News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 02, 2020
 8.3K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 39K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 4.5K     0 

Doubt he shows up. Seems more interested in his narrative, than actual facts. @Reecemartin is better. But even Reece can't help himself sometimes. Guess it's a selling point for transit YouTubers to always act like public transport employees and execs are know-nothing neaderthals. Clearly, if they were running things, public transport would be perfect.
I'm not sure what the point of this kind of inflammatory post is. Most of the critiques are contrasting VIA, or other systems with other systems in the world. VIA preforms very badly when compared to other inter city systems and is the worst inter city train I've ever been on. It doesn't require arrogance or endless knowledge to suggest VIA improvements.
 
Always better to be polite - but some of the tripe that you hear in YouTube stuff is so wrong with fake opinions based on the wrong assumptions, that it's astounding. And I'm not just talking about transit here. You have to remember, that these folk aren't there to tell the truth, but to monetize their opinions - and sadly sometimes monetize our opinions in forums like this.

Buyer beware. Other than one or two trusted sources (which tend to focus on what has happened, rather than speculation or opinion on will happen), I simply avoid the genre. That said, Geoff Marshall's content is great. But he speaks out of longstanding knowledge and good research; rather than something he read in a forum last week, that's speculative at best.
 
And yet like Saunders, you constantly complain about VIA Execs and employees, doing exactly what he does: undermining faith in VIA as an institution.

Politicians aren't going to find reasons to invest in VIA when the public is convinced that VIA is a "zombie" full of useless, coddled public employees.
The regular Via employee, I have empathy for due to them working fora crown corporation that is politicized. I wish Via was more like Canada Post. Them getting new vehicles doesn't make the news. No threats of cutting service even when they have had losses (Of which they have had for the last decade). In short,they area government agency that is expected to serve Canadians with reasonable service.

The executives are beholden to the politicians of the day. Sadly, that means they cannot do what is best for Via to thrive, but do best for the politicians who sign the checks.

The author of that video most likely wouldn't want to come here to be attacked like so many have been doing since the video has been shared. Having said that, I welcome his commentary.
 
But the needlessly labour-intensive operating practices he discusses at the end of the video seem to stem directly from Via Rail itself, not the federal government. We're talking about policies like making everyone line up before letting them on the platform, weighing people's bags (and demanding $50 from them if their suitcase is larger than the carry-on dimensions), only allowing staff to open/close train doors, requiring a staff member for every coach, etc.

I'm not convinced most of the staffing practices Saunders was whining about in the video are choices not driven by regulation or legislation. Is the onboard staffing ratio driven by legislation (kinda like airlines requiring one flight attendant for every 50 pax or emergency exit) or policy (safety response, bilingual service, etc)? And it's not like our major stations are properly designed to avoid platform overcrowding (could be why they make people line up?).

The author of that video most likely wouldn't want to come here to be attacked like so many have been doing since the video has been shared.

Yeah. He might have to answer about his ridiculous insinuation that VIA employees are overpaid and driving inefficiencies.
 
Always better to be polite - but some of the tripe that you hear in YouTube stuff is so wrong with fake opinions based on the wrong assumptions, that it's astounding. And I'm not just talking about transit here. You have to remember, that these folk aren't there to tell the truth, but to monetize their opinions - and sadly sometimes monetize our opinions in forums like this.

Buyer beware. Other than one or two trusted sources (which tend to focus on what has happened, rather than speculation or opinion on will happen), I simply avoid the genre. That said, Geoff Marshall's content is great. But he speaks out of longstanding knowledge and good research; rather than something he read in a forum last week, that's speculative at best.
It is honestly hilarious how ironic this comment of yours is. Rather than actually doing the research of looking into his videos and history, you decided to apply your pre-formed opinion about all 'YouTubers' to him.

I worked with Paige on the early stages of research for this video and I can assure you that Paige is absolutely here to tell the truth. If his goal was to make a quick buck, he definitely wouldn't be spending months doing research, interviewing people in the field, doing GIS analysis, extensively documenting his assumptions and citing his sources. There are very few content creaters who truly do their due dilligence when it comes to creating content, but Paige is one of them. Another is Oh the Urbanity, if you're interested in broadening your list of trusted sources. But you really shouldn't have a list of "trusted sources" on YouTube who you just believe at face value. You should have a list of creators who do extensive research and clearly document their sources so you can check those sources yourself and at least understand the types of information which led to the conclusions in the content you watched.

That said, yes there are inevitably misinterpretations and errors in the videos. That is because Paige is a journalist, not a transport planner or even a railfan. That's why you'll find his work on the CBC but not at railway operations conferences. His expertise lies in exposing issues and telling narratives, not designing and operating railways. This particular video was a bit of a passion project following his previous videos examining Via Rail's operations, but if you actually do the research that you should have done before sharing such an dismissive opinion on him, you'll see that most of his videos are in fact not focused on sharing some proposal of how to do so, but are primarily focused on investigating issues and then as a secondary element, proposing some possible solution(s).

I'm not convinced most of the staffing practices Saunders was whining about in the video are choices not driven by regulation or legislation. Is the onboard staffing ratio driven by legislation (kinda like airlines requiring one flight attendant for every 50 pax or emergency exit) or policy (safety response, bilingual service, etc)? And it's not like our major stations are properly designed to avoid platform overcrowding (could be why they make people line up?).

Well if that's the case then we need to pressure the government to change those regulations. The point of the video really isn't to blame a particular person or organization, it's to highlight some issues that need to be addressed for Via to become a competitive and financially sustainable railway.

But I can't help but notice that GO Transit doesn't have any of those over-the-top boarding and service practices despite operating on the same tracks and serving many of the same stations (namely Union Station, whose narrow platrforms are often used as an excuse for Via's insane boarding procedures).

Yeah. He might have to answer about his ridiculous insinuation that VIA employees are overpaid and driving inefficiencies.
Where did he claim that Via employees are overpaid?
 
Last edited:
I'm not convinced most of the staffing practices Saunders was whining about in the video are choices not driven by regulation or legislation. Is the onboard staffing ratio driven by legislation (kinda like airlines requiring one flight attendant for every 50 pax or emergency exit) or policy (safety response, bilingual service, etc)? And it's not like our major stations are properly designed to avoid platform overcrowding (could be why they make people line up?).
The $77.7 million in „station and on-board staffing costs“ represent 23% of VIA‘s total labour costs ($339.5 million in 2022) and 11% of its‘s total operating expenses ($689.4 million in 2022). It really bewilders me that he choses that figure (of all possible figures!) to start his sudden rant without showing any hint of having reflected on the much more glaring question which is that „if only 11% of VIA‘s operating costs and 23% of its labour costs are related with serving customers, what are the other 89% or 77% actually spent on?“

It is honestly hilarious how ironic this comment of yours is. Rather than actually doing the research of looking into his videos and history, you decided to apply your pre-formed opinion about all 'YouTubers' to him.

I worked with Paige on the early stages of research for this video and I can assure you that Paige is absolutely here to tell the truth. If his goal was to make a quick buck, he definitely wouldn't be spending months doing research, interviewing people in the field, doing GIS analysis, extensively documenting his assumptions and citing his sources. There are very few content creaters who truly do their due dilligence when it comes to creating content, but Paige is one of them. Another is Oh the Urbanity, if you're interested in broadening your list of trusted sources. But you really shouldn't have a list of "trusted sources" on YouTube who you just believe at face value. You should have a list of creators who do extensive research and clearly document their sources so you can check those sources yourself and at least understand the types of information which led to the conclusions in the content you watched.

That said, yes there are inevitably misinterpretations and errors in the videos. That is because Paige is a journalist, not a transport planner or even a railfan. That's why you'll find his work on the CBC but not at railway operations conferences. His expertise lies in exposing issues and telling narratives, not designing and operating railways. This particular video was a bit of a passion project following his previous videos examining Via Rail's operations, but if you actually do the research that you should have done before sharing such an dismissive opinion on him, you'll see that most of his videos are in fact not focused on sharing some proposal of how to do so, but are primarily focused on investigating issues and then as a secondary element, proposing some possible solution(s).



Well if that's the case then we need to pressure the government to change those regulations. The point of the video really isn't to blame a particular person or organization, it's to highlight some issues that need to be addressed for Via to become a competitive and financially sustainable railway.

But I can't help but notice that GO Transit doesn't have any of those over-the-top boarding and service practices despite operating on the same tracks and serving many of the same stations (namely Union Station, whose narrow platrforms are often used as an excuse for Via's insane boarding procedures).
I really don‘t care that he fails to grasp that customer service is the only competitive advantage VIA has over its competitors like the car (much more flexible), bus (much cheaper) or airplane (much faster) and presents the employees who are the key reason for said advantage (and therefore are the most important reason why the Corridor generates rather than looses money) as a drag on VIA‘s finances (and by extension: the taxpayer). However, I don’t understand why he suddenly starts such an immature and unprovoked rant over such a benign - and if anything: surprisingly low - figure and even feels the need to hurl the F-word at VIA.

These last two minutes ruin what would have otherwise been an acceptable video for an amateur audience without any advanced knowledge about the matter and are in my very personal and highly subjective appreciation simply unworthy of anyone who calls himself a „journalist“. This may be acceptable in a pub after you had a few beers more than you should have had, but I find this a rather questionable way of making a living - especially if it looks so forced and insincere, almost like he realized only when finalizing his video that he needed to end it with a bit more of a bang to keep his audience happy…

***

These are just my three cents (you know, inflation is really rampant these days!), but I can’t stress enough that I don‘t think he‘s a bad person, journalist, content creator or whatever and I aknowledge with regret and shame that I‘ve been overly harsh (and most probably even slightly insulting at times) in the past with Reece Martin and other people who happened to have views quite contrary to those I happen to hold maybe a bit too dear. I‘d love to have a beer with either of them (or any of you!) and am sure we would have a good time with lots of interesting discussions and perspectives…
 
Last edited:
Always better to be polite - but some of the tripe that you hear in YouTube stuff is so wrong with fake opinions based on the wrong assumptions, that it's astounding. And I'm not just talking about transit here. You have to remember, that these folk aren't there to tell the truth, but to monetize their opinions - and sadly sometimes monetize our opinions in forums like this.
"Always better to be polite" followed by an even more inflammatory post, attacking the integrity of a respected UT community member, and YouTubers in general. The suggestions in the video are reasonable considering the vast array of things that could be done to improve rail transit in Canada.

and even starts hurling the F-word at VIA.
I was muttering worse to myself after my last trip to Montreal was an hour late each way. I think the video matches the frustration that a lot of Canadian have with the state of our intercity rail. VIA is pretty terrible by international standards, even when compared to poorer, developing nations. I found it pretty frustrating myself when I had a screaming baby and they announce, within a km of Gare Central that we're already 40 minutes behind schedule. Especially when there is no good reason that the trip shouldn't be under 3 hours to begin with. While the on train staff is a bright spot, I'd trade it for a modern, high speed, electric train in a heartbeat.
 
I was muttering worse to myself after my last trip to Montreal was an hour late each way. I think the video matches the frustration that a lot of Canadian have with the state of our intercity rail. VIA is pretty terrible by international standards, even when compared to poorer, developing nations. I found it pretty frustrating myself when I had a screaming baby and they announce, within a km of Gare Central that we're already 40 minutes behind schedule. Especially when there is no good reason that the trip shouldn't be under 3 hours to begin with. While the on train staff is a bright spot, I'd trade it for a modern, high speed, electric train in a heartbeat.
My entire point was that there are more than enough good reasons to be dissatisfied with certain aspects of traveling with VIA. Yet, the disclosed reason for his immature outburst of exasperation was the fact that VIA seems to have identified more pressing problems (possibly even some of those you just complained over!) than investigating why 11.2% of its operating costs are consumed by the very staff which is there to make your journey as comfortable and well-looked-after as possible…
 
Yet, the reason for his immature outburst of exasperation was the fact that VIA seems to have udentified more pressing problems than investigating why 11.2% of its operating costs are consumed by the very staff which is there to make your journey as comfortable and well-looked-after as possible…
I have yet to find anyone who feels that the effect of queuing to access the platform single-file, being checked for tickets twice and having your bag weighed and measured was that they felt more comfortable and well looked-after.

The reaction by virtually everyone I've talked to is the one that Paige portrays, namely that Via treats them like imbeciles, not trusting them to board the train themselves like every other railway in the world, including the other railway who boards from the same platforms in the same station.

More customer service does not necessarily translate to better customer service. People like to have employees available when they need them, but don't like being bothered all the time.
 
I found those final comments a bit disconnected from the rest of the video, and rather uninformed given what even us spectators know about who actually makes decisions around VIA and how little room they have to really transform things constructively. I'm surprised that his research didn't bring that to light.

But - he wasn't necessarily wrong with the point that ViA does not use its people as productively as they could. I agree with him that boarding is not streamlined as it could be. The need to queue up and show tickets to access platforms is indeed anachronistic. I have seen far better examples of "helpful" staff in other rail systems - but there are far worse also.. I generally find VIA employees as individuals very engaged and eager to help - but the roles as laid out may not be optimal.

- Paul
 
I have yet to find anyone who feels that the effect of queuing to access the platform single-file, being checked for tickets twice and having your bag weighed and measured was that they felt more comfortable and well looked-after.
Boarding experience is so much better if you stay seated untill the queue has almost dissolved itself. I don‘t understand the Canadian obsession with queuing before boarding has started…

The reaction by virtually everyone I've talked to is the one that Paige portrays, namely that Via treats them like imbeciles, not trusting them to board the train themselves like every other railway in the world, including the other railway who boards from the same platforms in the same station.
You wouldn’t believe how often I read in VIA‘s (internal) morning reports about trains making unplanned stops to drop off (or pick up) passengers who boarded the wrong train or where these unlucky passengers were even taxied (presumably at VIA‘s expense) to their destination, whereas with virtually every single railroad in Europe you‘d already be very lucky if they didn’t charge you full fare for whatever you accidentally travelled unticketed.

Whether VIA passengers are treated like sheep because they act like sheep or the other way around is of course an entirely different question…

More customer service does not necessarily translate to better customer service. People like to have employees available when they need them, but don't like being bothered all the time.
A „staff call“ button (like in an airplane) would have been a nice and useful addition for the new fleet and for once a feature rather than a bug to copy from air travel…
 
Last edited:
Boarding experience is so much better if you stay seated untile the queue has almost dissolved itself. I don‘t understand the Canadian obsession with queuing before boarding has started…
Outside of VIA making announcements asking people to do this, I don't get this either. If the seats are reserved there's literally zero need to queue up before a train, plane, etc.

On the other hand, I fear what some stations would look like if passengers were able to roam around the platforms as trains arrive and depart. Aside from general station design I don't think Canadian passengers are well-trained enough to understand basic platform etiquette for when trains are moving - maybe i'm being too pessimistic. It was a big shock to travel around Germany on DB for a few weeks and then have to return to VIA in that regard.
 
I don‘t understand the Canadian obsession with queuing before boarding has started…
I haven't ridden another train in the world where its necessary to line up or wait at all. You just scan a ticket on a fare gate and go to the platform. I'd assume VIA is rarely the logical travel option for most people, so I'm not sure they'd be aware that queuing is out of the ordinary. When I boarded with a stroller, we had to wait by an elevator until a VIA employee escorted us to the platform level which was very odd to me.
You wouldn’t believe how often I read in VIA‘s (internal) morning report about trains making unplanned stops to drop off or pick up passengers who boarded the wrong train or where these unlucly passengers were even taxied (presumably at VIA‘s expense) to their destination, whereas with virtually every single railroad in Europe you‘d already be very lucky if they didn’t charge you full fare for whatever you accidentally travelled unticketed.
This is very surprising for me to hear. Why would VIA interrupt the schedule because someone got on the wrong train? I suppose service is so slow and infrequent that you'd be a lot more stranded than in most places, but they really shouldn't ever be risking major delays to accommodate a lost traveller. No other form of transport would do that. That they do that is a bug not a feature. If I get on the wrong train, thats my fault, not VIAs.
On the other hand, I fear what some stations would look like if passengers were able to roam around the platforms as trains arrive and depart. Aside from general station design I don't think Canadian passengers are well-trained enough to understand basic platform etiquette for when trains are moving. It was a big shock to travel around Germany on DB for a few weeks and then have to return to VIA.
They could probably implement the relatively inexpensive roped platform screen doors that are common in Japan. Once the platforms are expanded at Union, I don't see why it would be a problem either way.
 
I'm not convinced most of the staffing practices Saunders was whining about in the video are choices not driven by regulation or legislation. Is the onboard staffing ratio driven by legislation (kinda like airlines requiring one flight attendant for every 50 pax or emergency exit) or policy (safety response, bilingual service, etc)? And it's not like our major stations are properly designed to avoid platform overcrowding (could be why they make people line up?).



Yeah. He might have to answer about his ridiculous insinuation that VIA employees are overpaid and driving inefficiencies.
For the long distance routes where meals are served in style and beds need to be made and where stations with staff are rare, extra staff on board make sense. The Corridor trains are not the same. Most stations have staff. Meals are not part of the experience. There are no beds to be made. I can see staff cuts on Corridor trains not greatly affecting the experience. Maybe having 1 or 2 on board makes sense, but remember, GO has none except for the fare inspectors that roam from train to train. I do not know what staff are paid, but regardless, they are not overpaid. On the Corridor routes, they are an inefficiency that could be better utilized. With all Corridor stations within cell service, and with new trains having onboard wifi, paper ticket checking should be a thing of the past.It is 2023. Why do I need to show a ticket to get on to the platform when 20 years ago, at the same station, I didn't with GO? Now, upper management being overpaid...I don't know how they are remunerated and so will not comment further on them.
 
Again, a friendly reminder to not feed the bear

I haven't ridden another train in the world where its necessary to line up or wait at all. You just scan a ticket on a fare gate and go to the platform.
Amtrak, Eurostar and major rail stations in Italy, France and the UK (presumably also Spain) come to my mind. All these only announce train platforms when the train is ready to board…

I'd assume VIA is rarely the logical travel option for most people, so I'm not sure they'd be aware that queuing is out of the ordinary. When I boarded with a stroller, we had to wait by an elevator until a VIA employee escorted us to the platform level which was very odd to me.
VIA’s boarding practices are built around occasional user, which doesn’t strike me as inappropriate. Neither does accompanying „Special Service Requests“ (i.e. passengers requiring help during the boarding process)…

This is very surprising for me to hear. Why would VIA interrupt the schedule because someone got on the wrong train? I suppose service is so slow and infrequent that you'd be a lot more stranded than in most places, but they really shouldn't ever be risking major delays to accommodate a lost traveller. No other form of transport would do that. That they do that is a bug not a feature. If I get on the wrong train, thats my fault, not VIAs.
Everyone in Europe knows how to take a train, therefore everyone would blame the passenger. In North America, the reference for intercity travel is the plane, where passengers are guided to their gate and wait like sheep until they are called for boarding (whereas for local/regional travel it‘s the transit bus, where you have to watch where to wait and what vehicle to board). VIA probably avoids a lot bad publicity by being so accommodating, but that also creates the need to keep the number of passengers boarding as low as possible, which leads to the paranoid frequency of ticket verifications…

They could probably implement the relatively inexpensive roped platform screen doors that are common in Japan. Once the platforms are expanded at Union, I don't see why it would be a problem either way.
That works in Japan with standardized EMU fleets (and thus door spacing) and very little platform-sharing of heterogeneous service types at busy stations, but it wouldn‘t work at Toronto Union, where GO bilevels, Amtrak and VIA trains (sometimes in jay-train configuration with the locomotive in the middle being shorter than a car) share the same platforms…
 
Last edited:

Back
Top