Monday, April 30, 2012

The perfect train ride? STFU and SLEEP

Photo credit: @ytvcarlos

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 19: Is it, or isn't it, an e-wallet?

Saturday I took the kid into Oshawa for the Durham Parents of Multiples Clothing and Toy Sale.

It was at the Oshawa Curling Club, just a bus ride across Highway 2 aka King Street.

I didn't try very hard to look for the $2.25 in change I would need for her fare as I had my Presto card and my Presto card acts as an e-wallet. However, I had $2.25 in change on me just in case Presto would fail, or GO would fail, or the driver would fail (someone always fails).

As we walked to the bus stop, I started counting out the kid's bus fare when I dropped a loonie. It rolled onto the road and like a flash, it was gone. My kid became super anxious, convinced she won't get on the bus and we'll have to walk to Oh-shwa (how she pronounces Oshawa). Relax, I tell her. I've got a Presto card. It will be fine!

I had $1.60 left in change. The bus shows up, we climb on and I ask the driver to use my Presto card to pay for the kid and I'll tap on when he's done with her fare.

"I can't do that," he says. "Pardon?" I ask. He sighs. "You can't use Presto twice. If you pay for your daughter, you can't tap on."

"I was told you could use the funds on my card to pay for her fare." I say. "Yes, he says, "but then you can't pay yours."

I realize that people are staring, the bus is now behind schedule and these people just want me to either get off or find some money and pay already.

I tell him I had exact fare and now I don't. I'm frustrated because I was told that I could pay for my kid with my card and use it for myself ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Not in the same transaction but as two different transactions, a fact that was lost on this bus driver.

This woman sitting near the front spotted me the .65 cents I needed and we were on our way.

In Oshawa, I made sure I had money for the kid's ride home.

At 9:30 am, we boarded the GO bus and guess who was driving? The same driver. I got the same answer so I gave him the cash. I had asked him to inquire at the station or to call into his dispatch about how Presto's e-wallet feature works. I see he made that a top priority, so I bitched about it on Twitter.

Turns out, I was in the right. Presto cards can be used to pay fares for people traveling with you provided there are sufficient funds in your e-wallet. Then, once those transactions are done and the tickets are printed, you can tap your card and use it like you normally do

Balls! Right?

Why would drivers not learn how to use the card for "cash" fares? Why take cash? Why carry cash? Who wants to be responsible for money? What about theft? Robberies? Electronic money can't be handed over.

I don't understand. Where's the problem? Is it Presto not educating the Transit Systems who offer Presto? Is it the Transit Systems not educating their employees, or is it the employees just being lazy?

Not bad

Today was day one of bike the kid to daycare.

A few comments... traffic was very light. I only counted seven cars that passed me on the way down and none of the drivers were speeding. It was a bit busier coming back up but the kid was no longer in the trailer so I was less anxious.

My times are better. 14 minutes down and 16 back up. This left me with 24 minutes to change for work and walk to the bus stop. My regular GO bus driver saw me hauling ass on the way back and tooted the horn. I'm bummed I have to take a later bus as I really like Santa.

Only 184 days to go!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trolling. Master Level

Ever since the lost and found iPhone post that eventually was circulated on Facebook and Tweeter, I've been bombarded by texts from people trolling for lulz. Thing is, I've been on the Internet since before some of these trolls were born and I'm not new to the practice.

So texting me and asking how to get to Winnipeg by GO train, or if one can smoke on the train, or how one lost his seeing eye dog, but couldn't see where it went, and how do I get the dog back from lost and found - none of them were funny. The dog attempt was eye-rolling at best.

So if you wanna troll, this is how it's done. (Click the image to view the entire conversation)

Try harder, kidlets.

If we don't broadcast it, we don't lose much

Yesterday, many of you on the LSW, Milton and Barrie lines were affected by a system-wide combination of computer and signal failure. The end result was that many people were over an hour late getting into work.
The delay affected 10 colleagues of mine.
That's a lot of people late for work and a lot of meetings that had to be rescheduled or cancelled.

I'm sure it wasn't pleasant for the rest of you, either.

On Twitter, there's been chatter of announcements that were made on this morning's train service on these corridors that people can venture into Union Station and receive a credit for yesterday's fare.

It's 8:33 am when I write this. I have checked Twitter, GO's website and Facebook and there is no mention of a credit and not even an apology for what happened yesterday.

But starting May 6th, you can take GO Transit to Canada's Wonderland.

Life happens. Shit happens. Things break but GO Transit, despite all its social media efforts and useless Customer Service Charter, and its hundreds of "customer satisfaction" surveys, still has not figured out when and how to communicate to its customers.

These kind of directives come from the top and the top has no clue. Sorry. I hate to be so negative but I personally find GO's silence after system-wide disruptions rude and inconsiderate.

Last month, when service on the Barrie line fell apart and people wound up in Brampton, GO had apologies printed up on a credit voucher and had them distributed at Barrie corridor stations.

So why is today different? Signal and computer malfunctions are usually the cause of poor maintenance and bad code so someone is accountable. Right?

By not broadcasting the credit and remaining silent on social media, GO may think they're saving money but they're losing respect and confidence among its ridership to fulfill its customer service promises.

Update the Twitter, GO website and Facebook with an apology. 

You owe us that much.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yep, this about sums it up for me

Those of you who follow along (and know me personally) know I gave up a vehicle in an effort to become more physically active, utilize public transit, save money, help the earth and eliminate any excuse to visit a drive-through. One thing it didn't save me was time. More about that below.

Starting May 1, when my husband's hours roll back to a work day that starts before the sun rises, I have no means to ferry my daughter to her before-school program which is at a daycare centre in the middle of nowhere. It's next to an on-ramp for the 401 which makes it a dream for parents who commute but isn't serviced by public transit, which is a nightmare for parents like me. Switching her to another place isn't an option as this is the only place that provides private busing to school and I can't find a provider near her school who can care for her and walk her to school. I live in a rural area. Options are limited.

Earlier this month, I bought a bike and bike trailer. The bike trailer has a built-in seat that allows me to tow my kid while I ride the bike. Getting her to ride beside me on her own bike will come in time. But for now, towing is easier.

For the past couple weeks I've been training myself for the 6 km round-trip bike ride. Some of you are probably thinking "Pshh, 6 kms?! I can do that in my sleep!" And you probably can, but I've been lazy for too long and I'm am out of shape so I need to condition myself as I gear up to yet another lifestyle change.

In total, it's 16 minutes there and 20 minutes back (4 minutes round-trip in a car!). Coming back is slightly uphill, but over time, once my body gets more in shape, I should  be able to cut these times in half.

Here's the skinny...

The daycare centre opens at 6:30 am. The bus comes at 7:09 am. I have to get up at 5:15 am. Ugh, I know. The kid and I have to be on that bike and riding by 6:10 am. I have to give myself a little extra time in case I need to take it slow due to weather, especially wind.

There's a small stretch I have to do on a narrow road with no shoulders. It's nothing but asphalt and ditch. The speed limit is 50 km/hr. Please, no one does that. In my training, I've come across some real superstars.

It's terrifying that my daughter is behind me where I can't see her but I have mirrors where I can see approaching cars and some of these assholes come up too fast and then play this ridiculous game of chicken where they get as close as they can to the trailer and then swing suddenly around us. I've had this happen three times already and I'm ready to mount a digital video camera to the rear of the trailer so I can record these jerks. You know, for the court case.

According to the Highway Traffic Act, drivers must give me space.

Vehicles meeting bicycles
(4)  Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway meeting a person travelling on a bicycle shall allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (4).

I stay as right on the roadway as I can but the road is too narrow to allow for a vehicle behind me to go around me when there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction.

Bicycles overtaken
(6)  Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (6).

I'm also lit up like a Christmas tree with a flag on the trailer, lights on the trailer, lights on the bike, illuminating strips on my helmet and a safety vest. I'm hard to miss.

I know there are cyclists who are jerks, too. Cyclists that don't wear helmets, who run stop signs, who weave in between cars, etc. But I'm not THAT cyclist so you don't need to be THAT driver.

By the time I get back to my garage to dismount and park the bike and trailer, I have 19 minutes to change and walk to the bus stop.

This is gonna be fun!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yes it's early, but ...

Aww, they look so sweet and innocent when they're sleeping!
You really hate to disturb them!
I'm not sure if he managed to regain consciousness to get off at his stop, but I don't think anyone really cared if he missed it.

 - Submitted

My *found* story tops your *lost* story

Text message from 905721XXXX
Apr 24 2012 9:33 PM

Hey, how does lost and found work?

Me> Pardon?

On your website.

Me> My website?

Is this 9054427423

Me> You're kidding right?

Is it?

Me> How can you mis-text someone?

I dunno. I lost my unmbrella and if I don't get it back my mom is gonna be pissed.

Me> Hang on, back to the part where you asked me to confirm the number. Did you commit the number to memory or did you type it while reading it off a monitor?

Monitor. Is it wrong?

Me> Dude, if you have a number in front of you and then a number on your phone and they both match, what's the answer?

Dude? Since when does someone in customer service call someone dude.

Me> Customer service for what?


Me> The hell? Look, I can tell when someone isn't legit. This isn't a legit "I can't use Google and I can't read" text message.

I didn't use Google. 

Me> Okay, fine. You lost an "unmbrella". Can't help ya. Sorry.

Hey! I'm not the one putting phone numbers up online

Me> Did I say anything to that affect?

So why so pissed. 

Me> I'm not pissed. Merely annoyed. I don't like lying.

I really did lose an  umbrella.

Me> My heart bleeds for you. I found a briefcase at Union Station once. So I walked up to some random guy, handed it to him and whispered, "You know what to do", and walked away.

Write me back when you have an "interesting" umbrella story.

Only in a first world country...

As a mother who makes lunches every night, this pisses me off.
Then there's the littering which causes me to ask (which will be followed by an email) why there are no garbage receptacles at City of Clarington (Region of Durham) transit stops?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From today's mail bag

from: Mary Y.
date: Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 1:05 PM
subject: legs

Hi Cj

Typically I find your blog funny but I take offence to what you said today in your text message to the woman looking for Union Station.

My 7 year old son was born with severe birth defects and as a result he can't walk and is in a wheelchair so even though he has legs, he can't use them and will rely on me and his dad for support for the rest of his life. 

What I'm saying is that as parents there are no limits to what we will do forour children and maybe this mom already works downtown. Who knows?

I guess what I'm saying is you should be careful how you talk to people because for all you know that woman's daughter could have been a parapelgic and it's probably too instense to go downtown.

Mary Y

You're hot then you're cold

Text message from 905626XXXX
Apr 24 2012 8:52 AM

Can you tell me how I get to GO Transit?
HELLO? Please write back to
I'm on Front Street. I can see the CN Tower. Am I close?

Me> Warm

Hello? Oh good! Where is Bay Street!!!

Me> Do you still see the CN Tower?


Me> Still warm.

Huh? Which way is Bay?

Me> Walk away from the CN Tower.

Which way?

Me> Walk far enough so that it looks smaller instead of bigger.

Do I walk right or left of the CBC building?

Me> Oh, you're cold. Real cold.

I really need to find GO Transit. My daughter left her iPhone on a train yesterday morning and they have it at Lost and Found.

Me> Okay. What's the address?

For what?

Me> For GO Transit

Isn't this GO Transit???

Me> Nope.

My daughter told me to text this number if I get lost.

Me> How old is your daughter?


Me> And she sent you downtown to get her phone?! Does she not have legs?

She's in school.

Me> And what do you do all day?

I work.

Me> Did you have to leave work or be late to work to pick up this phone?

Yes. Why? Please. Can you just tell me how to get there?

Me> Okay, are you still  facing the CBC?


Me> Is the lake behind you?

I can't see. I think so

Me> Okay, is the CN Tower behind you?


Me> Okay, turn right and walk east.


Me> What kind of phone you got?


Me> Huh? So, you can't use Google Maps? It should be built into your phone. Don't those things talk to you? Can't you just speak into it and say "Find me GO Transit?" ... and it grows Go-Go-Gadget Legs, picks you up and carries you to your destination?


Me> Never mind. I thought iPhones could do just about anything. I mean, have you seen the commercials?!

I don't see how the phone can tell me where to go

Me> Just walk until you get to Bay Street. Once you get to Bay Street, turn right and go south. You'll see doors into Union Station. You can ask anyone wearing a GO Transit uniform to point you to lost and found.

Okay. Can I text you again if I get lost.

Me> You won't get lost. You have an iPhone.

Okay. Wish me luck.

Chuck Norris does not ride the GO Train. The GO Train rides Chuck Norris

Monday, April 23, 2012

These are the people I want to beat in the neighbourhood, in the neighbourhood. Oh! These are the people I want to beat ... (everybody sing!)

Text message from 1905925XXXX
11:18 AM

This rude seat hog sprawls out every morning on the 6:12am from Oshawa all the way to Union. Sometimes his dirty shoes are on the back of the seat instead of on his bag. He pretends to sleep so no one will take his second seat. Hate him and his lack of manners.

Your side-eye does not "scurr" me

17 year old girl, full of piss and vinegar, along with a dose of entitlement, stands inside bus shelter smoking from a pack of cigarettes she probably stole off her moms. Etched onto the shelter glass are the words "NO SMOKING".

Yeah, you so thug. It's Bomanville. There's no "streets". You don't even know what gangsta is while you're livin' in your 2000 square foot home. Bitch, please.

Agrily puffin' away in defiance after I ask you to exit the shelter and you respond with, "It's a free country". What you know about "free", little girl? You think this is why two world wars were fought? You haven't worked for anything in life yet.


I weep for the future.

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 18: Five business days? CSR like it's 1912

The hamster has been replaced and is happily running in its wheel. All is well. For now.

Got into work, logged into and up came this:

So I emailed this:

Then I noticed this line after I submitted my inquiry: Please take a moment to fill in the form below and one of our customer service representatives will contact you within 5 business days.

FIVE DAYS? Is this so the Marconi guy can tap it out, so someone can write it out, then ship it out on an ocean liner and the carrier pigeon delivers it? 

Fix your website ya bums!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 17: A 2.5 hour travel window is not enough time to travel GO's system

My Presto Chronicles Series is a big hit on the interwebs.

I've decided to create a proper label for the series so all of the chapters can be read without having to weed through other Presto stories. You're welcome!

Today's Chapter is written by a guest of Chez This Crazy Train, Peter S.

Peter has concerns about GO's travel window:

One aspect of PRESTO I haven't read about in the “Chronicles” series is the insidious "travel window".  I have no idea why this “feature” exists, but there is a 2.5 hour travel window to complete your trip (1).  This includes transfers between GO Transit bus, trains, and other participating transit systems.  The travel window was originally four hours, but this was changed “to provide you with more flexibility and better match your travel patterns” (2); who are you kidding, GO Transit?  Some GO Transit employees still believe the time period to be four hours – don’t be fooled!  To be clear, the entire trip, including transfers, can be longer than 2.5 hours, but the last transfer must occur within the travel window.  One caveat that I’m aware of – bus drivers have the power to increase the travel window to allow for delays they have encountered, but I’m not sure how this is accomplished.

My commute is between Pickering (Zone 91) and St. Catharines (Zone 83); Zone 91 to 83 at the beginning of the week, and the reverse at the end of the week.  The trip requires a train/bus transfer at Burlington.  Depending on boarding time and the direction of travel, the trip duration ranges from 2:40 to 3:00.

For my first use of PRESTO, I arrived at the Pickering train station early to ensure there were no issues using my card; the tap ON was successful.  In retrospect, this was a mistake, because the travel window clock starts with the tap ON; train schedules are immaterial.  The tap OFF at Burlington was equally successful.  For some reason, we boarded the bus later than normal that morning.  From PRESTO’s perspective, the transfer was a few minutes outside the travel window, so I did not qualify for the transfer credit.  Travelling from Burlington to St. Catharines was deemed to be a new trip.

Ok, mea culpa.  The GO Transit CSR who responded to my query on the matter went into great detail to explain what had happened and how my account had been debited.  It was well worth the $4.17 I lost on the transfer credit to gain the insights to PRESTO’s machinations.  As a bonus, I now have a contact who can give me the straight answer to my questions, something not all CSR’s are capable of.

Per Metrolinx’s web site, “The Government of Ontario, GO Transit, and nine transit systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and Ottawa have partnered to introduce PRESTO – a new electronic fare card that allows riders to transfer seamlessly across multiple transit systems.” (3)  This is a wonderful policy statement, but let’s look at “transfer seamlessly” in action.

Per GO Transit’s web site, “PRESTO users get an automatic discount when transferring between GO Train or Bus services and PRESTO-activated local buses anywhere across the entire GO network, not just at GO Train stations.” (4)  This reduced fare is known as the co-fare discount.  But wait; there is more!  “Transfers between GO Transit and participating systems must occur within 2 1/2 hours.” (4)  What does transferring from one carrier to another have to do with the travel window?

GO Transit cannot transport a passenger from St. Catharines (or points east) to Pickering (or points east) in under 2.5 hours to allow them to use PRESTO to pay the co-fare ($0.65) with Durham Region Transit; the full fare will be charged.  Per DRT's web site, "a PRESTO Card does not provide proof you are a GO Train passenger following (or before) a trip with DRT" (5), so (in theory) even a cash co-fare payment may be denied.  A CSR informed me I could use my PRESTO card to buy a paper ticket at the Burlington train station so that the requirements of the co-fare with DRT could be met.  I was dumbfounded!

Whereas I agree with Metrolinx’s policy statement on PRESTO, the imposition of an artificial system-wide 2.5 hour travel window undermines the goal; the net result is less flexibility than the existing 10-ride paper tickets.  It is not clear to me why PRESTO cannot implement the travel window at the card-level, i.e. default to 2.5 hours, initially, and adjust as required “to provide you with more flexibility and better match your travel patterns” (2).

The GO Transit Passenger Charter promises “a safe and easy experience” (6).  With all due respect, Metrolinx, PRESTO doesn’t deliver.


9:13 pm LSE CSA takes on six smoking, drunk teenagers

My BFF and I took the 9:13 pm LSE train from Union last night.
We sat in the second coach from the locomotive.

Just after Rouge Hill, someone on the train lit a cigarette.

I smelled it first and jumped up and bolted up the steps.

Oh hells no.

Six young men (late teens? maybe 18-20 years of age?) who had made their way to the bi-level part of the coach, who  were carrying on like they were still at the bar, were passing around a cigarette and one was just outright smoking. There were other passengers who were staring straight ahead, pretending not to notice.

What?! Since when do a couple of punks "own" a train?

I stared at them all for all of 30 seconds, realized this was more than I could handle, and headed back down the stairs.

"Wait here," I told my friend. "I'll be back."

I am still shocked that I am the only passenger who went to find enforcement or alert the CSA. And not one pushed the emergency strip.

I tell the CSA who pulls out a BlackBerry and calls dispatch(?) to find out if there are Transit Safety Officers in the area. There were not any on the train. I also didn't want the CSA to confront six, drunk teenagers on his own without backup.

Between Rouge Hill and Ajax, the CSA was unable to secure enforcement which meant he had to deal with these jerks on his own. Myself, my friend and another male passenger offered to provide backup. He said he'd be okay but I also told him that his personal physical safety was paramount over a pack of cigarettes. Rest assured, I wanted these assholes kicked off the train, but that's an officer's job, not a CSA.

He assures us he'll be fine but I follow after him to watch him to make sure no one throws a punch at him.

He confronts the men with one getting up and getting right into his face. I remained too far back to hear what was being said but was ready to signal the male volunteer to provide assistance if the confrontation got physical.

The punk talking to the CSA was actually holding a smoldering cigarette. Some people's children!!!

The CSA returns. He was smart. He backed away from the men as he went up the stairs so as to not turn his back to them.

He told those of us who were ready to tag in for WWE Smackdown (insert #) that he told them he had notified police, that the fine was $100,000 (he admitted he didn't really know what the fine was but I was okay with that number) and told them to get off the train at Whitby or they faced being arrested at Oshawa (he really was left holding the bag on his own which concerns me as a GO Transit customer).

When we pulled into Whitby, all of them bolted from the train.

Those of us left on our coach began to have a discussion about what kind of people, drunk or not, decide to smoke on a commuter train in full view of other paying passengers. Self-entitlement? Lack of respect? Then we began to lament about the state of today's youth.

Sitting kitty-corner to us, those of us having this discussion, was a young man engrossed in his e-reader with his feet on the seats.

He catches my eye and says, "I'm 20 and even I see the lack of respect."

Irony. (insert rag time piano) Play me out Johnny!

But wait ... there's more!

Further to last night's catapult post ...
Mxxxxx, Michael

7:46 AM (1 hour ago)
to Customerkflynn.mpp.codmatthews.mpp..bobme
Ms. Mxxxxx,
I just arrived at work and would be remiss if I did not mention the new and plentiful no smoking signs I found at the station. They are a  good start and I appreciate it very much. Thank you. Now if we can have a con-commitment increase in visible enforcement...
As an illustration of the need for same, the usual belligerant smokers were where they usually are this morning, under the original (and till now only) no  smoking sign. If there is no enforcement evident, then I fear that the signs will just become new perching places for them.
Again, thank you for your time and thanks to GO for putting up the signs.
M. Mxxxxxxx

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Consider seeking out ways to minimize your own exposure around individuals who chose to disobey our by-laws". Such as making your own catapult?
5:00 PM (17 minutes ago)

to michael.mxxxxxkflynn.mpp.codmatthews.mpp..bobme
April 18, 2012
Reference No:  2012XXXXXX
Mr. Michael Mxxxxx

Dear Mr. Mxxxxxxx:

GO Transit supports a Smoke-Free Ontario and was an early adopter of it's own by-law to prohibit smoking on GO Transit property.  Over the years we have made a significant investment into both regulatory signage, enforcement and deterrence.  Despite Federal, Provincial and municipal regulations and prohibitions, certain individuals continue to smoke in prohibited areas.  The problem is not unique to GO Transit. 
We know that changing behaviour is a long term strategy and the best solutions are always achieved through voluntary compliance.  Consequently our enforcement efforts are a combination of education, awareness and penalties.  The province has developed a comprehensive Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy which combines public education with programs, policies and legislation to:
  • help smokers to quit,
  • protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, and
  • encourage young people to never start.
GO trains and GO buses serve a population of six million in an 8,000-square-kilometre area carrying 200,000 passengers each day.  It would be cost prohibitive and impractical to impose a zero tolerance approach to the enforcement of any one of our by-laws.  Transit Safety Officers are assigned regular patrols of all of our stations and enforce a wide variety of by-laws.  We prioritize our deployment based on trends, public complaints and the severity of the issue.

I encourage you to continue to report problem areas to our Transit Safety Office.  Your information is helpful and appreciated.  I would also encourage you to consider seeking out ways to minimize your own exposure around individuals who chose to disobey our by-laws.  In general, confrontations can be unpredictable and counter productive. 

In response to your email, we have asked staff to dedicate additional patrols of your station and we will review our station's cleaning standards and ensure signage is in a good state of repair.  Thank you for bringing these concerns to our attention.

Catherine XXXXX
Supervisor, Customer Relations


I don't purport to be an engineer or a sketch artist. However, from this email I have determined the only method us non-smokers really have to get around the smokers at GO stations is to launch ourselves through the air onto the platform.

Patent pending.

Us GO people? We're spoiled

I had the unpleasant experience of commuting from Queen and Yonge to Runnymede and Bloor at the height of rush hour (5 - 6 pm) last night on the TTC.

What in holy Hell?

I took the subway north, to Yonge/Bloor station. The train was packed once we hit Dundas and although there was not an ounce of space left on the car I was on, people merely pushed and shoved their way into the train. I had a dirty backpack in my face with the words "Fuck the police" stenciled across the back and staring at me for the rest of the subway ride. Standing next to me, close enough that she could offer me a bite, was this woman eating noodles out of a plastic food container while holding onto nothing.

There was no where to go and no where to turn.

It's been over 18 years since I've taken the TTC subway system during evening rush hour to my parents' west-end home. It's a bloody zoo. The system has been over-powered by demand. Has Rob Ford and his loudmouth brother tried to commute by subway from city hall to their homes in Etobicoke? It's clear downtown Toronto needs another subway line. I don't understand why there's so much focus on areas outside the core. How do these people get home in this mess? That there's no breathing space until they arrive at the Sheppard line? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

It's clear to me why there's a downtown condo boom and why people choose to live near work. Who wants to commute in this chaos?

I practically had a heart attack when I saw the war zone that is Yonge/Bloor. I watched a woman with a stroller practically get eaten alive by the crowd. Have you watched The Walking Dead yet? You now the scenes where the walkers descend upon the living to feed? That's what it looked like.

It took seven trains before I managed to get on one to go westbound to Runnymede. Again, we were all packed in tighter than sardines. It was hot and stuffy. There was nothing first class about this commute. Toronto will never have a first class transit system. What happened?

At Runnymede station, it was apparent this was a station affected by service cuts over the years. I counted over 120 people waiting in line for one bus.

I wound up walking the two kilometres to my parent's house from the station.

As much as we like to bitch about our GO train problems, we're riding first class compared to the TTC.

I see vans holding hands, saying ...

Oshawa GO Lot
Photo submitted by @WallKitten

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Commuter's anthem?

Submitted by Adam

Sure, go ahead and disobey the sign but littering too?!

And the smokers keep "winning" at the Oakville GO Station ...

Michael's latest email to GO Transit and elected MPPs and Ministers:

Mxxxxxxx, Michael
7:29 AM (1 hour ago)
to Customerkflynn.mpp.codmatthews.mpp..bobme
It has been a week since I last heard from your office. I would like to know if there is any progress in the investigation. If it is any help, I note that last week I observed, among others scattered on the platforms and property, smokers in front of the only large non-smoking sign on the GO Station property, four days out of five. This took no effort on my part - they were where they can usually be found at 6:10.
On Friday last I took these photos (attached) to document that the no smoking on GO station properety policy that GO transit has in place, is manifestly not enforced.
Yesterday, Monday, a gentleman was smoking right by the other side of the doors to the station. When I asked him to please desist he replied that there were no signs, so he had no way of knowing if it was legal to smoke or not. This is a quite reasonable response.
I ask again - where are the signs? Where is the enforcement? Where is anything that would amount to evidence to a detached and reasonable observer that GO transit takes its no smoking policy as anything but lip service?
I look forward to a reply, soonest.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Medical emergency not so medical?

From Sandra

I just found your website. Well I didn't find it so much as someone was talking about it at a Blue Jays game so when I got home I looked it up on Google. Where have you been my whole transit life?!

I've been riding the LSE (Oshawa) line for 6 years. I have a great story to tell. It was summer, which is important in detail because rarely does anyone have jackets and it was during the ride home. On my coach, which was the first coach behind the locomotive, this woman began asking someone to push the emergency strip and when everyone asked her what's wrong, she wouldn't say.

People were hesitant to push it because she looked fine and what I thought was strange is she wouldn't get up off her seat to push it herself. She was in a 4 seater, near the window.

So I pushed it for her.

I always thought the trains come to a screeching stop when there's a medical emergency announced, but nope, the train keeps rolling and this was the first time I'd been on a train with a medical emergency called.

This guy in a dark jump suit shows up in our coach after the CSA announces the alarm was pressed and being investigated, and he asks if anyone needs help and people wave him over to the woman. She looks perplexed.

She asks him if there are any women on board who can come assist and asks for the CSA (who was a woman). The guy radios to the engineer. He asks for the CSA and he says she's coming.

Jump suit guy asks the woman if she can stand up. She says no. He asks why. She shakes her head.

The female CSA shows up - I should mention this was a full train and the woman motions for her to lean down so she can talk to her privately. They're whispering in each other's ears.

I get off at the end of the line but when we get to Whitby, the CSA asks the man sitting across from her if she can sit there and the train is idling while the CSA talks to the woman and the woman makes phone calls.

The engineer then announces we're holding at Whitby for a medical emergency. Then the jump suit guy returns and has what looks like a black garbage bag. I'm thinking that perhaps this woman has pooped herself? What else could be such a big deal?

Oh, but it was much worse than that and only women can relate to the nightmare this woman was going through.

The CSA asks us on the train to either exit the train or move to another coach as this woman needs privacy.

I get off and stand on the platform.

Eventually the woman and the CSA get off the train. The CSA has wrapped the garbage bag around the woman like a skirt and was walking her across the platform.

The doors were closed on that coach and those of us on the platform were asked to board other coaches and the jump suit guy went to go stand guard at the connecting door to prevent people from entering the coach.

When we get to Oshawa, the train is put out of service.

The horror, right?

Anyway, don't know if you'll share the story but I know people bitch a lot about medical emergencies and delays. Sometimes it's because of stuff like this. I really felt for her. But it's interesting what GO classifies as a medical emergency. This woman needed a clean pair of pants.

Update on the Birthday "patient"

Parking donkey or super genius?

Brampton GO lot

"I found this one to be rather entertaining -- almost graceful in the way he's carefully split between the Honda and the Beemer to invent his own parking spot. You almost have to respect balls like this." - Bryan

Do you work for GO Transit? No, I don't but ...

Thanks to Matt for this. So whenever I get another email or text from someone asking me or accusing me of working for GO Transit, I'm going to reply, "No, I don't, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

My kid turns 7 today. This is what she asked for as her birthday dinner (celebrated Saturday)

She inhaled the entire thing. Made her grandpa proud.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A fare jumper gets what's due

Submitted by Matt

Was on the 5:15 Union-Georgetown last night.  I was enjoying my commuter-snooze until we approached Malton Station, and the GOstapo fare inspectors walked by and brushed my arm, waking me up.  The train was still pretty full, as (in my estimation) over half of the capacity de-trains at Bramalea.  I reached for my presto card and held it ready, figuring they’d be back shortly to check it.  A minute passes, and nothing happens, so I put my card away.  Sure enough, they come back almost immediately after I put my card back in my wallet (fuckers!).  When it’s my turn, I scan my card, so does the lady diagonally from me, and the other 2 in my quad are using paper passes (one was an adult monthly pass).  The holdout was a student sitting directly across from me, using a 10-ride pass.

I knew something was up almost immediately when she handed the Gostapo her student card first, and kept her 10-ride pass (that appeared to be in such rough shape that I initially thought it was fake) in her hand.  Sensing something exciting about to go down, I paused my music but left my earbuds in so it wasn’t obvious that I was eavesdropping.  The dude then asked her for her pass, which she meekly held up for him to see, which he then quickly took from her hand and scrutinized.  At first he seemed confused, focusing on the fact that the fares were punched on a GO Bus, not the train.  The conversation went something like this:

GOstapo: “How did you get downtown today?”

Girl: “I take the bus.”

GOstapo: “How do you normally get home?”

Girl: “I usually take the bus.”

GOstapo: “You take the GO bus?”

Girl: “Usually, yes.”

GOstapo: “Every day?”

Girl: “Yes.”

*GOstapo guy is smelling blood at this point.  Girl sticks to her “take the bus home” story while simultaneously attempting to muddy the waters with excuses about today, hoping to get off with a warning.*

GOstapo: “You have only been cancelling this ticket once a day – in the mornings.  I don’t know how you are getting home, but you have not been using this ticket to do it.”

Girl: “I normally take the bus home, so that’s why I forgot to cancel my ticket today for the train.”

GOstapo: (unimpressed) “That doesn’t explain why you have no cancelled fares for the ride home for the rest of this week; you are only paying in the morning.  Do you take the train home every night and forget to cancel your ticket each time?”

Girl: (defeated look comes across her face)

GOstapo: “Can I see a piece of ID please?”

Me: *Yesssssssssssssssss!*

He proceeded to then issue her a fine, and explain her options of either paying the fine or disputing it, and it was all “explained on the back”.  The girl actually tried to read the fine print, as though there would be some amnesty clause for entitled students who don’t feel like paying their already-discounted fares.  It was a good time.  It was nice to see a GOstapo using their brains instead of buying at face value whatever bullshit line these fare-skippers are selling them.

Like a boss!

A guy just got on the LSW Go train, unfolded a wooden lawn chair and sat down on it. /cc 

(via Twitter)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Proof the GO train no-smoking by-law delinquents think they're special

Go ahead and snub.

Ever seen Pulp Fiction? There's a line in the movie, let me quote it. "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers."

Go on and run with the devil now.

It could have been worse. I could have been using Skype

When I got on the bus this morning, Facetime guy from Tuesday and yesterday (again!) was sitting towards the back with his eyes closed, his head resting against the window.

So I sat next to him.

I pulled out my tablet, made sure the keyboard typing volume was set to an annoying level and proceeded to type out my grocery list for the weekend.

I was in the throes of listing all the fruit and vegetables I needed to buy when he shifted in his seat and gave an exaggerated sigh. I ignored him.

When he sighed again (by this time I was listing dairy products), I stopped, closed my tablet and tapped him.

"I'm sorry," I said, "am I bothering you?"

He opened his eyes and asked if there was a way I could turn off the sound.

I asked him if there was a way he could turn off his Facetime.

Later, once the dust settled and we had picked out the glass from our hair, we agreed we'd try to be more conscientious of each other's desire for quiet in the morning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


When you take the pedals off an e-bike, it becomes a moped under the HTA*.

Oh, and it was rush hour when this picture was taken.

Imma just throw this SmartCar on the train, too. K?

* - Being verified.

It's 6:39 am. Shut up.

The scene:
Highway #2 GO Bus to Oshawa

The players:
A d-bag with an iPhone with Facetime on, 11 passengers, 1 driver

The script:

D-bag: "Hey, good morning Sunshine. I was just thinking about you ... Figured I wanna see you too..."

D-bag's wife/girlfriend: "But I'm not dressed (giggles). You on the bus?"

[It's 6:39 am and he's not in bed with you. If he's not on the bus, where the hell else would he be?]

D-bag: "Yeah. (yawns) It's sooo early."

D-bag's wife: "Yeah. Yeah. (also yawns)"

D-bag: "I was just calling to make sure you dress warm. It's supposed to be cold. Flurries and ice pellets supposedly but I don't buy it..."

[What radio station is he listening to?]

D-bag's wife: "(whining) I knooow. What happened to Spring, man?"

D-bag: "Man, it's gonna be a long day."

This mindless drivel went on for the rest of the bus ride. I put headphones on when they went back to discussing the weather.

Some people need to talk less and text more.