Friday, May 29, 2015

I am *totally* staying tuned for details

Toronto developer targets bad parkers with tow app

I'm not sure if we can use this for parking donkeys in GO lots. I know some of you would like to try!

One developer’s weapon against lousy drivers and vans blocking the bike lane was to create an app that “allows civilians to report selfish or illegal parking and dangerous driving in real time,” say its makers. “TowIt works with municipal governments, local law enforcement, and towing companies to remove the barriers required to make cities effectively fight and deter bad parking and dangerous driving habits.”

Here's more info...

Let's list the places in public where this is acceptable... ready?

One. There's only one.



Oh Presto, you never fail to let somebody down

date:Mon, May 18, 2015 at 6:36 PM
subject:My GO / Presto Story

Hi CJ,

My wife and I make the return trip on the GO train from Georgetown or Milton to Union Station twice a week, and then TTC subway to our respective offices.  Waterloo is my other office.  We both use Presto cards, and both of us take advantage of the auto-reload feature.  In my case, when my Presto balance dips down to $40, my card is reloaded with another $100.00.  This $100.00 charge is debited to my corporate credit card, which I must then claim as an expense.

As with any responsible corporation, expenses are difficult to claim without receipts or some proof of payment.  Yet, Presto continues to be unable to automatically provide (via email) a receipt every time they hit me with another $100.00.  So far, I’ve been lucky in just printing off my Presto transaction register for the month, highlighting the $100.00 charges, and submitting that as a receipt.  But, on more than one occasion, the expense audit police gave me a rough time, since it’s not official proof of payment.  I’ve emailed and called Presto several times over the years, and have received vague promises with no result.  I thought I’d email you with this story, since I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has to endure this challenge.  I’m a senior technology guy, so I can actually envision the process that Presto can follow to automatically email a receipt.  I’m still astounded that they can’t.

I must say, I love your blog.  The stories are informative and entertaining.  I think it helps to look at our GO and TTC systems as something that actually has experiential impact on people’s lives.

- SH

More about last Thursday's assault on the LSE 4:07 PM train

Those of you who've been around for awhile know my oldest sister, Jennifer is developmentally delayed. I peg her overall maturity to be that of an 8 year old. In addition to her mental challenges, she also suffers from anxiety and depression. She has been on and off medication to treat these chemical imbalances since 1997.

It's funny how strangers and friends, with no idea what it's been like to live with Jennifer, freely offer opinions about her overall care. My parents are constantly defending their decision to have her live with them full time, and fielding questions about what will happen to her when they are gone. What about myself and my two other sisters? What will happen to us when they are gone?

These questions are cruel, insensitive and hurtful. I can appreciate they come from a place of concern, but I have my doubts sometimes, because I know, after witnessing a really bad Jennifer meltdown, these same people thank whatever God they worship that their children aren't like Jennifer. Let's be frank. They're happy they don't have to deal with it, and because they feel they couldn't deal with it, there's this assumption my parents shouldn't have to deal with it. Well they do, but we all appreciate the concern.

If you're familiar with the movie Rainman, you'll understand the difficulty people like Dustin Hoffman's character, Ray, have with "transitioning". Meaning, we can't do this now, so we have to do something else. Or, this show has been cancelled, so let's go home.

Stubborn and defiant, people like my sister, Jennifer, react badly to these situations and can be difficult to control. You might as well be trying to reason with a grapefruit.

Jennifer can be aggressive if she's frustrated because she refuses to believe there isn't a way to fix what happened. It's incredibly draining and exhausting to deal with these situations.

So why did I write all this? Only to try to give people a better understanding about these situations and as a preamble to what happened last Thursday.

A CSA was not assaulted. Let's get that part straight. Another passenger was assaulted but only because he intervened in a nasty altercation between a man like my sister and his Personal Support Worker (PSW). The man and his PSW were traveling on the Lakeshore East to attend a group session the man goes to every Thursday like clockwork. My sister does the same on Saturday nights. When it became clear that the overall delay to the 4:07 PM train meant he would miss his group session, he became agitated and frustrated and lashed out at his PSW. His PSW attempted to restrain him as he was upset the train was not moving and demanding someone make the "man" move it. Another passenger, familiar with people like the man, stepped in and was accidentally kicked in the "baggage" area.

It sounds ugly. I can promise you it probably was ugly. I have too many stories of similar situations with my sister and I can't bring myself to share them. But when there have been times where the public has assisted, and not often with good intentions, these people then scold my parents (or me) for not having my sister in a group home, or in an institution, or for just being out in public with her. Hurtful stuff really. I feel for my mom the most in these situations. She's put up with a lot. She was incredibly strong when we were younger but now that I'm a mom myself, and dealing with a child with her own issues (Asutism Spectrum Disorder) my mom calls me and cries. Mostly out of frustration. Sometimes out of humiliation. And often out of desperation.

Be kind. That's all I ask.

6:15 PM and three wickets open at Bay Concourse

Meanwhile, at the York Concourse...

Perhaps GO Transit should have kept up the "York Concourse is now open!" hollering campaign running a tad longer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I had a vision of love and it was ALLLLLLLLL-LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL that you've given to me

I have a new hater.

His name is Edward Thundercunt. Gasp all you want. That's what his last name sounded like in his first voicemail to me, so Thundercunt it is.

Edward was upset with a recent Twitter comment I made. Something about Scarborough. Edward sure loves his Scarborough. Problem is, Scarborough doesn't exist. Isn't it Toronto? Is there really a Scarborough anymore? Isn't all of it just Toronto? Meh. Semantics.

Mr. Thundercunt has left me seven voicemail messages this week. Four of them were demands to call him back - IMMEDIATELY- and three were various gripes about how I live in the 905 so I'm not entitled to an opinion about a city I don't live in. Interesting. Because Eddy had a lot to say about Courtice in his second voicemail. Only he pronounced it wrong. It is not Cort-eye-SSSSS (seriously, dude sounded like a snake). It's "curtis".

I'm not calling you back, Edward. Go away.

Buying new shoes is great. Breaking them in is not

Hey, we've all been there. I have. I don't know if I've ever taken my shoes off on the GO train (I'm going with no) but what beats the smell of leather-accented snakeskin in the morning? Nothing!

Most importantly, why doesn't Scholl's make flats for men? For situations like this?

Or, do what my husband does when we go to weddings. Bring a pair of Hugh Heffner approved slippers with you. In Black. No one notices once the dancing starts. I doubt anyone would notice on the train.

Chicago Transit Authority doesn't care about your feelings

CHICAGO — During tiresome commutes in the early morning and after a long day of work, many Chicagoans might have difficulty summoning the energy for a snarky one-liner like "Did your bag pay a fare too?"

Thankfully, a new Chicago Transit Authority "courtesy campaign" promises to throw shade at selfish riders.

Full story with more pics

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Turn on the oven. Set it to 450F and let it burn

from:Name Withheld
cc:"" ,
"" ,
"" ,
date:Tue, May 26, 2015 at 12:26 PM
subject:What is going on with GO Train Lakeshore East Line and what/how do you intend to repair

Mr. Percy,

I am writing to you regarding the recent issues with GO Transit Rail service, specifically the Lakeshore East Line.

As I know you are quite aware, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of incidents in which the GO trains have been impacted (late and/or cancelled trains) due to track switch problems.  While we GO commuters are more sympathetic to this issue during the cold winter months, what is going on now as this clearly is not related to weather? 

I was one of hundreds of people that were stuck/delayed on the train this past Thursday, May 21st.  As I texted my husband to advise that I would miss my daughter's soccer game, I overheard many other commuters make calls to family/friends/daycare/doctor's etc., advising that they too will be missing dinner reservations/birthday celebrations/doctors and specialist appointments/late pickup at daycare, etc.  These missed appointments cost us in late/cancellation fees (some doctors charge upwards of $50 for missed appointments), extra daycare expenses of up to $5/minute late pickup, etc. not to mention our valuable time.  We work long days and the last thing we need to deal with is sitting on a train for 60+ minutes wondering if the train will move or will we be kicked off the train and left to figure out how to get home via other transit/cab options?  Oh yes, this has happened before and I can say from experience, this is not fun nor enjoyable.

Do we not deserve a bit more respect and answers as to what GO Transit's problems are and what GO/Metrolinx intends to do to minimize and finally resolve this issue?

I feel that everyone at GO/Metrolinx really has no respect or care for regular GO transit passengers as 'they really have no other option other than drive to work'.  Yes, many of us don't have any other option other than GO Transit but we certainly shouldn't be held hostage?  Perhaps you don't care about regular GO commuters but I'm probably not off the mark in that there have been many worried executives/employees at GO/Metrolinx working on ensuring this doesn’t happen during this summer's PanAm/Parapan Games in July-August.  Won't GO transit look foolish when you can't even get volunteers/fans/ticketholders to the many events in the GTA due to 'track switch problems'.  I'm certain there are contingency plans in place to deal with this as GO/Metrolinx would not want any unfavourable media and/or Facebook/Twitter posts about how inept our rail system is. 

I've just received another email advising that the LSE 11:13 train will be late again due to earlier track switch malfunction.  I'm hoping this will be resolved before I have to catch my train this evening otherwise I will miss my daughter's soccer game, the second in the past 4 business days.

I don't expect a response; however, I just might be shocked and get some answers from someone.


(Name withheld)  - weary and frustrated GO train commuter.

P.S.  I have to take the time to say that I was impressed with the Customer Service Ambassador on my delayed May 21st train.  Although she couldn't provide us with expected times of the delay, she keep us informed (even if she didn't have any current update) and even advised that passengers could use her cellphone to make any important calls.

From: GO Transit []
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 11:16 AM
To: (name withheld)
Subject: Union Station 11:13 - Oshawa GO 12:11 train - Estimated Delay

The Union Station 11:13 - Oshawa GO 12:11 train trip is estimated to be delayed 10-15 minutes from Union Station as a result of an earlier track switch malfunction west of Union. We apologize for the inconvenience.

If you wish to unsubscribe from receiving commercial electronic messages from TD Bank Group, please click here or go to the following web address:
Si vous souhaitez vous désabonner des messages électroniques de nature commerciale envoyés par Groupe Banque TD veuillez cliquer ici ou vous rendre à l'adresse

NOTICE: Confidential message which may be privileged. Unauthorized use/disclosure prohibited. If received in error, please go for instructions.
AVIS : Message confidentiel dont le contenu peut être privilégié. Utilisation/divulgation interdites sans permission. Si reçu par erreur, prière d'aller au pour des instructions.

All aboard the ghost train - epilog

by Chris P. Bacon

Back in March, I got to travel on a GO Transit ghost train.  If you recall, the trip was a comedy of errors, and precipitated an e-mail to Metrolinx asking why the GO Train Service Guarantee claim could not be submitted.  I know, you’re wondering whether Greg Percy & Co. ever responded to that e-mail.

I must share with you that when Gary McNeil ran GO Transit, he always responded to my queries – weekends included.  I asked him once whether he wanted to be apprised of issues I encountered.  Mr. McNeil responded as follows: 

Subject: Re: PRESTO transaction history out of sync with reality
Date:   Fri, 30 Mar 2012 01:51:33 +0000
From: Gary McNeil
To:       Me

Pls [sic] keep me in the loop. I like to hear the true customer experience.

The current president of GO Transit has never responded directly to my e-mail; the ghost train experience was no exception.  It was a month before anyone from Metrolinx even acknowledged my query – in stark contrast to Bombardier’s Raymond Bachant, President, Americas Division, Transportation, who responded to my e-mail commending our CSA in less than twelve hours.  GO Transit finally answered my query as follows:

Subject: GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx EM0018001412
Date:   Mon, 4 May 2015 09:42:43 -0400
From: GO Transit Customer Relations
To:       Me

Dear Mr. S,

Thank you for your patience while I looked further into this matter for you.

I’m not sure if you’re aware that the GO Train Service Guarantee system is a fully-automated system. It relies on a trains scheduled arrival time to determine if a trip was late. It will then use additional information, such as how many minutes the train was delayed and for what reason, to discover if the trip is eligible for a refund.

Unfortunately, since there is no scheduled arrival time for this trip, the Service Guarantee system is unable to determine if the trip was late. However, I would be happy to apply a credit to your PRESTO card for the price that you paid for your trip, as a customer service gesture. This credit will be available for you to claim within 2 business days from today’s date, May 4th, 2015. Simply tap your card onto any PRESTO device after this time frame and the credit will be uploaded automatically.

Thank you for letting me assist you.

P. E.
Director, Customer Care, GO Transit

Cc.      Greg Percy, President, GO Transit
Robert Hollis, Executive Vice President, PRESTO

There you have it.  Over six weeks to get and answer from the GO Transit award winning Sunshine List team.  Awesome, isn’t it?

As CJ advised in this recap of less than stellar service on the LSE, you are encouraged to send e-mail to the president of GO Transit with your concerns.  I find it never hurts to copy CJ, too.  Remember, you pay the salaries of these folks.

The aftermath

The Toronto Star did a follow up piece on the recent track switch malfunctions plaguing the Lakeshore East corridor. These malfunctions have affected East, West and Stouffville GO trains.

In response, Greg Percy, GO Transit's president, told the Star's Tess Kalinowski a special switch SWAT team has been assembled to monitor the situation.

This was all I needed to hear. Sign me up as Hannibal. Summon me a GMC van painted green and white. Dress up Percy as Mr. T, complete with Mohawk and gold chains, and let's roll out this A-Team.

We've been given lip service before. As far as I know, no one at Metrolinx has been fired or disciplined over this mess and our Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, is too busy cutting ribbons for things that require no more than a smile rather than answer the emails and tweets of his constituents. His boss is no better.

The Service Guarantee refunds (which required passengers to call in and request verbally after the online system denied many) are cold comfort to those of us who spent hours getting home due to these delays. Missed bedtimes, dance recitals, piano lessons, doctors appointments, physiotherapy sessions, medications, family commitments, work shifts and other personal therapies can't be forgiven especially where there's an expense involved with respect to late fees and lost wages. Then there are those of us who found out the hard way when your phone battery dies, and with no change, your last resort is to use a payphone in a Scarborough strip mall with your credit card, because you can't make a collect call to your husband's work phone, lands you a $14.77 charge on your VISA bill. Nearly $15 for a call that was less two minutes.

Refunds don't cover these fees and charges, or make up for a shortfall on a weekly paycheque. Refunds don't shorten the wait list for the woman who waited five months to see an eye specialist, who spent $110 in cab fare in a desperate attempt to make a 6:40 appointment she had in Whitby, only to arrive to find the office closed for the day and an invoice for $50 for missing the appointment.

Fix it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

How we all feel about GO Transit right now

I want to blog about last night's LSE disaster so hard but I'm buried at work and can only fire off this note

  1. These delays are unacceptable. I can joke with you on Twitter but ultimately, you're a customer, too, and you need to call Metrolinx (416) 874-5900 and GO Transit (416) 869-3200 and make your grievance heard. Fire off emails to Unlike his predecessor, Gary McNeil, Percy doesn't read his emails but he has a team of assistants who do and their job is to address and faciliate. Make sure you cc his boss

  2. Don't scoff and say complaining won't do anything. YOU PAY THESE SALARIES. If you found time to write an email to me, you have time to write an email to them

  3. Service Guarantee Refunds do not reimburse parents with children in daycare where the late charges range from $1 for every minute late to $5 for every 15 minutes late. The people operating these facilities would like to go home and the children in their care want to see mom and dad. For those with pets, dogs need to be let out and fed. Cats need ... wait, who am I kidding? Cats don't care that you're late.

  4. On the 4:07, apparently a passenger was physically assaulted by a group of other passengers after a confrontation with the CSA. I can't verify. If you have info, please share in comments.

  5. On the 4:25, a woman went into labour? Can anyone verify?

  6. I bailed at Scarborough GO. I rode a TTC bus that was worth every penny of the $3.25 I paid (what a shit show tour of forgettable streets and people say Oshawa is a dump?!) and I found a GO bus where the rest of my ride was as luxurious as I expect from the fare I pay.

  7. How did you get home? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

And now for a follow-up on on last week's "Dear Bus Passengers" letter

Redux … If you see me standing near the stop ... drive on by!

It appears a prior submission to this blog stirred up a bit of controversy in the comments thereto.  It’s time I explained why the story was presented as it was.  First, I am not a driver I was a passenger on that bus.  

And I wrote the story based on a conversation I had with the person who was ignored.

Here is my PRESTO log:

I boarded the 13:54 bus at Burlington station and we left on time.  As we crested and descended the railway overpass bridge on Plains Road, a pedestrian, some 300 m. ahead, stepped out onto the curb lane and waved at the bus with both hands, quite obviously attempting to flag the driver. Although it is not a GO Transit stop, it was a clear indication this was an intending passenger, as she was standing near the Burlington Transit bus stop.

But our bus didn’t stop.  It proceeded to enter the left-turn lane at the intersection with Brant Street.  I looked at the intending passenger and recognized her as a GO driver.  I scrambled up to our driver and informed her of who we just went by.  She asked me if that location was a regular stop.  I answered I wasn’t aware of anyone boarding there, but that’s not to say other drivers haven’t made the stop.

I suggested that if she pulled over on Brant Street, I could run back to assist and expedite the boarding of her colleague.  That offer of help was summarily rejected … with silence.  The driver checked her rear view mirrors for the passenger, but as the light turned green, she shrugged her shoulders and told me the person was walking in the opposite direction toward the train station.  We made the turn and were gone.

I exited the bus at St. Catharines and decided to wait the hour for the next bus to roll through.  I needed to know whether my eyes had deceived me or whether the person I saw was really who I thought it was.  I had my answer soon enough; she was on the bus.  I waved to her and she exited the bus just long enough to explain things from her perspective.  I could tell she was not amused by what had transpired.  I asked if there was significant traffic near or behind our bus that would have prevented our driver from making the stop.  The answer – only a Burlington Transit bus was behind us.  I thanked her and wished her well as she re-boarded the bus to The Falls.

The aforementioned recounting of events was how I wrote the story initially.  Pretty boring, don’t you agree?  I needed a different angle. 

What stood out most in this incident was the look of utter disbelief, shock, and anger in the aggrieved passenger’s eyes as our bus drove past her.  I decided to rewrite the story as if I were she.  This person is not a rookie driver; she knows her stuff and recently received yet another service commendation.

The Twitter posts that were the lead in to the story are just a smattering of similar incidents that afflicted paying passengers.  I drew on recollections of conversations with several drivers regarding unscheduled stops.  The theme of the story was to show how GO Transit’s policies and procedures are subject to interpretation on the frontline and, hence, are applied inconsistently.

I wish to apologize to the driver whose point of view I assumed for purposes of writing the article.  If my actions have caused you angst in your dealings with other GO Transit drivers or fear of reprisal from your management, I am truly sorry.  I hope you can forgive me.

I found the comments to the story enlightening.  Thank you to the driver who took time to share TTC’s policy on the matter.  It correlates to what a Greyhound Canada manager of driver training and safety told me; their drivers regularly make unscheduled stops, especially in urban areas.

There was conjecture on how unsafe it was “to cross three lanes to the turn in a very short distance”.  Let’s look at the Map view and the Aerial view of the bus stop in relation to the intersection.  There are only two lanes of traffic where the local transit stop is. 

In comparison, here are the Map view and the Aerial view of the GO Transit stop at Mapleview Mall in relation to the intersection of Fairview Street and Maple Avenue.

Buses inbound to Burlington GO station occasionally drop off passengers at that scheduled stop.  Sometimes on busy Friday afternoons, Fairview Street is quite congested with traffic making the left turn onto Brant Street a long drawn out affair.  What drivers of MCI buses have done in those circumstances is cut across three lanes to make the left turn onto Maple Avenue.  It's a detour that can be made with MCI buses but not DD's, because there is a low railway underpass on Plains Road.

Are we to believe the longer MCI buses (13.7 m.) can be maneuvered successfully across three lanes in 90 m. on Fairview Street in heavy traffic, but the shorter double decker buses (13.5 m.) can’t cross fewer lanes in 130 m. on Plains Road in very light traffic?  If that vehicle maneuver is so dangerous, why does Burlington Transit force their Route 5 drivers to do exactly that?

I found the admonishment “you were not the one driving the bus so you have no say in whether they deemed it safe to pull over or not” interesting.  By inference, every “follow-up” executed by a supervisor is invalid, because they are not on the bus.

The polarity between senior / retired drivers and the current breed is quite stark.  The comment by “retired GO” leaves nothing to the imagination.

In conclusion, I have one question for GO Transit.  Is “I was that driver and I would do it again!” the new standard for bus service?

Did someone steal your parking spot at your GO station? Try this (works best if you have a convertible)

Friday, the start of a long weekend, train pulls into Oshawa, people start running and suddenly...


(sorry Mom, for swearing)

Seriously? I mean, people were hauling serious ass for the parking lot but when they heard the word, "FREE!" called out, it was like something out of a cartoon.

The best was the lady in line for the bus with me. "When is the next bus?" She asked me. I shrugged. She looked at the bus, looked at the free (tiny) choco iced capps, and wandered over to line up for food I'm sure she can afford.

These are the same people that lose their shit over complimentary yogurt and granola bars at Union Station.

Oh look, a parking spot just for him (Not you, not me, but him)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Never be stranded again - Triplinx now available in the GTHA

Want to leave the car at home?

Not sure how to get from your house to somewhere else in the GTHA by transit?

Triplinx helps you figure out what agency to take, and what route to travel, complete with schedules and route numbers.

For example, let's say you moved to Courtice (Hey. don't knock it) and needed to get to Union Station from Courtice's bustling downtown. It works like Google Maps. You enter a start and end address, and voila!

Pictures? Or it didn't happen

But I have to ask, do I really want to see them?

date:Sun, May 17, 2015 at 8:12 AM
subject:Re: Fwd: [You. Me. Ride This Crazy 

Saturday my wife and I took advantage of the train extension to Niagara yesterday. Let me start by saying that from Whitby, it was one very lonnng ride. What made it interesting was the ride home. There was this young couple a few seats away from us who were ... let's say we used to do this in the back of cars as kids. It was just the four of us in the coach. My wife was disgusted. I was embarrassed. We eventually moved to another coach. It wasn't until we got to our car did we think we should have reported it. Let me say this. She was on his lap, facing the same direction as him and moving in a motion that wasn't in time with any swaying of the train. I don't even think they knew we were there. I even feel awkward writing to you but my burning question is how often does this happen? And are you sure the seats are sanitized every night?

Sure! I'll go first... how about that lady get her bag off the seat?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Burning the midnight oil for your $1.23 (or whatever your cost is when your PRESTO card is at month's end)

It's a Utopia of sorts. With unicorns. And a bar car (okay, the last part I made up but it could happen)

The GO train: a commuter's idyll, by a jealous downtowner

My morning commute begins at Dufferin Station, in the sooty, claustrophobic bowels of the subway. Trains often arrive at the eastbound platform, full to bursting, and screech away as they came, having disgorged no one, having picked up no one, studded with ugly rivets, screeching metallically, groaning infernally. This is before I’ve had coffee. When I…

Sunday, May 17, 2015

When a window installer offers to cap your windows, even though you didn't ask for it to be done, say no.

Last month I had four new windows installed on the front of my house. I picked a company, did some research, went to a home show, hired the company, got the home show discount and booked the install.

The deal was to retrofit right into the existing wood frame, The installer did just that but commented on how my wood frames were rotting, and to prevent further rot and the need to repaint year after year, he would cap the windows. I agreed and not once did I have any reason to believe after he did the first two windows (plain, rectangle frames) that things would go south real bad once he got to the two cathedral windows.

Here's the before:

Note the lovely globs of caulking in the arches, Plus, the original builder flashing is a totally different color. It was hideous. I had no idea that to cap an arched window, this practice of "crimp & caulk" was considered the norm. I also learned that many home owners in my subdivision who have cathedral windows have been cautioned by window companies to leave the original wood arch in, as these are difficult to cap. And in driving around the neighborhood, I now see many owners have taken that to heart. I wanted all of it gone (no original wood window left) but the company who sold me my windows didn't caution a damn thing.

It took me a week to find a company, any company with a tinsmith background, or expertise in arched window capping. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. I had almost given up, resigning to the fact that my house will look like a dog's breakfast, when I stumbled across a blog for an Oshawa company called Top Rung Contracting Inc. Dylan and Josh are PVC artists. Enthralled with the photos of their work on Facebook, I called them, begging in my voicemail to come and rescue my house.

Here's what Dylan and Josh managed to accomplish:

That is art. They also capped the tudor trim and window box so that the new flashing around the window was uniform in colour.

I nearly burst into tears when they called me outside to see the finished product.

The anxiety I had been having over this was enormous. My house is important to me. It needs to look well cared for, and Dylan and Josh made it feel like home again.

And what does this story have to do with riding buses and trains? I can see my house from the bus.

Friday, May 15, 2015

"People who smoke are bad people" - Calden, age 5

Monday afternoon, Kelly took her five year-old son Calden into Toronto for an appointment at Sick Kids. When they arrived back at Oshawa GO Station later in the afternoon, Calden had been staring out the GO train window when something caught his eye.

"What's all that stick things there?" Calden asked, wrote his mom in an email to

Kelly looked down.

"Those are cigarettes," she told her son. Then she had to explain what a cigarette was and what happens after people smoke it. Lots of "whys" about why people smoke, etc., and why would people not throw their cigarette butts in the garbage like how Calden throws his lollipop and popsicle sticks in the garbage when he's finished sucking on them.

Great question, Calden! Let's ask the smokers!

Kelly writes that Calden was very confused about why anyone would make such a mess. On purpose.

So she took him to the bus loop (where there are signs that clearly state that "No Smoking" is allowed) and she let him ask a smoker who just happened to toss his used butt over the fence, why he didn't throw it in the garbage.

She regrets not recording any of this. So do I.

The smoker said to Kelly, "You don't teach your kid not to talk to strangers??? You're a bad mom." And he walked off, shaking his head.

"Mommy," said Calden. "People who smoke are bad people."

Can you blame the kid for thinking that way? Kelly assured him that smokers are actually nice people who just need to be reminded that they need to respect the Earth. "And nature," added Calden, in a matter of fact voice.

It was also at that exact moment that the train operator climbed out of the locomotive and lit up a cigarette track-side.

"Ess-scuse me," said Calden to the man, "Will you 'peas' not 'trow' your cigarette on the ground?"

He turned around, mid-suck, and looked surprised when Calden addressed him. The Bombardier employee nodded and looked away, and began to inspect the train as he continued to smoke. Awwkward, he looked like he wanted to swallow it, wrote Kelly.

My son has no filter. He sees it, he says it, she writes.

I love Calden. Give him a vest. A bullhorn. A clipboard and a flame thrower. He's hired!

I think I love this guy

#GOtrain #LakeshoreEast #1140AM you know who you are... #Disgusted...#Toronto

A video posted by @nytronick on

Cool time lapse of rush hour at Union Station


Please stand back from the yellow line! ... hissssss #GOTransit #GOTrain #Oriole #theyresafe

A photo posted by Warren (@warrenwtom) on

Union Station's platforms get a fresh coat of paint

A guy named Mike

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and thank you by the way, you make my train rides more enjoyable with your tweets to my tweets) know I recently divorced my morning GO bus and have hooked up with a local Durham Region Transit (DRT) bus. It's not as sleek as the GO bus and it's rough around the edges, but the ride is pleasant. It's actually quite the winding tour of Courtice, and the back streets of downtown Oshawa. Every day has been a different driver. DRT must have this thing against groundhog day.

This week, I met Mike. Mike is 91, and widowed, but his son lives with him so "he's not really alone". Mike will break your heart with his sweetness, and blow out your eardrums with his yelling. He's my newly adopted great-grandpa.

Mike gets on many stops after me. During the Tour de Courtice, it's just me and the driver. Once we get to the Oshawa border, Mike gets on. Mike likes it when the drivers are late, and I mean, ONE minute late. If it's two minutes late, you can see he can hardly contain himself because he likes to take jabs at the driver. "You're late," he yells as he boards, but then he smiles real wide, an amazing toothless smile (I told you he'll break your heart) and claps the driver on the back, or pushes his or her arm gently, shouting, "Don't worry, I forgive you!" Mike could be the reason for groundhog day actually.

Mike just noticed yesterday that I am a "new regular" after he's realized he's seen me more than once. "Are you new to the area?" He asked me, after he gave me his GOOD MORNING! greeting. I told him I am taking advantage of the new bus routes to get to work. He loves that I work downtown. "That must be something, huh? Going into Torunnah e'rey day, eh? I could never do that. All that people! I would be so tired every night." Mike is a smart man.

Mike likes to acknowledge everyone who gets on the bus with a "GOOD MORNING"! When he first said it to me last Friday, I was feeling miserable and tired. But it was such a genuine greeting that I smiled at him and immediately said it back.

Yesterday, when he greeted this high school kid, in uniform, the kid walked right past him, ignoring him and sat down. It was like Mike didn't exist. I watched Mike for a reaction but his face gave away nothing. Mike fought in World War II. I'm sure the fact that a teenager ignored him pales in comparison to what he's experienced in his past, but it infuriated me. It was rude. Then, a young woman boarded and he also greeted her and she slid right past him, eyes glued to her phone, and pretended he didn't exist. I mentioned Mike is loud, right?

As passengers board, and I noticed this earlier in the week, only those in my age range (say over 35?) and older wish Mike a "good morning" back. The college students act repulsed.

And this is why Mike breaks my heart. It's not his smile or his overall grandpa friendliness, it's the fact that this man, this man who has lived almost a century, is ignored for his rare act of kindness.

As @GTAMOVEnetwork wrote on Twitter, "No one ever went broke by giving of themselves."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Police determine GO Transit passenger fatality at Union Station accidental

by Cindy J. Smith

An investigation into the death of  31 year-old Daniel Panacci, who died after he was dragged by his backpack after it became entangled in a moving GO train locomotive on April 28, has been deemed accidental by Toronto Police Services.

Panacci, despite accusations written to the publisher of this website that he was pushed into the train by a crowd of people or passerby, remain unsubstantiated. An inquest into his death will not occur, said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins in an email to

Aikins also wrote, "GO Transit remains one of the safest ways to travel. Safety is always our first priority. GO Transit has an excellent safety record. We have transported over a billion customers in 48 years. This was our first fatality at Union Station and we are conducting a full review of the circumstances and immediately implementing additional measures to protect customers."

The publisher of this website asked Aikins to comment on emails where people have expressed concern overcrowding will contribute to a fatality.

Aikins responded, "Like all transportation systems, it is common to deal with congestion especially during peak hours. Measures are put in place to ensure customer safety and we are augmenting those efforts. Ultimately safety is a joint responsibility between GO (Transit) and our passengers."

Aikins continues, "Union Station was built many years ago and is undergoing major renovations. It has unique challenges. When completed in 2017, Union Station will have double the number of vertical stairs and elevators to (ensure) more safety (and) enable passengers to travel between the platform and concourse levels. Construction work is staged to minimize the overall impact to the station and service."

She also stressed that signage, station announcements, on-board announcements and other messaging, customer email/text alerts, social media alerts, web information and staff on site directing customer flows are all in place to help inform customers, and ensure the safe movement of customers at Union Station.

Aikins also pointed out that GO Transit staff and transit safety officers (TSOs) conduct a number of safety campaigns throughout the year specifically targeting platform safety. TSOs monitor compliance of safety rules such as staying behind the yellow line.

When asked about what other measures Metrolinx can undertake to address customers' concerns about platform crowding and being pushed into the path of a train, Aikins responded, "We are reviewing other measures such as platform barriers that would take more time to implement."

Has it come down to us throwing ourselves in front of a bus? Bus driver ignored by bus driver (I know, read it again)

If you see me standing near the on by!
as told to Ali Gator

Dear Passengers:

I am writing this to all the passengers like those in the Twitter posts that follow, who at one time or another have "missed the bus".

I just wanted to say that I really feel your pain!

On April 28, I took my bike to Burlington from Niagara Falls for the first time.  I had errands to run and needed some bicycle supplies.  It was a great trip in, and a fine spring day.  I was hoping to catch the return 13:54 from Burlington back to The Falls.

I was quite fatigued and thought that if I waved the bus down from the Plains Rd. local transit stop I would be able to board the bus from there, you know, using the old "Flag the Driver" technique, so common not too long ago.

I stood in the curb lane and waved at the bus with both hands, quite obviously attempting to flag the driver.  Although it is not a GO Transit stop, I was clearly able to get the attention of the driver as she descended the hill, even as early as part way down.  Also clear was my indication that I was an intending passenger.  Standing near the Burlington Transit bus stop, there was sufficient access (platform room for the bus) ahead of the stop available to the driver.  I was given the outstretched hand gesture part way down the hill, so common with drivers, meaning “What do you want me to do?” – like that needs an answer!

The bus didn't stop.  It proceeded to enter the left-turn lane at the intersection of Brant Street and Plains Road.

There was no attempt to accommodate an intending passenger.

This is not, as mentioned, a "Designated Stop", but that is not to say other drivers haven't made the stop for pick up, specifically if a passenger is making eye contact with the intention of catching the bus.

I thought that GO Transit stressed the requirement to accommodate passengers "wherever and whenever" it is safe to do so, and not necessarily at a designated stop.

On numerous occasions buses have returned to the origin of a trip or waited for passengers who may be running to catch the bus, and drivers have waited patiently.  IMO, there were no mitigating safety issues to prevent such action on that day – no heavy volume of traffic, no inclement weather.

The incident left me feeling a little exasperated.

Ample room to pull over ahead or behind the stop was clear.

I don't get it!

Not everything in a driver’s travel day is "cut and dried".  Exceptions can be made at "Undesignated Stops", wherever and whenever it is safe to do so.  At least that is what I remember from my training days with GO Transit, not so very long ago.

There are many reasons why people can't make it to a stop, e.g. perhaps they were dropped off at the wrong place, or they are seniors and could be disoriented, or there were family issues.

Yes, I am a driver for that same Route 12 and have many, many times gone out of my way to pick up a passenger who caught my attention, or stopped many hundred meters from a stop for a passenger who was scrambling to catch the bus.  How was this occasion so different?

Recently, I stopped at Tim Horton's and bought a coffee for a weary WMA passenger who had to wait at the chilly Burlington station because the prior bus had a wheelchair lift equipment problem. For that seemingly simple act, I received a commendation.

A little effort in the direction of Customer Service is not too much to ask – it’s within every driver's ability, whenever and wherever it is safe to do so!

A Caring Driver