Bringing holiday cheer to GO commuters at Toronto’s Union Station

Metrolinx employees sing to raise spirits and money for United Way

As Maria Hurtado recently got off a Lakeshore West GO train, instead of just the usual soft thunder of commuter footsteps and safety announcement over the Union Station public address system, something else called to her.

Descending the stairs onto busy York Concourse, she was suddenly wrapped up in the warmth of the season – and nearby music.

It’s rare to see people in a rush to get to work in the heart of Canada’s busiest city, suddenly stop and take a pause for the joy of it. But commuters were pulled in – smartphones taking video and pictures – as they came across carolers who had found a home next to stairs leading to a train platform.

Some travelers even joined in to sing along to their favourite Christmas songs.

“It’s really nice to see the Christmas carols. It`s a good way to start the day,” said Hurtado. “It gives your routine a little bit of warmth.

“Everyone’s doing the same thing every day, it’s nice to see something different.”

Metrolinx employees annually get together around the holiday season to sing seasonal standards inside Union Station and raise funds for the United Way Greater Toronto. With a goal of $5,000 this year, the group hopes lowering the blood-pressure of commuters may also help  raise money for a good cause.

As the group sang, business people and parents pushing strollers came forward to add money to a collection box.

Nearby, a young couple met one another in the middle of the Concourse, stealing a kiss as they were serenaded by the carolers.

“I can’t be more proud than I am right now to see the happy faces as we sing Merry Christmas,” said holiday singer James Burchell, community relations specialist on GO Expansion. “We’re doing this for the United Way. This is the time they need us [the] most.” 

You can catch the Metrolinx carolers sing classic Christmas tunes like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer on December 5 and December 12 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., with their final performance on December 19 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The fundraising initiative was originally started by Metrolinx customer care coordinator, Lori-Ann Smith in 2012, after participating in a workplace singing competition, Canada Sings.

Now, it entertains thousands of customers as they rush by – some pausing long enough to leave the movement to the music.

Story by Heather Glicksman, Metrolinx communications coordinator.

Video and photos by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson, senior advisor – media relations and issues.