How your mild-mannered backpack can become a menace to society – and other tips GO riders need to know

Metrolinx launches safety campaign to raise awareness of avoidable issues across our GO Transit system.

We don’t want to get on your back – but for everyone’s sake, and safety, we are going to put a bit of weight on your shoulders. Even as we ask you to take off that backpack, that’s waving in our face.

Every day when you get on and off our GO Transit buses and trains, as well as step onboard UP Express, you have a lot on your mind.

I have to make an appointment to finally change my tires.

 Did I even eat breakfast?

 Are reality stars really stars?

We want to give you lots of time to consider these things. But we also want you, more than anything, to be safe while in our care.

Backpacks are suspended from the ceiling, as a reminder that 'Nobody likes a backpack in their face' is placed nearby.

Backpack installation at Union Station to dramatize the concerns related to wearing a backpack– as it could get caught on a train or push another customer, especially on platform level.

Transit is massive across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario, and GO is a massive part of transit – and the lives of thousands of customers. We take your care – as well as the welfare of those fellow customers – seriously. But you need to as well.

We’ve launched a safety campaign across our mass transit system, including eye-catching installations, to remind you of the things you can do to keep everyone safe. You’ll notice those reminders will be obvious. In fact, even in your face.

Because we want you to get the message that you are important to us. We want you to go on and get those tires changed, finally grab a muffin and reason out where reality stars align up in the entertainment universe.

For many of us, safety seems like ‘common sense’. Even a universal agreement on what we must all do to remain safe.

But when you look out your GO coach window and see someone crossing the tracks to make it to their train, someone else standing past the yellow line, or simply not paying attention, you realize that safety may not be so common after all.

Because we’re human, and we all do some stuff that could suddenly put us in harm’s way.

Every day, GO Special Constables witness, on average, 35 incidents in which customers cross the yellow line, putting them at serious risk of harm.

“Our goal is to prevent avoidable customer accidents or safety incidents across our network by bringing attention to common behaviours that put them at risk of slips and falls, or much worse,” says Mark Childs, Chief Marketing Officer with Metrolinx.

“With these thought provoking installations we hope to encourage people using our system to reflect on their daily routines and inspire a proactive approach towards safety on each and every ride.”

Stairs are shown with warning signs reminding customers to hold the handrails and watch their steps.

Stair riser decals and bacteria resistant paint on handrails to encourage more people to use them and slow down, while also raising awareness of the dangers of slipping and falling on staircases.

With the series of displays and colourful reminders, we’re bringing awareness to the most common safety mistakes people make, so they can avoid them. This applies to safety around rail tracks and platforms, around bus terminals and bus driveways, being aware of personal surroundings, or while entering and exiting the parking lots.

Think it doesn’t apply to you, because you would never run across the tracks?

Twist your neck to look at the backpack you may be wearing. On packed platforms, backpacks can becomes hooked on moving trains. And they can bump fellow customers into each other – or even worse off the platform and onto the tracks.

And how fast do you rush to your parked car once your GO bus or train stops? Fast enough to put you at risk of falling or being hit by a car pulling out.

We’re not here to scold or nag. But we are here to protect. And that promise includes reminding our customers that we all play a part.

So when you see one of our safety messages, take it to heart – because that’s what we put into keeping you safe, each and every day.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. See something unsafe? Do something about it.

Report incidents to GO Staff Call Transit Safety at 1-877-297-0642

Story by Melissa Crowther, Metrolinx senior brand advisor.