Have we got a story for year – As we break a record in views, here’s the year’s best (so far) Metrolinx News features

As this site continues to grow, let’s look at some of the stories that you’ve clicked on during a tumultuous 2020 – as well as some largely undiscovered gems.

Transit customers, communities and the plain curious seem to find something interesting right here.

Metrolinx News passed an historic milestone, in terms of the number of people finding their way to this site – most through search engines, with social media coming second. With months yet to go in 2020, we have already surpassed the total number of visitors and views for all of last year.

We’ll take that as a bit of a pat on the back that our direction – to tell our stories, as well as those who use or are impacted by GO Transit, UP Express and PRESTO, by using traditional journalism – is working.

A man looks at his phone and connects to the portal.

A Metrolinx employee logs into the free Wi-Fi content portal now available on most GO Transit vehicles. (Metrolinx photo)

But without being too humble, it’s really about your choices. You’ve taken time away from other chores or distractions, to check in and read our features and breaking news – all written by those Metrolinx employees and experts, closest to the transit topics.

We continue to learn what things interest you, and what you’re not so crazy about. That impact where we put our energy – and words, images and video – in the future.

But while we’re looking, and planning, for the future, we thought we’d take a moment and look back at some of the stories you’ve clicked on the most, so far, in 2020 – as well as a couple that are worthy of attention, but you may have missed during a year of upheaval and uncertainty.

Here are some of the stories that were, and are, worth your time.

COVID UPDATE

To no great surprise, our top story for 2020 has been a main COVID-19 page, that includes the latest updates since the pandemic caused most non-essential workers to suddenly come to a stop, and shelter at home. You can find that main feature here.

HERO DRIVER

Imag a GO bus.e of Bryan in front of a bus.

Bryan Jeresano, a seven-year bus driver with GO Transit, who came to the aid of a young woman. (Metrolinx photo)

Our second most popular feature has been about a GO Transit bus driver who saw something disturbing – and decided to step in to help. Many readers, who commented on social media, saw it as a moment of humanity and caring. Click here if you missed that story.

PRESTO CHANGE-OH

Getting the most out of your PRESTO card seems to be a high priority for readers.

A woman looks at the PRESTO app.

A PRESTO customer loads a card into the app. (Metrolinx photo)

This recent feature on tips to take advantage of NFC with the PRESTO APP caught a lot of attention.

50 YEARS ON GO BUS

Remember, when you were you, that first ride on a bus?

We do.

In fact, we’ve been telling readers about the origins and history of the GO bus, as GO Transit celebrates a half-century moving the vehicles around Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region.

For those features, as well as others on GO bus, just click here.

FIRST RUNS

Anthony Pezzetti stands in front of a bus, with raised hands.

A historic moment is captured as Anthony Pezzetti, Director of Bus and Rapid Transit Services, stands next to bus #2576, the first bus to ever enter the new Union Station Bus Terminal. (Metrolinx Photos)

But readers aren’t just interested in looking back – but ahead as well. In June, we published images of the first buses to be tested inside the new Union Station Bus Terminal, which will open later this year.

The pictures gave a glimpse of the dramatic change from the existing downtown GO bus hub.

And if you missed it, just climb aboard here.

AS FAST AS A SPEEDING LOCOMOTIVE?

Here’s a story that did well, but you may have missed. It breaks down the rules and physics that allow GO trains to speed up or slow down across major Ontario lines.

The feature is interesting to anyone who’s ever been on a train and wondered to themselves: “Why have we suddenly slowed down?”

You can find the answers here.

WHERE THERE’S NO SMOKE

A photo of GO passengers in the 1960s, one with a cigarette

GO passengers in the 1960s exercising their right to smoke on the train. (Metrolinx photo)

Here’s one you may not have seen from early January – and is perhaps more interesting, given non-medical masks are now required when travelling on GO Transit. It’s a feature that looks back to January 1978, when smoking was stopped on GO vehicles.

The facts and images are fascinating. And keep an eye out for a picture of a man who looks a bit like a slightly confused actor Ryan Gosling. Find him – and the story – by clicking here.

THE PRICE OF HEROISM

And finally, check out this hidden and human gem, by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx’s senior manager of media. It’s about the struggles, and triumphs, of a Metrolinx employee who twice stepped in to help in life-and-death situations.

Her story is about the price that’s paid, after a hero gets pats on the back. Look for it here.

We’re busy working on more stories for 2020, and into next year. We’re learning from you, as we hope you’re learning from us.

Because your journeys with us are worth more than a million words – though right now for 2020, we’ve published more than 160,000.