Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take The Car

8:19: Leave the house. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm running a little late, but I woke up with yesterday's staff-meeting reprimand about using the internet for personal reasons still ringing in my ears, and I'm feeling a little blue. Right before I leave, I open the blinds to find a winter wonderland outside. It is, of course, March 23 and spring should have sprung by now, dudes.

8:26: Arrive at Spadina station to find that both token machines are out of order. The guy in front of me managed to jam it with his super-muscular toonie, and of course it's one of, like, three platforms in the entire system with no man in a box to distractedly give change. I leave in a huff.

8:27: I am, like, jogging to the next station over, which happens to be the main entrance to Spadina. It's only a few minutes away, but I'm seething. It's snowing so hard, I can barely see the other side of the road, and cars are trying to deal with roads that offer about as much traction as a slip-'n'-slide. It's safe to say that nobody is in a good mood right now.

8:33: Arrive at Spadina station and tell the man in the box that the machines at the North entrance are busted. He literally says, "Yeah, that's a pain in the ass, isn't it?" in a commiserating tone of voice. I'm like, YEAH IT IS and am tempted to ask for a free fare, but have been frowning for the last twenty minutes and my flirt/cute mode is totally not coming out to play.

8:36: Taking the other entrance actually means I have to switch trains, which, during a snowstorm and in rush hour, is about as appealing as touching the third rail. The first train whooshes into the station, the people get off, and then the conductor just closes the doors. There are people literally clawing their way in through the sliding doors for almost a full minute. I'm not sure why the driver thought that was a good idea, but my heart is racing. It's like watching people fistfight a train.

8:40: Get on the effing train, along with 3000 other people. I usually adore the TTC, because I think transit is important and belongs in urban centers, but right now, I'm just about ready to burn this mother to the ground. I mean, if it's possible to do that, since we're already underground...?

8:47: Arrive at Osgoode station. The stairs to street level are conveniently made of tile; in the snow, they become a scary death mountain. I am gripping the handrail and wondering why they don't install that weird grippy step business that's everywhere on, like, playgrounds and construction sites.

8:48: At the streetcar stop, I'm shifting my weight from one foot to the next in an attempt to stay warm. I'm failing. The guy next to me with the six (!! Also, I am officially an old person) facial piercings has perfected his thousand-yard stare to the point where I'm fairly sure he can see Brampton. I begin to wonder how people do this day in, day out: I was riding my bike last week, and while that comes with its own set of challenges, there isn't this sense of grinding terribleness. Everything about the TTC is delays and setbacks, zero communication and nonsensical procedures. I am, of course, in a terrible mood, but it occurs to me that the TTC needs so much in the way of improvement.

For example, in DC, the system uses a fare protocol that charges you based on the distance traveled. Go one stop? You pay, like, 80 cents. Riding to the end of the line will cost you more, but them's the breaks. The MTA in New York has a refillable metropass that allows its users to put on as much or as little money as they can afford, and doesn't expire within a certain timeframe (what up, monthly pass?) San Fransisco's transit system features the BART, which folds the outlying suburbs closer to the downtown core and costs less than a Toronto burrito.

I know it's become somewhat fashionable to pick on the TTC, but man, it's hard to enjoy yourself on that system. The stations are uniformly ugly, the coverage is spotty, the debates about where service should be pushed to are annoying, and it's expensive, both on the clock and the wallet. I'm looking forward to spring because I get to sleep in - on a bike, I can get to work in under half an hour; on the so-called Rocket, I'm lumbering there in about 45 minutes. The "historic streetcars" that run along Queen Street are traffic lummoxes (can you not imagine a Chicago-style El running over the Queen Street rooftops? I dare you. Fall in love with the idea), and the building that desperately needs to happen to support the influx of downtown condo-dwellers has been endlessly debated because subways, though necessary, are scary. Too expensive! So disruptive! Meanwhile, the city stalls.

8:59: I am at Yonge Street. I am now late for work.

9:07: I finally get to the office. I'm red-faced from hustling the last block, and pretty pissed that my commute took almost an hour. I don't feel ready to face the day; I feel like I need a nap, a back rub, and a shower. I curse this never ending winter - when the snow melts, I'm hopping off this infernal transit system and never looking back.

5:15: Deep sigh as I deposit my three loonies into the farebox.

1 comment:

  1. Girlfriend, I hear ya. Took me 45 minutes to get to work on the TTC today thanks to an accident. Walking would have saved me 20 minutes, but I just couldn't let those $3 go to waste.