Riding the Rails can give back a life!

My first husband (and current husband) was 29 years old when his television career switched from CKVR in Barrie to Global Television in Toronto. He was 46 when he moved closer to the lake and took up an office right downtown, still in television.

It was his job that brought us here initially. But the life we were building made us decide to stay here in Barrie when his paycheque moved south.

It’s a big decision with big impact. Since 1976 he has been driving a fuel efficient German car down Highway 400 to the inner reaches of Toronto. First it was the questionable comfort of a 1972 beetle. Then we switched to the diesel economy of a Rabbit, a few Jettas, a retro beatle, another Jetta… you get the idea.

At first, it wasn’t too bad a drive. Traffic didn’t really start until you reached Finch. And, because he works in the television industry, his commute times were odd, so he didn’t contend with much traffic.

It felt like a fair trade for work that he really loved.

The miles rolled on with the years and more people moved to Barrie and more people hit the pavement for their daily bread.

This past decade has taken a horrible toll on my commuting partner. White knuckled tail-gating drivers, cell phones at their ears make his life a risk every day. The hour has stretched to two hours each way most days and the work day for him runs from 7 am to 9 pm when he returns home… that is, unless he’s in the air for a flight to one event or another. He regularly experiences near misses in horrible accidents, truck rollovers, and he is often exhausted as he heads north for home.

Trouble is that it’s taking more energy to get to and from work than it’s taking to actually do the work.

He turned 60 in December and my gift was a 10-pack Go train trip stub. We also gave him a Sirius Satellite portable system so he can get CBC from anywhere!

He was like a kid in a candy store. First day on Go was last Thursday, January 3. He set his alarm for 6, made his lunch, packed up his technology, stopped for a ‘to-go’ coffee and made his way to St Paul’s where he boarded the Go train.

He counted the stops. He listened to radio. He cracked opened his brand new book about the life of Jack Nicholson. He watched people get on, cars fill up at the train got closer and closer to Toronto.

He arrived at Union Station and walked two blocks to the Sky Dome where his office is located. He walked past reception at 9:10 am, earliest he’s been in in years. He dashed off a happy email to each member of the family, sharing his enthusiasm for the best commute he’s had in 31 years! No stress. Extremely reasonable cost … $20 both ways… no parking costs, no fuel costs. We may even change his car insurance coverage!

The return trip was equal joy and our family life has a new lift to it!

The danger and constant threat that is life on Highway 400 has been traded for a pleasant time when attention can be diverted to other activities.

This is one happy man. Why share this with you? Because dozens of politicians, municipal staff, and ordinary people lobbied for years to get this train back on the rails. They stayed focussed. They continued to believe it would happen.

I’m full of gratitude. But, not so grateful as he is. He’s waiting for the big bonus, which will come any day now… his first train commute in a major snow storm. Commute time on those days was often over three hours each way… he’ll be the guy in the second seat of the train with the big grin on his face!

Thanks, Go!