GO “Quiet Zone” is futility coupled with excuses

Posted on July 8th, 2013 Won't you help brighten a lonely comment's day?

The reactions to today’s news that GO Transit is instituting “quiet zones” on their trains received the typical didn’t-think-too-hard-about-it applause and accolades, no doubt from the same suburban readers responsible for the Ford plague loosed on the city:

“Thank you, Jesus! (and GO Transit). Now.. if only they can install headrests designed for people taller than 4’5″…”

“About time! Nobody wants to hear phone conversations about “Dude Iwas so wasted last night” or “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!” or “Tell Mom to take the steaks out of the freezer”. Thumbs up GO!”

“Thank Goodness!  I can’t wait to see this on the Georgetown (Kitchener) line.  There are some seriously unmannered women on my ride home who think the train car is their personal Starbucks – passing around drinks and food and yelling amongst themselves.  Everyone hates them…we can’t wait for the Quiet Zone!!”

Yes, thumbs up, GO! Now passengers can be assured that no one will be bothered by loud conversations or screaming children. The teeth that come with the new guidelines practically guarantee this:

What if there are no seats available on the lower level, but I don’t want to be quiet?

Passengers in the Quiet Zone are encouraged to abide by the Quiet Zone guidelines.

Who will ensure that passengers abide by the Quiet Zone guidelines?

The Quiet Zone is for the comfort of all our passengers, and we ask that all riders respect the desire for reduced noise and distractions in this area.

What should passengers do if someone is making noise in the Quiet Zone?

If the Quiet Zone is noisy, move to another coach or ask the person(s) making noise to reduce the volume.

Passengers should not press the alarm if someone is making noise in the Quiet Zone. The passenger assistance alarm is for emergencies only.

Will there be times when Quiet Zone is cancelled or suspended during a trip?

From time to time, Customer Service Ambassadors may cancel Quiet Zone if he or she feels it is in the best interest of the customers. This may happen during:

  • Special events (such as, sporting events, concerts and the CNE)
  • Train delays of more than 15 minutes
  • Trips that have many families and/or children onboard
  • Excursion trips (such as, Niagara Falls train trips)

So it’s up to passengers to enforce these guidelines (a euphemism for suggestions), and if someone is making noise in the quiet zone, you can ask the person to hush up or just move to another car. And if you want to be loud but can’t move downstairs? Well, by gosh, you’re encouraged to not be loud. There may, of course, be no Quiet Zone for the particular trip you’re on, so none of this may apply anyways.

Yup, this pretty much guarantees (a la Rob Ford), that loudness and rudeness will stop. After all, unruly passengers are among the most likely to respond to polite suggestions and finger wagging.


One could almost excuse such silliness as the useless hot air that it is, if it wasn’t for this little nugget found at the bottom of the Toronto Star article on the topic:

“Trains delayed because crews are investigating a noise complaint in the Quiet Zone won’t qualify for the 15-minute GO guarantee.”

The 15-minute guarantee here is what GO instituted about half a year ago to try to improve the system’s poor image. I can personally attest to the numerous failures GO has in its services, from unexplained delays to things like trains simply not showing up at all (presumably they were cancelled, but no one bothered to tell the people waiting).

The time guarantee was promised as a way of making GO pay for its service failures, but it doesn’t take long to see that it’s an attempt by GO to ensure that people stay in its system, not to make anything more reliable. Just look at what the guarantee actually says:

Customers will be credited the fare paid for the eligible delayed trip. PRESTO card holders in their 35+ trip discount periods will receive the reduced fare paid as credit.

Customers using single ride tickets will receive a credit voucher redeemable for the trip on which a delay was experienced.

Day and group pass customers will receive credit vouchers for one half of the pass price for a delayed trip, up to a maximum of two trips.

Your money won’t actually be refunded, you’ll get a credit so that you can once again experience the thrill of another GO cancellation. That is, if you meet the criteria to make you eligible:

To be eligible for credit under the GO Train Service Guarantee, PRESTO card holders must tap on no sooner than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the delayed train in question. For customers travelling using a single-ride ticket, that ticket must be purchased within one hour of the scheduled departure time.

Practically, this means that GO will refund exactly 0% and lose exactly $0. I’m sure they would make the argument that they’re losing money because they didn’t get it in the first place, kind of like a fare jumper riding for free, but that’s essentially the same as saying you lost $1 million in the lottery last night because you didn’t play and win.

That all being said, assuming you’re in the narrow window required to qualify for a “refund” GO nonetheless reserves the unequivocal right to refuse it when they claim that a delay or cancellation wasn’t their fault (and good luck in proving otherwise). Now they also include when someone is being too loud on one of the trains. Tomorrow it’ll probably be dependent on a certain shade of blue in the sky that day.

I wonder how many people now singing GO’s praises will think so highly of them when it comes time to actually take them up on their “guarantee”.

One Comment on “ GO “Quiet Zone” is futility coupled with excuses ”

  • Daniel J. Christie
    July 8th, 2013 7:56 pm

    For a number of years I was an engineer on that Georgetown run. If you were the crew of the first train to arrive you waited until the last of the four trains arrived. Then the collection of crews boarded a special GO bus back to Mimico. The trains laid over in Georgetown. So, I made sure my assignment was the first train to arrive. Why? Because I would gleefully decamp to a bar across the street from the station we called The Rose Garden where all those wonderfully mouthy Georgetown women went too. It was great fun. Quiet Zone? Christ, what a bumph piece of PR nonsense that is.

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