Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trains and boats and planes

In an original bid to cut down carbon emissions, Ontario seems to have opted to make the major airport in Toronto almost impossible to reach. The first hint of this scheme came as I attempted to catch my flight on Good Friday. Since it was a public holiday in Canada, I checked the bus times and concluded they appeared to be running on a Sunday schedule. Fair enough and really no problem, since Hamilton is a decent sized city (~ 0.5 million) and Toronto is close, so the network of transport is frequent even at weekends.

It transpired that travelling on Good Friday is actually an unforgivable sin. As such, it is not enough to cancel all public transport to prevent you from trying, rather half of all buses and trains are removed from service (hence the confusion when I glanced innocently at the timetables), so you may begin your trip but must end it stranded in the middle of nowhere. This is Canada. Most of it is empty space and they therefore do "nowhere" rather well. It took me one bus, one train and a panicked phone call to a friend (thank you Mubdhi!) to enlist his skills as chauffeur to make this epic 35 mile journey.

On my return, I was more confident. After all, the difficulty was just because it was a public holiday, surely. First off, I miss my flight. I confess I probably cannot entirely blame this on Canadian transport and a more honest spectator would point out the merit of rising half an hour earlier. However, no matter. I was put on the flight one hour later and reached my change-over point in Atlanta only a small amount of time behind schedule. We boarded ... there was a fault ... we disembarked ... waited ... changed gates ... waited some more ... got on a new plane and sat on the tarmac to show this off for a bit. Again, not really linked with Toronto. Still damn annoying. On a plus side it made it worth paying for the wifi connection in the airport lounge.

I finally arrive at Toronto at around 7:30 pm. Early enough, I thought, to safely take the bus back to Hamilton seeing as it's JUST DOWN THE ROAD. I find a public bus stop, but discover it's the wrong one and I have to go over to terminal 1. Upon arriving there (tired and weary by this stage), I find a shiny GO bus stop, complete with timetable, bench and a sign saying as of the 3rd April, they are not running buses there anymore. They recommended using a local bus service that doesn't run in the evenings.

I took a shuttle service back and billed it to my research grant. Enough was enough.

I have just booked my next flight which will be to New York. From Buffalo.

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