Monday, February 26, 2018

So, your GO bus driver declined your $50 bill

Special to This Crazy Train
By GO Voyageur

The latest fiasco to hit the frontlines at GO Transit is cash payment for a bus ride.  Many people still use bills and coins to pay for their trips.  If you don’t have a PRESTO card, cold hard cash is the way to pay for your fare at stops like Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Beamsville, and St. Catharines.  So, what’s the issue?

Some drivers have accepted $50 bills as payment, whereas others won’t accept anything larger than a $20 bill.  This inconsistency has led to confrontations between passengers and those drivers refusing the larger bills.  Who is to blame for this strife?

If you guessed “the Metrolinx Ivory Tower”, you are absolutely correct!

Point your browser at the page for Fare Information (relevant snippet follows) and you’ll find nothing about cash restrictions.

I was sure what I was looking for was in GO Transit’s Tariff document.  To find that document, we need to visit the Policies & Legal Terms page and scroll down (waaaay down) until we see the following matrix:

By-Law No. 2A contains the Tariff of Fares except it looks completely mangled to what I recall of it.

Frustrated that Mr. Google and I couldn’t find what I was looking for I remembered the Passenger Charter promised TO HELP YOU QUICKLY AND COURTEOUSLY, i.e. “whenever you need help, just ask”, so I did.  Five days later, I received a response, and the conversation proceeded as follows:

That link,, brought me back to where I started my search!  I had my answer, namely, that bus drivers are limited to accepting no bills more than $20.00, but most other passengers were not apprised.

Grasping at straws, I rummaged through my archives, and voilĂ , I found it!  The prior version of the Tariff document, page A-10, section 17.1.2 has the answer:

Not content with the evidence in hand, I headed to the field searching for someone who accepted the $50 bills.  One told me that’s what the training reference material stated and produced the following from their satchel:

 This gives rise to some questions:

● Why did it take so long for GO Transit to answer my question?
● WTH is a Transportation Warrant (section 17.4)?
● Why doesn’t the Fare Information page contain ALL this information?
● From under which rock did “^NF” pull that number of $20?
● Why is the current Tariff document a tattered remnant of its former glory?
● Why did Bus Ops issue documentation in Apr. 2013 contradicting the Feb. 2013 Tariff?
● Why do buses have “special signage” for WiFi, but not the cash bill limit?
● Why can’t GO Transit post the cash bill limit by the bus door for all to see?

The next time your GO bus driver declines your $50 bill, don’t argue!  The drivers didn’t create the situation that they and all of us find ourselves — the brass at Metrolinx did that.  So, collect all your facts, head down to the next Metrolinx senior management Town Hall event, look the executives straight in the eye, and ask them what they’re GOing to do to clean up this mess.


Anonymous said...

When, they introduced Presto. We the driver's were told it was to eliminate the amount of money we would have to carry, and it would expedite the boarding process. Great loved the idea. Hated being a sitting target for being robbed. We were also told that we would not be loading presto cards. Again that didn't happen either. We were then told we would have to load presto cards, but the maximum is 20 dollars. Lets take for one moment. If you do lets just say 4 trips carrying 60 per trip and lets just say 4 people per trip wants to load 20 dollars. That's a lot of money. Now people want to increase that. Sorry, but, I will not be doing anymore than the 20 dollars. With all the stations, terminals and on line there are to load your card. There is no reason to be loading money on the card on the bus unless you are stuck out somewhere. The problem now is even with all these ways to load your card, Go Transit/Metrolinx even has machines on the plateforms for people to load their cards and they still don't. They could be standing right beside one, or they already have 50 or 60 bucks on the card they want you to load money on it. I just load it, cause there is no point saying anything to these types of people cause they just don't get it. Even when the bus is late cause the driver has been busy driving, selling tickets and now loading presto cards. But they are always the first to complain if the bus is late. Again, I will load your card. I too will only load up to 20 dollars. I refuse to be a sitting target.

Rory said...

I have no problem with GO transit restricting people to using $20 or less on the bus, lots of other businesses like gas stations and convenience stores do the same thing. However, this restriction needs to be clearly communicated to the public, not buried on page 183 of some obscure manual that nobody outside of MetroLinx has ever seen. All that would be needed is a sticker on the door of the bus or next to the driver telling people that GO does not accept bills larger than $20. If Petro-Canada can post these kinds of stickers at their place of business I'm sure GO transit can too.

Anonymous said...

I really don’t mind loading cards and selling tickets. It’s the job I signed up for. I’m very careful with my money and a simple transaction like loading 50.00 is just as fast as loading 20.00. Do I want to load 20 for the same person every day? Not really but people are funny. If two day pass tickets are purchased that can be up to or more than 50.00. Until they cancel all ticket sales we are required to sell tickets and load cards. I kinda like the privilege of being the only operators with the ability to load cards. I feel it offers the best customer experience. Mind you fixing underpayments can and will get accounting on your ass. I had to pull a notice from 2012 to shut them up. I feel lucky to have this job and work with some great people. If you don’t like it maybe it’s time for a change.

Jeff Brown said...

Just to answer one Question, a Transportation warrant is a document from various agencies, (WSIB, certain charities like shelters and the like) that will pay for the transportation of an individual. The Warrant when received will then be submitted to the agency as an invoice for payment to GO Transit for transportation services rendered.