Woodstock Fishbowl Charter:
In late 2011, Woodstock became the sole transit property in Ontario to run a GM fishbowl in revenue service. As a result, the Toronto Transportation Society organized a charter on the last remaining fishbowl in service in Ontario.
Demand for the charter was so high, that a few weeks before the charter, TTS added a second bus: Woodstock’s only Classic. I chose to attend the charter along with my friend Mark.
The plan was to go to Woodstock the day before the charter and try to get some transit riding in before attending the charter the following day. We would take VIA train 73 to Woodstock and the next day, we would return on VIA train 78 following the charter. Mark chose to book his trip on accumulated VIA Preference points and go in Economy Class both ways. However, I chose to go in Business class on train 73. I wanted to go in Business class because earlier in 2012, VIA has opened a new; larger Panorama lounge in Toronto and I wanted to check it out.
This trip came on the heels of my trip to Halifax to attend another charter. Only three days passed between when I got home from that trip to when I headed out. The trip unfolded as follows.
June 1, 2012:
I got to Union Station at 11:13 am and went to the Panorama Lounge. I showed the VIA employee my ticket for train 73. I then went inside the lounge. The lounge was big! If I recall correctly the lounge occupied the space of what was once a restaurant.
I worked on this report for a few minutes before I went online. At one point, I got a free can of pop from the fridge in the lounge. I noticed a large crowd in the lounge. One disappointing feature of the lounge is that there are no coin operated massage chairs in the new Panorama lounge. There was one in the old Panorama Lounge.
Boarding of Business Class passengers began at 11:45 am. When I got to track level, it was raining hard. I had to make a dash from the top of the escalator to my coach.
I was seated in LRC Business class coach #3472. As a result of it raining on the platform, some economy passengers had boarded the business class car by mistake, so the VIA crews had to direct them.
I watched as the equipment from train 53 which was on the train to next to us depart for VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre.
I watched as the equipment from VIA train 44 arrived into Union and filming it pulling in. The CP strike was resolved so now train 44 can run all the way to Ottawa. The HEP went off.
Train 73 left on time. As we departed, I filmed the rest of train 73. My ticket was taken and I was given a choice of meal I also got some pretzels. It was raining out pretty hard.
As we passed the Exhibition grounds, I saw some track units doing maintenance on the line.
VIA now has a contest in which a lucky winner on each train on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor can win a $50 VIA gift certificate. The winner is also put in a draw to win a trip on the Canadian. The winner was announced, but it was neither my friend Mark nor I. The winner was in Mark's coach however. Mark had told me which car he was in before we departed.
As we passed VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre, I filmed it. I saw various pieces of equipment in the yard including a private coach, two refurbished Chateau sleepers and a refurbished Park car which will be used for an ultra-premium service on the Canadian.
The train stopped at Oakville where a few more people boarded my coach. A VIA train passed. It looked like it was led by VIA F40PH-2 #6453, the only unrebuilt F40 on VIA's roster.
The train stopped at Aldershot. I gained a seatmate. I put my laptop away as I was served lunch. Since I was traveling in business class, lunch was included in the cost of the ticket.
The train stopped in Brantford and departed a few minutes later. Shortly after leaving Brantford, I saw a Brantford Transit Nova LFS third gen.
About 20 minutes later, we were approaching Woodstock. We arrived over 10 minutes late. However, I had a trouble retrieving my suitcase as the luggage racks were stuffed full in the coach and mine was in the back. However, I was able to retrieve it after several minutes. I got off and photographed the train.
I filmed the train pulling away. I then took one more photo of the train.
I then photographed three boxcars that were painted as a mural.
I then went into the station. I eventually met up with Mark and we headed out. We eventually boarded a Woodstock Transit Nova LFS on route 4 and rode to our hotel. It was raining pretty hard. We checked into our hotel and went to our room.
I phoned home and worked on this report some more. Mark turned on the news and we saw that Union Station in Toronto had flooded. It was a really good thing we left when we did!
After awhile we decided to go out. I walked three blocks to where all six of Woodstock Transit's bus routes converge. All six routes had Nova LFSes on them. I photographed the buses.
I walked over by the VIA station. I didn't see any trains. I made my way back to the intersection of Dundas and Wellington which is where all the bus routes converge. I photographed all six buses individually.
I walked a few blocks before I bought some dinner at 7-11. I boarded the last route 3 bus downtown to Dundas and Wellington. The driver said she would be driving the fishbowl on the charter tomorrow. I said goodbye to her and walked back to the hotel.
Many of the stores in Woodstock close at 6:00 pm. I soon got back to my hotel. Mark went out for dinner a few minutes later. I went online. Mark soon got back.
I worked on this report some more. I eventually asked for a wake-up call at 7:30 am. We also eventually called it a night.
Click here for the charter: Woodstock charter part 2.