When GOing gets tough

Until a recent daunting experience, I had never taken the GO train. Three weeks ago, when I had to take it from Scarborough to Mississauga, I felt like a kid about to go on a rollercoaster, excited and nervous.

I’m used to getting around using the trustworthy TTC and I’d never crossed the city’s boundaries.

The GO was foreign territory for me.

That morning, I arrived at the station and purchased my two-way ticket.

When the train arrived, I got on for an uneventful first trip.

But on my way back that evening, the train stopped at Mimico station and a young man walked down the aisle asking for tickets.

So this was the GO’s famous random ticket check I had heard about.

I wasn’t worried though. I had my ticket in my purse, so there wouldn’t be a problem, right?

But when I showed him my ticket, he took a hard, long look at it and leaned in closer to me.

“OK, this is the situation you’re in,” he started. “Why didn’t you validate your ticket when you boarded the train?”

I had no idea what he was talking about and I told him so.

He then asked me for a piece of identification and I handed over my driver’s licence.

By this point I was worried and missing the good old TTC.

He proceeded to lecture me with a rundown of the things that distinguish GO transit from the TTC but all I really wanted to know was what would happen to me as a result of this mishap?

“There’s a $110 fine,” he told me.

It had all seemed very simple in the beginning. You buy a ticket, you get on the train, end of story.

Apparently, I was wrong.

He continued by telling me that there are signs everywhere informing passengers to cancel their tickets at the proof of payment machines.

Cancel my ticket? Why on earth would I want to cancel my ticket?

He then explained that if I don’t “cancel my ticket,” I could come back 16 years from now and re-use the same ticket again.

After much debate, he finally gave me a warning and decided not to issue a fine – but not before taking my ticket and marking it with the word “VOID” in big, black letters.

Our conversation (also known as “my ordeal”) lasted as long as about two more stations after Mimico – so quite a while – and by then I just wanted to get off the train.

I shared my first-ever GO experience with a few friends and found I wasn’t the only one left with a bitter aftertaste from riding the GO train.

Perhaps GO Transit might look into adding a proof of payment machine in the train itself.

This would be easier for the passengers who can’t validate their tickets without missing their train, or even for those who, like me, were clueless about this procedure in the first place.

I appreciate the fact that I was lucky enough to encounter a GO train worker who understood my situation and let me off the hook.

If it had been a different person, I could be breaking into my piggy bank for spare change at this very moment to pay off that $110 fine.