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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

Undead

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^To be frank, most of the talk about corporate culture is a bill of goods. In my experience, corporate culture is at best irrelevant fluff; at worst - outright toxicity. I'm hoping to see as much work from home as possible going forward.
 

Lachlan Holmes

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I'll start the return back on topic.

First: I was at the Hamilton GO Centre the other day to load my PRESTO at the ticket counter - however, after waiting for a few minutes in the line for the one of attendants to return to the wicket, as the sign "we'll be right back" indicated, a GO employee walked up and informed me they've gotten rid of the attendants and they've been 'redeployed' elsewhere. Apparently, permanently. Is this happening/going to happen to other stations as well?

I must say I think this is a step in the wrong direction. The attendants that I've dealt with have always been very knowledgeable about the routes, times, etc. and while I don't find myself needing that information much, others certainly do, especially travelers, visitors, etc. (which will return post pandemic!) and rely on that kind of knowledge being readily available. Not to mention that not even likes using or knows how to use the ticket vending machines.

I would also not be surprised if some of the 'redeployments' included early retirements etc. and a general shrinking of the workforce, which is very unfortunate if that were to turn out to be the case.

Second, I was also told that Metrolinx are not bringing back the 16 Hamilton-Union Express for "a while." They are monitoring ridership and will increase service as ridership increases, apparently. It's kind of hard to accurately monitor ridership on a route that runs only once per day at 12:30 midnight. But alas, it looks like the 16 will remain effectively cancelled for the foreseeable future.
 

tmlittle

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I'll start the return back on topic.

First: I was at the Hamilton GO Centre the other day to load my PRESTO at the ticket counter - however, after waiting for a few minutes in the line for the one of attendants to return to the wicket, as the sign "we'll be right back" indicated, a GO employee walked up and informed me they've gotten rid of the attendants and they've been 'redeployed' elsewhere. Apparently, permanently. Is this happening/going to happen to other stations as well?

I must say I think this is a step in the wrong direction. The attendants that I've dealt with have always been very knowledgeable about the routes, times, etc. and while I don't find myself needing that information much, others certainly do, especially travelers, visitors, etc. (which will return post pandemic!) and rely on that kind of knowledge being readily available. Not to mention that not even likes using or knows how to use the ticket vending machines.

I would also not be surprised if some of the 'redeployments' included early retirements etc. and a general shrinking of the workforce, which is very unfortunate if that were to turn out to be the case.

Second, I was also told that Metrolinx are not bringing back the 16 Hamilton-Union Express for "a while." They are monitoring ridership and will increase service as ridership increases, apparently. It's kind of hard to accurately monitor ridership on a route that runs only once per day at 12:30 midnight. But alas, it looks like the 16 will remain effectively cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Losing the service desk at Kitchener GO (in 2019) was a bit of a blow - not only is the station there now locked more often than not, but there's simply no way to get Presto card encoding switched to "student" in a city with thousands of students.
 

Fritter

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Metrolinx has been pushing a "Self Serve" model for a while. The Pandemic has allowed them to push to the extreme. The redeployment of station attendants that you speak of, has been a transfer to train and bus touch point cleaning. The idea behind this this is to show best effort in keeping passengers safe and hopefully lure them back to using GO for their travels. The redeployment is not not officially permanent, however there is a general feeling among station attendants that this is the direction Metrolinx wants to go in
 

ShonTron

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The Hamilton GO Centre building was completely locked up for a while in March and April, with the GO and HSR bus platforms only accessible from Haymarket, James or John Streets, "in the interest of safety." This was despite other station buildings (and their washrooms) remaining open even in the height of the lockdowns. I suspect it was to keep out the many homeless who congregate around Downtown Hamilton.

But still, having an attendant at the busier stations still makes sense, not only for customer service (not all of us have smartphones), but also for security.
 

innsertnamehere

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I believe Metrolinx recently modified Confederation GO station to remove the station attendant booth as well and make it fully self-serving.

I get it, a lot of systems globally operate without station attendants, but it does put a "soft front" onto the system and makes it much easier to navigate for the inexperienced. I know that many, many occasional users who may only use the system a few times a year to go downtown for events rely on station attendants still.
 

ShonTron

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I believe Metrolinx recently modified Confederation GO station to remove the station attendant booth as well and make it fully self-serving.

I get it, a lot of systems globally operate without station attendants, but it does put a "soft front" onto the system and makes it much easier to navigate for the inexperienced. I know that many, many occasional users who may only use the system a few times a year to go downtown for events rely on station attendants still.
And there needs to be customer service spots at other places besides Union Station. Perhaps not every station, sure, but the major ones, and spread throughout the system for issues like Presto cards.
 

tmlittle

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I believe Metrolinx recently modified Confederation GO station to remove the station attendant booth as well and make it fully self-serving.

I get it, a lot of systems globally operate without station attendants, but it does put a "soft front" onto the system and makes it much easier to navigate for the inexperienced. I know that many, many occasional users who may only use the system a few times a year to go downtown for events rely on station attendants still.
Absolutely this. I think especially with a commuter-oriented system like GO, you have a lot of habitual/daily riders who are fully tied into transit cards and electronic fare, know their stations and routes well, etc., and that perspective can dominate. Occasional riders, especially older people, are more likely to benefit from service attendants at stations who can direct them to the right platform, sell tickets, give them the route to a destination, things like that.

And there needs to be customer service spots at other places besides Union Station. Perhaps not every station, sure, but the major ones, and spread throughout the system for issues like Presto cards.
I think there should be a consistent standard -- there shouldn't necessarily be attendants all day at every commuter station that sits basically vacant, but stations with certain passenger volumes, all-day service, the more major railway stations, and at least one manned station in each region/major municipality. The changes in the past few years feel like a "pullback" toward Toronto and Union that isn't exactly encouraging of people in other regions to use GO, who are exactly the population who probably need manned stations the most -- occasional users who are visiting a friend or relative, or going to Pearson to catch a flight, rather than suburban daily commuters who presumably already know what they're doing.
 

Undead

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You don't think some degree of team cohesion is important? There's a reason why corporations exist and every initiative isn't just hired out to a bunch of freelancers.
Last OT post, I promise. Yes, I agree with you. But I also think much of the corporate culture baffle gab is vastly overstated.
 

lenaitch

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Absolutely this. I think especially with a commuter-oriented system like GO, you have a lot of habitual/daily riders who are fully tied into transit cards and electronic fare, know their stations and routes well, etc., and that perspective can dominate. Occasional riders, especially older people, are more likely to benefit from service attendants at stations who can direct them to the right platform, sell tickets, give them the route to a destination, things like that.

I think there should be a consistent standard -- there shouldn't necessarily be attendants all day at every commuter station that sits basically vacant, but stations with certain passenger volumes, all-day service, the more major railway stations, and at least one manned station in each region/major municipality. The changes in the past few years feel like a "pullback" toward Toronto and Union that isn't exactly encouraging of people in other regions to use GO, who are exactly the population who probably need manned stations the most -- occasional users who are visiting a friend or relative, or going to Pearson to catch a flight, rather than suburban daily commuters who presumably already know what they're doing.
I tend to agree. For the occasional user, tourist, etc., one frustrating experience with unfamiliar technology or procedures may well drive either to their car next time or keep them away entirely. Additionally, as the population ages, the prevalence of things like carrying mobile data, ability to read print on posters and touch screens becomes more of challenge. Older folks tend to be more comfortable with dealing with a human being rather than trying to navigate technology with a line-up being them (provided the intercom is clear enough). There is also the perception of greater safety with an employee being around.
 

WillTo

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How about a happy medium?

Here is an example of a ticket machine with a video link to an assistant


Since PRESTO I have never once needed a Service Counter except when I got the Sunday Funday e-ticket but it was showing as "expired". Well my plan was to go to the counter at Highway 407 station but sure enough it was closed. So I missed my bus and resorted to plan B which was to use the pay phone (they still have those, figure it would be easier than using my own phone since the problem ticket was on it) to call Customer Service.
 

APTA-2048

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I saw this in my online travels. It presents a controversial opinion, but it makes some good arguements. What do you think? What impact will self driving cars have on GO Transit, specifically trains? Will people still have a reason to ride the train if cars/shuttles/pods are cheaper per mile and take you from origin to destination?

Is this another one of those things where Silicone Valley accidentally invents public transportation, except everything becomes privately owned?

Like let’s put people in individual cars. Oh but it’s not really efficient. A car with one person takes up too much space. Let’s pull multiple people in cars. Then what if the cars were pods? And then the pods join each other or follow each other closely. What if we put these lines of pods underground, in a tunnel where it’s out of the way...
 

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