When Oakville resident Pat Eales stopped commuting into Toronto in 2008, GO Transit lost its most vocal critic and riders their leading advocate. Ms. Eales sponsored the original electronic rider petition that garnered 11,000 supporters early last year.
What does she say about GO’s response? “They have tried to change some things, but they keep going back to the ‘We’re blameless and we can’t help it’ (refrain).” The agency too often tries to blame delays and cancellations on “all the same reasons,” she says, such as funding shortfalls, winter weather or freight trains. Eales states, “GO needs to be more transparent and more proactive.”
I have to agree with her — especially on the transparency part. GO Transit appears to lie somewhere between a public agency that’s formally accountable to its riders and a private organization that wishes to be judged only by the quality of its product.
If on time performance is a key measure of service, GO has little improvement to show compared to last winter. December 2008 on time figures (the most recent to be made public) are roughly the same as a year earlier.
As for accountability — observe this week’s fare hike. Single-trip prices are set to increase an average of five per cent March 14. The news was not on gotransit.com yesterday. The agency’s board of directors is set to vote on the hike just a day before it goes into effect — rubber-stamping a decision that seems to have already been made.
The public barely have a chance to scrutinize the board’s decisions. Meeting minutes are not easily available. What’s more, I’ve been asking for about a year if official board reports will someday be distributed electronically — let alone put online like agencies such as TTC or Metrolinx do. The answer (also for about a year) has been ‘We’re working on it.’