Friday, May 1, 2015

Let's talk about "this"

Over the years (I know it's only been five but some days it feels 50) I've gotten emails from dozens upon dozens of GO Transit passengers who have asked if I would mention on the site concerns they have or if I'd "see if I could do anything about this".

I spent some time over a recent weekend digging through hundreds of starred emails to find them all.

The following is a list of  "this":

"It would be really nice if the windows actually opened on the train like they do in India, especially on beautiful days. Can you find out why we can't have this?"

"How hard is it install vending machines for feminine hygiene products in GO train toilets? As a female, this is discriminatory."

"Can you find out why I can't pee standing up in a Go bathroom. Is this so hard to make happen?"

"Why can't there be a vending machine in the CSA car? I feel the lives of diabetics like my son are held hostage every time he rides the train. This would help him survive a disaster such as a flood."

"Can you write we need more than one way off a train at Oshawa.?!!Pls. find out who has to look into this!"

"How come go doesn't offer room to sleep or reclining seats. Can you look into this?"

"As a cyclist I demand go add a thirteenth coach at the far end of a train where we can put our bikes so we're not treated like the third class citizens Metrolinx sees us to be. Also this could also be a luggage car. Let me know what you need from me to make this happen."

"Why isn't there music on the GO bus or a way to plug in headphones and listen to the radio station. Airplanes have this, why can't I have this?"

"You really need to write about how we need washrooms on GO buses with change tables for moms and dads traveling with infants especially on long trips to Canada's Wonderland or Niagara Falls. Why are we forced to make a baby sit in a poop filled diaper? And when I tried to change my baby once, I got yelled at by the bus driver who said this wasn't my personal washroom."

"GO needs to dedicate a coach as an internet coach with internet access and ports for chargers. I spend thousands of dollars taking the train from Kitchener every year and the least GO can offer me for this is a place to charge my fucking phone. Can you write about this? Maybe someone will listen."

"Why do I have to climb so many bloody stairs to get to a train???? I counted something like 8400 steps to get to Platform 8. Please write about putting in escalators!!! Why is this not possible? This way we can get the overweight people off the elevators since they don't like the stairs either and hog them away from people who really need them. There should be a sign. Fat doesn't make you disabled."

"How come GO Transit doesn't put all the stuff brought into Lost and Found online? Like, why isn't there a part of their website where they list the items and we can just look at it and if we see like an iphone we can call in and see if it's mine. Why should I have to go all the way to downtown Toronto only to find out that what I lost isn't there. this would be so much better don't you think or even do like what the police do on the aunction sites and put pictures and this way you know that hey that's my gloves. right?"

"have you ever thought about putting up a personals section on your website. this was very attractive woman on the train  i was on yesterday. she got on at pickering around and we made eye contact and it would be nice if you could use your site to help really shy people like me get in touch with other passengers. let me know if this is something your interested in. my ad can be the first one. if i see her again i will send you a photo."

"Why doesn't GO build pedestrian walkways or bridges at Union so we can cross from one track to another? Or why isn't there a dedicated cross walk, such as on the outside part? It's so frustrating when you go up the wrong stairs that you can't just go to the end and just cross over. This is something I think about everytime I see someone come up and realize they are on the wrong track."

"Why isn't there Presto readers at the top of the stairs so we can just tap them as we come up? And this would make it much easier for us who forget to tap when we're on the train and we just realized that we didn't tap and the train is leaving in 30 seconds. I mean, it's ridiculous that we have to run down, tap and then race back up. This happened to me twice in one week. I have so much on my mind because of my job. I know I should remember. But does it matter where there. Is there some way to can get some answers to this?"

"Why can't we have all day trains on every line??? You never write about this because you are on the Lakeshore east but you really need to focus on what's important to the rest of us. It's really annoying that you don't care very much about this."

"can you look into cellphone blockers??? there was a place in europe where they have this. do you know abut this? i can't listen to this woman any more who calls her mother's nursing home every day on the train and tells them to wash her mother's armpits."


Skin Man said...

"Won't somebody this of the children" - Rev Lovejoy's wife

Anonymous said...

That's quite the backlog - you'd better hop to it CJ. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Missed Connections??? LMFAO thats hilarious.

Go Doesnt put walk ways near trains because people would probably stand on them and block them.

escalators would be out of service all the time. salt gets in them and they jam and break down. to muc water in them causes them to get damaged. stairs are the safest way to go. Looks like who has the problem is the person counting their steps and im sure if these "fat" people use stairs the passengers will complain that they are taking to long to climb and blocking stairwells.

You seem to be looked upon as a personal therapist/councel rep.


C.J. Smith said...

I think what this really shows is how GO Transit has made most riders feel their opinions don't matter and that they feel compelled to turn to a blogger who, in the grand scheme of things, isn't anymore important than them.

If I were Metrolinx's Director or VP of customer relations or someone in charge of the rider experience, I would be alarmed that these people feel they couldn't reach out to GO Transit first or, maybe they felt embarrassed.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being the one who gets these emails but the transit agency needs to rethink how it interacts with passengers.

Passengers STILL DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CONTACT TRANSIT SAFETY for personal security matters. There is no information on the train or on the platforms. That's priority number 1. Too often I am texted about issues and I get on the phone and I call it in. That's the part I find most alarming. I'm more "visible" than the people who can help.

Anonymous said...

I sent a request to Go Transit and got a response back very quickly. Unfortunately they didn't address my concern at all. A day later I got a 'how did we do?' survey. My responses weren't pretty.

CJ - I'll send you my complaint so you can sort it out. Thanks!

George said...

Those are hilarious!

Escalators have been removed from the Bay concourse because they are fricking expensive to maintain and are very dangerous in the winter. Anyone remember the accident a few years earlier when people went tumbling down when the thing stopped suddenly? That's gone now.

Open windows on a train? Yep I can see a new class of donkey who keeps it open no matter what the weather is.

A car for bikes? How much extra are bikers willing to pay for their own car? Running and converting cars ain't free or even cheap especially since stations are designed for a maximum 12 cars. The bike car wouldn't even have a platform.

Internet access? Come one ya loser. I lived the majority of my life without Internet so I know it's possible to do without for a commute. Vars are getting plugs for charging when they get renovated though. I've seen them.

Lost and Found online? Can you say Christmas shopping list?

First world problems and a bunch of whiny ceybabies having them.

J. Allan said...

As (at least one of) the cyclist(s) referenced, I'd like to apologize for adding to noise your inbox gets about issues that you don't have any control over. In my defense, I sent that email to GO's Customer Care team, and merely CC'd you, largely because I was aware you had little influence on the issue.

George, a car for bikes was only one of my suggestions. Unfortunately, not all of GO's customers have the financial means to own a car that sits at the station all day wasting space. I'd be perfectly happy to take a bus during rush hour to keep my bike out of the way, but alas, GO refuses to run any bus service along the Barrie line during rush hour.

C.J. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.J. Smith said...

Hi j.
That bike coach quote didn't come from your emails.
I should point out that all of these were emails sent to only me. Metrolinx or GO Transit were not iincluded.
I also didn't say these weren't valid concerns.
Some of them are.
The point I was making was how much of "this" I get.
Your issue wasn't in vain.

outburst said...

A few of those have underlying concerns that sound valid but a lot of it also reads like spoiled/entitled folk who expect premium service or huge infrastructure changes because they pay a fare.
There are a lot of things that irk me about GO, many related to my co-passengers who put bags on seats or bathe in ginger in the morning, but for the most part I'm thankful for the service because it gets me from A to B (most days) quickly, efficiently, and without stress. My other commuting options are overwhelmingly inferior. My car, although private, would be more expensive and slower. And let's just say that a Crazy Train aimed at the TTC would be a full-time job.

George said...

Doesn't matter who made the bike coach suggestion. It's stupid to the core pandering to a tiny minority of passengers.
GO is first and foremost a commuter service, it's supposed to move people in rush hours, not equipment.
They allow bikes non rush hour as a courtesy.. Full size Bikes take up valuable customer space and can cause revenue loss and angry passengers who may lose a seat to a bike.

J. Allan said...

"They allow bikes non rush hour as a courtesy"?

My commute requires being at Union at 8. I live 8km from the nearest station, and local transit doesn't connect to an early enough train to make it into work on time. Further, the Barrie line gets hourly bus service non rush hour, but no trains. The only non rush hour service in the morning from Barrie leaves at 4:43.
Likewise, no bus service from 3 to 7 northbound means I have to wait from 5:00 until the 6:45 train to avoid rush hour.

Two bikes fit in the same amount of space as a stroller which is accommodated in the accessibility coach. And by turning the handlebars 90 degrees to align with the front wheel, my bike takes up 6 inches in front of the bench seat at the carriage doors, with plenty of legroom left between the seats and bike. What "valuable customer space" am I taking up?

George said...

So why does the bike need to ride the train then? Leave it in Barrie.

And yes, anything other than people take up commuter space in rush hour. Strollers included..

I've had rude cyclists and mothers with strollers demanding space. Bring fold up bikes and strollers and problem solved.

The no bike rule is there for a reason.

J. Allan said...

I'm a courier downtown. The bike is my work vehicle. I wish it were as easy as just leaving it in Barrie.

According to Metrolinx's rules, strollers are perfectly entitled to go on the train, although they are to be restricted to the accessibility coach. A small stroller has a footprint of nearly 5 sq. ft. (33"X19") My bike has a footprint of 2.5 sq. ft. when I turn my handlebars 90 degrees.

My request that GO provide some commuting option for cyclists suggested a number of options of how to do it. A bike car, running parallel bus service, allowing bikes in the accessibility coach. If strollers and wheelchairs are permitted, then bikes (which have a smaller footprint than either) shouldn't be an issue.

I've still yet to hear anyone explain what space I'm taking up. 2.5 sq.ft. is enough standing room for 2 people in a crush-load situation. However, considering where I park the bike on my commute, I am really only taking one standing space, as the support poles in front of the bench seat only allow enough room for one person.

Unknown said...

Perhaps the cyclists who ride GO trains should do what passengers do in the Netherlands. They have one bike that they ride from home to the commuter station and another bike that they leave in the three story bike garage beside the downtown station. There must be over 3000 bikes there. Most of these are beaters that they ride the rest of the way to work. There is not enough room on a train if every one wanted to bring along a bike. Perhaps GO could mount bike racks on the front end of the locomotives and cab cars for those really intrepid bikers. Just think of the washing it would get in a good rain storm, or going up to Richmond Hill in full flood.

Is there a by-law prohibiting peeing while standing up in a GO train? I would love to see the graphic symbol for that one.

I think that strollers are somehow protected by the AODA. I have a preliminary report that said people who had to wheel around little children had to be accommodated. Having said that do they really need the Hummer size strollers.

I think personal ads would be very helpful:

"Door donkey wants to meet seat Donkey; purpose to make more little a**holes."

George said...

For the last time hopefully, GO is a commuter service to move people and not equipment
How much extra do you want everyone to pay for a bike service for a probably very small percentage of people who want to bring a bike to work?
Try suggesting something that won't cost money and maybe you'll get listened to by those at Metrolinx.
Your commuting issue is your problem and nobody else's.
How much delay in an emergency evacuation would one or more bikes cause if this happened in rush hour?
Nope, you are not entitled to a bike carrying service.

J. Allan said...

Allowing us into the accessibility coach will cost GO money? How?

And I agree that GO is a commuter service designed to move people primarily. But if we're going to say that no equipment is allowed on board, then I best not see a single wheelchair or stroller on board any GO train.

George said...

The AODA will disagree with you about wheelchairs and strollers.

You can't bring large toolboxes or carts with you on the train either. They take up commuter space.

By costing money it means if even one passenger can't board a train or find a seat because of bikes in rush hour, they can demand and will get a refund.

Unknown said...

J. Allan said...

"Allowing us into the accessibility coach will cost GO money? How?

"And I agree that GO is a commuter service designed to move people primarily. But if we're going to say that no equipment is allowed on board, then I best not see a single wheelchair or stroller on board any GO train."

The accessibility coach is there to be accessible to people with handicaps. And according to the AODA that includes wheelchairs, powered scooters and parents with infants in strollers. Some parents have to take kids to different places.

It does not include some moron on a bike in the rush hour who climbs on the accessible coach and stands in the doorway. The last time I was on that coach with a friend in a powered scooters who has MD the CSA had to move someone with a large dog in a cage and a woman and child with 3 huge suitcases so my friend had a place to park.

When another person with a wheel chair got on none of the able bodied a**holes where willing to move out of an accessible seat so he could park his wheelchair until the CSA told them to move.

Next a clown gets on with a bike. When the CSA tells him he can't ride with a bike in the rush hour and never in that coach he proceeds to bad mouth the CSA. When he got off in Union three GO security people where there to escort him. Moral of the story; don't bad mouth the poor CSA who is only trying to do his job and keep your bike of the 2500 series coaches.

C.J. Smith said...

George, you're assuming that all cyclists would bad mouth the CSA which is not necessarily the case.
I'm a cyclist myself and I'm as polite as police can be. If I had any reason to bring my bike onto the GO train during hours outside of rush hour, I would consider myself last on the customer priority list.

As we move forward in transit planning, it can no longer be ignored that cycling is becoming more and more a viable means of transportation for people who don't own cars, or due to other limitations or personal choices, choose not to.

GO Transit, at this day and time, does not support cycling as part of the Green Commute or even as part of the Big Move. And it's understood to do so would cost millions of dollars, but it can't just be ignored.

I don't think you and J will agree. J will need to continue his fight outside of the blog working directly with the agency.

George said...

You may be referring to Roberts post although I've seen similar episodes.

C.J. Smith said...

George, I'm so sorry! Yes, meant to address Robert but had George-ah, on my mind