Fellow Passengers on the TTC

The Olympics are over, things are afoot in Queen's Park to make Toronto more of a mess, and it's time to get back to reality. But first let's talk about the TTC, a hot topic for many of my readers and me.

I've been using the TTC since the first day of grade 7 when I changed schools and had to travel farther than walking distance. I've used streetcars, old and new, diesel buses, trolley buses, natural gas buses, accessible buses, the old fan-cooled subway trains with their red seats and openable windows and all the ones after those up to the most recent trains with their wider doors and narrow seats. I've been on streetcars near the end of their shabby life and sat on duct-taped subway seats. I've rattled along in noisy diesel buses and hung out in trolley buses for minutes on end as the driver rehooked it up to the line overhead. I've used the TTC in the ghastly heat of the summer and the slushy wet of a warm winter and the bitter cold of a York University bus stop. And in all these years I've never been so grossed out at using the TTC as this year.

Before the powers-that-be start upping fares, they may want to look at what the service has degenerated to and clean it up, and it isn't just about stuffed cars, squishy seats, slow buses, drivers who won't call out stops. It's about the passengers. My fellow passengers changed dramatically the day newspaper chains introduced free commuter papers to subways, but things had been slowly deteriorating even before then.

Now I ride with, in no particular order:
  • Kleenexes, used
  • Crumpled up napkins
  • Discarded yogurt containers, lids off and on
  • Coffee cups
  • Coffee on the floor
  • Straws
  • Rolling pop cans
  • Empty juice containers
  • Food containers: styrofoam, paper bags, cardboard
  • Half-eaten crusts
  • Newspapers lying on a seat
  • Newspapers rolled up and balanced on the back of a seat
  • Newspapers rolled up and placed discreetly under the seat
  • Newspapers flung all over the floor of the subway car, like a great big wind had blown through from an open door at the end of the train
  • Something brown on the window of a subway car door that shocked me out of my morning stupor and got me scuttling into the next open door and to the other end of the car
  • And then there was the day of the "mechanical" problem. It was the late afternoon, people are tired, subway cars starting to get full, and everyone just wants to get home -- fast. I walk into a car at one end and start looking for a seat and my nose stops me before I get very far in. I look down the car, past the next set of doors, and immediately plump for the squished seat I'm near. I decide to ignore what's down there. But my nose will not habituate. I start thinking about how to tell the powers that be, then watch in amazement at one well-dressed lady who walks up to those disgustingly covered empty seats and contemplates sitting on the one clean one right next to the mess. She walks on. A man entering at the next station does not. He sits down. I wonder if it's wet. He gets up but the seats opposite continue to be filled by people with a direct view. Suddenly a TTC inspector barrels down the aisle, right past it and past me so fast I could not react fast enough to stop him and point out the obvious. He stops at the end and asks a couple of women where it is. The guy's nose must be plugged, and his eyesight altered to avoid seeing the filth that fills our TTC day in, day out. It's the only reason I can think of for him needing detailed hand pointing from several of us to finally see the huge red and yellow liquid splatter with bits and pieces of brown mixed in across a two-seater and splashed over onto a three-seater. The train goes out of service at the next station for a mechanical problem. Luckily, I'm at my destination and don't have to wait with my fellow human passengers.
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thordora said…
lord...I remember I used to take the last train downtown from Downsview and it ALWAYS smelled like piss. NEVER FAILED.
talk talk talk said…
LOL! I must say I haven't had that particular experience much...or maybe it's been so long since I've taken the TTC late at night that time has mercifully erased the memory.
Anonymous said…
My thing is Vancouver, Montreal, and Winnipeg are all supported by their provincial governments, Toronto is not. And all major cities in the US are supported by their state governments. Why is Toronto not?
Saskboy said…
I've never seen a dirty or smelly subway car in Toronto. Although the worst time was at World Youth Day when the train was full, and there was this high lady berating another for almost three stops before the abusive one got off the train.
talk talk talk said…
You're lucky...and I rarely did either until this past year or 2. My last 2 stories happened within the same month! I assume from your moniker you're not in Toronto...so it's been awhile since you've seen what things have deteriorated to? I think a lot of us are getting rather upset about how much our city's pride and joy, the envy of the world, has become a cesspit and ghost of its former self.