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There was something funky going on on the Milton train at Union last night. The doors closed and opened again at least 10 times within a 10 minute timeframe. Might this new operating practice have something to do with it?
 
To make people realize hard that they should leave more buffer?
If you want to engrain discipline what you need is consistency. If you close always close the doors exactly at the departure time, and depart on time, then people who left too little buffer will miss the train. That will definitely make them realize that they left too little buffer. But if someone misses the train because the CSA closed the doors early well in advance of the departure time, that passenger's conclusion will not be that they left too little buffer, it will be that GO is cruel to its riders, and that riding public transit is unncessarily stressful and demeaning.

GO has no business playing mind games to trick a few undisciplined riders into getting to the station on time, at the expense of the vast majority riders who do. GO's focus should simply be to publish a realistic schedule, and try their best to reflect that schedule as accurately as possible.
 
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GO has no business playing mind games to trick a few undisciplined riders into getting to the station on time, at the expense of the vast majority riders who do. GO's focus should simply be to publish a realistic schedule, and try their best to reflect that schedule as accurately as possible.

I’m in agreement in principle, but the challenge is that these undisciplined people do things that are absurdly unsafe. The quandry for GO is that the leave-on-time-period approach could lead to incidents and even fatalities.

The obvious answer is to have security people who intervene.- up to the point of writing tickets - when people crash the doors. Or have crews hold the train until crashers move away, but refuse to open the doors to let them on.

There is a definite sense of gameplay, or even entitlement, that says, if I can make the crew open up, I win. And also a willingness to remember the facts differently…. I was only ten seconds late, surely that’s not something that should bar me from making the train. And in the fishbowl world of aggressive media and social media, public institutions carry the onus to be squeaky clean. Our society has remarkably little tolerance for officialdom drawing hard lines in the sand. Not tolerating thirty-second lateness can come across as very anal…. just like how drivers see a radar trap holding them to the exact speed limit as anal…. you gotta give me ten km/h kind of thing.

My value system says Darwin should prevail, but the higher-road says do what is safest. Maybe the time honoured UK practice of platform staff with whistles and white flags - or buzzers and flashing lights - would be constructive. Closing the doors early is definitely not a good solution, however.

- Paul
 
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I’m in agreement in principle, but the challenge is that these undisciplined people do things that are absurdly unsafe. The quandry for GO is that the leave-on-time-period approach could lead to incidents and even fatalities.

The obvious answer is to have security people who intervene.- up to the point of writing tickets - when people crash the doors. Or have crews hold the train until crashers move away, but refuse to open the doors to let them on.

There is a definite sense of gameplay, or even entitlement, that says, if I can make the crew open up, I win. And also a willingness to remember the facts differently…. I was only ten seconds late, surely that’s not something that should bar me from making the train. And in the fishbowl world of aggressive media and social media, public institutions carry the onus to be squeaky clean. Our society has remarkably little tolerance for officialdom drawing hard lines in the sand. Not tolerating thirty-second lateness can come across as very anal…. just like how drivers see a radar trap holding them to the exact speed limit as anal…. you gotta give me ten km/h kind of thing.
What unsafe situations are you imagining? The CSA is always monitoring the doors while they're closing to see if anyone gets stuck, and trains can't start moving until the doors are closed.

Here in the Netherlands I've never heard people complain about how precisely NS times departures. When they miss the train, they seem to blame themselves rather than NS or the conductor. The one exception is when trains depart on time even though there is a connecting train which is arriving a bit late - causing passengers to miss the connection. In general they don't hold connections on lines with frequent service, but I have experienced some cases on infrequent lines where they did hold trains to preserve a connection. Because in that case there are a lot of people missing the train, and it's not their own fault their arriving train was late.

Having lived for years with a train system which times departures to the second, without any apparent safety issues, I'm really having difficulty understand how it could be a problem.
My value system says Darwin should prevail, but the higher-road says do what is safest. Maybe the time honoured UK practice of platform staff with whistles and white flags - or buzzers and flashing lights - would be constructive. Closing the doors early is definitely not a good solution, however.
Before closing the doors, GO CSAs announce "doors are now closing, please stand clear of the doors", and then there's a door chime with flashing lights. It is already abundantly clear when the doors will be closing.
 
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What unsafe situations are you imagining? The CSA is always monitoring the doors while they're closing to see if anyone gets stuck, and trains can't start moving until the doors are closed.

Here in the Netherlands I've never heard people complain about how precisely NS times departures. When they miss the train, they seem to blame themselves rather than NS or the conductor. The one exception is when trains depart on time even though there is a connecting train which is arriving a bit late - causing passengers to miss the connection. In general they don't hold connections on lines with frequent service, but I have experienced some cases on infrequent lines where they did hold trains to preserve a connection. Because in that case there are a lot of people missing the train, and it's not their own fault their arriving train was late.

Having lived for years with a train system which times departures to the second, without any apparent safety issues, I'm really having difficulty understand how it could be a problem.

Before closing the doors, GO CSAs announce "doors are now closing, please stand clear of the doors", and then there's a door chime with flashing lights. It is already abundantly clear when the doors will be closing.

I have seen people try to halt the closing door or even pry the doors open after they have closed (one sees this frequently on the TTC subway, and that practice may be transferring to GO). The result maybe someone clinging to the doors and standing on the step as the train starts to move.

The CSA may not have clear line of sight to both ends of the train. The doors will alarm, but unlike TTC where the train will reliably not start while the doors are abused, the connectivity between doors, control, CSA, and engineer may feel a bit less fail-safe. Crews will understandably take the safest course, ie not start the train. There is then a starting match between the CSA and the passengers on the platform. Again, crews may feel safer if they "blink" and reopen the doors instead of dissatisfying a customer who may file a complaint. This is where the inappropriately aggressive customer clearly wins.

If you have ever taken GO at night after events downtown, where platforms are packed and the urge to cram on and just push people inwards is great...... GO customers are very untrusting of GO - and maybe a bit pumped or intoxicated - so getting on board and not waiting for the next train (which may be a long way off) is just too compelling. I suspect the same happens at rush hour. GO Security people seldom intervene unless the doors are unable to close, and then are more likely to urge people to push in than to get off and wait.

The issue is clearly bad-behaving customers and not attributable to the equipment or the operators - but as I say, we seem to treat bad behavers with kid gloves.

More innocently, people coming off the stairs will impulsively run towards the train when they first see the doors about to close. Running on those narrow platforms is inherently unsafe. The one minute pause between door closing and train moving may have some benefit in calming movement on the platform.

- Paul
 
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I have seen people try to halt the closing door or even pry the doors open after they have closed (one sees this frequently on the TTC subway, and that practice may be transferring to GO). The result maybe someone clinging to the doors and standing on the step as the train starts to move.

The CSA may not have clear line of sight to both ends of the train. The doors will alarm, but unlike TTC where the train will reliably not start while the doors are abused, the connectivity between doors, control, CSA, and engineer may feel a bit less fail-safe. Crews will understandably take the safest course, ie not start the train. There is then a starting match between the CSA and the passengers on the platform. Again, crews may feel safer if they "blink" and reopen the doors instead of dissatisfying a customer who may file a complaint. This is where the inappropriately aggressive customer clearly wins.

If you have ever taken GO at night after events downtown, where platforms are packed and the urge to cram on and just push people inwards is great...... GO customers are very untrusting of GO - and maybe a bit pumped or intoxicated - so getting on board and not waiting for the next train (which may be a long way off) is just too compelling. I suspect the same happens at rush hour. GO Security people seldom intervene unless the doors are unable to close, and then are more likely to urge people to push in than to get off and wait.

The issue is clearly bad-behaving customers and not attributable to the equipment or the operators - but as I say, we seem to treat bad behavers with kid gloves.

More innocently, people coming off the stairs will impulsively run towards the train when they first see the doors about to close. Running on those narrow platforms is inherently unsafe. The one minute pause between door closing and train moving may have some benefit in calming movement on the platform.
If someone has wedged themself in the door, then yes it may be necessary to reopen the doors to dislodge them. And yes if there is a continuous stream of passengers boarding then obviously they will keep the doors open until they have boarded or the train is full. Obviously common sense dictates that these unusual situations do result in some late departures, including in the Netherlands.

I'm not saying that the doors need to close at all costs at the departure time regardless of what's happening on the platform. But if there are only a few people running for the train, it is contrary to the best interests of riders to delay the departure to accommodate them. No matter when they close the doors, there can always be another person approaching the platform, so the CSA needs to draw the line somewhere. And aside from unusual situations such as those you described, that line should simply be a precise moment relative to the departure time rather than some arbitrary and inconsistent judgement on the part of the CSA.
 
There is a definite sense of gameplay, or even entitlement, that says, if I can make the crew open up, I win. And also a willingness to remember the facts differently…. I was only ten seconds late, surely that’s not something that should bar me from making the train. And in the fishbowl world of aggressive media and social media, public institutions carry the onus to be squeaky clean. Our society has remarkably little tolerance for officialdom drawing hard lines in the sand.
Passengers are entitled to safety at all times, even if their actions may annoy us. I personally don't see how sticking your hand in a vehicle doors is any different from doing it in an elevator door, which is something we all do. I should note that I appreciate your honesty about your views on whether passengers deserve safety at the doors.

The timetable also includes running time supplement to account for variation in process times. If the timetable falls apart because someone stuck their hand in a door, it wasn't good to start with.
 
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Passengers are entitled to safety at all times, even if their actions may annoy us. I personally don't see how sticking your hand in a vehicle doors is any different from doing it in an elevator door, which is something we all do. I should note that I appreciate your honesty about your views on whether passengers deserve safety at the doors.

The timetable also includes running time supplement to account for variation in process times. If the timetable falls apart because someone stuck their hand in a door, it wasn't good to start with.
If subway trains reopened the doors every time someone stuck their arm in, they would never leave busy stations. That would limit the line's capacity, requiring frequency to be reduced.

Elevators have 1 door. GO Trains have up to 24.

Careful what you wish for.

And besides, do you honestly think someone would be injured by a GO train door? I haven't tried it personally but I assume they are like subway doors in that they are designed to hit people without causing harm.
 
If subway trains reopened the doors every time someone stuck their arm in, they would never leave busy stations. That would limit the line's capacity, requiring frequency to be reduced.

Elevators have 1 door. GO Trains have up to 24.

Careful what you wish for.

And besides, do you honestly think someone would be injured by a GO train door? I haven't tried it personally but I assume they are like subway doors in that they are designed to hit people without causing harm.

If a subway train departs with a passenger’s hand in the door, they could be seriously or fatally injured. In the US, there were two fatal trap-and-drags last year (in Boston and New York). At some point, the doors have to reopen.

The best doors from a safety perspective are those on German Trams and driver-only trains in Austria and Switzerland. The doors (which contain the same sensors as in elevators) won’t reopen immediately if you stick your hand in, but the vehicle will unable to move. The doors are as safe as an elevator door, but doesn’t have the feedback we associate with elevators.
 
If a subway train departs with a passenger’s hand in the door, they could be seriously or fatally injured. In the US, there were two fatal trap-and-drags last year (in Boston and New York). At some point, the doors have to reopen.

The best doors from a safety perspective are those on German Trams and driver-only trains in Austria and Switzerland. The doors (which contain the same sensors as in elevators) won’t reopen immediately if you stick your hand in, but the vehicle will unable to move. The doors are as safe as an elevator door, but doesn’t have the feedback we associate with elevators.
TTC Subway trains are also interlocked. The train physically cannot move until all of the doors are fully closed.

And GO train operators don't just hit the door close button and hope for the best. The CSA is required to visually confirm that all doors are fully closed before they enter the train and depart.
 
A hand or arm may prevent a door from fully closing, but something smaller, like a piece of clothing can be trapped and still make it appear as closed to the system.

I often read RAIB reports from the UK, and item trapped in door, dragging a passenger for some distance is fairly common. I cannot recall it happening too much on the TTC or GO though.
 

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