Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another giant fail for the TTC

Who needs cable? You can get all the entertainment you need from the TTC. Tune in every Thursday afternoon, same crap time, same crap (subway) station:

Since my recent close call with my professor due to a TTC service outage, I have experienced several more delays (though mostly on the way home). These are usually minor, and cleared in 5-10 minutes, but still underscore fundamental inefficiencies of Toronto's transit system.

Today I had a club meeting until about 7:15 PM, so things were already pretty late. I was expecting to get home a little bit after eight. On the upside, I had already eaten dinner, so I didn't need to budget any time for this when I got home. As I descended to the platform at Queen's Park, I caught the end of an announcement... something about Bloor and Lawrence and running shuttles? I quickly did some mental calculations in my head. If this was a service stoppage, then it would probably be prudent for me to take the University line to Downsview instead of riding the loop to Finch (where I am usually picked up). However, since I wasn't sure what I had heard, I decided to wait ambiguously between the North and Southbound sides for the announcement to play again.

Instead, the Southbound train (my usual) arrived. There was no announcement, so I assumed whatever problem had been announced was cleared. And if it was not, surely it would be by the time I got to Bloor. Once I stepped on that Southbound train, I would be committed: the Downsview route becoming increasingly less practical.

It's strange, I must admit... in retrospect, it seems much more prudent to have taken the Downsview route. Even though I hadn't heard the announcement clearly, the mere chance that I'd heard what I thought I heard probably warranted me to go a little out of my way to avoid what could be a large inconvenience. My only explanation for this lapse is that when faced with an ambiguous situation, it is our nature to defer to what is familiar... in this case, Finch. Still, in my defense, my perception of normalcy was reinforced by the fact that there were no further announcements at any of the stations that we stopped at after I got on the train.

It was not until arriving at Bloor that the train announced itself as out of service. Even then, I and many others milled around for awhile waiting for the next train. It was only then that the conductor of the train we had just gotten off stuck his head out to explain that yes, there would be new trains coming, but they would also be turning back at Bloor. To proceed north, we would need to take a shuttle bus.

Now let me tell you: TTC shuttle buses are the bane of my very existence. I have worked downtown enough summers to know that when the subway breaks down, you will be waiting as many maaaannnnyyyy shuttle buses pass you by before you get on one. The fact is, the TTC cannot replace their subway capacity with buses. You'd think that would encourage them to make their subway service a little more durable... but wait, my bad... that would actually be responsible.

Above is but a small fraction of the enormous crowd and uncomfortably stuffy buses that were there to whisk us away from Bloor. I'd like to note that the subway had actually been broken since 4:30 PM, about 30 minutes after I ended class. Obviously, when the subway realized that I was not actually going to use it, it decided to stay broken until I finished my club meeting... and then overnight for good measure.

I guess I should count my blessings though, since the driver said that during rush hour, the spill-out from Bloor was so bad that no cars could drive since the road was completely packed with pedestrians. They had to wait a half-hour for police to arrive and control the crowd before the shuttles could actually start running.

Meanwhile, my shuttle stopped at every subway station between Bloor and Lawrence to drop people off and pick people up. Except almost nobody got off, and people did get on. It was actually quite impressive how many people they managed to pack onto an already full bus.

There was one guy who got on at a station who insisted on calling his friend and making a big deal very loudly. He was a large, intimidating, accented, shaven-head young Caucasian man with a bad attitude - the kind you picture would have pushed you against a wall and beat you up for your lunch money in high school and then would have dropped out so he could focus on his true calling (e.g. drinking). I thought about trying to sneak a picture of him, but I thought this would defy my desire for self-preservation and decided against it.

So on the phone with his friend, he mentioned that the subway was not working, and then went on to describe that, "Now I'm on the f*cking crunch car." His friend obviously didn't get it (no surprise there), so he reiterated: "I'm packed into a f*cking can of sardines." Miss again. "I'm on a f*cking shuttle bus. Honestly, I can't f*cking take this. Anyways, I'll call you when I get there. Easy."

Now let's just stop for a minute and consider this closing ghetto-ism. We all use a bit of modern language, and most of it originates from the ghetto. But when people like this close their conversations, you can almost feel it dripping with that "high school cool" aura... you know the one I'm talking about: a slight slouch, a hand waiting for props, a very serious eyebrow - the "I'm so cool that it makes up for me being an angry, delinquent jerk" aura.

In any case, my shuttle finally made it to Lawrence, much to my relief. The subway station was still surprisingly full... but it was more than manageable to get a seat and ride the rest of the way to Finch.

Let's reflect: I wholeheartedly support decreasing our ecological footprint. I think a good transit system is a great thing! But honestly, nobody is going to take transit if they don't have to when the subway (which transports tens or hundreds of thousands of people a day) gets delayed twice a week! If you can only rely on yourself, then you're going to drive yourself. Period. (And the plan to make Metropass holders pay extra for parking is extra stupid: If you want more people to take transit, you charge the people driving, not the people already taking transit, dummy. What's that? It's all to make more money? Transit is a public service - and one that they want us to use, at that - they really shouldn't be trying to gouge us...)

Luckily I have my clinical medicine course at the hospital tomorrow morning and can avoid the TTC (which may still be nonfunctional), thus avoiding my professor's morning wrath.

I'm a little irked that I didn't get home until almost 9:30 PM (and somehow have taken another hour blogging this). Not only is that exceedingly late (and thus I'll get virtually no work done), but I also missed the season premier of Grey's Anatomy! (Pronounce: Double-yew-tee-eff!!??)

I think the TTC needs to get a "yellow-sticker-of-death" (the nickname I've given to the sticker that appears on your exam paper when you fail, indicating a "come hither" request from the professor). I bet my prof's intimidating British wrath would set them straight.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

"but I also missed the season premier of Grey's Anatomy! (Pronounce: Double-yew-tee-eff!!??)"

I think I might be dating a girl in the body of a boy.