Monday, January 8, 2018

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

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?

1 comment:

Phynesse said...

I have suspected the same thing for years. Diesel fumes are highly toxic. This is a health and safety issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. I feel for the bus drivers who have to breathe in dirty air 10 hours a day.