Thursday, December 10, 2015

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.


Unknown said...

I knew more because I finally started to get the text messages. I actually told someone to calm down when he was flying off the hook because the train came in while they were announcing that the tracks were closed.

I did wait it out, but was grateful to do so on a train! I was about 45 mins late getting to work, so no real biggie.

C.J. Smith said...

Oh yes, lots of people pissed off at the station and while waiting on the train, and lots of comments about how GO never has a plan in place to support train suspension. One passenger commented there should be 100 buses on standby all the time. That's 100 drivers being paid a day's wage to sit around and wait for something to happen.
I'm sure Metrolinx would be happy to bump our fares by 50% next year to pay for such a contingency plan.

Bicky said...

I was over an hour late. We got off in Pickering when we were told that trains were holding and it was probably best to find an alternate way to work. Yes, but my alternate way is back in Whitby, parked in the lot.... four of us decided to grab a taxi but before it got there, they announced trains were running again so we got back on the next train. After a quick stop at Timmy's, I walked in about 8:15. I will say my text messages and emails were frequent.

While waiting for a taxi, there were about 3 or 4 Uber drivers pull up. People weren't waiting.

Ed said...

100 buses still won't do. There are about 2100 passengers on a train at rush from Oshawa when it gets full and a single deck bus can hold no more than 65. The math won't work at all and double deckers can't make trips outside of their geofence.

I wonder how I can get work as a standby driver like that person said? Sounds like an easy job with minimal effort. :)

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Can't fault the system on this one.
Blindsided; adverse situation/circumstances.
Too bad: Can't blame anyone/anything for this one. Just have to "lump it" this time.

Anonymous said...

So so very sad

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you know this but apparently Metrolinx really cares about making people happy.

C.J. Smith said...

The down in the trenches folks at Metrolinx are the salt of the earth. The PR team has been nothing but gracious to me patiently answering my questions as I try to understand how decisions are made and why certain actions are taken. The former president would take my calls personally so yes, some great people work there and do their best to work with the machine.