Tag Archives: HSR

02 Aug

Planet Hamilton

Observations and a few pictures from yesterday’s tour of Hamilton in honor of the fourth anniversary of my defection from the SPRM and move to St. Catharines:

1. On the GO bus was a fat middle-aged guy wearing a golf shirt that might have fit him in high school. Barely. The tightly stretched shirt failed to cover much of his belly and he needed a bra for the boobs some women would pay big money for.

2. Dear GO Transit: I realize everyone else was going the same speed, but the red lines through the construction zones on the QEW are indicators that drivers are supposed to slow down, not speed up.

3. Seated across the aisle from me on the GO bus was a woman with a nose ring that looked like metal snot.

4. On the occasion of the anniversary of my defection from the SPRM, I spotted a Bison Transport truck on the QEW in both directions. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does keep following me around.

5. At Stoney Creek, the HSR driver kindly stopped and waited for those of us transferring from the GO bus. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where the driver would have floored it as soon as we got to the front door, then bragged about it back at the garage.

6. On the way downtown, there was only one stroller and one walker, but it was a completely different story on the way back. On that trip, there was one wheelchair, two strollers and one walker already on board when I got on with two more strollers getting on later. In fact, there was so little room left on the bus that the driver was unable to take on either of the two strollers waiting at a stop in front of a bar.

7. Spotted in a shelter along the way downtown was a scruffy old bum using a bunch of crumpled-up plastic bags from No Frills as a cushion.

8. Spotted on a Hamilton Cab was the slogan, “Powered by pride.” Does it only take gay gas?

9. A bum catching a few winks in the median on York Boulevard:

10. The number of smokers I spotted on the day led me to believe there’s an inverse relationship between economic well-being and likelihood of smoking. In other words, those who can least afford to smoke do. And then anti-poverty advocates cry about the social determinants of health.

11. As a cyclist who regularly puts on more than 2,000 miles per year on two wheels, I appreciate efforts to make cities more cyclist-friendly. But in the first shot, having the lane on the left side of the one-way street is counter-intuitive since drivers normally expect cyclists to be on the right. Same for the second shot, showing a two-way cycle track on Bay Street, which is one way for cars. This can lead to a situation where a driver is not expecting a cyclist who is traveling in the opposite direction of car traffic.

12. Walking the streets downtown, I get the feeling the annual Hamilton Fringe Festival starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

13. Um, whatever.

14. As opposed to unregistered condominiums?

15. While at the A & W eating lunch, an older woman seated across from me with enough lipstick to dam the mighty Mississippi thought she needed more.

16. Also at the A & W, someone came up to the counter and simply said she wanted “something with beef.” After the clerk managed to coerce more specifics out of her, she ended up ordering so much beef that she needed a bag to carry it all out in. It was beef, by the way, that she really didn’t need.

17. Lay down the law …

18. I saw many oddities on the day, but the sight of this Hamilton police officer on horseback on James Street was perhaps the most unexpected of them:

19. If only these artist-run centers were also artist-funded:

20. To heck with any humans in the building, just worry about the dog:

21. How else can you explain popular support for the NDP?

22. On the day, I spotted two Muslim women driving. How nice of their husbands to permit such a thing.

23. Seated across from me on the Barton bus headed back to Stoney Creek was a guy with a Q-Ray bracelet, advertising himself as a sucker easily separated from his money.

24. HSR revenues would increase dramatically if they charged by the pound instead of a flat rate per person.

25. I feel the pain of the cyclist whose bike is at the far right end of the rack.

26. I don’t think this is exactly how they teach you to park in driving school:

 

20 Jun

On the Bus to Hamilton Again

Observations and pictures from my second trip to Hamilton in as many weeks:

1. Parking fail at Fairview Mall:

2. On the #12 GO bus was a guy hauling heavy luggage who got off briefly before the bus departed to hug his honey across the street who had come to see him off.

Did I mention that he left his wallet full of credit cards and cash unattended on the seat?

Fear not for the guy, however, as it was still there when he got back, further proof that this is not the Old Country.

Meanwhile, as we made our way west along the QEW, once he had finished his Tim Hortons coffee, he cracked open a can of Red Bull. As if the coffee didn’t give him enough of a pick-me-up, the Red Bull undoubtedly finished the job. As they say, Red Bull gives you wings. Not that I know from personal experience.

3. Dear GO Transit: On the heels of the heat warning we were under the last couple of days, was it really necessary to have the heat on inside the bus?

4. I’m sure I was not alone in questioning the wisdom of the driver on the QEW near the 406 interchange who cut across three lanes of traffic, in one of which was a speeding double-decker GO bus.

5. LGBT activists can rest easier as the rainbow bench is now back at the Beamsville stop.

6. Is the “Happy Pride” reminder on GO buses really necessary?

7. I feel the pain of those on the uLinc bus that showed up at the Beamsville stop less than a minute after our GO bus left. Been there, done that.

8. I appreciate that HSR buses are air-conditioned, but first thing in the morning, it didn’t need to be cranked up full blast.

9. Seated across the aisle from me on the Barton bus was an older guy with the mother of all schnozzes.

10. The Barton bus is notorious for strollers and walkers, but this time I spotted a mother dragging her kid around on a leash.

11. Speaking of strollers and walkers, there was only one stroller on the trip in, but on the way back, there were three strollers and two walkers. One of those strollers on the return trip was being pushed by a woman with strawberry-red hair covered in tattoos from head to toe who had all sorts of pins and rings in her nose, lips and cheeks. No doubt, she was another low-income mother who has trouble making ends meet, but has plenty of money for tattoos and such.

12. I am amazed as to the quality of fabric and clothing they make these days that can be stretched so much without bursting at the seams. Case in point:

13. Walking the streets of downtown Hamilton, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was an environmental disaster on par with the Love Canal years earlier that has caused so many, well, issues with its inhabitants.

14. I actually spotted a cab driver outside the Hamilton GO Center who did not appear to be of Middle Eastern descent. No doubt he was a quota hire.

15. Just because you’re failing doesn’t mean it’s the system’s fault.

16. The Busy Bee Mart was certainly busy …

Too busy, in fact, to consult a dictionary before ordering their sign.

17. Did they just assume the workers’ gender?

18. A $5,000 fine for feeding pigeons? As an old university professor of mine would say, not bloody likely.

19. Spotted on Cannon Street was an aboriginal man carrying a beer tray. You and I would call it a laptop, one of much newer vintage than anything I have.

20. Inspirational message on the side of a pharmacy …

21. One of the many characters on James Street:

22. Anyone thinking of opening up a laundromat in downtown Hamilton need not bother as clean clothes are not exactly a top priority with most residents.

23. As I noted earlier regarding the quality of clothing, the benches in Gore Park are also made to the highest standards in order to withstand heavy loads. Case in point:

24. Spotted at Jackson Square was a guy wearing a T-shirt with the message “I’m going to hell in every religion” on it.

25. On the return trip, sprinkled among all those with strollers and walkers was a woman, or maybe a man or other made-up gender, with a Mohawk cut. By Barton bus standards, it didn’t even stand out too much since it wasn’t dyed some flashy color like purple or orange.

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.

31 Jan

Another Tour of Hamilton

Observations from yesterday’s tour of downtown Hamilton:

1. The GO bus leaving Fairview Mall was more than 10 minutes late, but the driver actually apologized and vowed to try and make up time on the way. It is another sharp contrast from the Old Country, where the driver would probably drive extra slow just to piss his passengers off even more.

2. There was someone from Quebec boarding at Fairview and, obviously unable to speak Canadian, simply held up her cell phone to the driver to tell him where she was going. Interesting idea. If I visit that country again, perhaps I should come prepared with a picture of a sub should I need to stop while on the wrong side of the border.

3. On the opposite side of the aisle was a gentleman having a very deep, involved conversation with himself. Moving his arms and talking out loud, he appeared to be thoroughly enjoying his own company.

4. Seated in front of this talkative gentleman was someone stretched out over both seats snoozing away. I wonder if she asked the driver to wake her at her stop.

5. Kudos to that GO driver who waited until the senior who boarded at Beamsville got to the top of the steps before taking off.

6. I noticed GO has finally indicated “Beamsville” on the new Ontario Street/QEW stop. It was long overdue, as there are three exits in Niagara for an Ontario Street, the others coming in Grimsby and St. Catharines.

7. Upon reaching Stoney Creek and the stop for the now-infamous Barton bus, I was asked by a younger dude in dreadlocks if he could use my cell phone. Not that I have one, but I wouldn’t have made the assumption he only wanted to use it temporarily.

8. I’m not sure it was safe for him to do it, but more kudos to the same GO driver for letting that young woman on despite being in the left-hand turning lane at the on-ramp for the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

9. HSR is now putting CBC “news” up on their video screens for the benefit of those sitting in the back. Needless to say, I found this deeply offensive.

10. I was even more offended when one of these CBC “news” segments showed a picture of the Government Forks in Winnipeg. The SPRM does have a way of following me around.

11. While stopping for a picture on Ferguson in the International Village, a woman carrying a tray full of Mr. Horton’s delicacies made a point of telling me, “If you see someone falling from the seventh floor, don’t mind it because it won’t be me.” Not only did I not see that one coming, but there were no buildings in the immediate vicinity that even had seven floors.

12. There were plenty of beggars out and about, though they were at least polite and somewhat respectful. One was seated on the sidewalk outside Hamilton City Center with his legs stretched out. Another was standing right outside the door at another of Mr. Horton’s locations asking “You don’t happen to have a nickel or a dime towards a bagel, eh?” After ignoring him, he said, “Sorry for bothering you.” All told, I was accosted three times throughout the day.

12a. Later that evening, a friend who I was speaking with on the phone said that if I had wanted to do something different with my life, I could have made a good counsellor. I’ll pause for a moment while you get all that laughter out of your system.

13. It is not a proper trip on the Barton bus without getting at least one mother with a stroller in tow. There might even be some sort of transit by-law requiring it.

14. I know only those of you from the SPRM who use or have used Winnipeg Transit will appreciate this comment, but it’s still a novelty not having to use a battering ram to get out the back door. On all HSR buses I’ve been on, the back doors open automatically and there’s never been a problem.

15. For a complete set of pictures, click here.

04 Jan

Visiting Hamilton and Dundas

Thoughts from my journey to Hamilton and Dundas today:

1. While waiting at Fairview Mall for the GO bus this morning, someone was out in a Bobcat spreading salt by the ton. OK, it had rained overnight. But it was above freezing, and it wasn’t as if there wasn’t any salt on the ground left over from the last unnecessary dumping. One more reason why I call Ontario the Great Salt Republic.

1a. A salt truck threw up at various intervals along the trail following Cootes Drive between McMaster and Dundas.


Yes, Virginia, they do use a lot of salt in this part of the world.

2. Again, someone on the GO bus charged upstairs, parked himself in the front seat, then leaned back, closed his eyes and started snoozing. There’s got to be something about that front seat that makes it more conducive to catching up on lost sleep. I just don’t know what it is.

3. The Barton bus in Hamilton was again an experience to behold. For starters, seated across from me was a rotund woman with only house slippers on her feet. Her only pair of socks must have been in the wash. Then some scruffy, bearded character got on and pretended like he was the driver’s best friend. Later on, he fancied himself as a goodwill ambassador for HSR when he greeted some young man with a “Happy New Year, eh?”

He was also anxious to fill us in on his upcoming wedding plans. “She loves my pension check,” he boasted. One thing’s for sure, she’s not marrying him for his looks.

3a. There was an ad on the bus with the caption, “Ride with Compassion.” Given how our Liberal mayor has been carrying on about his “compassionate city model,” I am genuinely surprised such ads are not on St. Catharines buses yet.

4. Despite the warning sign, I didn’t see any turtles trying to cross the road.


5. Along Cootes Drive, I spotted a truck from Trans-Ontario Express. No doubt, they provide nationwide service from Windsor to Cornwall. I suspect most readers from the Great Salt Republic won’t get it.

6. For anyone looking to recycle their community:


6a. I support the concepts of reuse and recycling, but some communities are beyond that stage and, in a figurative sense, just need to be hauled out to the landfill. One in particular comes to mind, and I think perceptive readers might be able to guess which one I’m thinking of. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Actually, yes, I am. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

7. I was accosted twice in downtown Hamilton, although the accosters were at least polite.

8. Scenes from downtown Dundas for your viewing pleasure:


9. I wasn’t aware I needed to bring a Windows installation disc for my return trip on the GO bus: