GO Train

Commuters GO Mad at Rush Hour Chaos

If you hadn't heard it on the news already, there was mass crowding and chaos at Union Station as Toronto Police and GO officials faced the consequences of a nasty pedestrian fatality near Eglinton station earlier today.

Trains beginning at around 4pm were delayed or canceled outright just as rush hour passengers poured into Union Station only to face red and yellow text across the departure screens. Many sighed and cursed as they knew they were in for long delays, and because this wasn't a first-time occurrence for many. In fact, it happens all too often both on GO Transit's lines and the TTC's subway tunnels. Why are we so acclimatized to this kind of thing happening that it barely even makes front page news in the papers?

I'll get it out of the way and say that my thoughts and best wishes are with the family of the pedestrian who was struck earlier today, as well as the driver of the train who likely will now have to live with this for the rest of his life. Obviously my thoughts and/or best wishes aren't going to do anything to make things any easier for them, but let's not forget that this was a tragic death, intentional or not.

That being said, this is just another indication to me that our transit system in the GTA is absolutely broken. Today's accident resulted in not only the Lakeshore East trains facing serious delays and cancellations, but in fact every other line, including Lakeshore West, Milton, Georgetown, Bradford, Richmond Hill, and Stoufville all facing similar issues (see system map below). All things considered, this was a fairly minor accident on the tracks. What kind of problems would the system have faced had there been major damage to infrastructure on one of the lines?

Go System Map

I'm a 905'er, love me or hate me for it, but this where I was born, and this is where I'll be until I make my way downtown early next year. For myself and thousands of others, the GO Train remains the only reasonable (and relatively environmentally friendly) way to get to and from downtown employment on a daily basis. Yet we face countless rather inexcusable delays throughout the year, due to crewing, signal malfunctions, and even crews playing hookey, not taking into account the innumerable cancellations and problems faced in the winter due to the track switches freezing.

Simply put, GO Train passengers put up with a lot of crap from this entirely antiquated system, and at $181 a month for a Pickering-Union monthly pass (one of the cheaper routes, even), they're paying dearly for it as well. While provincial candidates are busy making worthless and entirely transparent promises about greener trains, it would be great to hear about some practical solutions to the province's transit issues.

For one, can we please forget about hydrogen as a solution to anything? We have a lot to learn from many European light rail systems, where trains start and stop quicker, provide more regular service, and are in fact better for the environment that our lumbering diesel tubes we've got at the moment. Sure, Hydrogen is a great solution, but so are flying cars.

Let's get our head out of the clouds here and start hunting with spears before we move on to rifles. What do you say, Dalton?

Top photo by blogTO Flickr pooler --Steve--. Bottom image care of GO Transit

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