When I was in high school, the Toronto Transit Commission had these ads with a TTC bus or streetcar or train parked in someone’s driveway. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of these ads—hell they were even on the side of the TTC buses. It was their way of telling people to take the TTC and leave their cars at home. Now, I get what they were trying to do—boost ridership and get back some of the riders they lost and gained some new one. I get it. I understand PR because I studied the subject. But let me tell you, the few dollars you will save is not worth it. And think you will get to your destination on time taking the TTC? Think again. You might as well take the 401 and get stuck in traffic.
Timing, they say is everything. So let’s say you want to get to the Eaton Center. From Scarborough—let’s say the Guild, it should take roughly an hour. You did your due diligence and you checked the TTC’s website for the timing of the buses passing your house. You find out that one should be at your house at 8am. You leave your house, which is right across the street, at 7:50am and get to the bus stop at 7:54am. Let’s give crossing the street some time for traffic being a little heavy and or the stoplight is taking a while. So you’re at the stop with plenty of time to spare. 8:10am you’re still standing there waiting for that 8am bus. Around 8:12, you look down the street and there are three buses coming. You think, well here we go. The first bus is going to breeze by you followed closely by the second and the third bus, well that one perhaps think the first two will get you so he goes out of the lane and speeds around the other too and off they go! Trust me, this happens more than you know.
You were behind before but now, well now you’re late.
Finally, you make it to Kennedy station and one train is leaving but one of those new train is pulling into the station. You think, okay, things are starting to look up. You go on the train only to hear a frustrated operator repeating over and over that the train is not in service do not board this train. Keep in mind, it’s rush hour and you’re already late not because of anything you did. And by now the platform is jacked because it seems everyone takes the train at Kennedy. So now you’re stuck, you miss the next train on the other side because of the crowd and kind of gets pushed onto the second train –all the while the other train is still sitting there, doors closed, lights on.
Let me be the devil’s advocate and say the reason that is, is because after each run the new train needs to recharge—that would be the biggest waste of taxpayer’s money ever. I mean, a city the size of Toronto, having trains that can’t make more than one trip each run? There is no excuse to put a train out of service, during rush hour if there isn’t something , mechanically wrong with it or for the safety of the public. And if you’re going to do that, clear the platform so another train can come in and not let people be later than they already get taking the TTC.
Okay, fine. Now you’re on a train, but the trend this summer is hot train cars. So now your choice become, risk a medical situation by arriving at your destination on the brink of passing out or try playing hide and go seek for a cooler car and miss the train, which means you will get to your destination twice as late. Oh, and if you get on the hot car then find it’s too hot and you hop out at the next station to run to the next car and you’re not very fast, forget about it. Though the drivers know these cars are ovens, they don’t care because they can’t even give you an extra second to make the change.
So let’s say you risk the heat and stay put.
You’re finally on a train.
But the ride won’t be smooth. Oh no, you have some drivers who slam on the break so hard, half the time you wind up into the person beside you. A couple of times I’ve knocked someone over. Or, the train will stop randomly in a tunnel and you sit there for five ten minutes not knowing what’s happening because the speakers in the trains are impossible to hear through. All you get most time is static or the voice cuts in and out so the important bits are lost. But on the rare occasion you do hear what they’re saying, it’s the same crap:
- Track maintenance
- Someone pulled the alarm on a train up ahead
- Stuck in traffic ((oh this is my favorite one—you take the train to avoid this crap)
- There was a delay earlier and now we’re all paying for it
Sometimes you get the first three in one sitting. Often times I’m left wonder which one it really is. Sometimes they don’t tell you anything. I remember one day I was on that bridge between Broadview and Castlefrank for a good five minutes with no news as to why.
So now at this point, you might as well just get off at the next station and go back home. But, you’re a good worker and you plug on. At Yonge, you get off, struggle through the crowd and get up to the South bound platform—which by the way is full because there’s a “fire investigation at Davisville” and there hasn’t been a southbound train since Jesus was a child. You manage to squeeze yourself like a human jigsaw piece onto the second or third train to arrive and you think, okay, nothing else can go wrong now.
You get to College and the train stops because someone pulled the alarm on the train up ahead and now you’re once again stuck in traffic. Then after sitting at the station for five minutes all the lights on your train goes out and you think, it’s conserving energy because we’ve been here awhile—let me tell you people, the TTC is not that fancy. I found out the hard way. Another ten minutes later, the driver comes on to tell you to “make alternative arrangements” because “as you can see the train has no power.” Well, thank you for telling me after ten minutes of standing here like an idiot when I could have already done that. Now you have to get off, fight your way through the crowd to get upstairs, then somehow figure out where you are once out there and to walk the rest of the way to your destination.
I can’t make this up people. A ride that should have taken an hour has now morphed into two to two and a half hours of nightmaric proportions. And yes I know nightmaric isn’t a real word but if the TTC is allowed to gorge its riders I’m allowed to make up a word to voice my irritation.
Riding the TTC is just as bad as if you were driving the highway and have detours and traffic jams.
By the time you get off you’re so frustrated, your day is already shot to hell and all you want to do is punch something or someone. Then you look down at your monthly TTC pass and you want to cry because you shell out over $1,600 dollars a year to give yourself a tumor or ulcers.
So here are the tips:
- If at all possible, skip the TTC. I mean delays happen but this insane. It shouldn’t take your two hours to make a one hour trip. An hour and fifteen minutes, hell an hour and a half, maybe. One more it took me three hours to get to work because of delays at Victoria park. Then I manage to get onto the shuttle bus that only took me part of the way before dropping me at another station and back into the mess again.
- Give yourself more than enough time. Your trip is an hour? Make sure your tablet or phone is fully charged and leave two and a half hours early. Why, delays, delays and more delays and if it’s a particularly good day, your bus driver just my decide to pull over and duck into Tim Horton’s for a coffee. So leave your place hella early. If you get where you’re going early, go to a Tim Horton’s and sip a tea while keeping yourself entertained.
- Don’t check the website for times. Why? Well, you’ll only raise your blood pressure because 99.9% of the time, the website is wrong and you’re stuck at the bus stop with that weird “WTF” look on your face while hanging off the each of the sidewalk and craning your neck to see as far down the road as possible.
- Don’t expect to be kept in the loop about anything. If they do tell you chances are the speakers in your car is jacked up and you won’t be able to hear a thing anyway.
- The buses, do expect a couple of them to drive past you and when you finally get huffy on the one that finally stops, expect to be treated like you’re the asshole.
- Expect long waits for buses. Especially ones heading from the stations. Why? Well, they go to the station and parks.
- When those screens at the station or some stops tell you to expect a bus in five minutes? Go get a snack—those screens aren’t even a tentative guideline. Yes, I know traffic happens but, those screens are ALWAYS wrong.
- Bring a book with you or your tablet or get ready to spend some bucks on data. Or, find a Metro newspaper box outside of the TTC property and grab a paper there. Why? The TTC seems to have a deal with the lousy 24Hour newspaper. If you want scintillating articles, you won’t get it.
Hope those help…