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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

People don't commit suicide by train to purposely mess up your day, nor do they think to contact GO Transit and give a heads-up

On Monday, a young man jumped in front of a GO train on the Barrie line. This resulted in a delay of just under three hours after service was suspended. On Tuesday, there was another fatality on the Lakeshore East line. The delay was just under two hours after service was suspended.

Hundreds of passengers went wild on Twitter, unhappy to try to find alternate ways to work, or having been stranded in parking lots, or, being left to wait on platforms. In regards to the Lakeshore East fatality, I felt GO Transit did a great job keeping me informed. I was getting texts constantly, updated emails and Twitter notifications in real time. I wound up being 10 minutes late for work. One person asked why GO can't plan for suicides better.

I'm not even going to try to explain how mental illness or depression works, but I think it is very obvious that GO will never know when someone is planning to jump in front of a train. Nor is it fair to expect a regional transit agency to have hundreds of buses on stand-by near every single station to immediately be put into service when trains fail to run. Who pays for that? I sure don't want to.

10 comments:

Rory said...

I agree with this post. While GO isn't always the best at planning, sometimes things do happen that are outside of their control. When these things happen passengers just have to learn to role with it. Unfortunately there is no 100% fool proof way to keep people off the tracks and, as CJ pointed out, there is no way to have enough buses available to accommodate every passenger when train operations are shut down.

Skin Man said...

Agreed. However, I get the sense that police keep roads/tracks closed longer than necessary b/c they can. This is very similar to the 'risk' or 'safety' card people sometimes play to support an otherwise unsupportable action/decision.

Squiggles said...

I agree for the most part. I found I wasn't getting as much communication as I didn't find out about the suspension until I was at the station and heard the announcements. But I think that could just be because I was so much earlier getting to the station.

I did manage to get on a bus and was about an hour late for work. So not bad considering (and I did learn which bus to take! in case something like this happens again, so upside?).




Anonymous said...

I believe the LSE delay was due to a body found near the tracks, and not from the train itself. Doesn't make it any less tragic.

Anonymous said...

I'm the sister of a person who jumped in front of a VIA train.
On that day, before social media, people would talk to news crews. That night, while in the waiting room at the hospital, CFTO News was on and a woman who was on the train that hit my brother wanted to know why VIA would allow for these kinds of things to happen. People say all kinds of stupid things when they are removed from a personal tragedy.

gmcnewlook said...

Ugh Some people are assholes, how the hell is via supposed to know someone is going jump in front of a train ahead of time ? This isn’t minority report.......

C.J. Smith said...

I'm always astounded by the lack of sympathy. It's a couple of hours of your day. It's not like your house burned down.

Anonymous said...

ur the idiot here

Jack C. said...

It’s always tricky. Not everyone has the same experiences when these things occur. For some people, being an hour late for work is a minor inconvenience. For others, it could mean serious discipline, docked pay, the loss of a job (for example, if someone is a fresh hire in their probationary period with a zero-tolerance policy for attendance infractions), a mark of ZERO on a missed test or exam. Not all schools and employers make allowances for transit-related delays. They should, of course, but it can be a cut-throat world. Some employers would argue that an employee delayed by a transit fatality “made the choice to use an unreliable means to get to work” and so on. Yes, the tragedy and sorrow of a family losing a member to suicide is greater than that of an employee docked or fired due to transit delays (not all employers use a progressive warning system before moving to termination), but one’s compassion and empathy can be obviated by distance.

Yes, it’s true that social media seems to amplify a lack of perspective for some people, and it’s always a bit of a head shaker.

That said, there WERE things Go handled badly with that LSE fatality and which they should look into. When I arrived to Ajax Station, passengers had missed, in some cases, two Go Bus trips because they had been advised to “stand by for more information”. If they’d been told at the outset that a fatality would be likely to delay the train for hours, they would have hopped onto the first westbound Go Bus without standing around for 30 to 40 mins waiting for news. We who have taken the train for years know to skip the platform at the first mention of a fatality and get on the first available bus, but people newer to the system don’t know this and need clearer directions. The other thing that happened was that an extra Go Bus pulled up to help with the overflow passengers but then sat there with doors closed and an Out of Service notation for almost 15 mins while people stood anxiously in line. It looked as though someone was dithering over whether to actually put the extra bus in service or not. That irritated the anxious, waiting people, to put it mildly. Add to this that when the bus finally pulled forward and opened its doors, the driver stopped RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the line (as opposed to pulling up to the front of the line. The net result was that the doors were mobbed by people in the middle of the line, and those who were first in line did not get to board first. It created the funnel effect of desperate passengers. This was completely unnecessary, unfair to those at the front of the line, and could easily have been avoided had the driver pulled forward another 20 feet before opening the doors.

So while there are a lot of unreasonable complaints around these delays, I do think it’s worth exploring ways to improve contingency plans.

C.J. Smith said...

Thanks Jack, all valid points that are appreciated