Ahron Seeman, Marcus Gotlieb, Laren D’Angelo, Anna Crombie, Larysa Lewychyj, Eve Kraicer, and Maria Nicula
The TTC is part of my daily routine. I only wish its service was more, well, routine. As I wait for the 512 streetcar, I feel as though I’m in pursuit of some sort of endangered, unmotivated and painfully slow animal – like a sloth. Sadly, a sloth might offer riders better customer service and a faster trip to school. Is it too much to ask of our public transit system that it be faster and more polite than the laziest arboreal creature on earth? It’s no coincidence that sloth is considered by some to be one of seven deadly sins: taking the TTC certainly kills a part of me. Did I mention the sloth is nearly extinct? Poached by reasonable self-respecting riders, so are all other public transit systems that were as mismanaged as ours. I warn the TTC that it is only a matter of time before all of its users realize what they deserve and transform into this feisty breed of hunter, ready to kill the red sloth, perhaps by allowing it to suffer through its own stench and wait times.
As the sloth finally and leisurely (as if it had nowhere in particular to go) arrives at my stop, I realize that, like me, many NT students have spent more time sitting in (or looking for) a gum-coated seat on the TTC then they have in any chair, in any classroom. Until the TTC is replaced by an appropriate public transit system that this city can be proud of, it continues to instill an unfortunate and unsustainable message in Torontonians: Take The Car.
At least twice a day, at least five days a week, at least ten months a year, for at least four years, the TTC has been a factor in my life and that is true for most of the student population at NT. Over the years, my sense of a good commute has been numbed by the dreadful experiences that the TTC has induced in my life. I, along with others, have grown to accept the overcrowding, horrendous stench and the underwhelming speed of the vehicles. It has come to the point that I’d rather walk thirty-five minutes from Yonge to St. Clair than cram myself into the St. Clair street car, which is usually bursting at the seams with people or occupied by a gang of rowdy Northern kids. There are only so many negative things I can say about the TTC, because, ultimately, it (eventually) takes me to my destination and instills a sense of freedom that all teenagers need and yearn. We have all grown accustomed to something that in what most cities would be unacceptable in order to have our freedom and self-reliance.
I got on the subway at Eglinton Station, dodging the gum that decorates the floor of the tunnel and avoiding the smelly, sticky benches. I stood pressed against a grubby wall on a narrow strip of nasty chipped floor, waiting five minutes for a subway. I shifted slightly and slowly backed away from a mysterious looking patch of grossness on the bottom of the wall and tried to endure what most NT students endure every day. After fifteen minutes, one transfer, and multiple homeless people later, I got off at a station with historical hieroglyphic inscriptions from the ROM declaring that I was in Museum station. And my oh my, what a feast for my eyes! State of the art, ROM inspired designer columns welcomed me to the station, mauve aluminum plate panels covered the walls, and tourists milled about the spacious platform, admiring the beauties of Toronto. I hope the tourists enjoy Museum Station, and the newly refurbished Union Station. Our filthy Yonge and Eglinton Station can remain Toronto’s dirty little secret.
It was to be a regular trip home on the TTC as we entered the station. We came to the tollbooth but there was no one to collect the fare – just a turnstile that only accepted tokens. Our only choice was to purchase tokens, but between the four of us the change we could scrap together could only buy us two. We came up with the genial idea of squeezing two of us at a time through the turnstile. We loaded up into the single slot, ready to push through as soon as the token went in. As we released the token and pushed with all we had, we were jolted back by our own force. The turnstile wouldn’t budge. To confuse and frustrate us further, it would not even return our token. So we reared up one last time for a big push, and just as we began to run at the turnstile, a deep, booming voice came through the grungy speakers in the ceiling. We made out through the static and our own bewilderedness,
“We are always watching, girls. We are always watching.”
One day, while I was sitting peacefully on a subway seat, a very tall man dressed in a trench coat boarded the subway car with two briefcases. Of course, this man had to sit down right next to me. But that’s not what threw me off. What did throw me off was the fact that as soon as the subway car began to move, he opened both briefcases and removed a laptop from each. He then placed one on one knee, and the other on his his other knee. He flipped the monitors up and began to play Solitaire on one computer, and Pinball on the other. You’d think he’d get this comfortable because he was up for a long subway ride, but little did I know, he logged off of both computers 45 seconds later, to get off at the very next stop.
I NEVER take the TTC. You don’t need to when you live 10 minutes away from school and your friends. But there I was, climbing down the steps to Eglinton station one day, thinking “Oh boy.” I was two stops into my journey when the man sitting next to be pulled out his phone and started talking on it at top volume. TOP. VOLUME. I winced and tried to turn up my iPod volume, but that dial only goes so far. In the middle of the conversation, the man felt his pockets, frowned, then started yelling into his phone, “I can’t find my phone! Someone stole my phone!” I guess the person on the other end had a bad day and needed some cheering up, because they decided NOT to tell the man that duh, you’re on it right now. And apparently this was the case with the rest of the people in the subway car, because no one made a move to enlighten the poor guy. Thirty seconds later, I got off at my stop, and watched as the train left the station. To this day, I wish I had seen the man’s face when he finally figured it out.
My name is Eve, and I’m a 512 regular. We’re a special breed of superhuman I think, because not only do us streetcar-ers survive the chaos of the subway line, we survive the complete mayhem and disaster that is the St Clair streetcar. Over the past 5 years I’ve spent on the red rocket, I have had quite a few dilemmas, which more often then not land me in the oh-so-wonderful late-slip line. A couple years ago on my way to school, my streetcar got into a little accident with a nearby car. The driver of the car brushed up against our streetcar, and knocked off her own rear-view mirror, but apparently from the woman’s eyes, we had hit her. Personally, I think it’s a pretty simple concept to grasp- a streetcar is on a track, therefore it cannot possibly “drift into your lane” as the woman so aptly put it.
We had to wait for shuttle buses to arrive, as the woman demanded an accident report. This however, wasn’t the TTC’s fault, and I don’t expect them to be able to prepare for all the trials and tribulations of human idiocy, but mechanical issues, and track repairs, well I think maybe they should plan for those. I had a slight incident more recently, one that still puzzles me, surrounding an issue with the tracks.
I got off at St Clair West, ready to venture on the 512 yet again, but the eastbound line, literally, was out of the station. Now St Clair West is a pretty large station, and the line (which I assume held about 250 people,) extended all the way to the gates, and then out. Being the TTC expert that I am, I sensed a crisis, and took the subway instead. (Subways actually- I had to take three). When I got down to the subway line I read the informative little box at the bottom of the TV, sharing all the glorious morning news about closures and diversions. I was surprised to see a new reason for a delay, and I’ll let you figure this one out for yourselves: Streetcar service is currently not running eastbound from St Clair West to St Clair due to foul on the tracks. Needless to say, I was late for school. THANK YOU 512!