By Linda Benson

I woke up on Labour Day morning and said, “GO” to Toronto….. Honestly I could not wait to see my granddaughter, officially 5 months old!!  I have only seen her once, when a friend drove me into Toronto and hung around while I was getting my hugs and cuddles in.

This time, I was going alone, on the West Harbour GO train.   There were a few minor issues, (could have been major but I took a deep breath).  It was Labour Day and for some reason this Go station seemed to be tightly locked up.  Running back and forth between the two locations, I was becoming a wee bit flabbergasted.  There were many people standing around, scratching their heads, we could see the train waiting, but we could not access the platforms.  One of the passengers drove down to Hughson Street Go Station, where she was told that the West Harbour station is unmanned, although they informed her that the only access to the platforms would be via the parking lot entrance.  She returned to the location where I and many others were waiting, parked her car and generously ran up the stairs (there were quite a few, but the elevator was not working!!) and let us all in.  The next train was just pulling into the station, so myself  (and many others) were feeling elated, albeit a little worn out, especially those with little kiddies and there were a few with mobility devices who seemed to be going back and forth between the parking lot and street level.  Yes, there was some frustration and many complaints about all those stairs (I was huffing and puffing) but for the most part, we were just happy not to miss another train.

The ride into Toronto, I disembarked at Exhibition, was smooth and very relaxing.  I didn’t know how many stations until my stop, so I was a bit afraid to fall asleep, and honestly with the gentle swaying of the train and the “click clack” sound of train, I was ready to fall into a deep sleep.  The ride itself took over an hour to Exhibition, which is before Union Station.

I noticed that there were a couple people who were having a difficult time, paying for a family, via the automated ticket machines.    I had a Presto Card, but still, not being a regular presto user, I was not sure where to tap my card.  So here’s some advice, there was nowhere on the platform or the train to tap it.  Not knowing this I had to run up a, seemingly never ending flight of stairs.  I realized it was 3 levels!!!  If you use the entrance closest to the Bay, as I did, you need to come through the street level entrance, to tap your card or use the machines.

There did not seem to be any washrooms inside the station or on the platforms, which I was searching for, but there are washrooms on the train itself, phew, thankfully.

After a 30 minute walk from my home to the station, and almost an hour trying to access the platforms, I was ready to go, on the GO….

Even though we had glitches, I have to say, the ride was awesome and I felt relaxed. It was only on my return journey that I noticed there were 2 other levels on the train, one being a “Quiet Zone”.  Although not so quiet, as there was a very irate man up there, he was thumping the seats and was generally very loud and unhappy.  I “quietly” retreated to the lower level!!!

You may be wondering if I would take the GO train from the West Harbour again, and the answer is a resounding YES.  I was able to speak to one stranger on the train, who gave me the low down on the journey itself, and why she takes the train into Toronto, oh and how not to get lost….

Although the train was quite busy, remember most of us had missed the prior train.  Everyone wore a mask, cleansed their hands before sitting, and there were plastic partitions between the seats.  I didn’t feel hemmed in or at risk.

So what would my recommendations be?  Get your tickets online if you can, or purchase a Presto card (55% discount for seniors, 65 plus).  Make sure you tap your Presto card before entering the platforms, and again before leaving.  Preferably use the main entrance rather than the one across from Bay Front Park.  Or, have someone drive you to the parking lot entrance, as access seemed so much easier from there. If you need to use the elevator, it might be a good thing to call ahead and see if they are working.   And, enjoy the ride!!

As this is my chatty page, all things North End, and my goal is to speak to one stranger per day, I would love to meet up with others, like yourself, maybe for a coffee or just to sit and chat.  If you would like to meet up, just leave comments for me and I will look you up.

Of course, what you tell me, will more than likely end up on this page, but only the good stuff, like what’s happening in the North End, the history of it and the great places to visit.

See you next month!