GO Transit targets commuters’ most irksome etiquette violations

Update: see previous post – November 6, 2015 TTC Fines (Updated Jan.1/09) and New Metrolinx Fines (Nov.5/15)

A survey of GO riders found that feet plunked on seats and loud cellphone users were among the top etiquette complaints.
A survey of GO riders found that feet plunked on seats and loud cellphone users were among the top etiquette complaints. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

New campaign confronts the five etiquette breaches that drive GO commuters crazy about their fellow riders.

The stink eye, the hairy eyeball, the death stare. Call it what you will, that look of disgust is probably a commuter’s best weapon when facing the kind of etiquette transgressions that can make a trip memorable for all the wrong reasons.

But GO Transit is trying to expand customers’ artillery with a new courtesy campaign that discourages self-absorbed riders from the kind of rude conduct their fellow passengers find most irksome.

From loud talking to dirty feet on the seats, these lapses in decorum were the ones mentioned most in an open-ended, online survey of more than 1,000 GO riders last fall.

“It’s amazing how important the etiquette stuff is,” said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

“If people aren’t following etiquette rules, it makes the trip memorable. (Riders) don’t want it to be memorable,” she said.

Even a little fun can rub some commuters the wrong way.

“We have some very humourous customer service associates and we get complaints about it. During March Break people will complain about noisy kids in the Quiet Zone,” said Aikins.

Although they fell outside the top five beefs, commuters also sniffed at fellow passengers who eat stinky food on transit and those who wear too much perfume.

photo by fightyourtickets.ca
photo by fightyourtickets.ca
GO Transit is the Province of Ontario's interregional public transit system linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area. GO carries about 57 million passengers a year in an extensive network of train and bus services that spans over 10,000 square kilometres. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
GO Transit is the Province of Ontario’s interregional public transit system linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area. GO carries about 57 million passengers a year in an extensive network of train and bus services that spans over 10,000 square kilometres. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The courtesy campaign kicks off next week and will roll out over the next year with posters on GO vehicles and stations, videos and social media messaging including the hashtag #etiquettefail. Its cheeky approach is in the vein of an award-winning anti-smoking promotion called, “Quit the Denial.” Instead of focusing on the health dangers of cigarettes, the ads equated smoking with other socially unacceptable behaviours — things like digging out ear wax.

“We’re really using it to spark a conversation with people. The marketing world proves that the conversation (an ad) sparks is more successful in changing behaviour,” said Aikins.

Most of the offences identified by GO riders won’t get you a ticket even if an enforcement officer comes through your train, although littering and putting your feet on the seat are punishable by a fine.

What do you do when you’re confronted by tactless behaviour? Aikins advises against open confrontation that can escalate.

She’s been known to shush people when they’re talking too loudly on their phones but admits that it’s not very effective. They just return the stink eye, she said.

“You have to really decide what you’re comfortable with,” said Aikins.

“We’re hoping this campaign will make it easier for people to talk to you about it by pointing to the sign. If you’re with friends and they do it, I encourage you to talk to them about it.”

GO Bus. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
GO Bus. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Top 5 etiquette violations

The lapses most frequently identified by more than 1,000 GO riders in an online survey last fall:

Feet on seats

67%

A GO transit rider stretches out on seats while riding the Lakeshore West GO train.
Feet on seats. photo by the Toronto Star

A GO transit rider stretches out on seats while riding the Lakeshore West GO train.

You wouldn’t do it at home, so why would people want to sit where you’ve rested your muddy boots or dirty bare feet? The train is not your living room, and forgetting it can cost you a $75 fine since this courtesy violation was enshrined in GO’s bylaw last year. As well as being gross, it costs money. The seats rip and need repairing more often. Who pays? You do, the riders and taxpayers who fund GO.

Loud talking on phones

60%

Loud cellphone talking bothered 60 per cent of GO riders who took part in a survey.
Loud Talking on Phones. photo by Cole Burston

Loud cellphone talking bothered 60 per cent of GO riders who took part in a survey.

Commuters adore the Quiet Zones in effect on the upper level of GO trains during rush periods. But they’re also a source of some angst because occasional GO users often don’t know the no-talking rules and GO staff can’t enforce them. There are no limits to talking or phone use in the off-rush and on other parts of the train. Point to the Quiet Zone signs or one of the new campaign posters to signal your displeasure with loud, gabby riders. Sometimes they’ll take the hint.

Littering

56%

Litter bothered 56% GO transit riders who took part in a survey.
Littering – passengers leaving their garbage on the seats and floor. Also leaving food and crumbs over the area that they had their feast. photo by the Toronto Star

Litter bothered 56% GO transit riders who took part in a survey.

Leaving a neatly folded newspaper on the seat is actually a way of recycling, as long as it’s today’s news. But beverage containers can spill and stain the seats or make the floor sticky or slippery. GO doesn’t have cup holders on the trains because they don’t prevent spills and they actually encourage people to leave their used receptacles behind instead of throwing them out. As for food wrappers and other debris — really?

Bags on seats

54%

Fifty-four per cent of GO riders in a survey said they were bothered by bags being left on seats.
Bags, knapsacks, briefcases, coats and clothers on unoccupied seats. photo by the Toronto Star

Fifty-four per cent of GO riders in a survey said they were bothered by bags being left on seats.

There are no luggage racks or overhead bins on GO trains. You’re expected to hold your bag on your lap or tuck it under the seat. But sometimes GO is part of a longer trip requiring airport-dimension luggage. It doesn’t always fit under the seat. If the train isn’t full, people don’t mind if you have to put a bag on the seat. But as it fills up, be aware that you need to move it. If your luggage is too large for a packed rush-hour train, consider planning the trip to avoid the peak crowds.

Loud talking, crowding doorways, crowding platforms

52%

Platform crowding bothered 52 per cent of GO riders who took part in a survey.
Loud talking, crowding doorways, crowding platforms. photo by Cole Burston

Platform crowding bothered 52 per cent of GO riders who took part in a survey.

These three drew the same level of ire from the surveyed GO riders. You can shush loud talkers, although transit officials advise against being so confrontational that the situation escalates. If you’re on a crowded train that stops to let people off, step down and leave them room to exit and then get back on when there’s more breathing room. The message around crowded platforms is really to look out for everybody’s safety. Don’t rush people down the stairs or step onto the track or into the path of danger yourself.

GO Transit, through Metrolinx, already has fines for most of the behaviour complained about by the passengers that participated in the survey above. The Go Transit fines were all updated on November 5, 2015 (see chart below listing all of the items). Here are some examples:

Feet on Seats – Set Fine of $75.00 (see item 60.1 of the chart below)

Littering – There are two Set Fines for this behaviour – $125 for “Litter Corporation Property” (see item 49 of the chart below) and $150 for “Deposit Waste on Corporation Property” (see item 50 fo the chart below)

Bags on Seats – Set Fine of $75 (see item 60.2 of the chart below)

Go Transit Special Constables will issue tickets for offences listed below.

GO Transit Fines Updated November 5, 2015

Metrolinx Part I – Last Updated: November 5, 2015

Metrolinx
Part I – Provincial Offences Act
By-law No. 2: Regulation of Regional Transit System (Metrolinx)
ItemColumn 1
Short Form Wording
Column 2
Offence creating provision or
Defining Offence
Column 3
Set Fine
1DELETED
2DELETED
3DELETED
4DELETED
5Alter, change, recreate ticketSection 2.3(a)$295.00
6Travel with altered, changed, recreated ticketSection 2.3(b)$295.00
7Attempt to travel with altered, changed, recreated ticketSection 2.3(b)$295.00
8Alter, change, recreate student identification cardSection 2.3(c)$295.00
9Travel with altered, changed, recreated student identification cardSection 2.3(d)$295.00
10Attempt to travel with altered, changed, recreated student identification cardSection 2.3(d)$295.00
11Travel with multi-ride ticket with excess number of cancellationsSection 2.16$295.00
12DELETED
13Fail to show valid ticket when directedSection 2.19$200.00
14Bring unsecured animal on transit systemSection 3.1$100.00
15Improper entrySection 3.3$150.00
16Improper exitSection 3.3$150.00
17Cross railway tracks at other than designated crossingSection 3.4(a)$150.00
17.1Enter on prescribed transit system property intended for use only by transit system vehiclesSection 3.4(b)$200.00
17.2Remain on prescribed transit system property intended for use only by transit system vehiclesSection 3.4(b)$200.00
18Cross platform edge or safety markingsSection 3.5$200.00
19Attempt to enter railway crossing when warning devices activatedSection 3.6(a)$200.00
20Go through railway crossing gateSection 3.6(b)$200.00
21Go around railway crossing gateSection 3.6(b)$200.00
22Go under railway crossing gateSection 3.6(b)$200.00
23Cross railway crossing while warning devices activatedSection 3.6(c)$200.00
24Disobey instructions of person in control of railway crossingSection 3.6(d)$200.00
25Operate vehicle in unsafe mannerSection 3.7$150.00
25.1Operate vehicle in reckless mannerSection 3.7$150.00
26Operate vehicle not incidental to use of transit systemSection 3.8$85.00
27Drive vehicle not on roadwaySection 3.9$95.00
28Operate unlicensed vehicle on Corporation propertySection 3.10(a)$85.00
28.1Operate vehicle in designated accessible area except as permittedSection 3.10(b)$300.00
29Roller skate on Corporation propertySection 3.11$85.00
30In-line skate on Corporation propertySection 3.11$85.00
31Skate-board on Corporation propertySection 3.11$85.00
32Wear roller skates on train operated by the CorporationSection 3.12$85.00
33Wear roller skates on vehicle other than train operated by the CorporationSection 3.12$85.00
34Wear in-line skates on train operated by the CorporationSection 3.12$85.00
35Wear in-line skates on vehicle other than train operated by the CorporationSection 3.12$85.00
36Operate bicycle except in areas designatedSection 3.13(a)$85.00
36.1Leave a bicycle in undesignated areaSection 3.13(b)$85.00
36.2Leave a bicycle unattended while on trainSection 3.13(c)$85.00
37Bring a bicycle on a train when prohibitedSection 3.14$85.00
38Bring a bicycle into Union Station when prohibitedSection 3.15$85.00
39Fail to obey sign on Corporation propertySection 3.17(a)$100.00
40Fail to obey instructions of proper authoritySection 3.17(c)$150.00
41Wilfully obstruct or interfere with proper authoritySection 3.18$295.00
42Knowingly provide false informationSection 3.19$295.00
42.1Knowingly provide misleading informationSection 3.19$200.00
43Distribute material on Corporation propertySection 3.20$100.00
44Place material on Corporation propertySection 3.20$100.00
45Solicit public without permissionSection 3.21$150.00
46Sell to public without permissionSection 3.21$150.00
47Attempt to sell to public without permissionSection 3.21$150.00
48DELETED
49Litter Corporation propertySection 3.24$125.00
50Deposit waste on Corporation propertySection 3.24$150.00
51Operate audio device/musical instrument/electrical sound device on Corporation property at volume that disturbs other passengersSection 3.25$100.00
52Expectorate on Corporation propertySection 3.26$100.00
53Loiter on Corporation propertySection 3.27$100.00
54Commit act contrary to public orderSection 3.28$125.00
55Urinate on Corporation propertySection 3.28(a)$125.00
56Defecate on Corporation propertySection 3.28(a)$125.00
57Use profane language on Corporation propertySection 3.28(b)$105.00
58Use insulting language on Corporation propertySection 3.28(b)$105.00
59Use obscene language on Corporation propertySection 3.28(b)$105.00
59.1Behave in offensive mannerSection 3.28(c)$100.00
60Interfere with ordinary enjoyment of transit systemSection 3.28(e)$125.00
60.1Place foot on vehicle seatSection 3.29(a)$75.00
60.2Place object on vehicle seatSection 3.29(a)$75.00
60.3Lie down on transit system vehicleSection 3.29(b)$75.00
60.4Lie down on Corporation propertySection 3.29(b)$75.00
60.5Fail to wear footwearSection 3.29(c)$75.00
60.6Ride on exterior of transit system vehicleSection 3.29(d)$150.00
60.7Hang on exterior of transit system vehicleSection 3.29(d)$150.00
60.8Stand on exterior of transit system vehicleSection 3.29(d)$150.00
60.9Project body part through opening of transit system vehicleSection 3.29(e)$150.00
60.1Board transit system vehicle when unsafeSection 3.29(f)$150.00
60.11Leave transit system vehicle when unsafeSection 3.29(f)$150.00
60.12Board transit system vehicle except as permittedSection 3.29(g)$100.00
60.13Leave transit system vehicle except as permittedSection 3.29(g)$100.00
60.14Interfere with transit system vehicle equipment operationSection 3.29(h)$150.00
61Obstruct operator’s visionSection 3.30$125.00
62Interfere with operator’s control of vehicleSection 3.30$200.00
63Operate Corporation equipment without authorizationSection 3.31$150.00
64Handle Corporation equipment without authorizationSection 3.31$150.00
65Interfere with passenger assistance alarm device on vehicle without reasonable causeSection 3.32$150.00
66Interfere with passenger assistance alarm device on Corporation property without reasonable causeSection 3.32$150.00
67Activate passenger assistance alarm device on vehicle without reasonable causeSection 3.32$150.00
68Activate passenger assistance alarm device on Corporation property without reasonable causeSection 3.32$150.00
69Smoke in undesignated areaSection 3.33$150.00
70Fail to provide identificationSection 5.3$125.00

The penalty provision for the offences cited above is Section 5.1 of By-law No. 2, a certified copy of which has been filed.

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