Tuesday, March 3, 2015

We lost the privelege of having a guest ride for free on weekends when GO introduced PRESTO so fare is fair

Metrolinx staff still rides GO for free, but plus-one provision eliminated

Metrolinx employees will continue to ride GO Transit for free, but they’ll no longer be able to bring a guest after the provincial agency's board voted to amend its employee pass policy on Tuesday. While it's common for transit agencies, including the TTC, to allow employees to ride for free, the plus-one provision of the Metrolinx…


Nora1968 said...

I agree. I get that one of the perks of working for a public transit company is likely to be that you get to ride for free (and if you work for GO transit and live in Oshawa, that's a monthly benefit worth almost $330) but to also allow employees to bring a guest - on EVERY SINGLE RIDE - is outrageous. The rest of us have had to bear constant fare increases and questionable service and to know that potentially double the number of GO employees are smugly banking that cash is outrageous.

Even though the policy is supposed to be that it isn't a daily thing, I know at least one employee who will remain nameless who gets his wife on every train (morning and afternoon) for free every single workday, travelling from Oshawa, and I'm sure he isn't the only one flouting the rules.

The "free ride for employees" policy is supposed to "help our employees understand the GO customer experience" but unless that experience includes shelling out the highest cost per trip of any major city in North America, it's all a farce.

Squiggles said...

Good. It is a start at least. I would like to see the free ride perk as a taxable perk (like pretty much every perk in every workplace). But it is a start.

Here's hoping it works out well for that one emailer back a month or two ago, the one with the Metrolinx employee that saved a seat for the friend?

Bicky said...

Do we know for certain it's not a taxable benefit? I haven't heard from anyone on that.

I'm okay with the guest provision being removed. At least now, the serial abuse can't continue.

GO Employee said...

In order to make this a taxable benefit, there is a need for a way to track employee trips. Currently there is no way to do that. That would be a major project. You just can't estimate and you can't trust employees to be honest when self-reporting. Then there is the problem of work-related trips. I travel frequently between stations and depots using the train and bus. There's another layer to the problem. Work and non-work trips.

So in usual fashion, it would take a long time to create a dependable system for doing so. Not all GO employees take the train/buses to work. Those that work at the bus depots like Streetsville and Oshawa maintenance depots either take local transit or drive because GO doesn't go there.
Besides, it will take some negotiating to remove this from the CBA and that cannot happen until 2018.
Who cares about the extra as most (from my informal poll) rarely use it. I've used it twice in 6 years.

Nora, GO Transit charges the most because we get less taxpayer subsidies that any other major NA transit system. You want the cost to go down then tax subsidy has to go up. Currently the subsidy is about 20% per trip. In places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, it can be up to 55% per trip and yes, their systems are cheap to ride but consist of nothing but ghetto sleds and in the case of LA, a train that starts out nowhere and ends up in another nowhere place.
Trains, buses and the various tasks associated with them aren't cheap. What's the best way?

Anonymous said...

I always thought that it was obvious employees wouldnt have to pay for themselves. They would essentially be paying their own salary would they not? Transit companies make money off of fares to pay their employees etc. It just makes sense to me. I do agree not having a free ride for a friend though

Nora1968 said...

@GO Employee: I am well aware of the reasons WHY all transit fares in and around the GTA are so high. I don't blame GO employees for the crapshow that is the level of government subsidy (or lack of thereof) for public transit here.

My point is that there is little reason to believe that GO employees, whose cushy benefit of having the POTENTIAL to get $330+ in transit fares for free is supposed to be cluing them in on the "customer experience" are really experiencing what it's like to deal with all things GO if issues like cost and Presto aren't part of their daily commute.

The fact that you might only use it twice in a year and others not at all doesn't change the fact that you COULD if you chose to - and without paying one hard-earned penny. So to extend that to people whose only association with GO Transit beyond being acquainted with someone who works there is a slap in the face to the thousands of passengers paying and praying (for an on-time trip, for heat on their GO coach, for no issues with their Presto card.....).

Anonymous said...

I don't get the angst around free trips for GO employees. Don't we want to encourage GO workers to use the service they support? Most GO workers are not paid that well compared to non-government employees. Workers in other industries get perks. Would you begrudge a McDonald's worker a free lunch benefit? Just because you find the service expensive and erratic is no reason to dump on the regular folks just trying to squeeze a little more cash out of their budget by utilizing a perk.

But wait I forgot, it's government, so employees should get nothing ever!

Squiggles said...

@Anon 3.22pm

What I am saying that it should be a taxable benefit. They could have their ride highly subsidized, or even reimbursed completely through expensing their TRU/Transaction History. It is like the Fitness credit some companies have. You pay in full and they reimburse you the full or partial amount. The downside: it does appear on your T4 at year's end.

Your Mickey D's analogy is false. The workers at most restaurants do NOT eat for free. They eat at a highly reduced rate. I have worked and seen these fees. The public pays $5 for a hamburger, the employee pays $1.50.

Keep in mind: the Tax Bandits will find a way to get their money.

C.J. Smith said...

When I worked for Addition Elle, we had to wear their brands. We got a clothing allowance for this of $300 per month. If you didn't spend it, you lost it. But most of us had no trouble spending it.
This was in 1996. I have no idea how it works now.
There are perks to every job but rarely is any perk "free".
When my husband worked part time for Famous Players Theatres, he saw moves for $2 regardless of day or time.

GO Employee said...

Nora, it's no fun for us either (except for the Presto card which is NOT Go related) when those things happen on a trip too.
I've had the customer experience also of broken trains, no heat/AC and bad on time performance. I rarely get a seat on my trip in the morning and have also had to stand in a train packed so tightly that you couldn't fall over. I've also helped many many people navigate the system once they knew I am an employee. Switch problems affect me too. Being an employee doesn't make me immune to the day to day operations both good and bad. Have you ever been cursed at, had things thrown at you or been physically threatened once a passenger or passengers know who you work for when something happens on a trip? I have. Yep that's cushy all right. A guy got mad at me and dumped a coffee in my lap when I made the horrible mistake of letting someone see my badge during a ticket check. It wasn't too hot though. The guy claimed accident and the TSO couldn't prove otherwise. Ever had to put up with that? Didn't think so.

The only experience you've had that I haven't is Presto and that is Accenture's and the provinces fault, not GO. I thank my lucky stars every day that I don't have to deal with those tools at Presto. The one and the ONLY perk I have is the free travel for myself and a large part of my job involves traveling between stations. We used to get cards and small gifts like movie tickets for long service. That's gone. When we finished a project we used to have small off-hour parties sponsored by GO and the third party company. Not any more, we get cards that look like they came from the dollar store with preprinted congratulatory notes in them. All of the little things people take for granted at work are now gone. Yeah I know it's your tax money but being appreciated like that felt good.

I know what you're thinking. Get another job. I'd agree if I didn't love my work so much. So much that I took a small cut in pay when I started here. Nope I'll stay through good and bad no matter what the customers think of us. I'm going to stay here until I get kicked out. I'll continue to be helpful as I can and as polite as fuck when dealing with customers, no matter how rude, insulting and stupid they can be.

Like I said, nobody I spoke with cares that the guest benefit is going. I don't either. Only the people who abused this will care. Get mad at them, not the majority of GO employees.

My rant is over, think what you want. I may or may not respond.

Richard Roma said...

Anonymous- Thanks for expressing your opinion. I just don't agree with the logic that because you only make $x, you're entitled to get this benefit. It's synonymous to saying that a bank teller is also eligible to take a few bucks out of the till at the end of the day, because she's not paid the best and, well, she works with the money anyways. GO employees should be given a card and reimbursed and then taxed on it.

I think people are generally pissed given the unreliable service, rate increases not reasonably linked (e.g. why 5% when fuel prices have almost halved), and that stupid pilot project that has inconvenienced long-distance commuters (e.g. the last stouffville morning train now takes on average 6 extra minutes just to pick up a negligible amount of passengers -- to arrive when people usually start work at 9am!).

Nora1968 said...

Hi again @Go Employee: By all means, rant away (sounds like you needed to). The conversation seems to now be focused on your experiences with GO particularly when, as I've stated all along, my comments have been reflective of the concept of a free ride (literally) for the collective of GO employees AND whoever they decide to bring with them. But you are incorrect - you keep saying that the only part of the customer experience that you have not endured is Presto problems. That would be because you DON'T HAVE TO PAY TO TRAVEL. So no Presto issues, and oh yes, much more after-tax income in your pocket every month). Like everyone else who reads CJ's site, I am well aware that Presto is not overseen or even related to GO in its management, but since there is no longer an option for GO passengers to pay their fare any other way (unless we all want to pay the full price and buy a ticket every day), the Presto experience IS part of the GO experience. Those who ride for free may experience all the same delays and issues as regular customers but, as the unnamed GO employee I mentioned in my first post told me once, he's "sure glad he didn't have to actually pay for some of those trips". And neither - under the former policy, did his not-employed-by-GO wife. But on the rare occasion I take my husband or son into the city by GO, I no longer have the option to bring them along for free courtesy of a monthly pass I can't purchase anymore.

Enough said. Nora1968 out.

George said...

Sqiggles, you made my day. The thought of depending on Presto trip reports to reimburse someone is totally hilarious.

I can't stop laughing at that.

BTW two of my 4 kids worked through school by serving tables at Montana's and Kelseys. They never paid for food. They even brought food home some nights for me and the wife, again never paying.

Squiggles said...


I am glad I brought a giggle. I was actually being serious. Maybe if their "partner" agency needs to use them for tax/accounting purposes, then they would get their act together and make them right. The Transaction History is normally correct, so that would work.

As for the restaurants, maybe it was that. I worked the checkout counter at a restaurant for a bit and what I said above was true. My siblings both worked in the food service industry: one a deli-type restaurant, the other fast food. At the end of the night the leftovers were never given for free. There was always a small fee attached. But then again, different province, so maybe things here are different?

George said...

Squiggles, GO and Presto are not partners in any business sense. Two separate entities, two sets of objectives and most alarming, two sets of managers and whatnot pretending to work together. That's why when you get a refund from GO, you get a credit rather than having your credit card adjusted. Presto can't share the information with GO. It's against the PCI rules.
IMO if they had given the project management and authority to Metrolinx, things would have worked out better. Probably. It would at least be under one umbrella where a common goal is being striven for. Too many layers of bureaucracy and too many managers in too many departments means that Presto will never reach it's potential. It's been a very good idea executed badly by the province and Accenture.
Until they can actually work together. I wouldn't trust Presto in any way, shape of form.

Trust me, free food is the best. When they graduated it was a sad day on out house. :( We had to make our own dinner on weekends. Bummer.
But they are now working in their chosen careers so all is not sad.

Nahid said...

"I always thought that it was obvious employees wouldnt have to pay for themselves. They would essentially be paying their own salary would they not? Transit companies make money off of fares to pay their employees etc. It just makes sense to me."

I should start arguing that because I work for the Ontario government, I shouldn't have to pay Ontario taxes since I'm paying for my own salary!

Anonymous said...

I am a TSO who rides the train; for free I might add. I will say the amount of "work" I have done while technically off-duty on the train would have benefited me far greater if I had gotten paid for it rather than received a free ride. I and most others do not hesitate to assist when necessary. We take pride in the system we strive to keep safe for our customers; we truly do care. The free ride comes at a cost. I sincerely wish I was able to put my headphones on, go to sleep and fail to care. The obligation to assist and earn my ride is one I and others take seriously

Anonymous said...

I have no beef with complimentary travel for Metrolinx employees but the plus 1 should have remained extended to fare paying passengers on weekends just as it was when we had paper passes. Learning that Metrolinx employees could bring a guest without any restrictions really irked.

C.J. Smith said...


My part time job in college was security at a large GTA Shopping Centre. I was always on duty even when off duty and merely shopping with friends.
Security and safety never seemed to turn off when I punched out the clock. And I never expected a pay cheque for the times I assisted while being just a patron. But that's more pride in yourself and less about who you work for. I didn't assist because I worked for Cadillac Fairview. I assisted because of training, ethics and because I could.
I still can't go into a large shopping centre without feeling "on duty".

George said...

CJ what's with all your double posts lately?

C.J. Smith said...

I don't know! It only does that when I use my mobile. DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!

Anonymous said...

Now that you all have Smug Victorious grins on your faces far accomplishing getting rid of the Perk for Metrolinx employees, I think it's time we came after yours!
Banking Staff, no more "Special interest rates"
Sales Staff, no more 20/-50% goods.
Airline Staff, no more reduced flights & passes

Mr Sandy Beach

C.J. Smith said...

Metrolinx employees still ride for free. No one got rid of that and I don't see it going away so get over yourself.

I don't care you get to ride to work for free. That's part of the job. That was an incentive and I have no issue with it.

Should you be allowed to bring a guest for free? Nope. Only way I'd ever support it is if GO Transit reinstated it for passengers riding on the weekend carrying a valid PRESTO card.

Stop crying. Be grateful you even have a job. And a good one at that.

Anonymous said...

I was actually being sarcastic, most front line staff workers can't take the GO to work because...
GO doesn't operate at 4am in rural areas
Many of us have to be in work before the first Buses & trains are running.
This free ride was mainly used by Bay St Staff. No GO stops outside the Depot's

Sandy Beach