Tuesday, 14 August 2012
The Better Way
So the TTC is planning to renovate its subway stations so they look less like "1960's-era washrooms" and more like the neighbourhoods they are located in. So I guess that means they'll feature graffitti, really boring architecture, and litter and gobs of spit all over the ground...oh, wait. Yeah. I'm a bit sour on the TTC right now. The service is appalling. In the last month, I have been delayed getting to work and coming home from work because of the following: signal problems at Davisville signal problems at Eglinton the weather - although I counted something like 10 eastbound Steeles buses in the snow and rain on the snowy and rainy nights, it took 20-30 minutes for a westbound bus to show up. This didn't happen once, but every single time it rained or snowed. a bus driver on an express route who thought stopping to get a coffee and a donut was more important than getting me to work on time. late buses or drivers "forgetting" to pick up passengers on time at Finch, which results in two buses showing up at the same time and the drivers ruefully smiling and gesturing to each other, "No, you go first", "No you", "But I insist", "After you", "Oh all right then" - while I stand out there in the cold trying to calculate exactly how late I am going to be because of their idiocy. the Queen West streetcar hitting, I think a car, at Queen and Spadina on Friday night (this after I endured a 1 hr 30 minute trip to get down there). Invariably, when there's any kind of delay on the TTC, subway or streetcar or bus, they don't tell you right away why you are being delayed. You just sit there - often in a dark tunnel between stations, if you're on the subway - waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And occasionally, after about 10 minutes of sitting and waiting and wondering and rehearsing your excuse for being late to work, again, you hear a crackling, spitting sound on the PA system, and the following message: "Attention all TTC customers on the Yonge *spitch* Spadina line *crackle* currently experiencing a delay *spazz*bound at our *crackle* station. Emergency crews are *crack* scene and normal service *buzz crackle crackle SPITCH*" So you can see why I am sour on the idea of renovating the stations. The subway stations don't need renovating. The subway service does. It needs signals and switches that can deal with rain, snow and cold. It needs a reliable public address system on all the trains, and a policy of telling passengers within two minutes why they are being delayed and what's being done about it. Just once, I would like to leave my house at 7 AM and get to work on time, which is 8AM. When everything is working, it takes me exactly 50 minutes, door to door. Lately, it's been taking about 65 minutes. This is unacceptable. For the buses to run on time, there needs to be fewer cars on the roads. But as long as the TTC service continues to suck, those who can afford a car are going to drive, which is going to make the gridlock worse, which makes drivers angry and impatient, which makes them do stupid and dangerous things, which causes accidents, which ties up traffic, which makes the bus service worse. And so it goes. The lack of leadership on transit, on sprawl, on our car-crazy culture, and half-baked ideas like tarting up the subway stations and digging subway lines to nowhere that take 12 years to be built; letting developers tear down perfectly good buildings in order to throw up bland, uninspired, architecturally insensitive, jerry-built condos with stupid names that have absolutely no relationship to the history of the place; building car-dependent suburbs way out in the countryside...It's shit like this that makes the idea of leaving Toronto, of leaving Ontario, for good, more and more appealing to me. More and more, I wonder: do I really want to live here? Do I want to live like this for the rest of my life - stuck in traffic, stressed out, anxious, angry? Do I want to raise children here? Can I even afford to raise children here? Do I want to grow old here? Do I want to die here? More and more, the answer is "No."