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It Happened to Me Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Is Something Up with the TTC?

TTC LogoSwitching jobs from Tucows to TSOT means that for the first time in four and half years, it’s quicker to commute by subway than by bicycle. Hence for the past couple of weeks, I have been doing something I haven’t done in a long time: I’ve been riding the subway during rush hour on a regular basis. I’m concerned by what I’ve been seeing.

It’s been a while since I was a regular subway rider, so my memories may be wrong. Could someone tell me if there’s been a downhill slide in the Toronto Transit Commission’s service? I’ll admit that my commute is incredibly quick — it’s a quick walk to High Park station, 10 stops to Bay station, then a quick walk to the office — but even in that short trip, I’ve faced trains too full to board, trains running at half-speed and trains sitting idle at the station, sometimes for five minutes at a time.

I know that when it comes to its website and to promoting itself through merchandise, the TTC often tempts me to declare “Toronto Transit Commission, Thy Name is Half-Assery!”. The TTC’s apparent attempt to mimic San Francisco’s MUNI’s core incompetency at public transport worries me.

13 replies on “Is Something Up with the TTC?”

I cannot stand taking the TTC – which is why I drive to work every day. Although it was fairly common to experience the things you’re talking about, mostly I just couldn’t stand the people on there yelling into their cell phones, or screeching the music on their iPods, or chewing their gum with their mouths open and making some cracking noises. Being on the TTC makes me want to become a hermit.

I’ve been riding the TTC a fair bit lately (though not usually during rush hour) and while I can’t comment on the actual service levels, it’s seemed lately that the customer service has been quite a lot better than I remember it. With one exception, everyone I’ve run into has been super friendly — streetcar drivers telling jokes, buses stopping in the middle of the street to pick me up when I haven’t made it to the stop yet, general good humour. It’s been almost freaky.

My experience along a similar route is that it all depends on when you leave.

If you’re an early bird catching the 0700-0730 eastbound trains going downtown, they are not (generally) super-full. You might even catch a seat.

If you leave somewhere between 0730 and 0845 then everything is packed to the rafters and it sucks.

If you leave somewhere between 0845 and 0930, the the passenger density falls off and your odds of getting a seat are pretty good.

I haven’t yet run across eastbound trains too full to board, though, that’s a new one. That usually happens once or twice a week southbound from St. George.

Jafer… do ipoops really bother you that much? Don’t you remember the 80s, and the era of the ghetto blaster? Check out Star Trek IV for a reminder of that menace.

Joey, it’s too bad you don’t have alternate routes to consider. When I used to ride back home from the Village, the smart commuter who wanted to go to the Yonge line got off at the University line, and looped around. That ensured you had a seat — no waiting. And on those occasions when King Street was messed up, I’d just take Dufferin or Bathurst north to Bloor. So I had plenty of escape routes. Unfortunately you’re pretty much stuck with that Bloor line.

But, yes, in general rush hour is hit-and-miss these days. I’ve had some painfully long waits. eventually you’ll discover the path of least resistance, and that involve adjusting your work hours.

@Chris Taylor and Darryl: I’m keeping these two advantages in mind:

  • I have some flexibility in my work hours. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t.
  • My trip is pretty short and doesn’t involve any ground transport, which is the real bottleneck.

TTC staff are definitely friendlier and more decent as a whole than they were say 5-10 years ago, but the physical infrastructure is generally falling apart and scheduling is a disaster. Subways are just plain louder than they were 15 years ago, and they creak and swing more.

The subway from High Park is OK very early or from 9-9:30. This school year for the first time, the trains tend to be packed after 9:30.

Too many people, too many condos on the subway line, too little municipal infrastructure to support them all. But it’s OK, because we’ll have even more condos and even more people along the same disintegrating lines! This is Urban Planning’s response to the disaster of the suburbs, I guess.

It’s not your imagination – TTC is far worse. I’ve been riding TTC for 10 years and in the past few years, the service (during rush hour in particular) has become abysmal.

Two problems stand out: sardine-like overcrowding and frequent service disruptions.

I’ve noticed that crowded cars are often more of a problem in the mid-afternoon (right before the official ‘rush hour’), as many people leave their offices early. I often take the subway westbound at 4 o’clock and there aren’t enough trains running to meet the demand, so the cars are always packed.

I also frequently ride the subway westbound at 5:30 p.m. and I’m always surprised to find that the trains are not nearly as crowded as they are earlier in the afternoon.

I think the TTC probably needs to re-evaluate the usage patterns of its patrons.

A brief rant: The last Metropass price bump really raised my hackles. As far as I’m concerned, I’m paying more now for less quality. But as a person without a car, I’m a ‘captive audience’. I can’t wait until spring when my bicycle will once again become a viable option for transportation.

It didn’t occur to you people the last time you voted Liberal that adding half a million new Torontonians over the last four years might strain services?

And that there might be some negative externalities associated with having the world’s highest immigration rate?

I don’t pretend to be good at the accordion; why don’t people listen to their superiors (i.e. me) when we tell you that we need a better immigration system? Is it because you like getting passed by packed subway cars? Is this the reason you vote Liberal?

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