Category Archives: Public Transit

Only Child asks: Are Toronto buses missing their schedules?

TTC bus today

 

When I was a child, my mom and I would play a mild form of roulette to catch the bus. Our street was halfway between two stops so we would walk the very short half block to the main drag, look both ways, and decide which bus stop to go to. Sometimes we could actually see the bus coming and sometimes we couldn’t. But there was always the chance the bus would show up as we walked (or ran) to either stop.

Fast forward to today. Bus schedules for each route are shown on the TTC website. Any “alerts” as the TTC calls schedule interruptions or changes are posted and continually updated. Those with smart phones can get an app so they can get up-to-date bus arrival times. A few bus stops have digital information with arrival times for the next two buses. Subway station bus levels have electronic times posted that change to match the actual bus schedules.

So all should be working well – even when buses are delayed for some reason. AND WE BUS RIDERS SHOULD KNOW ALL THIS BECAUSE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE.

Hah!

Here’s my experience… or some of it.

From where I now live I can take four different bus lines – two stop at the stop near my home and all four stop a long block away. Usually I check online before I leave to see what’s what with the schedules and any alerts including construction nonsense.

Might as well save my time and eyesight, though because…

The Woodbine bus does run to schedule – its own schedule which seems to be timed about halfway between the actual schedule posted online..

The O’Connor bus – well it will take you for a ride (or not). Even on Sundays when there is no construction in the way, the drivers (and in some cases their supervisors) can’t get it right. Last Sunday I was coming home from some grocery shopping – no problem with the subway, but when I landed at the subway station to switch to the bus, it was “fun and games”. The electronic schedule said that one O’Connor bus was now due. I can take either one to get home. So, that was good. A bus did come in right away and stop on the O’Connor side of the bus platforms. But its sign said “Coxwell 22” bus, which means it was going the other way on Coxwell Avenue. So after unloading the passengers, it drove around to the other side of the station where the Coxwell bus picks up passengers (and unloads them too). Furious, I returned to the electronic schedule on the wall. Now the O’Connor C was scheduled to arrive in 14 minutes and the O’Connor A in 18 minutes.

Guess what probably happened. The a****** supervisor probably gave the O’Connor bus driver instructions to switch to the Coxwell south route because of the bridge work there and a festival being held by the Lakeshore. Meantime the Coxwell buses were arriving okay and people got those buses. So what was the problem?

The O’Connor buses? The C was late and arrived a couple of minutes before the A. I boarded the A. Both buses took off right away from the station like a herd of elephants was after them. (Maybe that should have happened earlier). As the A bus beetled out of the station, another A bus was entering. My A bus was right behind the C bus, until the C turned down one street.

This is a regular occurrence. So is the change of drivers’ nonsense. I don’t know if the drivers themselves are arranging to switch at stops partway along the route instead of the subway stations (or wherever the end of the line is) like they should – just for their convenience, or some you-know-what supervisor in his or her “wisdom” is telling them to do so. But it is annoying to have the driver suddenly grab his bag and leave the bus – often with not telling us why – because his shift is over. Sometimes his replacement driver doesn’t arrive for some time.

Customer service?

I have sent in complaints to the TTC before on these shenanigans, but is anybody doing anything about it?

It would appear not.

I have a courtesy rule. When I get off a bus, I say “thank you” to the driver. But not when they are late or do the driver switcheroo mid-route – especially if it is after dark.

Too bad I can’t afford a cab or Uber.

Will I be forced to hitch-hike?

As for my late Mom – she is probably rolling around in her grave. Or her spirit is frowning. She definitely is not laughing.

Anybody have similar experiences with public transit where you live.

Let’s share stories.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Customer Service, Mother, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit, TTC buses

Only Child’s 2018 resolutions for public transit riders

Toronto transit streetcar – the old kind with little room

I have posted previously on the inconsiderateness of public transit riders, particularly on Toronto’s TTC. Since then I have observed more bad uncivilized behaviour and I’m not even referring to anything violent. So instead of boring you with my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list some of these  public transit mis-behaviours where the perpetrators need to make resolutions to change.

But before I do, I would like to give kudos and my gratitude to the baby buggy brigade – at least 85 per cent who have really smartened up since my last post on this. Mothers and fathers with baby buggies on buses, streetcars and subways are really trying hard not to take up too much space. And I try to do my part for those who take an especially considerate approach. I, in turn, approach them and thank them.

Now, here are the situations on public transit requiring  those inconsiderate public transit users to consider trying to change this year.

1. Blocking the way in and out – on buses standing at the front, texting or swinging between poles (as I caught one young woman doing and as the drive said nothing to her, I did. From her response, she clearly was on some drug), with their bags taking up even more room. And they aren’t even getting off at the next stop and the bus isn’t even crowded. People have difficulty passing by them to get on or off. Ditto on subways when not crowded in rush hour  – people standing in the doorways and texting while there are clear signs by the doors or on the doors “do not block doorways.” My solution is to first make sure they aren’t getting off at my stop and as I go by I tell them they are blocking the doorway or way out.

2. Standing at the top of or bottom of  or actually on steps in subway stations and texting. Not only is that inconvenient for others going up and down the stairs, especially for us oldsters who have to hang onto the railing, it could prove hazardous for the person texting. In rush hour, crowds hurrying up and down stairs may not realize someone is standing in the way and texting. Could be a nasty accident. Solution: get out of the way. Do your texting on the subway platform (most subway stations now have wi fi) or on the level above the stairs.

3. Young healthy people hogging the blue seats which are meant for seniors, anyone who is disabled, and parents with kids. I will give credit to most who do move when someone with a cane gets on the bus or subway and there are a few kind souls (men and women) who offer me a seat  because I am a senior.

4. People who hog extra seats for their bags of groceries, suitcases and even their purses. Even more insulting is when they do this and just sit there texting, oblivious to those who are left standing.

5. People who are too lazy to move to the window seat – whether they put  bags or not on the seat beside them, so anyone who wants to sit down has to climb over their big feet, etc.

All who are guilty of any of the above (and other inconsiderate behaviour), take note and try to change your ways. Remember it is public transit, not private transit. If you want to take over the seats and space, use Uber or a regular cab. or hire a limo.

And transit drivers aren’t all good guys and gals, either. Without going into a long list here are some driver issues that need changing in 2018: those drivers who find it more important to make the light before it changes then pick up passengers just arrived at the stop (probably because they had to cross at that light), keep to your schedule no later or earlier than five minutes for the scheduled stop time – I’m fed up with two buses – same number and same route – one minute apart instead of the 10 to 12 minutes they are supposed to be.

And one more thing, transit drivers If a passebner is doing one of the above five – at least on a bus or streetcar- please set them straight. It should really not be up to the passengers to do your job.

And that’s it. Feel free to post this on your blog or wherever.

And any comments here are welcome, especially if you have stories to tell about bad  actions of transit riders and drivers.

Happy 2018!

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under New year's resolutions, Only child, Public Transit, Public transit riders bad

Only Child gets those life irritations out of the way

Only child in her home

Only child in her home

Sometimes just listing the 10 or 12 things that irritate you the most can help you get going into what to focus on (or not) in 2017. As I often do, I took this process backwards – did my focus and goals first. But I do have a category box for What I don’t like doing/What I don’t need to do.

So, loosely based on that,  (or some of the flip side of my goals) and just what I’ve observed in the world the past year, here in no particular order is my dirty dozen:

  1. Friends who phone and don’t leave a message. How am I supposed to know they called when I was out or otherwise not available?
  2. Telemarketers and the like who leave a voice mail message.
  3. Rain in the winter – heavy or otherwise and heavy rain, heavy winds any other time as well.
  4. Winter
  5. Unforeseeable house and property problems such as water getting in the basement from no. 3 above or for any reason.
  6. Consumer service and utility screw-ups.
  7. Family, friends and yes, me too, getting sick, especially with something serious.
  8. Public transit problems.
  9. Leaders of countries who are dictators (that’s the leaders, not the country here).
  10. Rude pushy people.
  11. Not getting enough sleep.
  12. Going crazy trying to manage my time.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. But I do love many things like gardening, writing and reading. Another blog post will go into some of that.

What are your pet peeves – what irritates you a lot?

May your 2017 be happier, brighter and more focused than 2016.

Good riddance to 2016.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Civility, Extreme Weather, Leaky Basements, Life demands, Lists, Only child, Public Transit, Rain and wind storm, Sleep deprivation, Time management, Weather

Helping lost people turns into something personal

GO train on the go

GO train on the go

This summer I am making it my business to help people who are having difficulty finding their way around Toronto. I don’t actively seek doing this but when I see someone who appears lost – or if they are asking for help getting around – I do my best to help them. Some days when I’m out nothing happens; some days there are a couple of instances. But last Saturday it got personal as my friend K. from Oakville had to return home by GO train and the situation for boarding was very vague.

K, N and I had spent a day at Harbourfront and N and I walked K back to where she figured she would go to get her GO bus. It was where she had exited.

The long waiting room with windows on one side and entrances to stairwells to some of the platforms on the other side was not very helpful. Neither was the Departure schedule on one of those changing digital boards. All the upcoming GO trains and Go buses were listed, but the boarding platform was not listed until five or 10 minutes before boarding time. Instead, you saw the word “Wait” beside the trains and buses. There were no officials around to ask; no indication where the nearest washroom was, and no seats to sit on.

K has back problems and other medical issues. N has a hip problem and I have a couple of digestive disorders. We would have appreciated at least a place to sit and someone official to ask if we were even in the right place. With this Union Station in construction flux, this latter part isn’t unreasonable. Last time K came to Toronto in the fall, she boarded her GO train at the other end of the large Union Station. So it wasn’t inconceivable that there was another place with platform entrances, particularly as the ones we saw here didn’t go up very far in numbers. The wall maps were useless.

So we waited, fretted and oh, did I forget to mention – no air conditioning so it was hot and humid inside. By continually checking the departure board I figured out that all GO bus platforms were numbered in the 40s. I also figured to get to them, you would go to the end of this long room, through the doors and there would be an indoor walkway to take you across the street to the GO bus terminal. Not for trains, though.

Five minutes before K’s GO train was scheduled to leave (they were running every hour only on the weekend because of construction) a platform number appeared. By that time, there were a number of people huddling around and they all proceeded through that numbered door. K hugged N and me and followed the others through the door to board her GO train.

I was so outraged by this major consumer service flaw, that I filed a complaint with GO online using their complaint form. Besides what I mention here, I also suggested they take a page from VIA rail (also goes through Union station but in the main area), i.e., that they list the platforms for all GO trains and buses departing – all the ones on the screen as they appear. The one word “wait” which they have, should deter people from entering the platform ahead of time in case there is another GO train or bus departing or arriving there before then. VIA does this and it is not unusual if you arrive early for your train when you go to the place to line-up, there is another line-up for an earlier departing train. VIA rail also has updated announcements via loudspeaker. That wasn’t happening a this GO waiting area. So that makes you wonder what blind people do? Maybe GO is in some violation of accessibility laws.

There was a notice in the waiting area and GO online that the platforms would be changing August 10 for construction so I also suggested they implement my suggestions when they do their construction.

If they can’t get their heads around giving good customer service to regular GO riders, they need to remember this is the big tourist season in Toronto and if regular riders (K does take the GO but in her area only, not into Toronto usually) get confused, what about tourists?

What do you want to bet that the powers that be at GO Transit all drive cars?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Friends, Getting lost, Helping Others, Only child, Public Transit, Union Station Toronto, VIA Rail

Travelling public transit then and now in Toronto

Toronto transit streetcar

Toronto transit streetcar – College route – end of the line High park

Sunday, I got the big run-around (literally) with travelling on public transit in Toronto. I avoided the subway route where part was closed to subway trains due to maintenance. But when I had to take a bus from a subway station to get to a grocery store, the bus took a detour. Sure, the sign on the bus said “Detour on route,” but not where. No signs at the subway station and the driver made no announcements. Imagine my surprise when the bus suddenly make a right turn off its schedule – one stop before I had to get off.

I charged up to the front and asked the driver if we would be getting back to Pape at Cosburn. He said he would be getting back to Cosburn. The detour continued around and up Donlands Ave. and when we got to Cosburn (and a red light) I asked if he was left turning onto Cosburn. He didn’t know. The bus ahead of us at the light continued straight on and so did “my” bus. Furious, I demanded to be let off on the other side of Cosburn. He let me off and I walked back to Pape (a short walk) in case there was a problem with the regular bus on Cosburn Ave.

What caused the detour? A street festival on Pape.

Why couldn’t the bus have a sign indicating where the detour was? Why didn’t the driver know about it?

So many unanswered questions.

Of course I later filed a complaint online at the TTC website. Seems that I do many of these lately.

I find travelling on Toronto public transit – bus, streetcar, LRT or subway can be a challenge sometimes. Despite the TTC website postings for times, delays, postings at subway stations, sometimes I feel like I travel public transit at my own peril. A little disclaimer here – I do not have a Smart phone (can’t afford one) so once I leave the house I can’t check updates that way. Before leaving I do trip planners online, check for any delays, and make note of the four bus routes where I can board a bus near home. I am grateful for this proximity.

But..

Anything  can happen. Sometimes the buses are late or early.  I used to enjoy subways rides. It gave me a chance to read or observe people. Now, when I get on I wonder if I’m going to make it to my destination on time and without mishap. Subway fires in stations sometimes  flare up on the tracks; signals malfunction; there are medical emergencies and police investigations of incidents (these latter  two are necessary), and of course there are scheduled subway closures on weekends (we get lots of warning about those). The irony here is these closures are usually for track and signal repair and upgrades. So why do these track and signal mishaps still happen? I’ve also noticed that the subway closures for maintenance are often repeats of areas where it was supposedly done in previous’ months closures. What does this tell you?

Shuttle bus service is put on for these weekend scheduled subsay closures. But no matter how many buses are in service, it doesn’t come near the space on the subway trains. So, you get long lines of commuters patiently waiting to get on a bus (if  lucky) or angry groups of people crowding on the street outside the subway station waiting for a bus to get to work. The latter occurs more often when pop-up emergencies happen – such as a fire under some of the tracks at the Yonge subway station last week. That is Yonge-Bloor – the major subway transfer station in Toronto. The subway was closed for three hour during rush hour.

I’m glad I don’t commute to work every day.

But I used to years ago and yes, subways were crowded, but it didn’t seem as bad.

Taking it back even further (we’re in the grey years now folks), when I was a small child I used to travel a lot on buses, subways, and streetcars with my mother. I never worried about getting where we were going because Mom was leading the way. Sure we had to wait for buses and subways and streetcars, sometimes in the snowy cold; sometimes it seemed like hours. There was always something to look forward to – such as where we were going – our weekly shopping trip to the Danforth for fresh vegetables and fruit and wanderings in the old Kresge, Woolworth and Metropolitan stores. I would often let my imagination and sense of adventure take over (yes, despite being a shy kid, I liked some adventures, although not real scary).

And yes, it wasn’t all convenient. Here’s a very short excerpt from my memoir in the works about getting a bus from home – which was not too far from where I now live.

The bus stop closest to 139 was around the corner on O’Connor Drive – that is if you walked left and the TTC hadn’t moved its trademark red and white sign to the far side of Don Mills Road. If we saw the bus coming, we played transit roulette with the streetlights at Don Mills Road and the driver’s whim to wait for us and the alternative – making a hasty right turn and sprinting to the next bus stop.  Once we boarded the bus, we continued with the rest of our travels. (excerpted from You Can Go Home – deconstructing the demons copyright 2016 Sharon A. Crawford)

 Ironically bus service in that area has increased in bus routes but the old Broadview 8 bus route mentioned above actually runs more infrequently then back in the 1950s and 1960s. Another paradox, service slowdowns seem to happen more frequently than back then on these routes, old and new. I know that with the subway and streetcar routes aging infrastructure is often to blame and a lot of that is being fixed – at least work is being done on it. But sometimes it seems as if the work is being repeated in the same areas.

And the timing seems to be bad. Lots going on in Toronto on weekends in the summer – from Blue Jays games, to street festivals that close streets, concerts and all those runs and walkathons. It is a nightmare, but more signage and information would be a start to help.

So would upgrading and fixing those subway signals and tracks the first time round.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Life demands, Mother and Child, Only child, Only child memoir, Public Transit, Toronto public transit, Toronto transit detours and maintenance

Only Child stranded by public transit

Only Child and Mom

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.

I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.

In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.

When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).

So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?

I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.

Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.

Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.

Wrong!

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had  to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.

There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus  route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.

I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.

The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver  where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.

He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.

This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”

And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.

Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.

Now if my mother had been there….

I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mother, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit

Only Child Tallies 2015 and previews 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

I know I’m a day early posting but I’m experimenting – might change to Mondays for weekly postings after last week. Then I wrote the post on Monday but set it to go live Tuesday at noon. But I wasn’t too clear about when exactly I was writing and with the weather timing, it became confusing when it was posted as I had set it.

2015 has finally come to an end. It was a roller-coaster year all over and personally. Here are a few highlights of the bad and good – not just personal. And I promise it will only be some – if I put all in, it might fill the proverbial book.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (in no particular order)

Health:

In the past 13 months four friends have been diagnozed with cancer. The first of them is clear after one year. And my friend next door has a very aggressive lung cancer and is now undergoing chemo-therapy. I will talk about this more in another post about cancer. As for me, I have had to deal with an on-again-off-again respiratory infection for five months, going 85 per cent deaf for six days, new and old allergies (including a local allergic reaction to a wasp sting, an injury from a fall, and a dental emergency. Plus some of my usual health issues. Getting old is no fun. But wait a minute – my friend with cancer is only 50.

Weather – all over it is catastrophic – too much rain, too much snow, floods, floods, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like, too dry weather, forest fires, etc. etc. You name it and somewhere on this earth it is happening. Don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating? Go to the The Weather Network and check it out. My take here is it is a combination of green gas/climate effect and to quote what the lady on the bus back in May said “God controls the weather.”

On a personal level with weather, water got in the basement three times from rain – not a lot. But it isn’t supposed to be happening because it was all waterproofed nearly five years ago. It worked for nearly two years, then stopped. Attempts to get the contractor to fix it haven’t worked, so I mention his name to warn people not to hire him. Nigel Applewaite.

House repair problems – from iced eavestroughs and downspouts, to unlevelled toolshed, to broken rain barrels, to electrical upgrades, etc. etc. The latest – discovered New Years Day 2016 – a window with a non-working lock – suddenly – this is a year and a half old window with a lifetime warranty (well longer than I will live anyway). I have to phone the window company today and being the untrusting person I am from previous experience – there could very well be problems with how it gets fixed/if it needs replacing and if they try to charge me, saying I damaged it, which I didn’t. It stopped working; it’s defective.

Consumer issues – mostly with utilities from the long (month and a half) business with Rogers Cable taking 8 visits to find out the cause of the on-again-off again no service. I pay  my bills so that is not it. What it was is a cable outside between the poles – which I kept telling each of the seven technicians (one was sent for two calls – not two in a row) who came. Only the last one listened – a seasoned technician. He checked outside – yes, a cable needed replacing and he called in for the service technicians who do that to come in. Cable TV service was up and running within a couple of days. In November and early December , the digital cable adapter has been acting up – they are documenting that and it can be replaced if necessary. If so, I may have to pull my senior ticket to get someone to come here and install it for free. I haven’t a clue how to do that. But I’m hoping all the reception works fine.

The other utility screw-up was when I had to change my Enercare heating protection plan to the more expensive boiler one. Unknown to me, years ago. one of the previous companies (Enercare took it over) had signed me up for the wrong plan. The fellow I talked to said I could get the discount for the first year because it was a new plan for me. I also booked a furnace cleaning – included in the plan. A few weeks later after I received an email about this plan with the full rate being charged, I phoned Enercare. Not only had my furnace cleaning appointment mysteriously disappeared, they were saying I wasn’t allowed the discount for the plan itself. I kicked up a big fuss and finally got a supervisor, who said they would check the recording of when I was signed up and get back to me. I was told I couldn’t book a furnace cleaning until then, but I called in again and did so. And I wasn’t pleased with this techs cleaning summary – he never said anything except that all was okay – until I got the electronic version of the checking – my furnace which is 13 years old got a rating for a 20-year old furnace. But I finally heard back about the heating protection plan. Yes, I had been promised the discount, so I have it.

Computer problems – including the old desktop computer with Windows XP finally not able to handle all programs. My son, Martin to the rescue who helped me get signed up with another Dell Lease . Microsoft’s bad move trying to shove Windows 10 at those of us who have either Windows 7 (that’s me) or Windows 8.1 on our computers, including “accidently” downloading it on some people’s computers. That, plus any new PC will have Windows 10, and the not-so-good screen setup for good lighting and vision (tied into Windows) and trying out my son’s Mac laptop has convinced me to lease a Mac laptop this coming fall when the PC laptop lease expires.

Public transit problems – from city subway and other upgrades to service disruptions to VIA rail never failing to screw up the service when I return from holiday – no matter how my travel itinerary is set up. This latter has actually happened in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Never enough time to do what’s important – partly because of having to deal with some of the above such as the consumer and house issues.

That’s a sampling.

On the good side for 2015, I will mention now and elaborate in next week’s post on a few of them.

  1. My family, especially my son, Martin and his partner Juni – for their support, help, etc.
  2. My friends – same reason and for just being my friends – Margaret, Nola, Tanya, Marlene, Diane, Bob, Sheila, Reccia, Ellen, Rosemary, etc.
  3. My neighbours for their help – some are friends, too.
  4. My writing and getting books published, writing books, promoting my books including presentations with other crime writers,  my writing group, my clients – the list is endless here.
  5. My health – what works – I can still walk, hear, see (the latter two have some “getting old” features), talk (some people probably wish otherwise).
  6. Good books to read
  7. Good TV programs to watch.
  8. Cooking, trying new recipes, and eating, too.
  9. Walking around and exploring Toronto.
  10. My garden – despite tree problems. I miss the garden now in the cold snowy winter weather. Spring to fall going out in my garden even just to sit calms my nerves, gives me hope and peace, that not all is bad in the world.

These are only a few. May we all have a good, prosperous and interesting 2016 without a lot of the bad stuff from 2015 or new bad stuff.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Only Child says TTC transit Toronto not the better way

Only Child complates Toronto transit snafus

Only Child contemplates Toronto transit snafus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TTC, Toronto’s public transit system is embarking on many renovations, fixes and upgrades – both on subway lines, streetcar lines (read tracks and signals for these two) and subway stations. It is the latter that is causing me and many others grief. I agree that the upgrades, etc. are necessary. However, the way some are being mishandled with no concern for us the passengers, is what makes me very angry.

One example is the closure of bus platforms simultaneously at two subway stations for over a year – the Coxwell station and Woodbine station. On October 6, 2015 I wrote and mailed a letter of complaint and concern to the TTC head honcho, Andy Byford. Had to send it by regular mail to head office as I couldn’t find an email address for him. So far I have heard nothing back from him and Mr. Byford professes to be very pro customer service, including getting right on the subway and doing interviews right after problems surface. Not this issue – right now he seems more concerned with the mold and peeling ceilings at TTC headquarters.

Since writing my letter I have changed my mind about the new Woodbine station setup. The buses park and pick up passengers just around the corner (and I do mean almost at the corner) from the subway station. So passengers have what you would call a hop, skip and a jump to get from the subway station to board one of two buses and vice-versa. There are also two temporary shelters at the temporary bus “platform” which work well so far. Not so with the Coxwell station. Here are some excerpts from my letter to Mr. Andy Byford, which highlight these concerns.

The planned Coxwell Station setup is even worse – the stop right at the southeast corner of Coxwell Ave. and Danforth Avenue. The diagram from the June 23, 2015 presentation isn’t too clear if that is for buses going north and south or if those of us coming from the north to the subway station will also have to cross Coxwell Avenue and then walk up to Strathmore and along Strathmore to the actual subway station entrance. Same criteria of objection as for the Woodbine station apply with one additional fact. The subway entrance is on Strathmore. Why didn’t whomever made this decision have the buses turn onto Strathmore, line up there to let passengers on and off, and continue around the block as is the setup at Woodbine Station. At least passengers waiting for buses could wait inside the station. With the Woodbine set-up, all the heavy equipment was moved off Strathmore and onto TTC property by the actual Woodbine Station – so lots of road space. Couldn’t the same be done at the Coxwell Station? The buses already normally turn onto Strathmore briefly before entering the Coxwell Station.

This worrisome setup also begs two questions:

  1. Why are two consecutive subway stations having renovations done at the same time? Doesn’t whomever made the decision realize that many of us (depending on where we live) can take either an O’Connor or Woodbine bus from our homes to either Coxwell or Woodbine Stations? And vice-versa to return home? It would make more sense to renovate/upgrade one station first and then do the second station. I believe the Pape Station renovation wasn’t begun until the nearest large subway station’s (Broadview) renovations were completed.
  2. Although there were many things done wrong with the drawn-out Pape subway station renovation, one thing done right was to move the buses to nearby subway stations (like Donlands) when necessary and letting people know. This at least eliminated standing out in the open (Woodbine Station and upcoming Coxwell Station setup) during bad weather and a long hike during bad weather (Coxwell Station setup). Why couldn’t the same be done with the buses going through Woodbine Station and Coxwell Station? There are even fewer bus routes at those two stations than at Pape Station. Woodbine Station buses could go to nearby Main Station – a large station and Coxwell Station buses could go to Greenwood Station. Even if at the latter, buses had to park on Linsmore Avenue, it would be much easier access into a station as the main entrance is on Linsmore Avenue.

 

I can only conclude that the decision-making for these one-year closings were made by person or persons who don’t regularly take public transit but drive cars. I know you don’t drive and do take public transit, but some of your underling managers obviously don’t. How did that one slip by you?

Not to mention the time-line for these two stations’ upgrades.

With TTC fares constantly going up, I expect much better service for its riders. I also believe accessibility is now the law in Ontario and doesn’t that mean even when work is being done to make it so? If passengers fall on the ice because of the extra walking, has any consideration being given to possible lawsuits?

Some of my concerns have become reality. Because the TTC big whigs in their “infinite wisdom” decided to combine the two bus routes down Coxwell Avenue (the bus number changes)  if there are traffic problems for whatever reason on one line, it now affects the other. We had that problem on Sunday, with an annual Santa Claus Parade in the area covered by one line. And I wanted the other line to get to the library, so couldn’t take the Woodbine bus route as I do now.

Can’t wait until winter weather factors in or next spring and summer with all the marathon walks and the like occurring in Toronto, but that’s a subject for other blog posts when they actually happen.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Coxwell and Woodbine Subway Stations, Only child, Public Transit, Public Transportation, Toronto public transit, TTC bus and bus station upgrades

Only Child finds more solace in Aurora

Main street middle of Aurora looking south

Main street middle of Aurora looking south

So far this summer I have made three trips back to Aurora, Ontario, where I lived from 1975 to 1998. Twice to meet old newspaper buddies from our community newspaper writing days; but also to go to Aurora’s  Doors Open and with my friend Carol to the Farmer’s Market.

This is the small town (now a much larger town) where my ex-husband and I raised our son, Martin, where I kick-started my freelance writing, editing and writing instructing career. Where I became involved with community groups from a noisy ratepayers group to a horticultural society, to an arts and crafts group. And through my writing and the other parts of my life met and made many friends. Some I’ve kept in touch with or re-connected with.

Unfortunately, some of the older ones (i.e. older than me) have died (four I know of) and that’s scary, because it means the next of us in age, including me, are well, next on the dying list.

Death aside, just seeing Aurora – the changes and the sameness was interesting and soul-filling. I still like walking down the main street, which is a lot nicer now with the shops – some the same and many new. I can still walk along the side streets off the main street and see the old houses and their front gardens. But I do not like the big condo that looms right on main street almost right across from a boarded up grocery store (was the IGA-Sobeys chain – and my main grocery store when I lived in Aurora). I’ve heard that another condo is going up there. I kept my back to it when waiting for the big blue VIVA bus to take me back to Finch subway station in north Toronto.

I love zipping up and down Yonge St. between Finch and middle of Aurora on these sleek modern buses – once I learned how to use the machine to buy the tickets. It’s easy – just follow the step-by-step instruction which appear as you go along. And the machines are right by most of the bus stops. Service is much oftener than the old GO buses when I lived in Aurora. Same for the in town buses for Aurora and Newmarket – more often and better routes. These York Region buses also do some of the VIVA routes but make more stops.

It was good to reconnect with old newspaper buddies. I had kept in touch with  a few  –  Bob, Barb and Jim  over the years and one of the others I reconnected with – whom I didn’t really know very well back then in the late 1970s, Sheila, we have connected and phone each other and email sometimes. One of my former editors is ill and in a wheel chair but he and his wife want to join us on the next dinner outing there – sometime in October before winter rears its cold, wet, ugly head.

I also reconnected with one of the librarians at the Aurora library that I used to know. Reccia is sometimes down in Toronto, cat-sitting for her daughter when her daughter is away. Her daughter’s place is close to me, so yesterday I met Reccia for lunch at a cafe near her daughter’s place.

Reccia found me sitting on the park bench outside Aurora Public Library August 15, when I was waiting for Sheila and Rob to pick me up for dinner. It was just after the Doors Open – which gave me the opportunity to see the restored Hillary House in Aurora (doctor’s house it used to be called as there were four succession of doctors, from the mid-1800s. I actually knew the daughter of the last doctor there in the late 1980s and early 1990s  when she was in her late 80s. She has been dead for a few years).

I also got into somewhere I would never get in except for Doors Open – the Masonic Temple. It reminded me of a church – no wonder it was originally a church as I found out from the Mason who gave us the history. Currently, this carpeted place has sky blue velvet armchairs along the outer perimeters, a lectern at the back and three throne chairs on a small elevated platform at the front. Empty space in the middle except for a table with a Christian Bible, the Torah  and other religions’ “bibles.”

Carol and I drove up this past Saturday for the Aurora Farmer’s Market. Quite large and quite a variety – soaps, gluten-free baked goods, fresh produce from the farms, jewellery, etc. Yes, I bought something from each of those categories. Afterwards we drove (well, Carol did the driving) to Goodwood Ontario to Richter’s Herbs and I finally got my sage plant to replace the one killed over the winter, plus more rosemary, basil and some thyme. Afterwards we drove to Newmarket and ate outside at a restaurant overlooking Fairy Lake. By the time we got there, we were eating Lupper (Lunch and Supper).

And I plan to go back for that newspaper get-together dinner in October – on the blue VIVA bus.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

 

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