Raptors win hearts and minds of a city – and country

Few things tend to dominate the heartbeat of Toronto. As a major metropolitan centre, the city is used to major events. But the Raptors have pulled people together in a rare unified cause. One that’s apparently bigger than a single city. We asked UP Express and GO Transit riders – all dressed in their Raptor’s team colours – about this sense of common national pride.

Our customers are wearing their hearts on the sleeves.

And on their backpacks.

And caps. And shirts. And even dinosaur socks.

No matter what else is happening in Ontario – or Canada and beyond – it seems every second conversation revolves around the Toronto Raptors. And chances are, someone within reach of you now is either wearing, or at least owns, a piece of Raptors clothing.

It has become the fashion accessory of Spring, 2019.

The talk and the team colours go beyond a championship. It revolves around a common pride.

We asked UP Express and GO Transit passengers on June 10 – all dressed in Raptors swag before the big game – about that feeling in the air.

Four friends stand and pose for the camera

For friends and Hamilton students, from left, KianaJohnson-Portillo, Ria Daniel, Laura llano and Isis Igwe, it’s a time to be part of an important moment. “This is about being Canadian,” said Isis. “It’s history, right here,” added Kiana. (Photo by Thane Burnett)

 

Eugene Hay Sr. poses with his children.

For Mississauga residents and GO passengers Eugene Haye Sr., and his children, Eugene, 5, and Emma, 7 – both of the children in Raptors caps – it meant family memories. “An it’s a comradery for an entire city,” said Eugene Sr. For his son, it was more about the moment: “I get excited when they score,” Eugene Jr. explained. (Photo by Thane Burnett)

 

Andrew Wong waits for a GO train.

GO customer Andrew Wong, as Hamilton student working on his PHD, said few things can bridge divides like sport: “It brings us together. It’s greater than just a city. It’s a sense of belonging (for everyone).” (Photo by Thane Burnett)

Canadian Kyle Mason stands next to the entrance for Union Station.

Canadian Kyle Mason, who lives and works in finance in the Cayman Islands, as he returned to Toronto specifically for the June 10 game – making his way from Pearson International Airport using UP Express: “You can feel the vibe. It’s in the air. Something different.” (Photo by Thane Burnett)

Mike DaCosta – a newborn Raptors fan – is shown after arriving at the UP Express station at Union Station.

Mike DaCosta – a newborn Raptors fan – as he jumped off UP Express at Union Station: “Everyone is on the wave together. It’s bringing everyone together.” (Photo by Thane Burnett)

Metrolinx is onboard with joining our customers in supporting the Raptors. But we also want to make sure everyone is safe as they celebrate.

As today’s (June 10) game takes place, Metrolinx has been working closely with our partners to develop a plan for GO Transit customers. Extra Transit Safety Officers and station staff will be on hand at Union Station and across the system.

Customers should plan ahead and be prepared — sign up for On The GO Alerts, follow @GOTransit and the line accounts, and check the website – just click here – for service updates.

  • We have extra trains on standby for Lakeshore after the game ends. Customers are encouraged to pay attention to GO Transit’s social media channels and website for information regarding when the trains will be leaving.
  • Due to road closures and to ensure safety, Union Station Bus Terminal will need to be closed at approximately halftime. GO buses that normally come through the station will need to detour.
  • GO bus trips will begin and end at Hwy. 407 Station. Customers with a valid GO fare can transfer without extra payment between Hwy. 407 Station and Union Station tonight.
  • Customers heading west can take a Lakeshore train to connect with buses at Port Credit Station.

There will be lots of people celebrating the Raptors. Customers are reminded to spread out along the entire platforms, listen to announcements and staff instructions, and stay well back from the yellow line.

Keep the party happy and safe. And keep wearing your heart on your sleeves.