Sunday, March 16, 2008

Riders' Petition Rejected by Go Transit

GO Transit, which serves approximately 50 million commuters throughout the Greater Toronto Area a year, has rejected a petition by riders calling for fare rebates when service falls short.

The petition, delivered by Patricia Eales of Oakville, contained close to 11,000 names calling for the transit company to offer rebates to passengers on GO trains running more than 20 minutes late, or not arriving at all. It also demands elimination of a 15 cent per fare increase which took effect on March 14, 2008.

The Toronto Star reports:

They listened, but Pat Eales isn't convinced GO Transit's board of directors heard the deafening hue and cry of frustrated commuters demanding better service and a refund when trains are late.

"They just kept bringing up the same old excuses – the weather, the switches – and that it wasn't their fault," the Oakville mother of two said after tabling copies of an online petition at yesterday's board meeting, supported by almost 11,000 dissatisfied riders.

...But her requests fell on deaf ears. A 15-cent-per-ride fare increase on a single adult ticket goes into effect today. Board chair Peter Smith confirmed there will be no refunds, something he said would spell disaster for the system in the throes of a major expansion.

GO Transit relies on the fare box for operating funds, so essentially riders themselves would be picking up the cost of the refunds.

On a positive note, after rejecting the petition, the Board's chairman - Mr. Peter Smith, made promises to GO Transit passengers to improve the transit service.

The National Post reports:

Mr. Smith said Ms. Eales has had a “huge impact” on efforts to immediately improve the service’s reliability. GO has already responded by posting on its Web site the “departure boards” that are found in Union Station that give train and bus updates.

Yesterday, the board approved a three point plan that endorsed hiring a 15th board member, who would focus on customer service, establish a customer service advisory committee and an action plan to address many of the concerns Ms. Eales raised.

For her part, Ms. Eales said she will take her petition to the provincial government next, hoping to further improve the GO Transit commute.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto

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