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Star's Fiorito: A morning in the life of a TTC rider



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A morning in the life of a TTC rider
Jan. 28, 2006. 08:48 AM

I boarded the Lansdowne bus in Parkdale and headed north at 7 a.m., then I took the Bloor subway west to Jane station, hopped the Jane bus going north, got off at Finch, travelled east to the Finch station by bus, and took the Yonge subway south to Dundas.

This was not your bone-tired, end-of-the-day rush hour. This was not your school's-out, mid-afternoon rush hour. This was the rush hour of the sleepyheads.

We sat in our cocoons and savoured the lingering taste of our dreams, we drank double-doubles from paper cups, and we glanced at the free papers.

I was looking for overcrowding. I didn't find it, although I have found it on those routes before. I amused myself by staring out the window.

Near Jane and Eglinton, I saw a house that would have looked at home in Little Heart's Ease. Up the line a bit, I saw an island restaurant, Lorna's Jerk, and hoped that Lorna's husband has a sense of humour.

I saw the spot on Jane near Wilson where a young man and a girl were shot by a thug on a bus, and the driver, a hero, pulled over and saved lives.

I saw the myriad Churches of the various Redeemers and, up near the oil tank farm on Finch, I saw a beauty shop offering eyebrow threading; I would not have thought there'd be much call for eyebrow threading there.

I saw us, in our glory, heading off to work.

It was easy riding all the way. Yes, it was crowded on the subway coming south. There were perhaps 20 people without seats when we left Finch station; there were 40 people standing as we pulled into Bloor. But there was lots of elbow room, and not much bad behaviour.

Oh, sure, one businessman stood blocking the door with his briefcase like a self-important jerk; and yes, a mouth-breather in a baseball cap sat sprawled across a double seat until a pert young woman made him move over. Mostly, we got along fine.

Trip took me an hour and a half.

I know it can be worse. I have ridden through it when it was. All I can tell you is this: The problems of overcrowding are overrated. This is the big city. Suck it up.

Let me spill my bona fides:

I live within walking distance of the Queen, King, Dundas and College streetcars. I use the Lansdowne bus, although I hate the bus because it is a lousy ride. I take the subway and the Scarborough LRT. I buy tokens because I hate tickets.

It takes a full 40 minutes to go downtown from my house on the Queen car during the morning rush, and it's standing room all the way. My dearest, who works at Front and John, can drive that in eight minutes.

I cut her some slack, but if you live in a big city, you really ought to use public transit. It is the best way to know where you are, and who your neighbours are.

Apparently, we are mild.

We put up with surly operators who don't call the stops, lousy rolling stock and occasional overcrowding; worse, we put up with each other.

The real problems occur during off-peak hours, when there is room to, um, put your feet up.

Don't put your damn feet up.

I once saw a man wipe his wet nose with his bare hand, and then wipe his hand on a handrail. I once had a cup of hot tea spilled down my back; I took serious offence when, instead of apologizing, the woman giggled.

The other night, riding on the Lansdowne bus, I sat behind a surly-looking young man. He wore a hoodie. His black toque was pulled low on his head. He was unshaven. He sat sprawled with his backpack on the seat beside him.

There were three elderly women with packages who rode standing up, rather than risk a confrontation for the sake of their sore feet. I asked the kid why he'd taken up two seats. He said he'd seen others do worse.

Me, too, but that's no excuse.

We talked at some length. I said most older people don't like to confront kids. He said he'd have moved his bag if anyone had asked. I said it takes nerve to ask. I did not convince him. He did not throttle me.

The decline of civility is a serious problem. Don't drop your newspaper on the floor. Take off your backpack. Put your coffee cup in the garbage. We're all in this together.

I hate a lot of things about the TTC. I hate full-bodied ads on streetcars. I hate carrying proof of purchase on the Queen car. I especially hate short turns — that's when a car is taken out of service at the tail end of the rush hour, leaving me in the lurch.

You have a list of your own.

Want to improve the TTC? Write the mayor, your councillor, your provincial and federal representatives, the premier and the new prime minister. Demand more subsidy, improvements to service and an extension of the subway system. But mostly, if you want to make things better, don't act like you're at home when you're on public transit. Act like you're at my house.


I boarded the Lansdowne bus in Parkdale and headed north at 7 a.m., then I took the Bloor subway west to Jane station, hopped the Jane bus going north, got off at Finch, travelled east to the Finch station by bus, and took the Yonge subway south to Dundas.
Exactly what was the point of this trip?


Fiorito and Slinger have to be two of the worst columnists in the history of newspapers.. are they smoking crack when they write?


Do people actually read Fiorito's column? It's all bland human interest stuff... people struggle against adversity, and so on.

It sounds as if he's trying to address a few different things (overcrowding, slow trips) but he hasn't really formed a coherent argument. If I wanted to read stream-of-consciousness meandering I will log onto this forum! :b


When he was at the Post, virtually all of his columns involved down-and-out strippers.