TTC Tales

Bitching about the TTC is a bonding ritual among Toronto commuters. Nothing joins two strangers at a bus stop quite like a snarky comment about the system. The TTC is the third-largest transit system in North America (after New York City and Mexico City) so clearly enough people are using it. But whether those people are entirely satisfied is another matter altogether.

Amil rapped, “How we gonna get around on your bus pass?” Good question. With over 150 bus and streetcar routes and a subway system comprising of 69 stops that get you from one end of the city to the other for three bucks some would say quite well, thank you very much. Yes, yes, the rest would impatiently reply, breadth is all well and good but how about speed?

According to an investigation undertaken by Global News, there were an average seven hours lost per week due to subway delays in 2013. Of course, the individual delays themselves are only a few minutes or so, but when you have someplace to be, that can feel like ages. If anything, it is plenty of time for your rage to build as it did with a passenger I shared the train with a while back back who shouted “Yeah, I bet you are!” to the speaker after it apologized yet again for the inconvenience.

The top ten reasons for delays included false passenger assistance alarms, an unauthorized person at track level, door problems, and disorderly passengers. The number one reason: illness or injury, leaving commuters with conflicting emotions of both sympathy and frustration. And it isn’t only longer than normal travel times that have commuters asking “to ride or not to ride”. For instance, residents in certain underserviced areas like Scarborough have given up with the TTC altogether and opted to start driving instead. And with all the political back-and-forth when it comes to transit, people are losing patience.

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Nothing like bumper to bumper traffic to make you wish you’d kept hitting snooze. Photo: Neya Abdi/Toronto Discursive

Still, it’s not all rainy days and out of service buses. Third- and fourth-year Glendon students may have noticed that more 124 Sunnybrook buses have been added to busy weekday mornings. Much better than a couple years ago when two buses were expected to service a route containing a university and a hospital during rush hour. It’s a small step, but it’s movement, and it’s a little proof that if you curse loud enough (or write an email, most likely) an administrator somewhere will feel badly for all the nurses and liberal arts students forced to bump and grind at 9AM.

And then there are the glorious moments you could never get in a car. The other day a woman interrupted her conversation with herself to lean in and pick a piece of lint off my pants. And I will never forget the exhausted man with plaster all over his hands who leaned in and told me, “You smell good. You got that classy scent.” He has my heart.

Originally published in Pro Tem, October 2014

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