Friday, December 18, 2015

Winding down for the holidays -- see you in the New Year!

First and foremost, I want to wish all of you who have stuck by me these past *almost* six years(!) of blogging a very MERRY Christmas (and so does my husband and cattorney Wendel Clark).

Some of you have become good friends in my offline life, and I wouldn't have met you all if it wasn't for this hobby of mine. I want to thank Fred for the best advice ever given to me when people ask me why I continue to do this ...

WHY DO YOU KNIT? Because I enjoy it. SAME HERE.
WHY DO YOU GARDEN? Because it centres me. SAME HERE.
WHY DO YOU STAR WARS? Because it gives me an escape. SAME HERE

Because people read it (*mic drop).

I like to entertain. I like making people laugh. I love bonding over all of this nonsense. I love learning about people's lives, their nuances and what causes commuter rage.

Of course, there's a dark side to all this, and I've had to really mature as a blogger to handle it.

There are things I miss that came with being "unknown" at first ... being confused for GO Transit's Lost and Found department, being accused of being a retired bus driver, being accused of being part of a marketing ploy for Metrolinx, being accused of being a fired and vengeful GO Transit employee, being accused of being the daughter of Gary McNeil (lolololololololololololololol), being accused of being a reporter for the Toronto Star AND being accused of being perfect (you've all seen the comments from people who "footride all the things" and "all your space" all the things).

I also miss the text messages. The world changes. More people have data-enabled smart phones and camera-enabled phones then they did in 2010. Back when it was just text messaging and phone calls, it was easier for people to make mistakes with phone numbers and information. I very rarely get a person who contacts me thinking I'm someone else.

I want to thank BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Melbourne Metro, SkyTrain, SunRail, The Toronto Star, Transit Toronto, BlogTO, Q107, Metro Morning, CBC Radio One, CFRB1010 and Metrolinx for their promotional support, editorial features and the many mentions on Facebook and Twitter this past year. If you've shared this site on Reddit, I owe all my spikes in traffic to you.

For 2016, I will remain true to my commitment to keep this site free of advertising. I'm not here to make money from your time. People think I'm crazy but this is important to me. Where I will entertain offers is for product reviews and restaurant reviews, so I can share whatever you want to reward me with, to thank me for helping with your business, with people who are important to me.

This is my last post for 2015, folks. Hug your family, eat all the food, love your pets and please, keep your feet off the seats!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Metrolinx announces TTC's aging fleet of streetcars now PRESTO-enabled

TORONTO -- The PRESTO rollout on the TTC continues as dozens of new fare card readers are being brought online aboard legacy streetcars.

Following rigorous testing, PRESTO devices are now live on more than 100 of the TTC’s legacy streetcar fleet, with the remaining streetcars coming online by the end of this year.

Work continues to expand PRESTO across the entire TTC network by the end of 2016, with a new, modern TTC fare gate with integrated PRESTO payment to be tested in the first quarter of next year. Once the trial is complete, the fare gates will be installed in the 43 TTC subway stations that are not yet PRESTO-enabled by the end of the year. PRESTO installation and testing will also begin on the TTC’s bus and Wheel-Trans fleets in 2016.

When PRESTO is fully deployed, there will be more than 10,000 electronic fare payment devices in surface vehicles and subway stations to provide the 1.7 million people who ride the TTC each weekday with a modern, fast and convenient way to pay for transit.

Voodoo curses and clackety keyboards

Woman stabbed in Shoppers Drug Mart in the PATH has died from her injuries (this is such a sad story)

It was reported this morning that the woman stabbed last Friday has died in hospital. She has been identified as Rosemarie Junor, 28.

Rohinie Bisesar, 40, was arrested on Tuesday. Charges against her will now be upgraded, said police. Biesar had been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

Emergency crews were called to a Shoppers Drug Mart in the city's financial district just before 3 p.m. on December 11.

The victim was rushed to hospital. She had been stabbed in the heart and was placed on life support.

Police believe the victim, whose name has not yet been released, did not know her alleged attacker.

It's funny. You can show a footrider this picture and they'll look you right in the eye and tell you *this* is *not* because of *them*

I rode it. And I liked it

This offer doesn't apply to Presto cardholders.
So if you want the free ride for your Aunt Kathy, you have to buy a full fare ticket.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lemons! Lemons everywhere!

Plays through the constructions like a boss

After the year I've had, I am thinking the same. There are so many vile and mean people out there. I don't fault the Star for making this decision

Toronto Star closes commenting on

2016 will be the year of the reader on Next year, we’ll be bringing you more of what you want: more photos, more interactive storytelling and more in-depth coverage of the stories that matter to Toronto and the GTA. We’ll also be working to foster more insightful commentary from our readers and engage with you…

Merry Christmas!

Presto fare system goes live on many TTC streetcars

Presto’s not supposed to be live on TTC streetcars until at least Thursday — maybe not until the end of the year. That’s the official line anyway. But the electronic readers that let riders tap their Presto card to pay their fares, are already working on many streetcars on King, Queen, St. Clair and other routes,…

Meanwhile, on a Bollywood set

its from a bollwood movie, so dont worry

Thank you, random stranger, for peeling off your nail polish and leaving it for the LSW folks to admire your garbage art

Something's going down tomorrow

date:Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:54 AM
subject:EVENT ADVISORY: Public Transit Announcement

Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca will join TTC Chair Josh Colle and MP for Spadina–Fort York and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Adam Vaughan to make a public transit announcement. Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig and TTC CEO Andy Byford will also be in attendance.

Date:                           Thursday, December 17, 2015

Time:                          9:30 a.m.

Location:                    Bathurst TTC Subway Station – Street Level
819 Bathurst Street, Toronto

When it's dark on the GO train and suddenly the windows become mirrors

Headphones should be the first item on this guy's Christmas list

I was on the bus. Guy got on. Sat behind me. Some rap I'd never heard of. Full volume. Profanity laced.

645 am is too early for this.

Before I got a chance to ask him to turn it down, the bus driver told him she would have to pull over and stop driving because his distraction was interfering with her safe operation of the bus.

I was expecting some grandstanding from him and some smart ass retort, but he apologized and shut it off.

I guess some people truly are oblivious to their own behavior.

Sorry to bust out some onions here but I learned this morning this dog eventually had to be put down

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Take from this what you want ... someone cut a tree down, just to watch the world burn

The Union 19:40 - Richmond Hill GO 20:28 train holding south of Oriole, hit a tree. Current delay 10 mins. Update when train is moving.

Dec 14 8:09pm
How do u hit a tree?

Dec 14 8:09pm
Union 19:40 - Richmond Hill GO 20:28 train cancelled because of damage from hitting the tree. Passengers to be accommodated by GO Bus.
Dec 14 9:12pm
I'd hate to be on that train

By all means ... please ...

Pas cool GO Transit

I took the 510 LSE from Union last night and arrived at Oshawa GO to a torrential rain storm and no bus.

Metrolinx removed two large bus shelters from the bus loop to make room for a walkway and the new station being built. Those of us who board the 90, 88, 96 and 91 buses are left exposed to the elements. There is only one reasonably-sized bus shelter left and it's unheated and holds at most, 40 people.

We can't wait in the station because we can't see the bus loop. Oshawa is also a tiny station. If you try to stand in the vestibule, this pisses off other passengers coming in to buy tickets and you'll get hollered at by the attendants to come into the station.

I realize now I should check and see if there is CCTV for passengers in the station for the bus loop, and if any of the cameras are aimed at where these buses arrive.

It took 27 minutes for a bus to arrive. I was soaked. Soaked to my underwear. I have a rain jacket that is water-resistant, but not water-proof. It took another four to five minutes for the driver to set up the bus (sign, Presto, seat, switches, whatever else is done)

Not a single text alert or email was sent out by GO Transit to tell any of us where our bus was.

The driver told us he had been "put into service" and we found out that our bus had been held up at Yonge and Finch in north Toronto, because of a broken water main, and was somewhere on the 401.

After about 10 minutes of not moving, a passenger asked when we could expect to leave. The driver told us since he's a "train meet service" we would have to wait for the 520 train to roll in and he casually remarked, "It should have been here by now .. " Several people piped up to tell him it was delayed by 15 minutes due to a signal problem. WE ALL GOT THAT ALERT!

All of us on the bus had now been at the station for 45 minutes since exiting the train, and counting.

Like everyone else, I just wanted to get home. I asked the driver to find out when the bus that was supposed to be at the station was expected to arrive, because that bus could meet the train passengers. We then learned that the bus that services the 553 train was actually "holding" at Finch.

Other passengers were not impressed. The driver looked at us, all wet, soppy and shivering, and told communications he wasn't waiting. After confirming another relief bus was available, he drove away.

When it comes to being a bus passenger on GO Transit, it often feels we get the short end of the stick. It doesn't matter what route you are on. We are exempted from the service guarantee and often, the Passenger Charter doesn't meet our expectations, save for the fact that when service is running how it should, it's a comfortable ride.

We understand a broken water main is not something GO Transit can control. What GO Transit can control is communication, and we don't get enough of it.


Because I know food/coffee/automation is important for some of you

Somewhere around Eglinton my stomach began howling (I got auto-corrected to "howling" from "growling" on my phone so it's staying).

I was like, fine, I'll hit a Starbucks® on the way to the office seeing as this morning was a clusterbomb and I didn't have my usual bowl of cardboard and Tassimo® Gastown Grind coffee.

When I came down the stairs in the York Concourse at Union Station, I was greeted by the new McCafe® food service outlet and its shiny self-serve kiosks. Oh yes please! I love McDonalds® coffee.

I whipped through the order screen, picked an eveything bagel, toasted, with Philadelphia® cream cheese. I selected one Splenda@ in my coffee and two cream. Sorry, trolls-who-think-I-get-paid-to-advertise, I didn't get the brand name of the cream. There goes my cheque.

The total time to receive my food and beverage, from when I tapped my credit card and got the receipt, was three minutes until my order number was called. That's fast.

When I was a teenager, I worked part time as a cashier for both Dominion and Loblaws®. We used to have scanning and bagging tests (Dominion was hardcore about this). My average time for a 40 item order with 10 items requiring the scale and a code was eight minutes. The old-timers (or lifers as us part-timers called them) were even faster, clocking in at six minutes. Accuracy was 99%. I always screwed up on parsley vs. any other herb. When I saw those green leafy things coming down the belt, I would start to sweat. Everything was parsley to me. Since all the herbs were priced at 79 cents a bunch (this was the early 90s) I used to ring everything in as parsley. Later I learned I was the reason why our Loblaws location had the largest section for parsley, and why no one could ever find dill or cilantro. I got schooled in the back office about the importance of inventory control and my head cashier printed out this poster for me to use so I would get the herbs right. It became a HUGE inside joke.

Here's a pic of my food order. It would have been nice if my bagel had been sliced, but that would have required someone sacrificing their personal best of three minutes. I totally get it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Go ahead and stick your head out the window!

Looks like Heaven opening up to embrace us all in the warmth of Jesus

Let's talk about dishwashers and washing machines... and what we do to help others

I have a friend who I love with all my heart who has been through the worst of the worst these past 10 years -- her first born son was killed by a person street racing; the grief and stress broke down her marriage, depression set in; unable to keep working she had to give up her job at a GTA school board as a behavioural therapist working with children with special needs; she lost her house and I took her in, her ex-husband used her homelessness to take her two youngest children away; she met a man who took advantage of her vulnerability and beaten soul to manipulate, abuse and control her; she escaped him, once, fleeing to my house where she stayed for six weeks before learning the court was willing to give her shared custody with her girls if she returned to the relationship; I cried for three days straight after she left. Our bond is one of a kind. I can't put it into words.

Furious that I had helped her escape the first time, her "boyfriend" took away her cellphone, changed all her internet passwords and forbade her from contacting me and banned me from their home. I used to fantasize about driving over there in the middle of the night and taking him on. I was never afraid of him but I always worried what he would do to her if I tried something.

It has taken the past year for her to work up the nerve, build up the strength and put a plan in place to leave him. She did this all by herself. She squirreled away personal items at her eldest daughter's apartment whenever her "boyfriend" would allow her to visit, and then one day this past June, she told her "boyfriend" her youngest daughter had a homework date with a neighbourhood kid down the street on a project that was for school and it was mandatory. She walked both her girls out of the house with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They walked past the neighbour's house and up to a main road so she could hail a cab. With no money, she begged the cab driver to take her to a woman's shelter and he did. I've been unable to track down this cab driver so I could personally pay him for the almost one hour drive and most importantly, to thank him.

In three months, she managed to secure housing, financial assistance, enroll her girls in a new school, found a lawyer to help deal with the custody issues and is learning to survive on $490 a month. Three days after she moved in, I ransacked my house and filled my car with towels, blankets, pillowcases, furniture and drove it all to her. Halfway there, I stopped at a co-worker and good friend's house whose husband handed me over a box of pantry staples and bags of clothing and bedding. When I got to my friend's house, she was so overwhelmed with my car full of stuff we just stood on the driveway for a long time hugging each other (it had been three years since I'd seen her) while she struggled not to break down. I told her how proud I was of her. I told her I just wanted her safe.

I took her second eldest daughter shopping for winter boots. I bought bulk cereal and laundry baskets. I sat down with her and worked out a grocery budget. I helped wash clothes by hand in her kitchen sink and we draped them all over the house to dry, all the while saying, this isn't funny now, but when we're old and gray, we'll remember the day we did this and laugh. We discovered we could dry socks and underwear in the oven at the lowest temperature. I drove home and began to think about Christmas and washing machines.

When I returned from vacation, my husband broke the news that our dishwasher had died. It had been a long, drawn-out death and finally this past Saturday night, its pump just stopped (it had already had a transplant in the summer) and Chad respected my do not resuscitate order. It went out with a bang by throwing up spaghetti sauce filled water all over our wood floor. While shopping for a new dishwasher, I decided we would also replace our washing machine and give our old one (which is six years new) to my friend.

While I was walking around Home Depot, it wasn't lost on me how lucky I am to be in a position to make a decision to replace a working appliance just because I can.

I can't fix everything that has gone wrong in my friend's life. If I can make things more comfortable for her, I will. My other friends who know of her have kindly offered up furniture, clothing, a turkey, electronics, shoes and toiletries. My friend worries people are pitying her, or feeling sorry for her.

They're not.

I know you are reading this. You're my best friend. There's no judgement. There's no pity. Where others have abandoned you, I have stayed the course. I may not have agreed with some decisions you may have made, but no way am I in ANY position to judge. I'm here to help you when you stumble. Others want to simply lift you up.

All I want is for you to have some personal comforts this Christmas, some presents for your girls to open, food on the table and a washing machine humming away in the basement.

Commenting is disabled on this story.

Thank you!

Boston train carrying 50 passengers leaves station with no driver


from:F R
date:Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 7:51 AM
subject:some comments

Hi there Cindy
Far beit for me to tell you how to run things but I find when you mess with your site its super aggrivating. And this whole having to prove I'm not a robot is aqlso annoying. I also noticed that commenting is way down so I'm probably not alone. People don't like having to be forced to do something online.
I can understand why you put no more anonymous commenting but my concern is privacy when you are excpecting people to use personal google acconts which means you can then know who we are and also get access to our internet activuy. This also means strangers can look us up too and I don't want people creeping my facebook or trying to see where I work.
I notyiced when I clicked on your name for eg. I can get to your youtube account and I can watch all your videos. Maybe that's ok for you since you are a public figure but I really value my privacy and I don't want people to just clck on my name and now they know all about me.
Just my 2 cents.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for listening

Let me reassure everyone that I am not infringing on anyone's privacy by asking you to sign in to comment. It is up to you to control your online life and manage your privacy settings for all your online accounts. My videos are public because I chose to make them public.
I'm sorry many have found the new rules for commenting inconvenient but don't blame me. Blame the people who can't conduct themselves with maturity and remain disrespectful, rude and abuse the comment section with insults. They forced my hand and ruined it for everyone.
So job well done.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In case you missed it. This happened.

Mathing the lost revenue

YES! BRING ME ALL THE RANTS! (p.s. thanks for your note at the end)

from:R S
date:Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 9:32 AM
subject:You dare to look at me?

Thought I'd share this rant with you.

Still shaking my head over this one.....almost every day this lady gets on the train at Unionville in Markham and promptly starts talking on the phone. How much can you say at 630 am for almost and hour every morning I just don't understand.

So I turned around to see who was making this racket and saw it was her. Ok whatever. Went back to reading the news. A few mins later we get a visit for fare inspections and all is well.

This lady decides to run up to one of the GO Transit officers and asks that I be arrested for giving her a dirty look. Say what?! Serious?

I could overhear the conversation and the Officer asked if I verbally abused her? Nope. Physically assault her? Nope. Well there isn't a fine for someone giving you a dirty look.

So what does the deranged woman do? Come sit next to me to start a fight. I told her she was strange and got up and left to the QZ. Sorry, not falling into your trap.

What is wrong with people today?! Every little stupid thing offends at least one person. Jesus Christ!

I took a stealth picture of her just in case she does something stupid and I need to contact GO/Metrolinx.

Hope you had a nice vacation Cindy. Glad to have you back.

Sometimes it's just best to stay the course?

A chemical fire on Chemical Court (it's like it was destined to happen) in Scarborough, just east of Guildwood GO Station this morning, was serious enough when it first broke out that Toronto Fire recommended all train service from Oshawa to Union be suspended. This decision was made around 6:35 am. I was on the bus.

Since I can't hold my breath for more than 29 seconds, I appreciate that GO Transit wasn't willing to roll trains through a blaze of ammonia/sulfate/acid/pick-a-noxious-chemical, especially when it was not known if whatever was on fire posed a health hazard or not.

What I found incredible was how I knew more information than my very own bus driver about what was happening with train service

When I got on, she had no idea trains were holding and some had been cancelled. It took her almost seven minutes to get an update from communications who sounded like they were busy calling back buses or rearranging buses to provide shuttle service. She herself was told to reroute to provide service to Yorkdale.

I really feel for the drivers. They are always the last to know about what's happening with train service.

As we got closer to Oshawa GO station, she was advising passengers not to board and to seek alternate routes. Several people on the bus ignored me, and another passenger, as we read out the text alerts we were getting about how the fire was contained. I suggested people just stay the course since it sounded like service would be resumed sooner than what was originally thought. By the time we arrived at the station, there were only seven of us left on the bus. Oh well. We tried.

The 7:15 train was holding and by 7:20 we learned trains we were being allowed to proceed. I arrived at Union six minutes later than usual.

It's always hard to figure out what the best option is in these situations. My first option is always to pack it in and go home, but sometimes, there's some merit in staying the course.

And again, I really have to commend GO Transit's communication team with their efforts in managing this incident, but the communication with the bus network is in sore need of improvement.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

TTC Wi-Fi users need Twitter accounts this month

The TTC may have expanded its free Wi-Fi offering this month to another four stations. But the number of riders who can access it has been temporarily confined to those with Twitter accounts.

The social media company has a sponsorship agreement with BAI Canada, the TTC’s internet provider, for the month of December making internet access…

Photo on Twitter shows train coach GO Transit immediately took out of service after racist graffiti reported last month

But at least the driver made the train!

Late summer fight on Mississauga Miway bus uploaded to LiveLeak last week results in arrests and leaves questions about driver's inaction

from:L, A
to:"C.J. Smith ("
date:Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 5:38 PM
subject:for when you return from sunnier climes

You may be inundated with this when you get back, but in case nobody else bottom-feeds at LiveLeak…

I tweeted this to Peel Police who responded back this incident had been investigated. All the parties had been interviewed and arrests had been made.

According to Roy Kenealy, Superintendent of Operations at MiWay, this fight happened on September 30 near Meadowvale Town Centre and the video was uploaded early in the afternoon on December 4.

City News reported Kenealy as saying the protocol for this type of situation is to immediately pull the bus over and contact enforcement officials.

Kenealy told CityNews they are reviewing the driver’s actions that day. As to whether the driver should have stopped sooner, Kenealy said, “That’s something we’re going to have to look into. He stopped when he got to (Meadowvale Town Centre)."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Spitting on GO Transit property now carries a $100 fine

But wait, there's more!

Pigeons, chickadees, iguanas, snakes and now this

Meanwhile, in Ottawa

Mathing the new fare increase

One of the biggest news items from last week in the world of all things GO was the 5% fare increase.

The fare increase financially pummels those who travel from afar but leaves those who come in from Toronto stations paying the same cash fare they currently do. The reasoning for this is that the shorter length of travel has to remain fair. The TTC is still cheaper and that pilot project with the Metropass is a dud, so why is Metrolinx still bending over backwards for Toronto folks? GO Transit wasn't built for Toronto. It's the suburb people who should be woo'ed.

But wait! Apparently we are ... Presto card users will see a discount of 1.5% more!

As an Oshawa passenger, after February 2016, I'll pay $344.40 for 40 one-way trips a month, up from $329.30. That's $15.10 more each month, give or take a couple of dollars for shorter months.

This online fare calculator will help you budget for what's to come.

And if you do drive to the GO station and you have a car payment, that's a lot of money just to get to work. Thank goodness parking at the station is free, right?

We've been hit with increases for the past five years. There appears to be no end in sight, but all day GO service isn't cheap, new coaches cost money and those double-decker buses are almost a million dollars each; and Metrolinx has ordered several more. It all has to get paid for somehow.

It's scary to think that in two years, it could very well cost close to $400 a month for the majority of us to get to work each day (it doesn't matter if you drive or take the bus - there's no financial incentive to do so).

I have one friend who is realizing it will no longer be worth it to work at a downtown office job when 17% of her monthly pay is eaten by fare costs on top of paying for daycare. Unlike others, she doesn't get a cost of living increase each year.

I don't know what advice to give her.

It's good to be back

The beautiful BURNT turkey greeted me this morning in the York Concourse.

Welcome home!