Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Presented without comment

Wilmot Creek residents (this is a condo community in south Bowmanville) protested outside the Minister of Transportation's office last week (the tracks were there long before the community was built)

Some highlights from this article on Durham Region News (and you would think city councils would STOP issuing builders permits to construct housing near rail lines):

Wilmot Creek residents came to council with a petition with more than 900 signatures, requesting that a safety study be conducted at the two railway crossings at Wilmot Creek. The study will be paid for by the Wilmot Creek Homeowners Association and local developers, at no cost to Clarington.

The residents say other municipalities have banned train whistles and fatalities and serious injuries at rail lines haven’t risen in response. They consider the whistle as noise pollution that is disturbing their sleep and impacting their health. Some residents have health conditions that make uninterrupted sleep essential.

There are three railway lines (CP Belleville, CN Kingston and CP Havelock) that cross through Clarington and more than 20 public crossings. As Clarington grows the number of residents living close to the rail line increases. The risk of an accident rises as more traffic travels roads that cross railways, according to a staff report. At the same time, more residents are inconvenienced by the train whistle and Clarington now receives one request every two years to stop the whistles.

Good on this guy for calling it in

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Transportation engineer responsible for building rail networks in Scotland and England hired as new Metrolinx CEO

The Board of Directors of Metrolinx have appointed experienced rail operator Phil Verster as its new President and CEO.

Over the last 12 years, Mr. Verster has overseen operations and major construction of some of the most complex and customer intensive rail services in England, Scotland and Ireland.  Among his most recent assignments as a Managing Director of Britain’s Network Rail have been running Scotland’s railway operations, the ScotRail Alliance, and initiating work on the East West Railway, a new rail line linking Britain’s high tech corridor between Oxford and Cambridge.

Mr. Verster was selected following an international search on behalf of Metrolinx.  His start date is October 1, 2017.

Rob Prichard, Chairman of the Metrolinx Board, pointed to the unique set of criteria in Metrolinx’s search:

“We’re implementing a $34-billion transit build – the biggest transit investment in Ontario’s history and one of the largest in the world today.  We’re quadrupling the number of weekly GO Train trips - from 1,500 to 6,000.  We’re electrifying key GO rail lines to provide 15-minute express service all day long throughout the region, and we’re building new LRT lines to tie the region together.

“Moreover, as we execute this massive transformation, we need to continue providing the current high level of daily transit service that people throughout the region depend on.  We sought as our next CEO a person with deep domain expertise and substantial executive experience operating and building railways.  There are few people in the transit and rail industry with the know-how, experience and executive skills to drive transformation and maintain service at the same time.  Phil Verster is one of them.

“Mr. Verster has graduate degrees in both engineering and business and a post-graduate diploma in law.  He has operated, built and electrified commuter rail.  He has the expertise and executive experience we need to deliver on our ambitious agenda, leading the 4,000 employees of Metrolinx and working with all of our partners.  We are delighted the Mr. Verster has chosen to join Metrolinx.”

At ScotRail, Mr. Verster oversaw the delivery of $3 billion of new electrification of the Scottish railroad.

Most recently, at the East West Railway, Mr. Verster led successful efforts to re-launch the project through creative partnerships with the municipalities and local leaders it will serve while simultaneously designing and engineering the project in the most cost effective way.
Mr. Verster said: “I am very excited about joining the team of dedicated women and men at Metrolinx, and to be part of one of the most exciting transit transformations taking place anywhere in the world.  I believe Ontario is the place to be.  Not just because of the very large scale of investment being made in transit, but because of the dynamism, optimism and quality of life that has made this region so envied all over the world.

“At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that all the investment, all the construction, all the new trains and services are not an end in themselves.  They’re about improving the experience of passengers, contributing to communities and to the economy.”

TTC CEO Andy Byford welcomed Mr. Verster’s appointment: “I am delighted Phil Verster is coming to Toronto to lead Metrolinx.  We worked together in London just over a decade ago in an executive team that turned around a poorly performing train operating company.  He will be a superb leader for Metrolinx.  He is smart, driven, good at delivery and gets things done. He will deliver both the projects and the change agenda for Metrolinx and GO.  I very much look forward to working with him as our partner at the TTC.“

Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail in Britain said: “Phil Verster is a great leader, a loss to the UK rail industry and a gain to the Canadian railroad industry.  He has made a great contribution to ScotRail and to Network Rail as a Managing Director for the last six years.  He has a great customer focus and a strong track record in supporting and developing teams to improve customer service and train service performance.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Heck, thought I posted this... I met my goal to cycle 1000 km before the end of summer (August 9 - more than a month ahead of summer's end)

My husband suggested I try for 1500 km before winter hits. I don't know about that.
I will say this, cycling saved me - physically and mentally.

But ... dogs are already on trains and buses ... there's no enforcement. Just like bikes, feet on the seats, smoking, etc...

Story link here (so controversial and for no reason ... )

“I don’t think you’re going to get everyone to agree on what is best,” she said. “But as a regular GO commuter, as long as I’m a paying customer and I get to sit before your dog does, we’re good!”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back from Chicago!

First, let me pay homage to my idol ^^^^ ...

The best thing we did was pick up a Ventra card - an open fare card that is nothing like Presto. My husband and I spent $35 USD and we took trains and buses to:

Lincoln Park
Beverly (Chicago's south side and what was once a predominantly Irish area)
Navy Pier
Wrigley Field (caught the ball game between the Cubs and Blue Jays)


... Firehouse 51 (where Chicago Fire is filmed on location outside of the hall and in the service bay)

This was as close as I was going to get to Taylor Kinney.

And of course, we picked up some Chicago Fire Department swag!

We rode the "L" like champs.

And saw some amazing sites along the way such as the incredible architecture of the city's Chinatown (off in the distance).

We couldn't do everything so it warrants another trip in the Spring. I absolutely loved the city's waterfront.

The bus operators were incredible - friendly, engaging and polite. Locals said it was because we were engaging and polite. Were we supposed to be rude?

People like to be respected and respond in kind. I chatted up every police officer I met and charmed the fire fighters. Public service can be a shitty job and dealing with the public isn't easy, so if I can make someone's day better by asking her about her job or what sport team he roots for, then that's what Imma do.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A picture tells a thousand words

As a graphic designer and someone who works with photos a lot to help illustrate a story, it is important your stock photo or professional photos don't send the wrong message.

Recently, I've noticed an increase in bikes on board trains at rush hour and have received tweets and texts from other passengers also noticing this. I fully support transportation on two wheels but when space is at a premium during commuter time aka rush hour, bikes need to be tossed off. There is no room. Please don't.

I got an email about GO and the CNE and in that email was this link
When the site pops open, what is the first image you see? This:

So, if I'm a daytripper or even a regular GO commuter, what does this image tell me?


Please, Go Transit friends, can you try a different image here? We're already putting up with a lot on trains with unregulated temperatures, shorter coach lengths, platform congestion at Union, construction woes at stations *cough*, Burlington, *cough* and increased fares come September.

Throw us a bone, k?

Exploring Chicago by transit

Well, that's the plan - my plan. My husband on the other hand, who is apparently too good for public transit, is terribly stressed by this idea. I am NOT taking uber or a cab to Wrigley Field from our downtown hotel to this Blue Jays vs. Chicago Cubs game he talked me into next Friday. We are taking transit.

So, he owes me one.

I picked a hotel that is literally close to everything on foot. I have already mapped out our eating excursions (we arrive next Tuesday and leave Saturday) and one place I need to go, is the fire hall that stands in for Firehouse 51 on the tv show, Chicago Fire. The fire hall is 35 minutes away from our hotel by subway and apparently, we can use a credit card as fare payment. However, I plan on hooking both of us up with day passes which makes my husband shiver in horror. If he had his way, we'd rent a car (no thanks) or take a cab everywhere (apparently we're very rich and I simply choose to ignore just how wealthy we are).

I truly believe the best way to really see a city and feel its vibe is to ride its transit system.

At least I didn't suggest we rent bikes...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

No plans to bring back buses for Markham, Whitchurch-Stouffville GO Train customers, says Metrolinx

The problem for these commuters is with midday and evening service: previously, commuters had the option of taking a single bus direct from Union to all points north of Unionville GO Station.

Now, there's no longer bus service between Union and Unionville at those times.

That forces people travelling to and from stations north of Unionville to take a train and bus combination, which some say some adds up to an hour to their commute.



date:Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 6:38 PM
subject:LSE 6 PM Express Train

The guy in the plaid shirt sitting with one leg in the aisle brought his bike on the train at rush hour, then muttered under his breath while pointing at the bicycle sign "it says two bike but I guess you guys don't want to share" while he proceeded to prop his bike against the two seats across from us (blocking them in the process as seen in the pic).   I told him that bikes weren't permitted on rush hour trains and he says defensively "oh really?  Thanks for the information but that's the UP Express". So of course I Google it on my phone and proceed to tell him that in fact it does include Go trains.  He starts telling me off and says I need to get a life LOL.  Such entitlement.   Then I just tell him " I'm just letting you know to educate you" to which he replies  "I'm a lawyer,  I don't need education". So ironic.  So much for using his lawyering mind to read the fine print.  

from:Cindy (Cj) Smith
date:Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 7:14 AM
subject:Re: LSE 6 PM Express Train

Bravo to you for speaking up to this self righteous jerk. That takes a lot of courage and despite his grandstanding, I'm sure he thought about it all night. And hopefully, he's more respectful next time.
When people are defensive like that, it's a telling sign they already knew they were breaking a rule. Honest people don't react this way. There's usually a hint of embarrassment followed by apologies. 

Potential disaster avoided on Kitchener line after citizen calls 911 to report a forklift on the tracks

A frantic 911 call to report a forklift on the tracks near Guelph last night helped avoid what could have been a derailment, according to Metrolinx.

A GO train, en route to Kitchener, with about 1800 passengers on board was safely stopped 200 metres away from the forklift which is believed to have rolled onto the tracks from a nearby construction site. There was no one on the forklift at the time and the incident is being investigated.

It took 15 minutes to remove the forklift.

Metrolinx says it takes a GO train up to 1 km of distance to come to a complete stop. The actions of the person who called 911 most likely prevented a derailment.

- With sources from Twitter, Newtalk 1010 and Metrolinx

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

When your hate so great it makes you stupid, too

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

And yet another reason why your train may be delayed

First time I've seen someone arrested for fare jumping - more to the story for sure

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.... #toronto #gotransit #nofreerides

A post shared by Patrick (@glaciersofrice) on

Meanwhile, at Oshawa GO

Because sometimes you just gotta take yer trash to the GO parking lot. #stayclassy #stayclassyoshawa #gotrain

A post shared by Holly D (@stayclassyoshawa) on


Doesn't beat the time I watched a woman rub lotion on her feet and in between her toes...