Sunday, January 18, 2009

TTC Tribute

It's hard to believe that the Ottawa Transit Strike is still ongoing, making everyday tasks a nightmare for so much of the population. In Toronto, transit strikes and strike threats are grounds for quick action and, indeed, panic, and I don't see why that shouldn't be the case everywhere.

I am grateful (almost) every day to live in a city with a more or less wonderful transit system, to be able to go wherever I want to go without a favour, an insurance policy or thousands of dollars of investment in motor vehicle. This was revelatory when I first moved to a big city, and I'm still mildly shocked that I could, if I put enough thought into it, go to the airport or the zoo at 2am on a Thursday without telling anyone or even being conscious en route, all for $2.75. This should be a basic right of city citizens everywhere, and it's worth getting upset that the citizens in Ottawa now lack those freedoms.

When it's awful and slushy and cold, it's about as easy for transit-takers to get around town as when it's pleasant--not so for car commuters. But certainly, life is less easy for those who operate the vehicles, so between the weather and the sitch in Ottawa, it seems a good time to pay tribute to a random sampling of TTC awesomeness:

--drivers who stop when they see people running
-- drivers who give directions, and call you up to the front just before your stop
--drivers who patiently hear out people who don't make sense and don't know where they are going, but are very very angry about it
--drivers who smile/make eye-contact/make jokes/just say hi whilst they are navigating through sleet and rush-hour and some woman is screaming about someone stepping on her toe

The TTC often brings out the worst in people, granted, just as being smushed up against strangers often will no matter where you are, but it occasionally brings out some loveliness from strangers I would not encounter otherwise. Life this:
--the man who chased me *off* the bus last night to give me back my forgotten gloves
--the glee with which people leap to give their seats to pregnant ladies and people with canes and crutches (sadly, such a polite city is Toronto is that this does not happen with the elderly, for fear of giving offense to someone who doesn't consider him/herself elderly. You'd have to be about 150 to get more than a tentative tap and half-thigh raise and questioning shrug.)
--when someone compliments me on my reading material
--when Kerry was trying to explain something to me about a George Michael song opening and I was too dumb to remember the bit, so she sang it, the two old ladies next to her beamed (Kerry has a very good voice).

And now for a list of my very favourite bus and subway routes:
Toronto--7 Bathurst, 25D Don Mills (I never went beyond Steeles, I just like the D), 86 Sheppard (Zoo bus!), 99 Arrow Road, 510 Spadina Streetcar, 352 Lawrence West night bus, and special category prize goes to 122 Graydon Hall, which is technically an awful irregular bus that disappears for half an hour in the least rain, but I love it because I met so many good people whilst cursing it.
Montreal--On STCUM (yes, I know it's not called that anymore, but that's really too bad) I particularly enjoyed the 24 Sherbrooke, 80 Parc, and of course the blue line of the Metro.
New York--On the MTA, the A Train seemed particularly nice. I fell asleep on the F Train, which probably indicates a high comfort level.
Boston--To be honest, I never knew what I was doing on the MBTA, but I always got where I was going on those funny about-the-rails tracks, so let's count it all as a win.
Tokyo--Not there yet, but oh my goodness, how sexy!!!

Soldier on, Ottawa. We transit-takers stand (and ride) with you in our hearts!

My heart only works
RR

4 comments:

Frederique said...

thank you for the solidarity Rose-coloured! I nominate you for poet laureate (Proser-laureate?) of the transit-riding masses!

idletigers said...

I agree! I love the TTC too, but over the last year or so I've heard it / them come in for a lot of abuse. That's probably a sign that I spent too much time with hipsters who hate the working class.

Remember that despicable graffiti -- "If you want $30/hr, go to university"? Whoever wrote that should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. But they're not.

La Princesse à Paname said...

i highly recommend the 504 streetcar route for the ride up Broadview on a sunny spring afternoon or late on a cold winter evening for the view of the city.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Ross, What do these hipsters say about the TTC? It has its flaws, but this is one transit service I'd "step outside" for!!

Sarah, I've never been on the 504, but it could certainly be arranged. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anyone else got route recommendations?