Daily Archives: March 2, 2011

Mind The Gap

People ask me all the time if I like Toronto. It’s a complicated question.

I love the city itself. The tall buildings, bright lights, unique neighbourhoods.The restaurants are of course amazing. I also love that there is something entertaining going on at any given hour on any day of the week. There’s no way to get bored.

I have two issues with Toronto. First, the people. To put it nicely, I have a very “small town” demeanour. I didn’t jive with a lot of the big city folk. It happens.

Secondly, public transportation.

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Coming from a city where the bus ran every 55 minutes, Toronto’s Transportation Committee (aka “The TTC”) was amazing at first. The concept of walking out the door without checking a schedule and having something pick me up within five minutes was completely new.

But it grew old. Fast.

I spent SO much of my time in Toronto on public transportation. It killed a part of my soul.

First, there’s the streetcar which runs on a cable and above ground track. Living in the east end, this was my number one way to get to the heart of the city. It took forever. As in, it moved slooow. Also as in, you could wait 20 minutes in –20 C weather for one to show up.

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On days where I trained my early morning clients, the 24-hour streetcar was one of my methods of getting to work. It was usually just me and the construction workers at 5am. They would stare at me as I chowed down on my breakfast concoction of the day. Eaten precariously as we rattled down one of the city’s main roads.

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                                                                                      Photo by Nick Moore!

The streetcar was also my only way home on late nights out on the town. It’s supposed to run every 10 minutes. But there were nights when we would wait an hour, turning a late night into an even later (or earlier) one. Streetcars also attract the drunk-in-public folk, be it 2am or 1oam. The Queen Car – my car – is the craziest route by far. As in, it’s where I met/avoided the craziest people in Toronto.

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Then there’s the bus. I actually love Toronto’s back-and-forth bus routes. No mind-numbing loops. The bus was only ever an intermediate for me. A lot of people poo-poo the bus around here. But it’s actually my preferred method of public travel in a city.

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Finally, we’ve got the subway. At first, the subway intimidated me. The map with the coloured lines made no sense. The doors that closed “no matter what” scared me. And what if I fell on the tracks!?

I have spent SO much time sitting on the subway over the last nine months that I can say I am way past any fears I had. Now my number one emotion towards the subway is depression. Backed by a hefty dose of frustration.

I will never understand how so many people can cram shoulder to shoulder on a subway and try so hard not to look at each other. I’ve gotten delayed on a subway almost every day since moving here (that’s a gripe for another day) and have rarely ever bitched about it with my fellow passengers. Why do humans in big cities try so hard to ignore and avoid each other?

In the end, I’ve spent 2-4 hours a day sitting on public transportation since moving to Toronto. That’s because even though my apartment and jobs were very much within the city’s core, they were still an hour away from each other. It’s just the reality of living in a big city. It takes forever to get anywhere.

On the bright side, I read a lot of great novels. But I wasted a lot of productive life hours being transported on a moving mosh pit. And it turned me in to a bit of a germaphobe, I’ve been sick almost every day since I started taking the TTC.

When I look back on my experience in Toronto, many of my memories will be taken over by my time spent on the TTC. I guess I’ll miss the 5 minute waits, but I will definitely be happy to have those commuting hours of my life back.

 

Question of the Day: Do you have a long commute? Car? Public transportation? Feel free to vent your frustrations here. This is a safe space ;)

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