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Letter to the Editor: Thank You to Via Rail

By Louise Bark
November 28, 2013

On Friday, Nov. 8, my train arrived in Kingston at 9:10 p.m. The station closes at 9:30 p.m, and the earliest I could get an Access Bus was 10:30 pm, even though I’d called two weeks in advance to book it. Needless to say I was rather worried about waiting alone outside at the Kingston Station for an hour by myself.

I called Derek, the station manager, to ask if the cleaners still worked there past closing time, because they used to be. Apparently they aren’t anymore.

When he heard of my dilemma, he said he would ask an employee to work an extra hour of overtime so I could wait inside the warm station and stay safe. For this, I am truly grateful.

In light of the recent changes to the staffing at train stations, and bus terminals a few months ago, it is important to highlight this major safety concern.

Coach Canada started closing their station an hour earlier about six months ago. With no ability to use the toilet on the three-hour bus ride, and then having to wait an extra hour outside despite the weather, I realized I must stop taking the bus for safety reasons.

Thankfully, despite the recent cutbacks to staffing at Via Rail, including turning some stations into unmanned stations, Kingston still has staff and they still have the ability to accommodate by ensuring the safety of their passengers.

On Friday, the Kingston Via Rail station just delivered on an example of exemplary customer service; the kind that is supposed to be guaranteed to people with disabilities under, the now enforceable, AODA Customer Service law.

It is my hope that this public thank you will encourage corporate Via, and the bus station, to step back and realize that customer service and the safety of passengers, must exist at the stations as well. If a person is taking public inter-city transit, chances are, they don’t have easy access to transportation (or a car) to leave the station as well.

If you agree this is a valid concern, or you are worried about the lack of assistance at the stations for you or a loved one, please contact the Canadian Transportation Agency. It is their job to help solve these types of problems.

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