Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The misery of public transit

Government spends boat loads of money trying to convince people to ride public transit. It's good for the environment, cuts congestion etc etc. The thing that never gets mentioned is just how much taking public transit sucks. The article below was written for the TTC but it applies to any mass transit district  in North America

Today’s commute is brought to you by the letter M, which stands for miserable, which is the only way to describe my trip into work.

For the first time in 15 years of living in Toronto, I’ve been forced to commute to and from work on the TTC. After 15 years of fighting Toronto’s war against cars I’ve finally buckled, and I’ve become part of the faceless mass on public transit.

For the past two months I’ve been trying to find the right times and techniques to make the rush-hour commute as pleasant as possible … only to find it not possible at all. It’s all about good timing and good luck.

Is the TTC the better way? Yeah, right. The fact of the matter is that if we’re all being pushed to take public transit for the good of the city and the good of the environment, why does it have to be so unbearable? I’d happily take public transit if it wasn’t always such a miserable experience. Today’s sojourn is Exhibit A.

Arriving at the York Mills subway station at 8 o’clock this morning, I had plenty of time to make it to work, a mere 10 kilomeres away near Dundas station.
Unfortunately, no one told the subway system that.

Because of a “signal problem,” trains heading north between Bloor and Rosedale were delayed. Apparently that meant the loop around Finch was delayed, and everything going south was delayed. After waiting on the platform about 10 minutes the first southbound train arrived, absolutely packed to the gills, bursting at the seams with people. It honestly looked like something out of a Pink Floyd video.


A couple of people managed to squeeze in, but most of us were left on the platform. Same thing happened with the next train, and the train after that. Soon half an hour had passed, and I was still standing with a few hundred people on the platform watching trains without even breathing space trudge southward.

Finally, there was a glimmer of hope by the fifth train, and I took it. Squeezing in between a woman with two oversized bags and a dude wearing sunglasses even though the station is as dark as Tutankhamun’s tomb, I found enough floor space to finally start my trek to the office.

Of course, there were no bars to hang onto, so the sunglasses dude and I had to brace ourselves by squeezing our fingers into the air vents on the roof of the subway car. And of course, my finger found the one vent opening that was razor-sharp, thus mixing my blood with whatever blood or bacteria was left on the vent by the previous passenger who was forced to use it as a brace.

Great. Now I’ll need a tetanus shot. At least.

Because the subway was full to capacity, it didn’t zip between stops, it plodded. Air became thin as we inhaled each other’s exhale. Elbows bumped into heads, knees thrashed into knees. At every stop at most two people got off and a few dozen looked to get on. Everyone was heading south of Bloor, of course. There don’t even need to be exits on southbound trains before Bloor station.

At the Rosedale station, a steady beeping sound began. Oh no. That just can’t be good.

Sure enough, a voice came on the loudspeaker to announce someone had signalled an emergency on the train. We weren’t going anywhere.

Packed well beyond capacity, sweating like greased hogs, we stood helplessly as a lady was helped off the train holding her head – clearly not from injury, but from the overwhelming, suffocating crowd on the train.

Who could blame her.

After four or five northbound trains zipped past with just a smattering of passengers inside, the growing mass of humanity in my car finally heard the familiar chime of the closing doors and were on our way again … to the worst possible place on earth, the Bloor-Danforth station, where about 250,000 people had gathered awaiting our train, which was now even more delayed.

All we needed were those Japanese guards shoving people in.

Finally, an hour and 15 minutes after starting my trek, I made it to my station and pulled myself from the grip of legs and arms and messenger bags onto the Dundas platform. I could finally breathe again and attend to my injured fingers. The air was cool and sickly sweet, like I’d never tasted it before. I was tempted to fall to my knees and kiss the concrete. I’d survived.

An hour and 15 minutes for a trip that would have taken 35 minutes from the comfort of my car. An hour and 15 minutes of sharing air with hundreds of people packed like caged rats in a subway car. An hour and 15 minutes of back pain, elbows to the face and kicks to the shins. And a doctor’s appointment to attend to this damn cut that won’t stop bleeding.

Blog: If public transit is the better way, why does it have to suck? - CityNews

Thanks, public transit. Thanks, TTC. The better way? No way.

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