Thursday, December 22, 2016

No offence to the Toronto Star, but we've taken the situation at Burlington GO station a bit more seriously

On December 3rd, my Niagara-Burlington correspondent, Chris P. Bacon, wrote up a report about the disaster that is Burlington GO Station.

This morning, the Toronto Star released its own report. I had forgotten all about Bacon's write-up while still dealing with the fallout of my Mexican vacation (too much food/too much sun/way.too.much.alcohol) and woke up today to a flurry of tweets about the Star article.

I feel bad I let Bacon down.


Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately? Part 10

Special to This Crazy Train
By Chris P. Bacon

Thanks for the regular update, GO Transit

Let’s take a closer look at GO Transit’s knee-jerk response to TCT’s scrutiny of the fiasco that is Burlington station.  This analysis will be rather dry, so if you’d rather switch to Say Yes to the Dress reruns, I won’t be offended.

This typically perfunctory e-mail from GO Transit begins with the following line: “As work continues at Burlington GO Station, we are committed to providing you with regular updates on the improvements we're making.”

I call RUBBISH!  Haphazard updates started in 2013 into 2014 and were subsequently abandoned as Bondfield Construction’s project plan derailed and Metrolinx did nothing but look on like deer caught in the headlights.

The e-mail continues: “Access to west tunnel, west waiting area and washrooms are already open and temporary heating will be installed soon as we continue to finish the in-floor heating system.”

A visit to the site on Sunday, December 3rd, revealed the following at the West end of the building:

Is the droning fan there as part of the “temporary heating”?  It was chilly inside the building.  I attributed the lack of warmth to the fact that no one had fired up the industrial heater outside.  What are you waiting for GO Transit?  IT’S DECEMBER!

Regarding the men’s washroom, can Metrolinx tell us why only one inefficient hand dryer was installed?  Why couldn’t they spring for a couple of Dyson Airblade™ dryers per washroom?  What do we use when that one dryer malfunctions?  (And it will.)  There is no paper towel dispenser.

The e-mail meanders on … “Increasing accessibility and providing more ways to get around the station are our priority of improvements to deliver to you. Next you'll have the option of using a new elevator and east tunnel, meaning shorter walks from the south side. The roof work is also progressing well as we add water proofing and insulation.”

That’s just crazy talk!  Accessibility is NOT a priority of Metrolinx.  My prior submission to TCT  showed there is NO access for WMA passengers between the station building and the West tunnel.  The elevators that should serve that function are nowhere near complete.

What is a priority at Burlington station?  Apparently “Metrolinx green” panels and painted lines in the West tunnel labyrinth.

As far as the East tunnel is concerned, the blueprints show two sets of descending stairs, but nothing is labelled as a tunnel at the bottom of the stairs.  Let’s hope those stairs align with the old East tunnel, which was situated in that vicinity.  Whereas shorter walks from the South side may be possible through the East tunnel, I don’t see that option applying to WMA passengers — it never did.

I do hope the water proofing is added quickly, because — once again — there is a bucket on the floor near the men’s washroom.  This time the problem appears to be more serious, since the bucket is behind a barricade.

Let’s move on to the next paragraph, which states “The ticket booth is almost ready. We are waiting on glass panels to be manufactured and delivered. Once installed, we can start the IT work required and open the ticket booth in the station building.”

Can someone help me understand what type of IT work has dependencies on ticket booth glass panels?  Why can’t the work proceed in parallel?  And why do GO Transit ticket wickets require glass panels with ill-positioned electronic speakers that garble one’s speech?  I don’t recall the last time I interacted with a bank teller who required a pane of glass between us.  Why do ticket agents need them?  BTW, the glass panels are installed.  When will the IT tasks be finished, Metrolinx?

And finally, the last paragraph: “Thank you for your patience. We know that construction continues to take longer than expected and that it will continue into 2017. We are conducting daily check-ins, progress reports, and regular site-visits to ensure that the contractor is building the station that meets our high standards for customers.”

Those words are trite and insulting.  We’re past being patient.  It’s time for heads to roll.

Thank goodness for the website, because it is a journal of all things pertaining to public transit in the GTA.  It has a record of GO Transit’s notice of work starting at Burlington station.  The project was supposed to last a year (to August 2013).  Bondfield Construction echoed that estimate, too, but cited an original completion date of December 2013.  The construction notice posted in May 2016 claimed the station would be “fully complete by the end of the year”, but now we’re told construction will continue into 2017.  The Metrolinx project map no longer cites a completion date for Burlington.

What is the difference between “daily check-ins” and “regular site-visits”?  Who will conduct them and submit the progress reports (to whom)?  Metrolinx’s media spokesperson lives for this kind of stuff, so you know who I would nominate to fill the role.

In regard to GO Transit’s “high standards for customers”, are they the same standards that govern those pristine double-decker buses?

Of course, the ONE thing that passengers are dying to know, this e-mail ignored completely.  When will the family-run snack kiosk return?  We miss them.

Thanks for the regular update, GO Transit.  When is the next one?

EPILOGUE: Construction of Gormley station was announced two years after renovations at Burlington commenced.  On Sunday, December 4th, 2016, Metrolinx and GO Transit Safety officers hosted a party at the completed Gormley station.  Meanwhile Burlington and Niagara Region passengers shivered in the cold.


Tal Hartsfeld said...

I don't get why incompetents always seem to get hired into positions of responsibility.
Are there not any truly qualified applicants available for those positions.

Or, maybe, those who would be qualified have police records for minor offenses. Or they had conflicts at their last place of employment, hence their work performance record is tainted. And other "reasons for rejection".

G said...

It's a sh*t show but hey, at least you've got tunnels. Try visiting Oshawa Station some time, where there are no tunnels or bridges to get off the platform so the only way out is to walk all the way to the east end of the train at the track terminus. Think about that from an accessibility point of view: the accessible coach is half way down the train, so people with mobility issues have no option but to walk half the length of the train just to get off the platform, and then backtrack 200m or so on the other side of the train to get to the accessible parking spots. Brilliant!

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Well, G, nothing beats foresight, good planning and strategy, and good design.

matt said...

Metrolinx' performance at Gormley was less than stellar, so I don't hold out much hope for Burlington:
Kathleen Wynne no less stood at the site of the proposed station on May 17, 2011 and stated that the station would be operational by early 2013.
And so it finally opened on December 5, 2016...
The irony here is that Gormley already had a station until the 1970s when it was demolished, presumably because nobody ever thought anyone would want to commute from there to downtown Toronto.

Unknown said...

Bondfield used to list this on their website. Now not there.

Robert said...

Chris bacon wants to know why MetroStinks cannot install the IT wiring before or at the same time as the windows in the ticket stands.

I believe that there are several reasons for this;

1. MetroStinks only allows 5 workmen/women on the site at the same time. This is the maximum number that I ever saw on the Brampton Station upgrade that took 3 year instead of 6 months.
2. You wouldn't want the IT guys to get cold from the wind created by that industrial grade fan. They are delicate and use to working indoors.
3. It is more fun to try and string wire when the station is finished and access is difficult instead of when it is wide open.
4. Someone might steal the high grade wire if it is not hidden.

Tal Hartsfeld said..."Well, G, nothing beats foresight, good planning and strategy, and good design."

I believe he shoud have said; "Well, G,there is nothing like foresight, good planning and strategy, and good design." This meets that criteria as it is definitely nothing like foresight, good planning and strategy, and good design.

TomW said...

@G ... What are you talking about? If you're at Oshawa and have difficulty walking, get on the first coach. If you use a mobility device, then you have flat and level access from the parking lot and bus loop to the accessibility coach. Tunnels mean stairs or elevators - hardly ideal for those with mobility issues.

G said...

I'm talking about someone getting on at Union--where the only elevators on the platform will land you near the "accessibility coach", which is ostensibly where people with mobility issues would go. Then you get off at Oshawa and discover that you've got a 500m walk to get to the parking lot. Knowing people who use wheelchairs, I can assure you that an elevator ride and a 50m tunnel is vastly preferable.