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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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.

14 comments:

outburst said...

The interesting thing is the Ombudsman last night tweeted about it, practically soliciting commentary on whether he should investigate GO. That will get them sweating.

Anonymous said...

Even if only half the riders submit service guarantees you'd think it would be more economical for GO to just rip out the misbehaving switch and put in a whole new one rather than letting these delays persist.

C.J. Smith said...

Exactly. Keep your refunds. I don't pay more in fare each year just so GO can refunds its passenger base but Metrolinx has no accountability for the failures that contribute to the malfunctions. The Service Guarantee does little to make customers feel like our time matters. Take the money and fix the problem.

Nora1968 said...

Plus, the hoops of fire that many passengers have to go through to even COLLECT legitimate refunds in situations like these just add insult to injury. Seems like Metrolinx is taking a page out of Hydro One's ignominious customer service book, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

If only people knew that someone had cut wires in an act of vandalism ........

C.J. Smith said...

Please elaborate because of this is true, why not tell the Toronto Star and for what incident are you referring to? Signals or a switch? Can you email me the name of the investigating officer for the police detachment that would have been notified as this is tampering and it's a criminal offence. I can be reached by text 905 442 7423 or email cj@thiscrazytrain.com

So, carrying on with your claim, has this been the case for every switch and track malfunction? What security measures are being taken to prevent future vandalism?

Anonymous said...

Usually on delays like this, I punish GO transit by boarding the train by not paying and taking my chances. Works everytime.

C.J. Smith said...

So you do this when you know there's a delay?

Jules said...

I'm not sure I believe an act of vandalism could cause the issues that happened multiple days randomly (sounds very dramatic though). I think it is nothing more than an antiquated signal system that needs to be updated.
Anon at 10:53 on days like that I just get my refund from GO the legit way because GO transit can punish you a lot worse if you get caught.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

That's one of society's biggest problems:
The fact that too many responsibilities are put upon the average person instead of the Ones-In-Charge who actually have control over things.

Mark said...

A nearly 50 minute delay on a broken switch between Burlington and Aldershot yesterday left me nearly 40 minutes late for my daughter's first game of the season. I am not out any money for missed day care, but I think I am beyond the point of feeling that a refund of my ride for EXCESSIVE delays constitutes a fair trade off.
And of course after all of that, the VIA train got priority through the clusterf**k.

At this point I have zero confidence in GO or Metrolinx to address this. The same switch points in the East and West are constantly breaking down. We have money for an overpriced (and what will ultimately be under used) express to Pearson (which I might add gets priority as well over GO Traffic on the lines they share), but nothing to fix up or replace VITAL infrastructure.

Bob Jonkman said...

the VIA train got priority

While riding the VIA as a commuter from Kitchener over 10 years ago I was told by the VIA conductor that on the CN lines (all of them except Milton) the freight trains get top priority, the GO trains are next, and the VIA trains have lowest priority. It goes in order of who pays the most for track allowance, and since VIA was part of CN they didn't pay, and got no priority.

Of course, that may have been sophistry to deflect blame. Same old, same old.

--Bob Jonkman

Robert Wightman said...

Have you considered a class action law suit? Sue GO/Metrolynx for a $100 - $200 for each really late passenger to cover lost wages, extra costs for baby sitters, taxis etc. Money is the only thing that will get their attention. It may take awhile but it would get their head out of their asses.

Tyson Moore said...

Robert, the only people that win in a lawsuit like that are the lawyers. Surely Metrolinx's money is better spent on service improvements than lawyers, no?

Besides, I don't think there's anything in GO's Tariff or the Metrolinx Act that guarantees the trains/buses will run on-time. To play devil's advocate, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that the service will never be delayed (and that's exactly what I'd argue if I was a lawyer).