Following my recent sojourn into primitive, erm, wheel based transportation in Brampton (bus transit), I thought it only fair that I give GO transit a shake. After all, rail is the future (or so I am told).
To begin, I am quite impressed with the choice of location. The hum of passing tractor trailers, the faint notes of diesel in the air, I only wish for frigid Ontario winter, perhaps a dusting of snow, and a fast blowing wind to cut through my jacket to make the experience more authentic. Alas, it’s cool but comfortable and I need neither a hat nor mittens. Steeles and Bramalea is welcoming and homey.
With a whisper, my train has arrived. I would have missed it’s arrival but for the courteous stranger who beckoned me not to miss my boarding. She tells me of her grandchildren and her upcoming retirement. She has a condo in Florida and will live out her days as a ‘snowbird’. We hug when she alights in Milton.
There are children playing a cute game of ‘I spy’ and an impromptu choir has begun a quiet rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railway Trilogy”. A little on the nose for my liking, but I am not bothered, for my masseuse is chatty, knowledgeable and quite friendly. I hear he’s normally booked solid but I lucked into a cancellation.
I arrived at Union just as my new friends and I completed our meal. Who knew the best Eggs Benedict were to be found in Car 3? Kelly, in the seat across from me knew, that’s who! I will see him again in June at his wedding. I declined the invitation to speak, for though our bond is strong, we did just meet this morning.
Leaving union station was, to say the least, a joy I didn’t realize mortal men could know. The crowds were a marvel, moving in unison as though an organized and well rehearsed flash mob, helping the elderly and infirm, sharing jokes, stories and arguing over who will pay for coffee. Such unity of human spirit I thought reserved only for Christmas! I only feel a tang of isolation; for I am an outsider. Though I am openly welcomed, I know that this trip is a rarity for me, and I am not one actually kin of these merry traveling folk.
I am now off the subway, having arrived at my destination. Back on streets, amongst the pedestrians and bus people, I can feel the warmth dissipate. The fellowship fade. I am again surrounded by strangers, choking on the sadness of reality of a city that does not have an extensive commuter rail network. It may only be 200 meters to my destination, but it feels like the gravity of three suns is holding me tightly at the exit of the subway station. My will must be strong. I cannot simply ride the rails all day. There is work to be done.
My life has been changed. I am unsure if I can return to “normal”. I will certainly never ride a “bus” again. Have you noticed that Bus is at the centre of aBUSe?!? It’s no coincidence. There was no stroller throne on the train today; there was no need. When everyone is joined in the brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity, there are no kings, no paupers, only family. Such is the pleasure of commuting on a train.
I know MayorJackson2018 will ensure that Brampton Amorim gets the rail network it needs and deserves. Before there is no one left to ride transit at all.