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Friday, January 19, 2018

Are you surprised? I'm not surprised

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The sorry saga of broken signals which are now fixed according to GO Transit (but for how long?)


Thursday, January 11, 2018

You asked, here it be - ThisCrazyTrain.com's Top 10 widely read/shared posts of 2017

I started out in 2010 where I mostly wrote about commuting on GO Transit and the experiences I had, the things I saw (with lots of pictures) and habits of others I found annoying. People found my website generally by googling questions about the GO train, and to this day, the number one search result that brings to traffic to my site remains a question about how to avoid paying fare and not getting caught. I offer no advice for this and I'm sure many are left disappointed.

The site also grew in popularity due to passengers seeking information about how to retrieve lost items. GO Transit didn't really have a comprehensive website back when I started blogging and so, I became a beacon for passengers desperate to find items they had left behind. It's how I met most of you because you found me while looking for something you lost, and then you told others about me. I will always be grateful. For those who are new to the site, here is the best lost and found story ever published: I know very little about fashion.

In late December, when I decided to take another break from blogging, one of many I took in 2017, I received a few emails from folks (mostly media) wanting to know what my top 10 posts were. I decided to look at page views and shares to determine popularity. And so, without further delay, here they are, from most to least:

  1. When you have Metrolinx as a neighbour - you have the neighbour from hell
  2. A picture tells a thousand words
  3. So this happened
  4. Never fight a stroller mom, you ain't ever gone win
  5. Don't worry, GO Transit has been made aware of this engineering marvel
  6. It's ok, the smokers will kill us first anyway - GO Transit passengers at risk for exposure to diesel exhaust
  7. GO took away schedules (train and bus) and replaced them with fluff (Note the word: "Information")
  8. Can we save the tax credit for public transit?
  9. So back in October Bombardier staff delayed an LSW GO train to make a coffee run
  10. All the applause for BN!

So it's a "No", then?

Remember that Townhall Metrolinx had with their new CEO in December, 2017? Welp, they just got around to emailing back answers posed by Metrolinx's customers that weren't addressed during the session. A Crazy Train reader sent in a response she got to her question.

It reads like her question hadn't even been read.

It reads like someone just cut and pasted the questions into Word, penned out a list of "hot" keywords, used good ol' Paper Clip to do a find of said keywords and then replied with pre-written boilerplate responses.

I mean, it's just, well, sad. And, personally, as a GO Transit customer, I feel somewhat dismissed by this response.

Submitted on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 19:36
Submitted by anonymous user: 10.195.30.254
Submitted values are:

Your name: Withheld by Request
Your e-mail address: xxxxxxxx@hotmail.ca
Subject: Bylaw/rule enforcement
Message: Could the transit safety officers or the fare inspectors enforce the bylaws of the GO Transit system on the trains? Revenue could be generated by enforcing such rules/bylaws (specifically: feet on seats, smoking in non-smoking areas at GO Stations, drinking on trains). Thank you.

The results of this submission may be viewed at:
https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/node/230/submission/9582


From: Xxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: January 10, 2018 10:08 AM
To: xxxxxxxx@hotmail.ca
Subject: RE: Form submission from: Contact

Hi Withheld by Request,

Thanks for your question and sorry for the delayed response.

GO’s Transit Safety Officers are primarily responsible for ensuring your personal safety. They are also responsible for friendly customer assistance, fare inspections, regular prevention and deterrence patrols, support for local police, fire and ambulance, parking, by-law, provincial law and Criminal Code enforcement, locating missing persons and protecting vulnerable passengers, and promoting railway safety.

Officers are authorized to enforce GO Transit By-laws, which govern passenger conduct, fare inspection and use of our facilities. To find out more about our Safety and Security division, click here:
http://www.gotransit.com/public/en/travelling/safety.aspx

Presto's executive Vice President resigns to take up consulting gig (Metrolinx did not disclose what kind of consulting Robert Hollis is pursuing)

In the space of three days this week Metrolinx, which is the provincial transit agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, informed employees of the departure of two members of its 10-person senior management team, including the executive vice president responsible for the contentious Presto fare card program.

Read more via The Toronto Star

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Take a picture, it'll last longer

Ugh.

Howdy neighbour!

Submitted by Anonymous

Dear Metrolinx,

Thank you so much for the wake up call on December 22. Although I don't remember ordering one, it was just what I needed at 4:30 am on the first day of my Christmas vacation!

Sleep is, as I'm sure you'll agree, highly overrated. As a rapidly expanding transit agency you understand the need to be permanently on duty. You are open 24/7 - I know this because I called your 24 hour emergency line a few weeks ago to report an alien landing on the tracks

That was some scary stuff wasn't it? I thought at the time it might be one of these dreaded 'trespasser incursions' - but, fortunately, it was all perfectly legitimate. Just one of the many track maintenance programs you have underway to help us get to work quicker and make our lives easier.

I was having a bad dream that morning so you did me a favour. It was about an alien invasion funnily enough - another one! No actually it was the same one. It's interesting how difficult it is to get this out of my head. Perhaps it's because it keeps on happening...?

It was a quiet weekend after your call. Isn't this such a nice holiday? So peaceful. I hope you got as much rest as I did. I'm sure you'll be back to your beeping best now the New Year is upon us!

I do have one small request. If you could try and set my next wake up call for just a little later - say maybe... 5am? And try not to schedule it on my holidays? Oh, and is there any way you could program the back-beeper-wake-up-thingy to be just a little less loud? They are so abrasive aren't they? Just like your train drivers and bus drivers and safety inspectors, I need to get a good night's rest so I can be all alert and refreshed for work in the morning. I'm sure you understand.

Thanks again for the wake up call. I hope you have a healthy, successful and restful new year.

Sincerely,

Your neighbour near Union Station

Monday, January 8, 2018

It's nice to know that even zip lock bags get returned to their owners

Town has strange long name so it would become a tourist attraction - posting this because there's a commuter train in the story

Part 10 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 cj@thiscrazytrain.com.


Special to This Crazy Train
By GO Voyageur

Household dust and so much more

In my last report on the dirty DD’s, I said the reply from GO Transit’s Customer Relations Supervisor scared me.  I’ll elaborate, but first, let’s revisit the following line in the supervisor’s response:

·         “I have looked into the results of the investigation of the Indoor Air Quality report conducted on our GO buses.” 

Buses?  Plural?  More than one bus was tested?  No.  As was pointed out in the comments to the prior article, only one bus was tested — apparently it was a relatively new (at the time) #8201.  Why didn’t GO Transit test any of the buses given as evidence in this blog?  I should mention the supervisor did not attach a copy of the report as evidence to support their assertions.

The following line is the one that scared me:

·         “The results concluded that no unusual particulate materials were identified and the composition of the dust samples was similar to that observed in typical household or office settings.”

Shortly after receiving the supervisor’s e-mail, the Toronto Star ran an article titled New study highlights health hazards of household dust.  More details can be found in the article Not Just Dirt: Toxic Chemicals in Indoor Dust from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  What I find particularly vile is that Metrolinx paid money to a company whose job it is to know this information, but neglected to apprise Metrolinx, who then turned around and quoted the report as if it were gospel.

Why does this black soot fiasco rile me so?  I was raised in Sudbury.  Before INCO built their Superstack, three smaller smokestacks belched sulphur dioxide, denuding the countryside with acid rain.  On days when low clouds trapped the stacks’ emissions, the smoke would roll into the valley where we lived.  I could feel the gas searing into my lungs, which x-rays revealed later had become scarred (I’m a non-smoker).  I would sit in the basement waiting for the SO2 haze to dissipate.  So, yes, I have an aversion to dirty air.  Do those folks who are exposed to this soot, i.e. regular passengers and GO Transit drivers, need to be featured in a Toronto Star investigation like GE employees in Peterborough?

Why have I waited so long to share all of this?  Around the time the supervisor’s e-mail landed in my Inbox, GO Transit replaced all double-decker buses on Route 12 with the new DDSL model (#83xx).  Here is the inside of #8342 on its inaugural trip on Route 12.  It was pristine; it still had its “new” smell.



Did Metrolinx management roll the dice and bet that since the new buses did not show the black soot stains, I no longer had a reason to discuss the problem?  If that were the case, I took it as a victory — my fellow passengers and our drivers had clean air to breathe.  However, my gut told me to wait; this saga wasn’t over.

And I was correct.  I boarded #8318 not long ago and was dismayed to discover the following tell-tale markings:



Just as Philip Kives implored us to “wait, there’s more”, well, there is more.  The latest SNAFU on Metrolinx’s double-deckers is diesel exhaust fumes inside the cabins, e.g. #8353.  This problem isn’t really new; it was reported to GO Transit over a year and a half ago



Five days later…



Even before that, in November 2012, CBC reported that OC Transpo admitted their double-decker buses — also built by Alexander Dennis Ltd. — leaked diesel fumes into the cabin. 

Who allowed these substandard Scottish-engineered monstrosities into Canada?  Was it Transport Canada?  Why has Ontario’s Auditor General kept mum on these Metrolinx vehicles?  Perhaps it’s time to escalate this mess to Ben Spurr at the Toronto Star, or CBC’s Marketplace, or CTV’s W5.

In Part 6 of this series, I included a photo of bus #8142, which had white dust covering the inside of the bus.  It was a mystery how the interior got to be in that state.  There have been times when I’ve noticed a fire extinguisher sitting on the floor in the accessibility area of a DD rather than being strapped to the wall.  My conjecture…  The straps are so flimsy, they can’t hold the fire extinguisher when the bus hits a significant bump in the road.  The extinguisher falls to the floor, and on rare occasions, the pin pops and the trigger is activated thereby dumping the contents.  Plausible?  Ask your driver.

Back to the supervisor’s e-mail and the following line:

·         “I would like to assure you that we continue to remain committed to ensuring our buses are maintained to the highest standard.”

Maintained to the highest standard you say?  The following photo is of the grill above the rear seat in the lower saloon on DD #8317.  It looks like it has NEVER been cleaned.




Enough of these assurances from Customer Relations management!  They are past the point of triteness.  They are now downright insulting.  Isn’t it time Metrolinx’s new CEO, Phil Verster, had “career discussions” with his staff?