Saturday, May 31, 2014

#GOStrike2014 - weekend update

GO has until 11:59 pm on June 1 to strike a deal with ATU 1587. Negotiations continue. As of this writing (10:50 am) ATU 1587 is still in a job action position for Monday. This means absolutely no GO bus service. GO does not have contingency plans for GO bus routes. As for stations, maintenance and ticket sales, GO has a plan to utilize management and non-union staff to provide these services but not at the capacity passengers are used to. It will be a very slimmed down GO Transit come Monday morning if the strike is on.

I don't think I could be a bus driver which is why I am in awe of those who are - some thoughts about the possible GO strike

The members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587 are negotiating for a contract renewal and probably one that has all the same conditions as the one expiring. I don't know why everyone always makes it about how much money a union employee earns - maybe that's why he decided to be a union employee.

There is a real hatred towards unions in this country... it's so vile. I can't even stomach the Star or Sun comments about the current GO labour negotiations. It's not for me to say a GO bus driver doesn't deserve the income he works for. Why? Because I don't do his job. It's not for me to say a GO ticket agent doesn't deserve the income she works for. I don't do her job either. Yet, you CAN do these jobs -- but you don't. Ask yourself why you don't - maybe it's because you couldn't imagine working in such close proximity with the public. Yet, you pay to ride in close proximity with the public everyday and somehow manage to survive. Or maybe you simply don't want a union job, or maybe it's because you feel these jobs are beneath you, or you feel that "someone with a grade 10 education is only worthy of $10 an hour".

Unions serve an extremely beneficial purpose when they do exactly what they were established to do - to ensure safe working conditions for members who work in hazardous conditions. And for those of us who aren't in a union, we owe a lot to unions for the working conditions and business safety standards we have today in the workplaces we toil in. Where they suck is when they fail to recognize the financial realities of supporting the retirement security of its members and fail to forecast the cost (cough) Nortel (cough).

I come from a union family. My husband and I are the only ones not in a union. I've seen when they work well and when they don't work at all.

At the end of of the day, everyone wants to be able to put food on the table. I, myself, have turned down union jobs because I never wanted to be faced with "job action" - where all of a sudden you have to choose between loyalty to your union and loyalty to your employer because you need the paycheque, or you're forced into job action and hate every second of it.

What is a shame is that strikes are rarely ever about to protest working conditions or demands for improvements to conditions that support the workers - they almost always come down to negotiating for three things: salary increases, pension contributions and health benefit amendments. It's these demands that nearly destroyed the auto industry when the amount of retired workers outnumbered the actual active workforce. The Big Three were running out of funds to support their retirees' income and healthcare costs. So the retirees made concessions and surmised they'd be willing to be pay $2 instead of $1 for their Greenshield drug deductible if it meant keeping one autoworker on the assembly line. I'll never forget reading that in the Oshawa paper. I remember my jaw dropped open. How kind. Very few of these members failed to understand it was the pensions that they needed to make concessions on. Anyone with a pension these days is very, very, very lucky to have one. We have a pension crisis in this country.

My dad never finished school past grade five when he became old enough to work the farm and help contribute to his family's income. At 16, he moved from New Brunswick to Toronto and did jobs I could never imagine doing. People are always surprised to learn that my dad, who eventually settled on a career as a short-haul and long-haul transport driver, who despite being in a union for several years -- long story ... the company knew early on they wouldn't be able to afford a retired workforce so they put money in health benefit plans instead -- doesn't have a company pension. They always comment "how hard it must have been to work all those years with nothing to show for it". He'll disagree with you. My dad is a person who stresses the only person that can take care of you - is you - he invested wisely and lived within his means. Go ask a former Nortel employee how 30 years at a giant company worked out for her in retirement. If my dad is envious of his friends who retired from their union-supported transit jobs, he hides it really well.

We all have our priorities and our reasons for why we choose the job we do. None of us is in a position to complain about a bus driver who may not show up to work on Monday. I absolutely agree with you that this strike, should it happen, will be an inconvenience of batshit crazy proportions but please, don't  take it out on the bus driver, maintenance staff, cleaning crews or station tellers. Not all of them are "greedy high school dropouts making too much money looking to fuck up your week --- ungrateful bastards" -- worst comment on Facebook yet.

Out of all the GO Transit employees, I am fiercely protective of the bus driver. The bus driver who gets me home every night in one piece. The trained and skilled driver piloting pounds upon pounds of deadly steel, glass and plastic with no airbags or seatbelts - he's THE (wo)MAN.

I don't want Otto from the Simpsons driving me to the GO station. And neither should you.

Still not "on-board"? Here's my take when there was threat of job action in 2011

Friday, May 30, 2014

Smells like stale doritos

Yeah, so, this is my train ride home right now.  Happy Friday indeed.


Metrolinx is currently negotiating with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587, which represents 1,800 GO Transit workers, including the agency’s 800 bus drivers. Although negotiations continue as of this writing, the union has officially brought forward notice of a strike deadline set for the evening of Sunday, June 1st. If GO Bus drivers hit the picket lines, GO Bus service would likely be suspended Monday morning. 


People complaining to me about provincial candidates hocking their party platform at the GO station - it's allowed - sorry - I've bolded the part you care about


Candidates or their representatives may request access to Metrolinx facilities, including GO Transit, Eglinton Crosstown and Union Pearson Express facilities, during an election campaign.

Metrolinx will be applying the following principles in managing these requests, to ensure the safety and convenience of the travelling public, avoid conflicts and place reasonable parameters around access:

  • At our Lakeshore East and West line stations, there will be a limit of 8 campaign staff members per candidate
  • For stations on all other lines, a maximum of 4 campaign staff members will be allowed
  • Please see below the list of stations and respective maximum permitted campaign staff members per candidate.

GO Transit customers tend to arrive at stations a short time before scheduled train or bus departures. Care needs to be taken to avoid causing congestion or delays for customers to board their desired trains or buses.

Candidates and their representatives must remain outside of restricted areas or the "fare-paid" zones, such as train platforms.

Metrolinx will not be approving or reviewing the content of flyers and like materials. We do require that candidates and their staff take all materials with them at the end of a "meet and greet" session as our stations do not have the capacity to display or otherwise store such materials without affecting operations and customer safety.

In addition to "meet and greet" requests, from time-to-time, Metrolinx has been asked to accommodate campaign events at one of our facilities. Permission must be sought in advance for this. In reviewing requests, Metrolinx will consider the following:

  • Safety is our first priority; venues will only be considered where the safety of the public, employees and event participants can be ensured
  • Events cannot impact the operational activities of Metrolinx, GO Transit or any of the other transportation authorities using our facilities
  • Costs will be borne by event organizers
  • Metrolinx staff, including staff of GO Transit, PRESTO and UP Express, cannot participate in any event, except to ensure safety and security

For any questions you may have about access to Metrolinx property, please contact Tom Aylward-Nally at 416-202-5976 or

Well I'm moving to Japan

"VIVA" Las Loser

from: DA
to: "C.J. Smith"
date: Wed, May 28, 2014 at 8:49 PM
subject: viva footrider

Hello CJ.

Been a loyal blog reader and wanted to make my first contribution and see whether its good for your blog.

On York Region's VIVA system, their seats aren't the hard ones typically found on public transit vehicles but this time they are the plush ones that you can sit on and doesn't feel hard. Well I came across this shot of a bad foot rider and I'll assume that York Region doesn't steam clean the seats every night and this is becoming an epidemic in York Region.

I could choose not to upload this photo to you today but given this woman's response, this takes the cake. I took the photo before I spoke to her just in case something were to go horribly wrong.

I actually spoke to this woman that the bottom of the shoes contains who-knows-what and if she and others were to put feet on seats then no one will sit on dirty seats. So in hind sight, I hope she would at least understand that feet doesn't belong on seats. I was speaking in a polite manner. At first she complied and hope all-is-well.

Then 10 minutes later, she still put her feet back on the seats the same way even though I was sitting directly across from her. I could have taken a 2nd photo but there's no point since it was the same as the initial encounter.

Uncommon courtesy on the TTC

from: NS
to: CJ Smith
date: Thu, May 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM
subject: Holy shit! It DOES happen!

So this happened on the eastbound TTC Bloor-Danforth line at 5 pm today. All three seats vacated for the lady in the wheelchair. Not even a commotion! It was like Moses parting the Red Sea! Dumbfounded I tell you...feel like I should buy a lotto ticket!

Don't you hate it when you run on empty and wind up in an awkward situation?

Warren Downe took these pics at Pickering. His observation:

The scene: 10:40 AM Sunday morning (March 30/14) at Pickering station.  I wondered why this empty cruiser was parked where it was.

There was almost no one inside the station.  No disturbance.  No emergency.  No officer.  After ten minutes in the station foyer, I headed to the train platform, where it was just as quiet and no officer in sight.

There were two other cruisers, but they had been parked in the usual spaces.

The only logical explanation is that is the exact spot where the cruiser run out of gas.

Don't you hate it when that happens? ... So awkward.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hey bus friends, you worried? GO Transit union staff could be off the job as early as Monday

So here's what I was thinking ... say I rent a stretch limousine and I drive the 90 GO route come Monday morning and the first person to wave a $20 bill gets a ride. Think I could make any money?

Do you think Metrolinx is contingency-plan smart enough to charter Trentway-Wager or Greyhound or Can-ar fleets for us? Okay, stop, I can hear you laughing.

If a strike happens on Monday, I was considering biking the 11.5 km to the Oshawa GO station (a 30-35 minute bike ride) but I'm too vain (my hair! my makeup!) and also I'd have to haul a helmet and change of clothes which means getting a backpack - yuck... but I'm willing to do it. As luck would have it, I have a co-worker who lives three minutes away from me who commutes by car to the station. She's willing to help me out.

What about you, my bus friends? You got a contingency plan? I gave up a long time ago trying to decipher Durham Region Transit's route maps and schedules. You need a master's degree in cartology to figure them out.

How long do they wait til they open the door with their special key?

Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately? Part 2

Read Part 1 ... now onto Part 2
by Chris P. Bacon

In this installment of Who’s Not Been Serving Us Lately? I look at a Metrolinx capital works project.  Metrolinx loves to tell us how hard they’re working at investing our money to improve service.  No doubt, you’ve seen this post on Twitter.  Let’s follow the link and pick one of the projects on the interactive map.  

Burlington GO station, you say? 

Good choice!

Let’s LearnMore about improvements to this facility.  Wow – 265 solar panels!  I wasn’t aware of that.  Oh, wait, what’s this?  “Construction started September 2012 and is expected to be completed by June 2014.”  How did we go from a proclamation of “COMPLETE JUNE 2014” to now hedging that the project “is expected” to be finished next month?  I don’t know what they’re measuring with that start date, considering that buses didn’t move to the north loop until December1, 2012.

Let’s view Metrolinx’s photos of the progress at Burlington station; we’ll skip to the end of the album.  What the …?  Why has no one uploaded photos since May1, 2013 – over a year ago?  This is not looking good.  It’s time for a site visit.  First, let’s look at what thestation is supposed to look like.  Caution is advised, as the following scenes may be disturbing to some readers.

As of Friday, May 16, 2014, this is what Burlington Station looked like from the south parking lot:

Does this look like the architect’s rendition of the renovated station?  The covered bus loop still requires much work.  I don’t see any solar panels, do you?  The old station, to the right, has yet to be demolished.  Here’s a peek inside the station from the north (track) side:

Apparently, there is much work to do on the roof, fascia, and soffits.  From this vantage point, there doesn’t seem to be much activity inside.  I know you’re wondering – is anyone actually working at this site?  Well, yes; as you can see, this person was hard at work:

That’s right.  There was only one person on this work site, which is one more than I have seen over the last month.  So, who is being paid for this project?  It’s none other than BondfieldConstruction Company Ltd.  

Why does the corporation have only one person assigned to this project?  Note that the contractor promised the job would be completed in December 2013 at a cost of $15,234,000.  At this time, we have a project overrun of five months – and counting.  Do we have a cost overrun, too?  It appears so, since the fine print states the following:

Additional operating costs incurred by Burlington Transit due to the temporary move from the south bus loop to the north bus loop will be reimbursed by GO Transit.

Metrolinx toutsthe Burlington station as “just one example of The Big Move in action across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area”.  To me, it’s more an example of inaction.

Are all Metrolinx projects handled like this one?  With billions of dollars at stake, whois responsible for oversight on these capital works initiatives?

Does GO Transit ticket or tow colleagues?

@dboydd via Twitter

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Update on Labour Contract Negotiations aka #GOStrike2014


Metrolinx continues to be in contract negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587, the union that represents approximately 1,850 GO Transit bus drivers, ticket and GO station attendants, maintenance personnel, transit safety and some office staff.
While we are hopeful that a settlement can be reached, we are advising customers that the ATU’s strike date is June 2, 2014. In the event of a labour disruption, regular GO Train service would continue to get customers to their destinations, but there would be no GO Bus service. Additionally, there would be no weekend GO Train service to Niagara and Barrie.
Customers who would be impacted by the disruption to GO bus service are encouraged to prepare by considering other travel options. GO Train customers are also encouraged to consider alternate travel options to the GO station as there may be increased demand on rail services and parking facilities. These options could include taking local transit, bicycling, carpooling (visit for information on our Carpoolzone program), teleworking, etc. We also encourage customers to load their PRESTO cards online in advance.
We recognize that a labour disruption will create an inconvenience for our customers. We remain hopeful that a settlement can be reached as we continue our negotiations. We will continue to communicate updates through this website, Social Media channels, our "On the GO Alerts" and the Contact Centre. We encourage all customers to check our website daily as information will be updated as it becomes available.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


From an email:

Metrolinx is currently in contract negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587, which represents our bus drivers, maintenance personnel, transit safety, and some office staff.

We are committed to negotiating a collective agreement with the ATU and are hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached. While there has never been a service disruption to GO Transit because of a work stoppage in the organization's 47-year history, the union will be in a strike position as early as June 2, 2014.

We are hopeful that a settlement will be reached, but if there is a disruption we have put in place a contingency plan to maximize our services so that any inconvenience to our passengers is kept to a minimum.

We are committed to keeping you in the know and will update you through our website (, Social Media channels, our "On the GO Alerts", and via our Contact Centre. We also ask that you monitor local news media for updates on this situation.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Run Forrest! RUN!!!

MAITLAND, Fla. —Video released by the Florida Department of Transportation shows a SunRail train crashing into a car that was stalled on the tracks in Maitland on Monday.

The video shows how a 28-year-old woman barely escaped from her car before the train slammed into it.

The collision occurred at Maitland and Packwood avenues.

According to police, the driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries while scrambling to get out of her car before the 285,000-pound train hit it at 40 mph. She was struck by debris from the crash as she was moving away from the tracks.

No one on the train was hurt.


When it comes to fares, GO Transit customers are honest and loyal - yes, this includes the bag riders, the footriders and the door donkeys

from: Steph Y.
to: ""
date: Fri, May 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM
subject: Fare inspections

This morning was the first time in a long time there was a fare inspection on my route. It was also conducted as were approaching Union and I was rudely awaken from my slumber, minutes before I needed to, so I could show my Presto card. Annoying at best. Why before Union?! So rude. I don't understand why fare inspections happen so far apart. I can't even remember the last time one was done on any train I was on. In my opinion, they should be more frequent and at the beginning of a trip, not at the end when all of us are settled or hoping to get a few Zzz. I'm a mom to a 8 month old that can't sleep at night so I'm sorry if I come across as crabby, the train is my time to sleep. I tap religiously but I always wonder how many of my seat mates don't tap and take their chances on a fare inspection. I would say it's really high. I think about all the free rides I could have taken since Christmas and the money I would have saved. You'd think they would aim for once a day, randomly or course, on each route. I'm not a logistical engineer and I guess the infrequency is probably due to not enough staff to go round. Anyhow, thanks for listening to me vent.
Steph (use my real name but first initial for last please - love your site btw!)

from: SLK
to: ""
date: Tue, May 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM
subject: Lakeshore East Ticket Checks

I am fully in agreement that we must all pay our fare to ride transit and that GO has the authority to check that fares have been paid. However, on the early Lakeshore East trains into Toronto, we have been checked 34 times between February and the end of April 2014. I witnessed one person being caught for fare evasion and another was warned over that period.  I checked with coworkers who use other routes to get a sense of the level of checks on their routes – From Oakville – checked once for 2014; from Newmarket 2 checks for the year. From anecdotal evidence it would appear that the express trains and later morning trains on the Lakeshore East have not been checked anywhere near as often as the earlier trains. GO patrons are now extremely unhappy at the selective and unrelenting treatment that seems to be yielding very little reward. I was told by a GO ticket checker that it will get worse before it gets better. So what gives?

According to GO Transit Security, the team of transit officers (late night and special events) and fare inspectors (rush hour, weekend, non-event) check three million PRESTO cards annually and are proud to report that GO Transit passengers' have less than a 1% fare evasion rate.

Regardless of how you feel about your supposedly dishonest seat mates, or the intrusion of a fare inspection, or the infrequency and frequency of checks, they need to happen and despite the general on-board discourteous behavior of others, we are largely a compliant and non-free loading bunch. 

I'll attribute the 30,000 people who were caught as those who forgot to tap in good faith (most of us have done this one time or another, and then fretted the whole train ride, or begged forgiveness during an inspection) and I'll lump in the people who fare jump on purpose into that figure. 

Thieves do no not deserve our sympathy. They deserve our wrath of which I have plenty to give. 

Fare is fair. Full stop.

And to think, I didn't buy a gift

Pushy commuters. Swearing in public. Why 'social thuggery' needs to stop

Everywhere we go these days, it seems we’re being told to mind our manners. In Calgary and Vancouver, the transit authorities have recently launched etiquette campaigns. Aside from not sharing seats with the elderly, apparently some people need reminding that the bus is unsuitable for toenail clipping.

Movie theatres come with the suggestion to save your chatter and texting for after the show. Recently, in the food court of the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa – a place populated by lawyers and accountants (and a Globe bureau) – a Thai restaurant posted signs warning, “Abusive language and behaviour will not be tolerated” because customers were getting “hangry,” as the staff called it, when asked to wait their turn or throw away garbage.

As employee Jess Froment put it, “It’s just pad Thai. You don’t need to be so scary.”


Here's a story that makes you want to say, "Stop the world, I'd like to get off please."

A British Columbia woman who was arrested after allegedly threatening to kill a mother and her three children following a violent confrontation on a city bus has been charged with assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats.

Witnesses say the woman, Leah MacKay, boarded a Langley bus on Tuesday and got into an argument with the bus driver when she refused to pay her fare.

When the mother of three complained about the profane language used, MacKay allegedly threatened the mother and then tossed a drink in the direction of the baby. This led to an altercation caught on video.

Hanna Koekman, who shot the video, said the bus driver then pulled over to the side of the road.

“He just kind of stood there and watched them, he didn’t intervene, nobody really did,” Koekman told CTV Vancouver.

In the video shot by Koekman, the bus driver can be seen standing near the women during the altercation.

Koekman said the bus driver then ordered both women to get off at the same stop.


Hey, did you hear that story about the TTC driver who abandoned his bus?

Here's the follow-up:

The TTC says it has concluded its investigation after a bus driver was accused of abandoning his vehicle in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, stranding angry passengers.

The TTC’s Brad Ross told CityNews in an email that “appropriate action” has been taken, but didn’t provide details.

“As this is a personnel matter, I’m not at liberty to disclose what those actions are,” he wrote.

Passenger Victor Bulario shot a video of the incident, which happened at 1:30 p.m. on the 32 Eglinton West route, near Eglinton Avenue West and Trethewey Drive.


Thursday, May 22, 2014


I can't hear you.

I said:


On this day, 25 years ago, a 14-year-old me was in my bedroom, lying on my purple shag rug, two feet up on the edge of my bunk bed and doing Grade 9 English homework, when a song came on my favourite radio station, 680 CFTR.

It was the most awesome song I had ever heard, second to "I'm Your Man" by Wham and third to "Love is a Stranger" by Eurythmics. The rest of the night, until my dad hollered at me to get to bed, I waited with my Citizen JTR ghettoblaster at the ready, my fingers hovering over the red record button and black play button, with a Maxell tape all queued up, for the song to play again. I think I called DJ Steve Gregory 80 times that night requesting it and the bastard wouldn't play it.

What was it?


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Imagine if this was a GO train - shift's over, gotta go (And if it ever happened?)

Because history (Context would also be nice)

Looking like the Mystery Machine's long-lost and lesser-known, crime-fighting cousin, I found this posting on Twitter. If anyone knows more about this illustration, I'd love to hear it.

"Time" by Kwan Ho Tse

If you were to stand in one spot in downtown Toronto for the past one hundred years, what would you experience? Journey through the architectural history of Toronto. See familiar landmarks from the first days of photography transform to full-colour modern day. Some things change, some things stay the same.
A simulated time-lapse created with elements from thousands of pictures, each scene starts with a historical photograph from the Toronto Archives.
Selected for the following film festivals: World Wide Short, Mississauga Independent, Strasbourg, Cabbagetown, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Planet in Focus, Moving Image, Naked Frames, and Brantford. This also received special screenings for the Toronto City Council, Toronto Heritage Awards, and the St. Lawrence Market 205 Anniversary.
Winner of Best Community Film at Cabbagetown Short Film Festival 2009
Funded by BravoFACT

Time from Kwan on Vimeo.

Spotted: TTC subway cat (real name: McLovin')

I've been trying to snag an interview with McLovin's owner. I spotted him once on Yonge Street, just south of Dundas, but he disappeared into the Eaton Centre and I lost him near HMV. McLovin had been perched on his shoulders the whole time.

Here's another shot of McLovin' on the subway and a shoutout in Now Magazine (second article on this page).

If you know McLovin's owner, please tell him I'd love to chat with him. I can be reached at or by text at 905-442-7423.

Guest blogging! I love guest blogging! Especially in an election - Introducing "Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately?"

It doesn't have to be me driving the train here. If you'd like to hop into the cab, let me know, and we can discuss. I'm totally open to your ideas and opinions and publishing them on the site.

Guest blogger, Chris P. Bacon, brings us the first in a three-part series entitled, Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately?

In this first installment, I start by looking back at this post from CJ, in which inefficiencies at GO Transit are alluded to.

Ever wonder about the effort involved to get that bus you’re boarding to pull up in front of you?  Route 12 runs an express bus (12D) between Burlington station and St. Catharines on Friday afternoon.  The bus is sourced from the Niagara Falls garage, and the driver is from the Hamilton garage.  How is this possible?  Follow along with the sequence diagram below:
  1.  The driver commutes to Niagara Falls
  2.  The driver deadheads to Burlington station, i.e. the bus is empty
  3.  Passengers are transported non-stop from Burlington and are dropped off at Fairview Mall in St. Catharines
  4.  The bus takes on new passengers who are driven non-stop to Burlington station
  5.  The driver deadheads back to Niagara Falls
  6.  The driver commutes back to Hamilton

I don’t know how much GO Transit pays their drivers for personal mileage, but the acceptable Canada Revenue Agency rates for 2014 are 54¢ per km. for the first 5,000 kilometres driven; and 48¢ per km. thereafter.  If we estimate the distance from Hamilton to Niagara Falls at 75 km., then that translates to between $36.00 and $40.50 one way.

Last Friday, I was on the 12:25 trip from Niagara Falls to Burlington.  As we approached Burlington station, I saw the express bus leaving for St. Catharines – it was a double-decker.  Yep, that afternoon a fuel guzzling piece of equipment round-tripped between Niagara Falls and Burlington with no passengers (legs 2 and 5 in the chart).

No doubt you’re wondering if this scenario could get any worse.  Sadly, yes.  There is a two-hour gap in the Route 12 schedule whereby buses do not leave Niagara Falls after 10:30 to before 12:25, resulting in the latter being loaded with passengers and luggage.  If Bus Ops insists on this modus operandi, why can’t the express bus be scheduled to take passengers non-stop from Niagara Falls to Burlington (especially since ridership is high on Fridays)?

GO Transit also operates Route 11, which is a seasonal shuttle bus between the VIA station in St. Catharines and Niagara on the Lake (NOTL).  It’s part of the GO to Niagara adverts you’ve seen so much recently.  If you are under the impression that the Niagara Falls garage handles this work, you’re wrong.  Nope, the Streetsville garage in Mississauga works this route.  If I understood correctly, the sequence diagram flows like this:
  1. The driver deadheads from Mississauga to NOT
  2. Passengers are shuttled from NOTL to the St. Catharines VIA station
  3. When the GO Transit Niagara train arrives in St. Catharines, passengers are shuttled to NOTL
  4. Time to call it a day, so the driver deadheads to Burlington station to cash in the ticket sales.
  5. The driver deadheads back to Mississauga

If planning like this happens for routes that are not even on the map for Metrolinx’s Big Move, how efficient is the rest of the system?  Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.  Perhaps the unnamed politician in CJ’s post has reason to be paranoid.

Who is responsible for these inefficiencies in Bus Ops?

What do I mean by "all your space" and "all your seat are belong to us"?

Over the years, yes, years, I've made reference to bag riders as "all your space" or "all your seat are belong to us".

Case in point:

I've been interneting since 1996 when I had an Apple Power Macintosh 7200 running the Mosaic web browser. My boyfriend at the time was an Apple nerd and a very early adopter of the internet. Our apartment was the envy of all his nerdy friends with computer parts strewn everywhere. My friends just wanted to see how easy it was to get porn - different strokes and all that - ooh, a pun. Indeed.

I saw the internet strictly as a means to learn what others found funny and to share humor with a global audience. I loved surfing - even in Mosaic. I have tried so hard to find viral videos and pictures that were shared pre-YouTube so I can resurrect them here. It can be challenging at best.

In 2001, a web friend in Germany turned me onto this (thank God for YouTube):

So as you can see, it's a spoof.

Please send in all your space or all your seats photos to

Maybe I'll do an all your space spoof video! How fun...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

So this just happened...


Bus with a sense of humour

Map about new GO Concourse hallway highlights everything (almost) about GO Concourse

This map is to show that a new hallway has opened up inside the GO Transit Concourse at Union Station.

I didn't see the "new hallway" at first. I was too busy looking at all the man shoveling icons. Then I was like, there are stairs to Platform 12/13 on the west side of that tunnel to the ACC?! Then I closed the file and forgot that I originally opened it to view the new hallway which is being reconfigured starting today. I'm surprised that Dairy Queen (correction: McDonalds is also noted but with the wrong color background) and was the only fast food chain noted. If I was Mr, Sub, I'd be pretty upset. Based on this map alone, everybody has to meet up at the Dairy Queen. Good luck to your Auntie Jenna whom you told to stand in front of the Cinnabon. She's now lost.

Please be advised that the passageway between the VIA Arrivals Concourse and GO Transit’s Bay Concourse (McDonald’s hallway) will be reconfigured on May 15, 2014. Customers can continue to access the GO Concourse, Bay Street and TTC Station from the new passageway. Please see the reverse side of this notice for a wayfinding map. We apologize for any inconvenience. This construction is part of the City of Toronto’s continued revitalization work at Union Station. This work will complement GO Transit’s construction of the modern train shed at platform level.

AND BY REQUEST (when you see it)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Life flashes before woman's eyes as she battles an express train for her bag

These amazing shots showed up on Twitter this morning posted by Twitter user @Owais_Q who was at Rouge Hill GO station yesterday afternoon.

This woman had dropped her bag on the track and tried to retrieve it while an express train was approaching, scaring the crap out of others standing nearby.

After the train rushed past, her fellow commuters helped to collect what was left of her bag and its contents.

I would never encourage anyone to jump down onto the tracks, not without notifying GO Transit Security (905-803-0642 or 1-877-297-0642) first, who can assist by working with transit control to delay or stop train traffic (VIA and GO). In this situation, no one thought to do that.

Everyone in this story is okay but having worked with GO Transit Security when seeking comment on other issues and stories, I can't stress enough the importance of involving them, especially if you drop something valuable on the tracks.

Don't just jump down. Go into the station or make the call and wait for instructions.

Librarian feigns ignorance in Quiet Zone. Gets asked to move

I am on the Oshawa 753 this morning sitting in the Quiet Zone on the second coach from the locomotive.

While the train was still boarding, a school group arrived with eight kids and two teachers. Everyone climbed noisily up to the Quiet Zone. Breakfast was dispensed consisting of timbits and juice boxes.  The noise level was impressive.  Passengers already seated and who had settled in, threw some serious side eye while many begrudgingly packed up their possessions and moved downstairs.

At one point, with three minutes until departure and with one teacher standing in the aisle, and everyone seated under the Quiet Zone sign, a man who had just sat down asked the teacher standing if she knew what "quiet" meant and he nodded towards the sign. I chose to stay quiet because I was busy observing other passengers' reactions of annoyance which always provides plenty of amusement for me.

It was at that point that the teacher announced she was a librarian and said, "Trust me, I know quiet." I guess those were fighting words because from where I was sitting she earned zero brownies points and no laughter from the folks around me.

So one guy in a suit got up from the opposite end of the train and told the teacher and the students that if they couldn't be quiet, they should sit downstairs.  He was diplomatic and polite. He also looked important, like, CEO IMPORTANT.

As the group collected their things to head downstairs, Mr. CEO was profusely thanked for his enforcement efforts by several ladies sitting behind me. I also offered my thanks even though I think the Quiet Zone is the most counter-productive passenger comfort measure ever introduced.

Now I'm sitting here thinking of all the times I did what Mr. CEO did with nary a thanks or high five.  I guess I have to be a dashing male executive in a $900 suit.

Anyway, good on Mr. CEO for putting Ms. Librarian in her place.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh PRESTO card, why you so hard?

By Guest Blogger Peter S.

It’s with some amusement and much disappointment that another shootout happened at the Twitter Corral the other week with @PRESTOcard, @ThisCrazyTrain, @MichaelSuddard, @GOvoygr, @femwriter, and @ellenroseman participating.  At issue, initially, was @PRESTOcard not responding to questions about cracking cards and the warranty on their cards.  The Toronto Star’s Ellen Roseman (@ellenroseman) asked for clarifications from Metrolinx’s Media relations manager (@femwriter), who responded with the following before heading off on vacation:

I don’t recall any answer being provided in regard to PRESTO’s warranty on their cards.  After returning from vacation @femwriter washed her hands of the matter with the following terse statement:

Where have I seen this game of “ignore the customer” before?  Ah, yes, I remember, now!  Two years ago, I asked questions about PRESTO discounts, specifically, the following clause in the section labelled What are GO Transit fares with PRESTO? on this page:

If you do not take the exact same trip each time you travel on GO within a calendar month, your first 35 rides on GO will be 10% off the single adult GO fare paper ticket. For rides 36 and onwards, your discount will be based on the value of the rides you’ve taken that month.

I don’t know about you, but I found that statement rather nebulous, so I engaged the assistance of Customer Relations.  I’ll spare you the details of the entire dialogue; at the time there were multiple issues with that Web page.  Let’s pick up the conversation with the following e-mail:

Subject: Re: Reference No: 20120092xx
From: Peter S
Date: 5/3/2012 4:43 PM
To: EH

Hello E,
Thank you for responding to my query about the discount schedule posted at  I wasn't concerned about the discounts applied to my trips; RA explained the calculations in great detail previously.  My issue was more with the apparent lack of testing that exercises prior to turning their Web site lose on the unsuspecting public.

At your convenience, could you share with me a concrete example to illustrate the second last sentence in your e-mail, please?  It's not clear to me how "For rides 36 and onwards, your discount will be based on the value of the rides you’ve taken that month" is quantified.

Thank you for your assistance.


Ms. H responded as follows:

Subject: GO Transit ( A Division of Metrolinx )
From: "EH"
Date: 5/7/2012 6:07 PM

May 07, 2012
Fax: (416) 869-1662

Reference No: 20120092xx

Dear Peter:

Thank you for responding to my email dated May 3rd.

I made an attempt to reach you by telephone on May 4th but was unsuccessful.  However, I left a voice message for you.

As per my voicemail, if you have a PRESTO fare card and travel throughout our system on different train/bus routes throughout the month, then the discount for rides 36 or over will be based on the average per trip cost of the adult rides you have taken from ride 1-35.

I am happy to report to you that after submitting the chart that you sent us to PRESTO, and to prevent other enquiries regarding the loyalty calculations, PRESTO has disabled the chart.

I appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention and again thank you for your continued support and patience.

Customer Service Representative

After playing with some numbers using Ms, H’s “average per trip cost” scheme, I decided to call her on May 9 for further clarification.  Ms. H immediately forwarded my call to her supervisor (whose name I never did get), a male with a foreign accent and a condescending attitude, not only toward me, but Ms. H, too.  

This supervisor stated categorically that the discount “is NOT based on a simple average; it’s more complex than that”.  I asked him what the formula is used to calculate the discount.  I was told it would take some time to get the details, but if I would submit an e-mail on the matter, an answer would be provided.  I told him there was already an open incident on the matter, and that he could provide his answer to me via Ms. Ha.  Begrudgingly, he agreed and ended the call.

So, here I am two years later still waiting for an answer.  Apparently, history repeats itself when dealing with “relations” managers at Metrolinx, who would rather ignore issues than live up to the GO Transit Passenger Charter

Queue the music.