Tag Archives: GO Transit

03 Feb

Braving the Extreme Cold in the Universe’s Center

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s visit to the Center of the Universe:

1. En route to Fairview Mall, I spotted a cyclist on Geneva Street with no helmet, no light and apparently no brain. Same goes for the cyclist who boarded the GO bus and got off at Beamsville, though at least the cyclist on Geneva had the benefit of street lights. Out on South Service Road at the Ontario Street exit, all the cyclist had for illumination was the light from the full moon.

2. Being a weekday, I was surprised that there were only a handful of people boarding at Fairview Mall, but then again, GO has increased the frequency of buses in the morning and afternoon peak hours.

3. There was a new message on the display inside the GO bus warning passengers, “Get serious about safety. The bus is bigger than you are.” People who need reminding that a double-decker monstrosity is bigger than they are shouldn’t be allowed out on their own.

4. GO has installed a new shelter at the lightly used Beamsville stop, yet they still don’t have one at the much busier stop at Nash and Barton. Sigh. But at least there’s the nearby Wholesale Club.

5. Dear City of Hamilton: There are holes in Kenora Street so big that a bus or a big rig could lose a wheel in. It doesn’t need patching, it needs to be completely repaved. Yesterday. This is not Winnipeg.

6. I watched as a heavyweight got off at Nash and Barton and waddled across the parking lot trying to catch a Barton bus. In a classic Winnipeg Transit moment, the bus took off just as she got to the stop. Not cool, HSR. You’re better than that.

7. Listening to that heavyweight pant and wheeze as she climbed up the stairs after getting on at Grimsby made me wonder why she didn’t stay down below since she was just getting off at Stoney Creek. It’s not like the bus was packed and there were no available seats.

8. I also noticed how that heavyweight came prepared with a heavy parka, yet didn’t bother to zip it up or put up her hood. No doubt she spent the morning complaining about the cold.

9. Recognizing people on the GO bus from past trips including the aforementioned heavyweight and cyclist in Beamsville made me realize just how much tenure I have acquired in this part of the world. Much to our mayor’s chagrin, I’m sure.

10. Just as the case on the return trip, the GO bus driver greeted each passenger upon boarding and thanked us as we got off. It sure beats the F-you treatment in the Old Country.

11. During the relatively uneventful ride on the express train to Union Station, I was seated opposite a middle-aged woman in a surly disposition who obviously did not get enough sleep last night.

12. The Danish Pastry House is one of a number of trendy eateries that have popped up in Union Station recently. Judging from the Tim Hortons-esque line, it seems to be popular.

13. I just missed a train in the subway and had to wait a whole minute for the next one. First world problems.

14. Can you imagine how often an alarm like this would get “misused” if they dared to install such a thing on Winnipeg Transit buses?

15. Obligatory shot aboard the subway:

16. Not long after having to wait that whole minute for the next train, I had to get off at the St. Clair West station since the one I was on was a rush-hour train and as such, was only going as far as Glencairn. I could have also transferred at Eglinton West or Glencairn itself, but as they advised in the announcement, if you wanted to wait indoors, St. Clair West was the best option.

17. Following the hour-long ride mostly underground, I got off at Vaughan Metropolitan Center, the new station which just opened in December as part of the Line 1 extension project.

Adjacent is a parking lot for subway riders as well as this new bus station still under construction as part of a rapidway being built in the middle of Highway 7. When completed, passengers getting off a York Regional Transit bus will be able to go below and catch the #1 line to downtown Toronto. All while Winnipeg is still farting around with Rapid Transit and more concerned about opening up Portage and Main to pedestrians.

18. Before approaching the Vaughan Metropolitan Center, there was an automated announcement saying that it was the terminal station. Not a big oaf behind the wheel bellowing out “TERMINUS” at the top of his lungs as I encountered last April while riding the STO in Gatineau.

19. Within a minute of getting to street level, I was approached by someone asking for directions to a DriveTest center. Sadly, not having been around there before, I couldn’t help the guy other than to point him the way to the subway station.

20. While getting some shots of the 407 ETR from the overpass at Jane Street, a truck from Bison Transport passed by and was soon followed by a truck from Gardewine. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does keep following me around.

20a. Bonus points for those who know where Manitoba’s 407 is. Or was.

21. After supplementing my collection of highway pictures, I walked along the newly constructed sidewalk leading to the Highway 407 station to catch the #1 line back to downtown Toronto.

In the latter shot, note how the sidewalk ends abruptly, forcing passengers to walk across the grass. This mysterious and Manitoba-esque design faux-pas isn’t an issue for an able-bodied person like me, but I can imagine the trouble anyone in a wheelchair or even someone who walks with a cane would have. There wasn’t even a ramp to allow such people to easily get off the sidewalk and onto the street.

22. Unlike the case in Union Station, the gates at this new station were clearly marked as to which one to use with each Presto card reader and there was no turnstile, just a Plexiglas door that opened after tapping.

23. Waiting at the Highway 407 station:

24. En route back to downtown Toronto, there was an announcement that trains were holding at Yorkdale because of a medical emergency. Minutes later, however, it was taken care of and trains were again moving. In the Old Country, police would have taken great pleasure in using such a circumstance to shut the entire service down for the day. Just because they could.

25. Spotted on the train was an ad saying that two of the three signs of mental illness can’t be seen. Oh, but they can. At the ballot box. After all, look how many Liberals still hold public office.

26. Also spotted on the train were two people using their laptops. No one would dare to do such a thing on a Winnipeg Transit bus for fear of it promptly being stolen, smashed and/or used as a toilet.

27. A guy with a Glad bag slung over his shoulder was going up and down the train asking people for spare change in multiple languages including gibberish. No one gave him anything, but I suppose it’s just because Toronto isn’t a compassionate city, another of the empty phrases our mayor continues to spew ad nauseum.

28. I got a pretty good whack on the knee from the excess blubber of a woman who sat down in front of me.

29. At the Osgoode station where I got off, children were collecting for Toronto’s homeless youth. Again, they didn’t get any donors from those of us who piled off the train. Cue the nauseating “compassionate city” lines from our mayor.

30. Even the rat dog vendors weren’t open in this “extreme cold.” Toronto was under an extreme cold warning even though it was only -11 when I left the house. The standard as to what is considered extreme cold certainly differs greatly from the Old Country, where -40 wind chills are par for the course at this time of year.

31. You think they use enough salt in this part of the world?

32. Scenes from the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square. It’s a wonder it wasn’t closed because of the “extreme cold.”

33. Or just let the law of natural selection run its course …

34. Several doors, including this one, were closed at the Queen Street entrance at the Eaton Center due to the “extreme cold.” It’s OK to laugh.

35. You know, if there really was a fire, I think that not having this fire hose available would be a little more than an “inconvenience.”

36. On the return trip, I noticed a woman who got off at Port Credit wearing leather boots that went way up past her knees. How people walk in such things is beyond me.

37. An older guy who got on at Clarkson bore a striking resemblance to Carl Bugenhagen, the exorcist in the first two Omen movies played by Leo McKern. As far as I know, he wasn’t carrying a box with daggers inside.

38. While waiting at the Burlington GO station for the #12 bus, I laughed as everyone went charging outside at the first sign of a bus only to realize that it wasn’t the Niagara-bound bus they were looking for. The bus’s destination was clearly labeled and plainly visible from inside the station, but you’ve got to look.

39. Among those waiting at the Burlington GO station was a guy with mental-health issues who was serenading the group with his own special brand of melodic ramblings. Though he continued to entertain us from the back of the bus after getting on, thankfully, he seemed to lose interest near Stoney Creek.

40. I remain grateful for GO’s express bus to the Falls that siphons off much of the riff-raff.

41. Being a weekday, I was surprised that most passengers boarding the #12 bus did not pay with Presto.

42. Our GO bus driver was otherwise very good, but an oncoming car he royally cut off pulling out of the Grimsby station had to swerve to avoid a collision.

43. So when there aren’t high winds on the skyway, it’s OK not to drive carefully?

44. As I’ve said before, you think they use enough salt in this part of the world?

 

17 Jan

Day Trip to Hamilton

Observations and pictures from my day trip to Hamilton yesterday:

1. Sitting across the aisle on the GO bus was the quintessential country bumpkin who looked like he really did just fall off a turnip truck. With a torn coat and toting all his worldly possessions inside two duffel bags, he was certainly well prepared for his journey. Inside a clear plastic pouch bound with an elastic band was a Niagara Falls Transit rider guide and almost as many HSR schedules as you’ll see at the MacNab Transit Terminal. He was particularly interested in the #41 Mohawk and #2 Barton routes. Later, he kept himself busy studying the fine print on the back of his Presto card and had the time to pour himself some coffee out of his thermos before we got to Stoney Creek.

2. Boarding at Fairview Mall was an obese woman with multicolored fingernails pushing a stroller who evidently still felt she needed to eat for two even though she had already long since given birth. Oddly, this would be the only stroller I would spot on the day, despite two subsequent trips on the Barton bus, a route that seemingly features a two-stroller minimum per trip.

3. Though he wasn’t driving unsafely, our driver took the “GO” logo emblazoned on his uniform a little too literally. Among the many semis he passed was one from Lockport, GSNY.

4. Inside the shelter at Nash and Barton was another heavyweight giving the seat one heck of a good stress test, but like a Timex watch, it took a licking but kept on ticking. Kudos to the engineers who designed it.

5. Spotted along the route downtown were signs stating “We fix eyeglass” and “Thousands of item, every day.” There was also a grocery store with an “Aunt Jemina” product on sale. Perhaps it was a knockoff of the more popular Aunt Jemima brand.

6. Also spotted along Barton was “Genuine Bakery.” Gotta watch out for those fake bakeries. Farther west, there was a caterer taking new orders for 2017.

7. At Gage Avenue, the HSR driver stopped and waited for a senior struggling with her cart a half block from the stop as well as someone across the street who wanted to catch the bus. Once again, this is not Winnipeg Transit.

8. Farther west, some dude boarded with cannabis leaf symbols all over his jacket. Who do you suppose he voted for in the most recent federal election?

9. Along the sidewalk was some spaced-out guy marching to the beat of his own drum. A drum that had a hole in it.

10. Just past Hamilton General was a city garbage truck with a big sign on the side stating “Put fruit stickers in the garbage.” Is it really that big of a deal there?

11. More pandering to the privileged, courtesy of CBC, the state propagandist. Your tax dollars at work.

12. The West Harbor GO station, one that those of us in Niagara will be seeing out the window from the proposed trains scheduled to service this part of the world.

13. I couldn’t resist this shot of the sign welcoming people to the North End. From walking around the area, it probably has the same negative connotation in Hamilton as it does in the Old Country, but here in St. Catharines, a North End address carries a premium.

14. Click here for my shots from Bayfront Park.

15. While in Bayfront Park, someone got out of her car ready to walk her two dogs. With the “extreme cold” outside, the dogs didn’t just have little booties on, but full knee-high socks. Oy.

16. I wonder if these guys with tents in the middle of the ice were aware that the forecasted high was -4 C, not much below the freezing mark. This isn’t the Old Country, where a January high above -20 feels like a heat wave.

17. On the way back downtown, I passed some teenagers jabbering away in what appeared to be some Middle Eastern language as they were smoking. Of what little English I heard, their favorite word was one that was four letters long and started with ‘F.’

18. Also en route, I passed by a couple of Tim Hortons locations that were absolutely packed. So much for that “No Timmies Tuesdays” the unionists, with the help of their friends in the left-wing fake news mainstream media, are trying to drum up support for, even in the heart of a big union town like Hamilton. Where, incidentally, Comrade Horwath’s riding happens to be.

19. Lunch was at the A & W a block away from Jackson Square, where they asked for everyone’s name upon ordering. The manager must have once worked at Radio Shack, where they were notorious for that annoying practice.

20. After ringing up my order for the chicken strip combo, the clerk asked “Do you want fries and a root beer?” Um, yeah, that’s what the combo means. Otherwise, I would have just ordered the chicken.

20a. Even with an abnormally high minimum wage, good help remains hard to find.

21. As I was eating, the guy behind the counter was quite amused that someone named Cam always came through the drive-thru around this time with the same order. Given how few people were actually in the restaurant, he might consider being a little more grateful to Cam rather than making fun of him.

22. The only two customers seated there besides me were a hobo and an older gentleman who sat like a stuffed dummy not moving a muscle as he stared blankly at passers-by on King Street.

23. Crossing King Street at Gore Park was a middle-aged guy who was flipping a water bottle in his hand as if he was trying out for Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. From the look on his face, I’m not sure if he or the bottle had a higher IQ.

24. Scenes in Gore Park:

25. Etiquette fail on the HSR bus I took back to the Nash and Barton GO stop:

26. This car parked at the Wholesale Club was presumably once a Grand Caravan, but is now a Grand Cara An:

27. On the return trip, there was as much food being consumed on the second level of the GO bus as there was in the food court at Jackson Square.

28. Leaving Fairview Mall on the way home was a guy perched in the median at Geneva Street with a sign, “Broke, will work, anything helps.” But despite being financially destitute, he had plenty of money to feed and care for the big dog he had with him. Priorities.

16 Dec

A Commemorative Trip to the Universe’s Center

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s voyage to and from the universe’s center:

0. The purpose of yesterday’s trip was to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of Carli Ward, a dear friend and subject of my second book. As she loved trains, a train trip to Toronto seemed appropriate to mark the occasion.

1. Even before 7:00, the Starbucks on Scott Street was blasting Christmas music on their speakers. If I could hear it from the street, no doubt the people in the nearby apartment blocks could as well. But I’m sure the people outside on the patio appreciated it. A patio that must be wildly popular at this time of year.

2. Waiting at Fairview Mall was a woman wearing a pair of Smurf-blue sweatpants that one would wear around the house. Come as you are.

3. Spotted in the shelter at Fairview. I’d rather see these four-letter words than the ones I used to see with much more frequency in the Old Country. You know, the ones that start with the letter ‘F.’

4. Someone from a group of four with huge piles of luggage in tow asked me if this was there they could catch the bus to Brampton. I replied that the bus was going to Burlington, but she seemed satisfied. Brampton, Burlington, what’s the difference?

5. Boarding just ahead of me was a GO trainee who insisted on holding up the line to give the driver a sob story about showing up two hours late to work yesterday because he missed a bus connection. Something told me the grunt behind the wheel couldn’t have cared less. Save it for your future boss.

6. Some pee-wee hockey player who got on at Fairview stored his huge bag full of hockey equipment in the luggage area by the front door, yet he made the effort to haul his sticks up the narrow stairway to the upper level. I wondered if he was perhaps planning a little pickup game.

7. I could have gotten out and walked faster than the school bus taking the curve on the 406 on-ramp. Yet on so many other occasions, I’ve seen lead-footed school bus drivers go like crazy. There does not seem to be a happy medium with them.

8. Even at that early hour, the parking lot at the Tim Hortons in Vineland was nearly packed.

9. LGBT activists can breathe easier now that the rainbow-colored bench at the Beamsville stop is back.

10. Dear delivery truck driver at the Beamsville park and ride: The next time you need to tend to some vitally important texting, try pulling into one of the many empty spots in the lot instead of forcing the GO bus driver to struggle to maneuver around you.

11. Many thanks to the older woman who boarded at Stoney Creek and sat behind me for sharing her cold or flu bug. I’m sorry she was in bed sick with a high fever and had to miss work the previous day, but from her coughing, it sounded like she should have called in sick again.

12. This same woman was trying to console someone she was talking to on the phone who was apparently distressed over a sick loved one. “He’s going to get better, mark these words. I’ll say a prayer,” she said. “And the other cat too.” Sigh.

13. Thumbs down to the Halton Police for not clearing the accident scene at the off-ramp at Fairview Street. The pieces of cracked taillights and fenders that were strewn all over the road no doubt were the cause of some deflated tires.

14. Waiting at the Burlington GO station for the Lakeshore West train, the Brampton/Burlington travelers left their luggage inside the station completely unattended while they went outside to smoke. Priorities.

15. I had the pleasure of waiting on the platform alongside someone with a long and annoying xylophone ringtone on her phone. A phone that went off three times in less than five minutes.

16. You think they use enough salt in this part of the world?

17. Spotted on a parked rail car was the notice, “Hammering on the side will contaminate product.” If that isn’t an open invitation, I don’t know what is.

18. Past the Oakville station, I noticed a sign for “Beaver Rentals.” Just in case you need to rent a beaver.

19. Fittingly, at the Long Branch station, there was a long branch sticking out from a tree that scraped the car on its way by.

20. At Union Station, I made my way to the platform for my first ride in a streetcar.

Passengers enter the station at the same gates as they do for the subway, but instead follow the signs for the streetcar platform.

I took the #510 line, which runs in the middle of Spadina Avenue, with cars passing on either side.

21. Scenes along Queen Street. It wasn’t my primary destination on this day, but I would like to return and spend more time here in a future visit.

22. “Butter Avenue” would indeed be a fitting address for the rising number of heavyweights out there.

23. I doubt these sessions do much for the customers, but they certainly help the psychic reader’s financial problems.

24. Scenes in “Graffiti Alley” just behind Queen Street:

25. I stopped at this A & W for a meal break. Though I did wait for a human to serve me, there was a self-order kiosk available as well. As with other fast-food restaurants, those kiosks will become increasingly popular as a result of unreasonable minimum-wage legislation. As someone put it on Twitter this morning, “I hope someday supporters of minimum wage hikes get to meet some of the folks who’ve lost jobs as a result, so they can look them in the eye and say ‘sorry, it was for the greater good.’”

26. Seated across from me was an overweight woman with Smurf-blue nails who was delightfully savoring her sweet potato fries and burger. See previous comment on “Butter Avenue.”

27. There was a numbered keypad on the door to the washroom along with a sign stating that the code to open it is printed on the bottom of your receipt. But I didn’t get a receipt. Yes, I hate begging for the privilege of using a washroom.

28. Not just a fender-bender, but an engine-bender:

29. Given how Carli was also a big baseball and Blue Jays fan, I made a point of touring the area around the Rogers Center.

29a. I used to be such a rabid baseball fan that I would take the day off work to watch Opening Day. Yet the last time I watched a baseball game for any significant length of time was when I was sitting next to Carli in Grace Hospice one evening back in the summer of 2007 when the Blue Jays were hosting the Dodgers.

30. Funny, I was looking for the line for past event sales …

31. Outside Ripley’s Aquarium. Our photo club is going on an outing there today, but of the many things I would want to do in the universe’s center, visiting the aquarium is just not one of them.

32. I used to think the Falls was the selfie capital of the world until I stumbled upon this sign outside the CN Tower. I had to wait several minutes for the riff-raff to move on before getting this shot.

33. Scenes in the skywalk between the CN Tower and Union Station:

34. The “Union Holiday” display near the Great Hall. Of note is that the dog at right was one of three I spotted inside Union Station on my return trip. Not cool.

35. While waiting for my Lakeshore West train, someone passed by with a box of heart-shaped candies. It’s the Christmas season, not Valentine’s Day.

36. On the platform, someone was digging into a malodorous takeout dish from Thai Express that I could smell from across the tracks. To say the least, it was not exactly a ringing endorsement for the chain.

37. Two people in my car were carrying bags from Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake. Too many people live to eat rather than eat to live.

38. The woman across the aisle from me on the train had more cords in her bag than I’ve seen at the desks of some server and network techies I’ve worked with.

39. Leaving Union Station, I spotted an interesting billboard from the Government of Canada. Over top of a background of a picture of weed was the caption “Don’t Drive High.” Wouldn’t it just be simpler not to legalize the stuff?

40. I think I see some pavement under all that salt …

40a. I got some strange looks from the guy seated across from me when I took that shot. Perhaps only someone born and raised in this part of the world can fully understand the “need” for such excessive use of sodium chloride.

41. I spotted a car with SPRM plates in the Oakville GO parking lot. As I’ve said before, that place does continue to follow me around.

42. In defiance of the crippling wave of political correctness sweeping the globe, both GO and Oakville Transit buses had “Merry Christmas” flashing on their signs. Maybe there’s still some hope for us yet.

43. They spent five years working on the new Burlington GO station and it still needs work …

44. Seated across the aisle from me on the GO bus was a chatty older couple from St. Catharines. The guy was the classic back-seat driver who kept making comments as “let’s go,” “give him a push,” “easy now” and “OK, smoke ’em” all the way back to Fairview Mall. The woman also interjected her share of commentary, particularly lamenting how slow drivers react to green lights. As we got closer to home, they made a point of talking about their disappointment with the prices at Lakeshore Meats. Like me, they were on a day trip to Toronto as well, but they had gotten up at 4:00, much earlier than I did.

45. Kudos to the GO bus driver on my return trip who exercised great caution on the highway under increasingly worsening conditions.

25 Nov

Black Friday in Hamilton

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s outing to Hamilton:

1. Given the extreme cold temperature of +2C when I left the house, I could certainly understand why the woman I passed by on Scott Street was wearing heavy, fur-lined boots that came halfway up to her knees. Even though there wasn’t a single flake of snow on the ground, you can never be too prepared. Same goes for the woman who got on the GO bus who had a woolen lining in her boots.

2. Did you lose this mitten?

3. Another cat owner who expects the general public to care more about his/her cat than he/she does:

4. Someone driving a van flagged down the GO bus on South Service Road as it was leaving the Beamsville stop and the driver actually stopped and waited as the passenger scurried around to the front door. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where stories of drivers taking off just as frantic passengers running after the bus reach the stop remain commonplace.

5. With a little time on his hands at Grimsby, the driver got off and hastily got in a few puffs of his cigarette before getting back on the road. Someone who is that desperate for a puff has a serious problem.

6. There are circus clowns who don’t apply as much lipstick as the teenager who boarded at Grimsby and got off with me at Nash and Barton. Sadly, it was a sight I would see twice more during the day. There should be something on the label stating that it’s not meant to be applied a tube at a time.

7. Said teenager, evidently annoyed that she was kept waiting for a few minutes for the Barton bus, kept checking the schedule posted on the pole. Experienced HSR riders know that the Barton bus comes often enough. You don’t need to check the schedule.

8. Evidently the GO bus driver is not alone in being desperate for a puff.

9. After boarding the Barton bus, three people came running after it as it was about to take off. And the driver waited. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

10. I couldn’t believe that the HSR buses had the very non-politically-correct “Merry Christmas” flashing on the display.

11. As expected, the trip on the Barton bus was again an experience to behold. It didn’t take long for the first stroller, followed right behind by another, and the number of walkers and carts that had come and gone on the way downtown must have reached double figures.

12. A hair stylist at Gage had the sign “Your welcome without an appointment” in the window. Apparently grammar wasn’t you’re best subject.

13. Back-A-Da-Bus-O-Phobia is a problem in Hamilton, but not nearly the way it is in the Old Country.

14. Only a veteran of Winnipeg Transit like me can still marvel as how the rear doors on HSR buses open automatically, even though it has been more than three years post-defection.

15. Plastered on the after-hours return slot at the library on Barton was “Library Book Return.” What else would the book return be for?

16. I’ve smelled worse, but the guy who sat next to me on the Barton bus needed a bath a few days ago.

17. After using the washroom at Jackson Square, I still appreciate how most people in this part of the world wash their hands after doing their business. On my return trip, there was even a lineup to use the sinks.

18. The #25 bus I took to Lime Ridge Mall was packed, as were others I spotted during the day. Though it wasn’t the reason for my trip, Black Friday evidently remains quite popular. Go figure.

19. I think only someone born in Southern Ontario can understand the logic behind dumping so much salt in a parking lot on a day when it never got below freezing and when there isn’t a single flake of snow on the ground.

20. Someone didn’t play his cards right.

21. The Bill Friday Lawfield Arena, named for the legendary referee who was most noted for his work in the WHA. I still remember the game when Friday pulled a mirror out of his back pocket to check to see that every strand of his slicked-back hair was in place. No doubt he had a lucrative endorsement deal from Brylcreem, which was all the rage at the time.

22. Finally, some people are starting to come to their senses.

23. Back at Hamilton’s largest mall, there was one place with a sign saying “50% off entire store” out front. But what if I don’t want the entire store?

24. Crowds were so thick that there was a half-hour wait to get into the Disney store, a similar wait to get into a jewelry store and the lineup at the Tim Hortons in the food court was 20-30 deep.

25. Spotted in the crowds was a woman with shamrock-green hair. It was Black Friday, not St. Patrick’s Day.

26. Walking north on Upper Wentworth, I spotted a woman madly shivering in the “cold” as she was waiting for an approaching bus. Tip of the day: Do up your jacket.

27. As I’ve heard it said recently, $15/hour is great. If you have a job. Which many minimum-wage earners won’t once this “fair” wage becomes law.

28. More political uncorrectness:

29. Shots of lower town while walking down the mountain at Arkledun Avenue:

30. Spotted on the way down was a Hamilton Cab with the slogan “Powered by diversity” plastered on the door. Can’t we even get in a cab these days without getting a left-wing political lecture?

31. This convenience store across from Gore Park isn’t quite so convenient anymore:

32. The tree going up in Gore Park:

33. Two guys sitting in Gore Park shooting the breeze:

34. Spotted in Jackson Square was a restaurant serving sausage and spinach soup. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

35. Also spotted in Jackson Square was a store claiming to have the right to inspect bags and empty pockets upon request. Good luck with that. But in any event, I have the right to take my business elsewhere. Which I did.

36. Take a load off your feet.

37. More salt.

38. The return trip on the Barton bus had the requisite two strollers and another large collection of walkers and carts.

39. A teenager got on at St. Matthews with a pierced tongue. Ewww.

40. A woman sitting across the aisle looked at me strangely as I was taking notes. Was it because I was taking notes or because I was using a notepad instead of a cell phone like 99% of the Western world would do?

41. I took note when a woman got on wearing a hoodie with “Prince Edward Island” emblazoned across the front. For those who are unaware, Charlottetown came in second in the relocation derby.

42. After getting to Nash and Barton, I was promptly approached by a creepy guy asking me if I had a quarter to spare. Which I didn’t. At least not for him. He claimed to be 75 cents short for bus fare, which made his supposed need for a quarter look even less credible, yet he had plenty of money for smokes and the cell phone he was jabbering away on while going through three of his cigarettes during the long wait for the GO bus. Fear not for 25-Cent Dude, however, as he bummed a dollar off of one of the cashiers inside the Wholesale Club grocery store.

43. Giving 25-Cent Dude some competition was an older guy standing on the sidewalk holding out a Tim Hortons cup with a pre-printed sign hanging around his neck approaching cars on their way out of the lot.

44. Seated in front of me on the GO bus was a woman so obese that she was taking up one and a half seats. Somehow I don’t think she paid a 50% premium on her fare.

45. The GO bus driver wasn’t wearing a name tag, but I could tell that his name was Leadfoot. Between Stoney Creek and Grimsby, he was in the third lane from the right passing semi-trailers.

46. 25-Cent Dude got off at Beamsville, where he unlocked his bike and proceeded west on the wrong side of South Service Road.

47. Dear crossing guard at Geneva Street: It was not necessary for you to blow that accursed whistle in my ear. Same goes for the crossing guard at Vine Street.

48. I know they do it for everyone, but do I look like someone so young that I need help crossing the street? I mean, I was in elementary school when the Jets were in the WHA.

49. The cyclist who passed me on Scott Street needs to lube his chain. It was that obvious.

50. Passing me on the sidewalk on Scott Street was someone in plaid pants wearing his house slippers whose head was completely shaven save for several randomly scattered clumps of hair.

51. As opposed to stale Ontario trees …

23 Nov

An Uneventful GO Meeting

Takeaways from the disappointing meeting on the proposed GO train service to Niagara held at the downtown library last night:

1. I arrived before 6:00 and was far from the first one through the doors. People in this part of the world are, if nothing else, early birds.

2. The Metrolinx employees, including the presenter, acted as if they were sent from on high to save us unwashed masses out here in the boonies. Next time, try some humility.

3. Metrolinx staff evidently do have a policy of looking out for their own. Case in point was one poor staffer being harangued by Big Bearded Guy who was mercifully rescued by one of his colleagues, ostensibly to answer a question for another attendee.

3a. Big Bearded Guy sure did look lost after the target of his monologue was snatched from his grasp.

4. One of the slides of the virtually useless presentation dealt with “tree and vegetation mitigation.” I think they meant tree and vegetation impact mitigation.

5. There were lots of questions from the standing-room-only crowd, yet virtually no answers. Worse yet, when someone asked a question regarding the train station, the designated expert from Metrolinx assigned to give the non-answer admitted he hadn’t even been to the station. Forgive me if I don’t quite understand why they even came out and held the meeting.

6. Among the more noteworthy questions still waiting for an answer was whether or not the new line will be a feeder route to Burlington or will run directly to Union Station in the universe’s center.

7. There seemed to be a lot support for putting the station near 406 and Glendale, yet the current Western Hill location has evidently been set in stone.

8. They didn’t even seem to know how many parking spaces would be available at the station, nor the fact that Ridley College and the former TRW owned adjacent properties that could be used for that purpose.

9. When there was someone with a comment, it wouldn’t have hurt the Metrolinx staff to take note of it themselves instead of brusquely telling us to fill out a comment card.

10. Fear not, the GO bus service is not going to be eliminated.

11. The humpback bridge on St. Paul Street near the station is scheduled for replacement, yet the planning still hasn’t gone past the environmental assessment phase. Someone mentioned that regional chair Alan Caslin was quoted as saying that the bridge won’t be replaced until after the trains start rolling. Oy.

01 Nov

Halloween in the Universe’s Center

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s voyage to and from the Center of the Universe:

1. Even before the crack of dawn, there was a long line at the drive thru at the Tim Hortons on Scott Street. Oy.

2. Dear jogger on Scott Street: Even if you don’t care about breaking the law, show that you take your own safety more seriously than you expect passing motorists to by using the sidewalk instead of the road. Especially when it’s pitch dark outside.

3. After hearing train whistles near Fairview Mall, an area with no railway presence, I spotted this abandoned stocking cap or mitten with the number 5 on it.

Then when I got to Burlington, there was this 642 license plate right in front of me on the platform.

Messages sent, messages received. As I’ve said before, you may understand and you may not.

4. No doubt LCBO will be accused of racism with this edict …

5. On this Halloween day, much to my relief, my bus driver came dressed as … drumroll please … a bus driver.

6. On the QEW, we passed a sign that read, “Work Zone: Drive with Care.” So evidently, it’s OK to drive carelessly if it’s not a work zone.

7. Dear cyclist who got off at Beamsville: Much like the case with the jogger on Scott Street, place a premium on your safety by considering a small investment in a light for your bike. Especially when you plan to use it in the dark on roads without street lights.

8. Dear smoker on the platform at Burlington: Don’t let that big “no smoking” sign you were standing underneath bother you.

9. I think I was only one of three or four people on the platform and on the train who was not preoccupied with his phone. It shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but it still does.

10. As it was an express train, the customer service ambassador kept reminding passengers wishing to travel to stations between Clarkson and Exhibition to detrain at Oakville. This was just after I debused at Burlington and an hour before I would desubway in Toronto.

11. At the opposite end of the car I was in, there was a sign commemorating GO’s 50th anniversary. Why is it that I get the impression that GO was more advanced on their first day than Winnipeg Transit is today? Not that I’m bitter or anything, mind you.

12. Parked in a lot near the Bronte station was a trailer from Arnold Bros. Transport. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does follow me around.

13. The person seated next to me on the train should seriously consider upgrading her laptop from Windows 7, which is in the extended support phase. But at least she had the latest version of Office installed.

14. The guy seated across from me had a silly, almost stupid-looking grin on his face all the way to Union Station. But he sure thought he was important. Oh, and he’s an RBC customer. The things you learn about people on public transit.

15. It wasn’t even November and this GO locomotive was already decked out for Christmas:

16. At the washroom in Union Station, I had to wait in line to use a hand dryer. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

17. Traffic and crowds were not a problem on the way to Union, but I was caught off guard by the mass crush of humanity headed for the subway.

18. Dear TTC: Having taken the subway there before, I realize I should have known better, but please consider putting arrows pointing passengers to the proper gate to use after tapping their Presto card. Just like you do at other Presto-enabled stations. When you put a Presto machine between two sets of gates, not everyone is going to know which one to use, particularly in a city that gets as many visitors as Toronto does.

19. This jogger at Queen’s Park did not appear to be in costume. Her attire was just weird.

20. Normally, I would scoff at the prospect of students buying assignments, but today’s professors are so blinded by left-wing ideologies that they’d probably give a passing grade to anything, even if it was directly copied from Coles Notes, as long as it properly conformed to their worldview.

20a. Back in the late 1980s when I was in a class taught by a former NDP MLA, I got a D on an essay in which I disagreed with his left-wing politics. I pretended to agree with him on the next assignment and got a B. Coincidence? You be the judge.

21. Shots along Philosopher’s Walk on the campus of the University of the Center of the Universe. Or would that be Central Universe University?

22. When liberals talk about “everyone” being welcome, they mean everyone who agrees with them. The rest of us can take a hike.

23. Chew on this: 0 out of 8 households seem to have trouble getting a hold of cigarettes or LCBO products. There are some genuinely needy people out there, but far too often, it’s a matter of priorities.

24. The back of the arena that hosted the WHA’s Toronto Toros in their first season after moving from Ottawa.

24a. If you recall, following one season at Varsity Arena and two more at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Toros moved south and became the Birmingham Bulls. As an old Jets fan, I can still hear the “Birmingham stinks!” chant.

25. Shouldn’t this be code red?

26. Give him a call …

27. Outside the Royal Ontario Museum:

28. No, this shot was not taken in Winnipeg, the discount capital of the Western world …

29. The only difference between a regular piece of art and an “objet d’art” is the 50-100% premium in price.

30. Given how Halloween has seemingly become a national holiday, I was surprised that this was about as radical as things got as far as costumes and decorations were concerned:

31. Shots around the Yorkville area:

32. In case you have a dirty Canada Goose on your hands …

33. I don’t think I want to get my hair cut there:

34. Spotted at Yorkville Center was a couple who were fawning over a poodle as if it was a newborn baby.

35. I used the washroom at Yorkville Center, where again, people were washing their hands after doing their business. As I’ve said before, this is not the Old Country.

36. Near the Yorkville Center, I passed by a Ferrari and Maserati dealership, open by appointment only, strategically placed in the middle of the high rent district.

36a. If you recall, back in 2003, Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers wrecked his Ferrari in a single-vehicle accident that claimed the life of his passenger and teammate, Dan Snyder.

36b. How many of you remember that Heatley’s father played in the WHA?

37. Better than an old street …

38. It wasn’t bitterly cold by any means, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be riding around in the open-air top deck:

39. I guess those packages don’t move …

40. Obesity has evidently become such a problem in our society that the Shoppers Drug Mart in Hudson Bay Center had a “Weight Management” aisle.

41. Perhaps this is commonplace elsewhere in the world, but this is the first time I’ve seen an intersection like this one at Bloor and Yonge where pedestrians can cross diagonally.

42. Though I didn’t stop to investigate further, there was someone on Yonge Street looking to pocket a little extra cash by running a less-than-legal spinning-wheel gaming operation. No doubt, police will be on to him quickly. After all, the government hates competition.

43. Heard over the crowds at Yonge-Dundas Square was a mentally challenged gentleman who yelled, “Why do you make noise jeery freaks jerks?”

44. Many were lining up inside Eaton Center for a chance to win a Google Home Mini. Whatever that is.

44a. Even if it was something valuable, with Google partnering with their Silicon Valley allies in censoring any political views to the right of Lenin, you probably had to show a Liberal Party membership card to get an entry form.

45. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were out in full force all along Yonge Street. At one display, they had their literature available in Arabic. If that doesn’t scream desperation, I don’t know what does.

46. Before seeing it advertised on an overhead display, I didn’t know Toronto had an annual celebration of Iranian cinema. I also didn’t know that they were allowed to make movies in Iran other than government newsreels preaching hatred of Western culture.

47. At right is one satisfied customer …

48. In a province that blankets its roads in salt every winter, even when it’s not needed, this just screamed “Ontario”:

49. I get the feeling the Leafs and Raptors won’t take kindly to having their flags flown at this establishment. Call it a hunch.

50. And best of lucks in your new location …

51. I spotted this “DropBike” left out on the sidewalk. Apparently it’s a service where you can unlock one of their bikes using a QR code generated from their app and leave it at designated locations around the city when you’re done with it.

51a. You will never see such a service in the Old Country. Trust me.

52. Farther down Yonge, I spotted a bum sleeping on the sidewalk using the front wheel of his bike as a cushion. A bike that looked to be in better shape than mine.

53. At the NHL Hall of Political Correctness, caps from the North Stars, Whalers or Nordiques were readily available, but they had nothing from the Thrashers.

54. Outside their store at the Tim Hortons was this display featuring the (real) Jets:

Of particular note was the replica AVCO Cup, the Hawerchuk jersey and those old ticket stubs, all still fondly remembered by yours truly.

54a. On my list of ideas for future books is a memoir featuring the Jets’ final season.

55. Nearby was a display of pucks, two of which were from the WHA Jets:

56. While waiting at Union Station for the Lakeshore West train, I spotted this dude doing his exercises out on the floor:

57. You don’t need to have an M.D. after your name to know that the obese woman I spotted hobbling along on a cane would be able to get around a lot easier by dumping a few pounds.

58. I’m proud of the fact that I don’t get the rings seemingly normal people stick in their noses.

59. It couldn’t have been possible for the 20-something woman I spotted with dyed blond and blue hair to get more makeup and lipstick on her face without it falling off.

60. The two women on the platform standing near me might as well have been holding a big neon sign with “TOURISTS” on it. Act like you’ve been there before.

61. There was a “medical emergency” which delayed the train by 13 minutes, but to their credit, GO arranged for the #12 bus to hold at Burlington for those of us wanting to catch it. Once again, this isn’t the Old Country, where a Winnipeg Transit driver would have taken great pleasure in taking off just as the people who were running after the bus got within a few feet of the door. Spoken from a great deal of personal experience in that regard.

62. One guy got on and asked the driver, “Have I ever been on the bus with you?” and “Do you know where I like to get off?” Sure he does. I’m sure he knows each and every passenger by name.

63. I noticed a sign on the QEW for the Organized Crime Winery. Funny, I didn’t know the Clintons were in the wine business.

64. During the day, the rainbow-colored bench at Beamsville was replaced with a regular wooden one. I can just hear the liberals crying “Homophobia!”

65. I didn’t know what the obese woman in the drive thru at the Tim Hortons on Scott Street was about to order, but trust me, she didn’t need it.

03 Sep

Touring Danforth Village

Yesterday, I made another excursion to the universe’s center, this time making a tour of Danforth Village on the east end of the city. “The Danny,” as they euphemistically call it.

The trip would get off to a bad start as the #12 bus left Fairview Mall almost 20 minutes behind schedule. The bus we had appeared to be a last-minute substitute as it pulled off the QEW from the eastbound direction and was completely empty when I boarded. The regular bus that was supposed to arrive from the Falls probably broke down, but there was no official explanation provided from the driver.

En route to Burlington, I spotted a black pickup truck from the Great State of New York with “Smith & Wesson” plastered over his back window. Even though I am fully supportive of law-abiding citizens possessing firearms, displaying such a motto so proudly when crossing an international border might not be the best thing to do. But to each his own.

Despite the lengthy delay, we still managed to make it to Burlington in time to catch the scheduled Lakeshore West train. Much more noteworthy, however, was that the driver pulled into south loop at the newly opened station, the one they had been working on for so many years. As I said to someone while waiting on the platform, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to live long enough to see it completed.

Inside, the ticket office was actually open and more importantly, so were the washrooms. Indoor washrooms. I don’t have to use the Burlington Outhouse ever again.

Up on the platform, I was not the only Center-of-the-Universe-bound traveler on this day, though most had other plans, including the popular CNE, located just a few steps from the Exhibition stop.

On board, I took a seat across from a couple of young heavyweightettes and, like, listened to their chatter, like, all the way to, like, Toronto. As the train pulled out of Burlington, they, like, first talked about how, like, hard it was to, like, not eat all their, like, snacks right away. Like, from the looks of them, they could do without the snacks.

One of them then shared the details of how she and her sister were both delivered by c-section. Born in 1984, she was a planned pregnancy, but her sister wasn’t. The other one then mentioned something about needing to pay Lisa $650 and bragged how she got a free $60 ticket to a convention she was attending. Or should I say, it was, like, for free.

Ms. C-Section then talked about the possibility of, like, being sent somewhere to help them with, like, public speaking. Like, I need help on public speaking from her like I need a free trip to North Korea. But as she said, if she goes, it will be super fun and there will be 50 million things she will want to buy. She will just have to be adult about it.

This just in. She needs to try harder.

After they got off at Union Station, I just filed that experience under Chapter 641 of “The things you learn about people on public transit.” Perhaps one day to make it into print. You never know.

I stayed on the train and got off at the Danforth station to begin my tour. You can check the album I posted on Facebook for many of the pictures, but there were other scenes that caught my eye as well.

A creative name for a dog groomer.

Up to 80% off a mattress. But only one mattress.

Pick up a cheap “camisol.”

It’s important to care for your pharmacy. They need love too.

If you want to drive a contract around.

I could only shake my head at this sight. Have we sunk so low that there’s a demand for a take-out window at Tim Hortons?

Funny, but I don’t think this stroller was taken by mistake. Call it a hunch. Maybe it’s that crusty old Winnipegger in me.

We delivery for you.

Someone’s got to explain this one to me.

A couple of hours later, I caught the #2 subway line at the Broadview station. The connecting station to the #1 line is called the “Bloor-Yonge” station, but they only announced it as the “Yonge” station and, unlike what they do on the #1 line, they didn’t announce that it was a connecting station. A significant faux pas in my opinion, especially given the number of tourists the universe’s center attracts. Nonetheless, I knew enough to get off there and caught the southbound #1 line back to Union.

I thought I had just missed a scheduled Lakeshore West train back to Burlington, but as luck would have it, it was delayed, so that gave me a chance to make it up onto the platform in more than enough time to catch it. The platform itself was packed, as was the train when it finally arrived, but it almost completely emptied at the Exhibition stop. One of these years, I should consider a visit to the CNE.

From there, it was a relatively quiet ride back to Burlington, where I was able to get the connecting #12 bus a short while later. While in line waiting, I laughed as someone came around asking if this was where she could catch the #12 bus as she was standing right underneath a huge sign to that effect. Duh.

After the bus came, I went up top only to find a bunch of noisy families yelling and screaming. Luckily, when the driver announced that an express bus to the Falls had pulled up, it caused an exodus of biblical proportions, and I don’t think I was the only one silently applauding. Good riddance.

Unfortunately, the riff-raff was soon replaced by a couple of millennials who, like, spent the next hour and a half spewing, like, their favorite word. Which they like. A lot. It all started with one of them, some kind of a middle manager at his workplace, lamenting how, like, casual Friday has become, like, a (manure) show. His companion talked about how, like, your performance should be graded on, like, your work.

On and on this went. It, like, needs to happen this year. Like, for example, she, like, she coached her colleague. But not, like, directly.

Behind me was an older couple who was also getting into the act after hauling their luggage up the stairs, also a phenomenon that continues unabated. The woman talked about how she wanted to make, like, nachos on sweet potatoes.

As the bus inched along in the holiday weekend traffic, there was at last some relief with some long periods of silence, briefly interrupted only be the incoherent ramblings of a mentally challenged man sitting a few rows behind me. All that I could make out was something about a strip club in Scarborough.

There was an interesting sighting at the Vineland exit, where a car had pulled off onto the shoulder. A few feet away in the middle of the tall grass was a father watching his young son take a leak. Sometimes the call of nature comes when you’re stuck in traffic and there’s nothing you can do about it, but there was a service station only a hundred feet away and Tim Hortons just on the opposite side of the QEW, as the signs on the highway clearly indicated. But why use a regular toilet when you can take a whizz in the full view of several thousand people driving by.

Not long after watching the kid fertilize the grass, our bus took the Lake Street exit and turned into Fairview Mall, where there was an older gentleman in a motorized wheelchair. He was not on the sidewalk, where he should have been, but in the left turning lane at an extremely busy intersection. If it’s not illegal, it should be, but in any event, you have to wonder about people who care so little about their own safety.

It was another interesting sight and, in a sense, a fitting way to wrap up an eventful day.

30 Aug

Around Hamilton

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s day trip to Hamilton:

1. Spotted outside a Money Mart on the way to the bus were a couple of disheveled bums perched on the sidewalk waiting for the place to open. From the look of them, neither had a dime to their name, yet they did have money for smokes. And a dog. Stop me if this is sounding familiar. You know, maybe it’s those ne’er-do-well poverty advocates who are the ones who don’t know about the basic issues behind poverty.

2. Standing in line in front of me waiting to board the #12 bus at Fairview Mall was a couple in their late 50s or early 60s. Displaying the devil-may-care immaturity of a teenager, she had half her hair dyed blue, while he had such a bulging beer belly that he could have passed for being pregnant. An odd pairing if I’ve ever seen one.

3. Also in line was an obese woman with a white cane. From the way she was getting around, she sure didn’t seem to have any vision problems. Especially at the dinner table.

3a. Obesity was another common theme I would encounter throughout the day. As was the lack of modesty in choices of clothing.

3b. For those who are more than tipping the scales, when you’re browsing in a clothing store and debating which size to buy, consider erring on the higher side rather than trying to fit into something so tight that it could cause serious circulation problems. And please take the Nancy Reagan approach to those sleeveless tank tops. Just. Say. No.

4. You can tell it’s tourist season by the fact that so many paid with cash even though it was a weekday. The driver took in so much cash, in fact, that he had to put it all into the lock box when he stopped at Grimsby.

5. On the way to Stoney Creek, I listened as a woman from Mississauga, originally from the U.S. and now living in Canada for the past 21 years, told us about how her son survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan while serving with the U.S. Army. Later on, the guy across the aisle told us about how he fell off his ladder while on a roofing job and spent a year in hospital recovering from his injuries. You do learn a lot about your fellow passengers and passengerettes on public transit.

6. You know the bus is crowded when three people get on at Beamsville. Or anyone gets on at Beamsville, a new stop that’s going over like a lead balloon. But at least they have an official park and ride location, unlike St. Catharines. And they’re scheduled to get regular GO train service before St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

7. On Barton Street before the Stoney Creek stop, I spotted a vanity license plate “HAVEACUP” with the slogan “Sometimes I go topless” on the frame. This is a detail I doubt that the average motorist on the QEW really needs to know. But others obviously disagree.

8. Spotted on Nash Road was a car with a Canadian flag bumper sticker bearing the slogan “Fit in or (expletive) off.” Aside from the unnecessary profanity, right about now, the owner is probably someone I would like to get to know. And invite him to get on Gab. Like me.

9. Before boarding the Barton bus, I spotted a truck from Reimer Express. On the return trip, I would spot a car with a Bomber bumper sticker and two trucks from Bison Transport. As loyal readers are well aware, the SPRM does keep following me around.

10. It was only a few blocks before we picked up our first wheelchair passenger on the Barton bus, and I’m surprised it took until Strathearne before we got our first stroller. By the time I got off, as an able-bodied person who wasn’t pushing a stroller or using a cane, walker or wheelchair, I felt like a visible minority. Which is par for the course on the Barton bus.

11. Walking down Barton Street was a young woman wearing a skirt barely covering her privates and black fishnet stockings who looked every bit like she had just finished her overnight shift selling her services on the street.

12. Many people exited the bus via the back door and no one needed a battering ram to get out, as they would have to have done on Winnipeg Transit buses. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

13. Near Tim Hortons Field, a young man dropped his bike on the lawn in front of a pharmacy and ran in without locking it up. Unlike Winnipeg, there was probably a pretty good chance it was still there when he came back out.

14. A couple pleaded poverty when getting on and successfully evaded paying fare. I know that, come right down to it, there’s not much the bus drivers can do about it, but he could have used a little more verbal judo to make it a little more difficult for them. After all, if I have to pay, so should they.

15. I pity the poor man who was obviously having a great deal of trouble in the bathroom at Jackson Square. The people in nearby Nations Fine Foods probably heard his groaning and grunting.

16. A sale that’s half used?

17. Come and meet “you neighbors” …

18. A sighting enough to trigger any liberal …

19. Perhaps not coincidentally is this idyllic sermon just down the street undoubtedly carved into the sidewalk by some bleeding-heart liberal who naively believes that disarming law-abiding citizens and preventing them from defending themselves is the only way to rid society of violent crime.

20. Locks. On Locke Street.

21. A stop sign at a light, a puzzling oddity I thought was unique to Winnipeg.

22. I spotted many of these bike sharing stations throughout the city, something that no one would dare try in the Old Country, where the bikes would be promptly wrecked, vandalized, stolen and/or used as a toilet.

23. I’m suspecting these words on the sidewalk on Locke Street are part of a poem. I might be able to find out if cared enough to look it up. But I don’t.

24. Do these “whoopie pies” make a farting sound when you eat them?

25. When I spotted this van from Donut Monster, I couldn’t help but think of a former colleague who once boasted that he has never refused the offer of a free donut, as I did when we worked together.

26. I spotted a woman who stopped to pick up the mess after her dog took a dump on the grass. Readers from the Old Country will understand why this grabbed my attention, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in several decades living in that part of the world.

26a. A male passer-by across the street whistled at her immediately afterwards. Perhaps he found something particularly attractive in how she scooped up her dog’s crap.

27. And by misspelling Dr. Seuss’s name, I guess that does make you stand out …

28. So say the free-spending socialists among us …

29. Much preferred to an impersonal mortgage …

30. Yes, these are legal parking spots, with cars passing on the left and bikes on the right. Someone thought this was a good idea. I don’t think I agree.

31. For all your “stationary” needs …

32. So says a dog looking to unload its bladder …

33. I spotted a scruffy looking dude foraging for buried treasure inside a garbage can near City Hall. He must have found so much in there that he decided to scurry off with the whole bag. I guess this was his lucky day.

34. One of the many works of a vandal who goes by the handle of “Rat Daddy”:

35. Looks like I might end up on Google Sidewalk View:

36. The tattoo industry is thriving in Hamilton.

37. Forgive me, but I just don’t understand the attraction of eating outside while sitting in the middle of traffic. But maybe it’s just me.

38. Spotted back at Jackson Square was a guy wearing a fur-lined hoodie. Later, I would spot someone wearing a heavy sweater. As someone born and raised in the sub-Arctic conditions of the SPRM, let me just say that people in this part of the world have no idea what real cold is.

39. Also spotted at Jackson Square was a young man sprawled out on a bench who was approached by security. After asking him if he needed medical assistance, which he didn’t, they asked him to sit up and then leave. Loyal readers from the SPRM know what would have happened if such an incident occurred in Portage Place.

40. Back-A-Da-Bus-O-Phobia, a term coined by Winnipeg Transit, is alive and well on the HSR.

41. While waiting for the GO bus at Nash and Barton, I noticed this car parked in the lot with an expired registration as indicated by the sticker on the upper right hand corner of the badly worn plate.

Not long after taking this picture, the driver loaded up his purchases from the Wholesale Club and took off. If you’re driving around Hamilton, better hope you’re not in an accident with this guy.

42. On the GO bus headed back to St. Catharines, our driver royally cut someone off when pulling out of the Grimsby stop, then on the QEW, he was practically riding the bumper of a small car in front of us. One has to wonder how he lasted long enough with GO to get that 15-year pin on his tie.

43. For more pictures on the day, check out the album I put up on Facebook, and make sure you visit before my account is suspended for having right-of-Lenin political views.

02 Aug

Commemorating an Anniversary

Observations from a day trip to and from Pearson Airport commemorating the three-year anniversary of our defection from the SPRM:

1. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see an SPRM plate upon arrival at Fairview Mall to catch the #12 GO bus. But I was.

For the record, that same car also was there after getting back. Again, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

1a. I spotted two trucks from Bison Transport on the way to Burlington. That place does have a way of following me around.

2. Also waiting at Fairview was a middle-aged dude with an emerging beer belly who was madly puffing away on a cigarette. Rather than use the wheels on his suitcases, he opted to borrow a shopping cart from one of the stores in the mall to haul his luggage around.

3. Now an experienced veteran of the GO bus, I’ve got the prerecorded line they play when opening the door down pat. Thank you for pre-purchasing your fare. For customers using Presto, please have your card ready to tap on. Thank you for traveling with GO Transit.

4. A couple seated in the upper level who I later learned were headed to Quebec City had dragged their suitcases up the steep, narrow staircase. As did a couple on the return trip. I do not understand the apparent fascination with hauling heavy luggage around the bus when storage facilities are provided right by the door, and upon request, in the locked rear compartment.

5. A scruffy punk in his 20s who got on at Fairview was sporting a T-shirt with “Turkey Bowl” on it and was slurping his coffee so loudly the bus driver below him must have been able to hear it.

6. At Grimsby, I spotted a plate with the last three digits of 642. I would also spot a 642 plate parked at Port Credit as well as locomotive 642 at Union Station. I knew I was not alone on this trip. You may understand. You may not.

7. Boarding at Grimsby was a smoker who put his expertise in speed-puffing to good use to squeeze every last bit out of his cigarette before getting on.

8. Also at Grimsby was someone waiting to go to St. Catharines. Despite the fact that the bus was clearly signed, “Burlington Carpool,” he figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask if the bus was going to St. Catharines. Sure, buddy, we’ll just turn the bus around and make a special trip back to Fairview. Because it’s you.

9. Leaving Grimsby, I spotted a sign for “fresh fruit from the farm.” Where else besides a grocery store would you expect to get fresh fruit from? A car wash?

10. I didn’t know there was more than one stop at Fairview Street and Maple Avenue.

11. The construction of the new Burlington GO station remains a puzzling and lone exception to the otherwise speedy pace at which things get done in this part of the world. I swear they’re working on a one-screw-per-day rule.

11a. What do you suppose we’ll see first? Year-round train service to Niagara, the completion of the new Burlington GO station or Halley’s Comet? My money’s on the comet.

12. On the Union-bound Lakeshore West train, the customer service ambassador’s disdain for her job could not have been more obvious. I didn’t think it was possible to say “final call for the doors” any faster and less clearly than she did.

13. On said Lakeshore West train, I had the pleasure of being entertained by a teenage princess who, like, couldn’t stop, like, saying “like.” Including the part where she gave us the details of, like, her proposed trip to, like, Florida. But, like, she didn’t have much, like, money. Like, what a shame.

13a. It was the same way on the return trip on both the train and the bus. The next time someone tells you that the most used word in the English language is “the,” don’t believe it. Like, it’s just got to be “like.”

14. Another case of failed train etiquette:

14a. Not to defend it, but it beats the obnoxious bums, beer bottles and condom wrappers regularly found on Winnipeg Transit.

15. I also had the pleasure of watching the infantile doodlings of a fellow passenger seated in front of me. What people will do to mindlessly pass the time.

16. Walking through Union Station to catch the UP Express train, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t call the new service the Pearson-Union Express instead. PU Express has such a classier ring to it.

17. A hard, wooden bench isn’t exactly my idea of “comfort.”

17a. This would have constituted high-end, luxury seating at the previous incarnation of Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium, where you couldn’t even be assured of getting a back on your seat.

18. I was so happy to hear that Dr. J. didn’t find anything troubling with the guy who boarded the UP Express train at the Bloor station. But the entire car didn’t need to know the particulars of his visit to the dentist. Nor did we need to know about his upcoming travel plans to China.

18a. I don’t think I was the only one cheering when he got off at the Weston station.

19. It’s nice that they provide moving sidewalks at Pearson, but I don’t understand why people who want to walk get on them. I swear for every five people using the moving sidewalk, three of them were walking.

20. As I did in my last trip to Pearson, I took the link train to Terminal 3 and back, but this time, I recorded it on video.

21. I stopped for lunch at Subway at Terminal 3, where the people behind the counter had less command of the English language than the crew who served me in Gatineau last year.

22. Dear Frans Von Houten: Whoever you are, there’s someone walking the halls of Terminal 3 looking for you.

23. A shot of the Niagara Airbus counter. Where it all began.

24. There were far too many people in Union Station who looked like they’ve been featured on People of Walmart. Maybe soon there will be a People of Union Station website.

24a. Among the People of Union Station was a woman wearing a T-shirt a couple of sizes too small showing off the results of a surgical procedure. It must have been tough for the surgeon to implant so much silicone or saline, depending what it is they use these days.

24b. That sighting reminded me of the time when I heard basketball announcer Chip Caray say “There’s a Dow Corning nightmare” when the camera focused on a scantily-clad cheerleader.

24c. Also among the People of Union Station was someone covered in tattoos from head to toe. I don’t get it and I’m proud of that.

25. Visiting the washroom prior to boarding the train back to Burlington, I noticed everyone was washing their hands after doing their business. I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where this is the norm, not the exception. Just like I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where police have to remind homeowners to lock their doors before going to bed at night.

26. The internal IP address and MAC address of the display screen up at platform 9 was not something travelers, even techies like me, particularly needed to know. But the wizards at GO evidently thought otherwise.

27. I’m not sure why those screws were sticking up from the roof covering the staircase leading up to the platform, but it’s got to be one heck of a deterrent for anyone who gets the brain wave of crawling up there to wave good-bye to departing train passengers.

28. Mixed in among the “likes” from a teenage princess seated a few rows away from me were, “me and her went somewhere,” and “it’s like every five minutes, she goes ‘I’m lost.’”

29. On the train, someone came around for a fare inspection, followed behind by a constable to write a ticket in case there was anyone who had not paid. Which there wasn’t, at least in my car.

After they left, I couldn’t help but recall the words of a friend from Winnipeg who remarked how surprised he was that so many people actually paid on the train. It again made me happy to be living in a part of the world where paying fare under the honor system is the norm rather than the exception. Not that Winnipeg will ever get anything close to the equivalent of the GO train.

30. Spotted at the Bronte station was a bike whose owner had dropped the lock on the ground rather than using it to lock up the bike. But both the bike and the lock were probably still there when the owner came back for them, unlike what would happen in some other parts of the world.

31. If a prospective thief can manage to cut his way through the thick metal poles holding up this sign at the Burlington GO station, that puny little cable sure isn’t going to stand in his way.

32. Spotted at the Burlington GO station was a young mother pushing a stroller who couldn’t have been much older than 14. Oy.

33. To the three people who asked me for tourist information at the Burlington GO station, you’re welcome.

34. The driver of the car the GO bus was following turned on her signal lights after taking the exit to the QEW. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

35. According to the British guy seated behind me on the GO bus, there’s also a town called Grimsby in the UK, but it’s a “total turdhole.” At least from what I was able to gather in between “likes.” Like, that got to be really annoying.

36. Why do people make a special effort to go up top and park themselves in the front row just so they can snooze through the entire hour-long ride? Like, I don’t get it.

37. Spotted on the back of a van we were following: Rules of the Car: 1. Get in. 2. Shut up. 3. Hold on.

38. After getting off at Stoney Creek, a kid who got off ran down the street as if he had a 2×4 rammed up his backside.

39. As we made our way through a heavy rainstorm, the British guy said, “The only thing that would make this trip more Canadian is some bears.” I can understand bears, sort of, but since when has rain become quintessentially Canadian?

39a. Traveling through said rainstorm, I couldn’t help but recall Environment Canada’s forecast of 40% chance of showers. How those people can justify their jobs is beyond me.

40. Some rubby-dub got on at Grimsby who looked like he hadn’t either shaved or bathed in the past couple of weeks. He was wearing a cap with “I Don’t Care” written on it and I didn’t doubt it for a second.

41. Someone painted the bench at the Beamsville stop in rainbow colors. Enough already! I don’t care if you marry a goat. But as a good friend often says, stop shoving it down my throat!

42. Spotted on a van near Fairview Mall: If you choke a smurf, does it turn blue?

31 Jul

A Little Perspective on Transit “Disconnect”

This morning, an interesting blog entry came across my Twitter feed. In it, the author bemoans the disconnect between Hamilton and Niagara from a public transit perspective. I can appreciate his point of view as someone who remembers when Megabus offered a more direct connection. But he lost me when he described the Stoney Creek/Barton connection, one I have used and by and large, find quite acceptable, as one of those options “not worthy of consideration.”

By way of comparison, consider the case of Winnipeg, the city I defected from three years to the day tomorrow.

Decades ago, you used to be able to take the train to Minneapolis. Not anymore.

There was also a train to Winnipeg Beach and Gimli. Stuff of legend in that part of the world. Long since gone by the wayside.

The trains were replaced by buses. A late as a decade ago, there was still regular bus service south of the border. Unfortunately, that too is gone. As is the service to the Interlake. Even the iconic Winnipeg to Selkirk route so capably handled by Beaver Bus Lines for so many years is hanging by a thread.

Things aren’t any better when trying to get to points east and west. Trains only come through the city two or three times a week and cross-Canada bus routes have been decreasing in frequency.

Even if there was some decent inter-city bus service available, simply getting to the bus terminal nowadays has become a Herculean challenge following the puzzling decision to relocate the bus terminal out by the airport. Though the airport is technically served by Winnipeg Transit, service there can be best described as abominable.

As someone who used to live on a flight path close to the airport, I would have had to have taken three buses to get there, two of which were low-frequency routes. The hour-long walk would have been faster, though hardly an option if you’re carrying suitcases. The old bus terminal was Ground Zero for indigents and a place where you had good reason to fear for your safety, but being centrally located in the heart of downtown , it was at least easily accessible from most points within the city.

The city could readily remedy the situation with a high-frequency shuttle service to the airport from nearby Polo Park, a popular transit hub. But they choose not to. Instead, they continue to shovel hundreds of millions of dollars into the so-called Rapid Transit project to shave a few minutes off a ride from downtown to the U of M.

Insert sound of a toilet flushing.

As much as people in this part of the world complain about public transit, consider the alternative.

You could be living in Winnipeg.