Friday, September 30, 2016

Missed Connections

Probably the most bizarre (for lack of a better word) suggestion I get from readers or first time googlers for "how to make my site more interesting for GO riders" is to offer a "missed connections" feature.

That somehow I should play a cupid role, for passengers too nervous, shy, or unsure to approach other passengers about a date, or wanting to know what they were reading, wanting to offer advice for a family problem they overheard, or wanting to know where someone worked or went to school.

The only missed connection I'd be down for is WHO WAS THAT PERSON EATING A CAN OF TUNA FROM THE TIN ON A RUSH HOUR TRAIN?

I'd love to just sit down across from him, turn on the care bear stare and say, "Hi!", real loud, "HOW'S THE TUNA?! CAN I HAVE SOME?" And then pry open an emergency window and chuck it.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Horrible news out of New Jersey today

A crowded commuter train plowed into the bustling Hoboken station during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one three people and injuring more than 100 others, some critically, in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.

Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately? Part 9

Special to This Crazy Train
By Chris P. Bacon

Autumn Quick Facts

Autumn is here and The Weather Network shared their Autumnal Equinox fast facts with us.  Not to be outdone, GO Transit released some quick facts about Union Station.

Allow me to contribute to this flurry of facts with one of my own.  Metrolinx and Bondfield Contruction have collaborated, once again, to miss another completion date for Burlington Station.  A visit to Metrolinx’s Project Map on this first day of Fall reveals the following:

By clicking on the Learn More hyperlink, you’ll be amazed to find out …

Well, … absolutely nothing!  This is so bush-league; high school students can maintain a better website than the “professionals” at Metrolinx.

Let’s move on.  I visited Burlington Station last Friday and witnessed these intending passengers queued to buy their tickets from machines.

They should have been served by ticket agents on the other side of that black partition — as promised in the list of improvements on the project map.  Instead, the ticket sales office sits empty …

On the outside, the south bus loop is still in shambles …

The list of improvements also cites “enhanced accessibility”.  I had meant to address that point last winter; I’ll do it now. 

The weekend of February 13-14 was VERY frigid.  A Niagara Falls bound wheelchair passenger, who had transferred to the Route 12 bus at the Burlington P+R stop, requested to use the washrooms at Burlington station.  When the traveller found the facilities unusable, because the plumbing lines in the temporary washrooms had frozen, he was directed to the new washrooms in the main building.  There was one problem though …

The elevators from the west tunnel to the new station were not installed — they’re still not available for use.  There is no “enhanced accessibility” at Burlington GO station. The passenger had to complete his trip to Niagara Falls before he had access to a washroom.  Truly shabby, IMO.

All these stories from Metrolinx’s spinmeisters remind me of the Three Dog Night song from 1970.  How many more will Prichard, McCuaig & Co. pump out before Burlington station is complete?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GO Transit extends Goodwill gesture to Oshawa and Whitby passengers delayed for 3.5 hours east of Ajax

I like to live vicariously through other passengers' rage

Last night on the Barrie line - summed up in one tweet

4:25 pm to 8:38 pm will go down in history for me

That's the longest stretch of time I've ever spent, trapped on a GO train.

It's not a feat I hope to repeat.

In case you have not heard, yesterday's 4:30 pm Union to Oshawa train suffered a heart attack and died 150 metres or so east of the Ajax GO Station.

I was trapped on this train with hundreds of others, who after 40 minutes, soon realized we were in for a clusterbomb of a night when we lost all power. Forty minutes stretched into an hour and I listened as frantic parents made phone calls to relatives and neighbours to arrange for childcare and daycare pickup.  One passenger had to go all the way down the list of his daycare backups to the 4th person to rescue his daughter, so a stranger basically -- these were the passengers I felt the most sympathy for.

I had a 5:45 pm dentist appointment that I was able to move to 7:40. In an effort to save myself from the $75 no show fee, I dispatched my husband to take our daughter in my place. She was due soon anyway.

As the delay approached the two hour mark, I realized that any chance I had of being able to cook and prepare for the company potluck the next day was going to be lost, eaten up by time being wasted while waiting for GO Transit to decide what to do about us.

Three hours after we had left Union, we were informed we were going to be pulled into Whitby. We watched as a crew member moved from coach to coach releasing the brakes for each one so we could be towed.

Another half hour passed and with no air circulation for the last 90 minutes, people were growing less patient.... and hot. I kept reminding myself there are worse things in an effort to quell my own growing frustration. I cracked jokes with those around me but not everyone was in a humorous mood. One woman complained loudly, and constantly, about her displeasure.

We watched as rush hour train after rush hour train passed us by. I spent my time engaging others on Twitter and soon learned that a clusterbomb was also unfolding on the Barrie line with all trains holding due to a gas leak.

Through Twitter,  I learned that a passenger aboard the 6:00 pm train, fed up that his train hadn't moved for more than 30 minutes, exited that train and prompted a safety investigation. I'm not entirely sure but the result of that stupid move supposedly cancelled that train, and those passengers were forced off and had to squeeze onto another train. Hey, at least they had that option.

I'm at a loss for why it took 3.5 hours to make a decision to push us back into Ajax. First it was a tow. Then it was a push. GO Transit isn't transparent about its policy and procedures for epic meltdowns such as last night. This results in passengers demanding answers only to be met with excuses that the Barrie line required all of GO Transit's resources, and all our crew could do was continue to follow procedure.

I'm sure it was equally frustrating for them.

I don't think we'll get an answer why it took as long as it did to decide we'd be pushed back into Ajax. And that's not acceptable any more. Telling us a full investigation will happen is just more lip service that's become all too common these days.

We deserve better.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Part 7 of an installment, exclusive to This Crazy Train, "Meet the Deckers"

Editor's note: If you have had issues while aboard a Double Decker bus, or have a story about a Double Decker experience, drop me a line at

Special to This Crazy Train
by GO Voyageur 

More Dirt

In the first comment to the original story, Anonymous asked, “And also has anyone written to GO directly to complain or is putting it on the internet the norm now?”

Valid question, Anonymous.  I undertook to continue the dialogue with GO Transit in an effort to champion a cleaner, tidier fleet of DDs for passengers and drivers.  I kept mum until spring, because no one can run spic and span buses during our winters.  In June I sent the following e-mail.

Date:          Mon, 27 Jun 2016 17:22:32 -0400
From:          Me
To:              GO Transit Customer Relations
CC:             Greg Percy, Cj Smith
Subject:      Re: GO Transit, a Division of Metrolinx EM0119002913

Dear Ms. Supervisor, Customer Relations, (Name withheld for confidentiality reasons)

Thank you for your e-mail in which you identify faulty cabin filters as the reason for the black soot inside double decker buses.

I don't understand how that can be the root cause of the black particulate, though.  If the airborne dust is similar to light coloured dirt that we see on so many vehicles, e.g. like the one below, can you explain the metamorphosis that occurs within the HVAC system to produce the dark crud that is deposited inside the buses, please?

You wrote you "are working with the manufacturer to solve the problem as quickly as possible".  Sadly, after more than half a year, that is not the case.  Here is a snapshot of #8199 on June 8.

And here is #8173 on June 23.

You wrote that you "investigated all of the double decker buses" and this problem is limited to "a small number of buses".  Every bus that services Route 12 exhibits the black residue.  I chatted with a driver in Oshawa on the weekend, and he told me he sees the soot "everywhere".  He pointed to the black stains in the cockpit of #8121.  I'm sure you can understand why I'm having a problem with your assertion — it just doesn't correlate to what we see in the field.

Ms. Supervisor, Customer Relations, when will GO Transit deliver on its promise of clean buses?  Passengers and drivers alike are tired of waiting.


What response did I receive from GO Transit?  Nothing … Crickets … More evidence to support the black hole theory.

But don’t worry; there is more to this story.  Stay tuned for my follow-up article in which I ask figuratively, “WTH is up with your Customer Care group, Mr. Percy?”


Friday, September 23, 2016

I sure know where I'd like to stick that apple core

Submitted by Anonymous

I was on the Milton train a couple of weeks ago and there was a lady sitting beside me crunching down on an apple. Annoying but fair. She jammed the core down beside the seat. A couple of days later she was at it again. This time, just throwing the core on the floor. Quite rude and inconsiderate.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I can't wait for boot season

GO Transit doesn't provide a major benefit of transit — taking cars off the road

It's still a choice, and not an easy one, in the suburbs of Toronto, to give up a car. It can be even harder to do if the town or municipality you're living in has woefully inadequate transit service. I live in South Courtice, land of three- to four car families. We own one. Local bus service doesn't start until 6:30 am and the Durham Transit bus that winds its way through the subdivisions can result in a long walk for many. And if you live south of Bloor Street, you're facing a 3 to 4 kilometre walk to a GO bus stop if you need transit service before 6:30 am. If you drive, it's 13 minutes to the Oshawa GO station. If you take a bus, it's double that. And that doesn't include your walking commute to the bus stop. I'm lucky. I live north of Bloor.

Transit planning experts call what we do to get home from a GO station "the last mile". Incredulously, the route I take to the GO station in the morning is not the same route I take home. It doesn't exist. The local buses travel only in one direction, which means they "loop". So if I wanted to find my way back to the corner bus stop I left in the morning, I would have to endure a 1 hour and 23 minute long bus ride through most of Oshawa and down from the north end of Courtice. No thanks. So I take a GO bus home from the station and my husband picks me up from Highway 2. My time for the trip home from the GO station clocks in under 27 minutes. If he's unavailable, I walk two kilometers home. Everybody I know, who lives in Courtice and takes the GO train, drives to and from the station. I used to know two other people who chose not to drive but they've both since moved.

The "last mile" (a term), popular among transportation planners, describes the dilemma posed by transit systems that are able to move people over longer trips, but offer few solutions for carrying passengers the relatively short distances between transit hubs and commuters’ homes or destinations.

The Toronto Star has more on this issue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Woman, outraged that her son's school is converting all washrooms to non-gender specific, uses a washroom that hasn't cared about gender in years

This morning I overheard a woman sitting behind me on the train complaining loudly about a decision her son's school has made allowing for students of any gender to use any washroom. She didn't feel girls should be in a boy's washroom where "they might see penises dangling out", especially young kids. Plus, "have you seen a man's washroom?! They are disgusting. Why would a girl even want to go in there?"

Midway through the conversation she got up and disappeared into the washroom of the train.

I'm sorry, what was she arguing about?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Load $10? Win $10!

The driver of the GO bus is ok!

Free hydro? Oh wait... Your fare dollars at work!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fan Expo attendees openly carrying replica rifles and weapons create headache for Toronto police on TTC and GO Transit

Y'all saw yesterday's post where a Lakeshore West train was surrounded by police, with weapons drawn, after reports of a man with a rifle was on-board a GO train just shortly after 10 am.

The incident scared the crap out of passengers and had me on high alert. I tried to get answers yesterday afternoon and was met with boilerplate responses from Metrolinx that the situation was under control. That's great. BUT WHAT HAPPENED?

Turns out the passenger was carrying a fake weapon as part of his costume (which I have confirmed he was *not* wearing) for Fan Expo, a comic convention currently happening in downtown Toronto at the Metro Convention Centre.

Police don't discourage people from alerting authorities if they are unsure if a weapon is real. Here's a good idea though, don't be so stupid to carry something, in this global climate, onto public transit that looks real enough to cause a SWAT team to show up.


More on this incident here.