. Have you ever tried the hour plus commute to Hamilton? I have, many times. And after a few yards of lager too. Not a pleasant experience…
3. UP Express is almost here
For some of us anyway…Yes, for those of us who flash our Gold Mastercard whenever we need to feel big and important - this is exciting news! For the rest of us scamps, well we can just keep on catching the #192 from Kipling…
2. Union Station GO Bus Terminal redevelopment announced
Thank God for that. The current terminal is a mess. The car park opposite the ACC is a much better spot.

1. Regional Express Rail is coming
Yah this is a biggie. 15 minute all day service. And electrification which will speed up the service nicely. Now, if only GO could fix their pricing... I took a short trip with the family over Christmas and man – it’s expensive. Over $30 for 8 of us going 2 stops one-way. The TTC would have saved us $13 (but added 20 minutes). Needless to say we cabbed it home.