Apr 1, 2012

21 A BLAST FROM THE PAST–REMEMBERING TRANSIT NIGHTMARE

Written March 2008 & published on my SPACES blog R.O.A.M (Rapping On A Melody) republished March 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm when MSN SPACES phased out blogging and merged with wordpress.

Grin & bear it only goes so far – 45 min ride in 2.5 hrs 'Push! Push!" Move Your Ass!

Using public transit in Toronto is fast becoming a swear word. Everyday there is a problem, from buses contrary to scheduling, to what seem like daily streetcar breakdowns to train track signalling problems, trains going out of service at peak hours to medical emergencies that result in the inevitable delays, delays, and more delays with the same result; you are late for work or whatever appointment you are scheduled for. I have given up telling my boss about the train and bus delays, shut downs and the like because even to my ear it sounds tired and trite. You leave early you are late, you leave on time you are late, you leave late well hell, it’s a crapshoot. There is no compensation to the general public whose usage by the way pays the workers, we just got to suck it up and deal. It's like my mother use to say when I was little and didn't want to eat, "you don't like it, then lay down beside it".

On April first there may be a possible TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) strike to which 1.5 million people will have to figure out how to get to work. In short TTC has travelers by the (pardon the pun) proverbial balls. It is almost guaranteed that a fare hike will follow. Currently cash fare for adults is $2.75, $11.50 for 5 tickets if you manage to get your tickets or tokens in advance or if you like me and purchase metropass it’s $109.00 per month but that’s only if you travel within the GTA (General Toronto Area), go any further (mississauga etc.)and that’s another fare. At a purchase whopping bite of $327 per month for metro-passes out of my pay, I guess I can easily add another $270 to that and rent a bachelor apartment close to my job. In case you missed it - that was sarcasm. It’s just incredulous and ingenious how fares keep rising and there is no improvement in the service in fact the transit system is worst than ever.

Thursday March 13th is a prime example of the deplorable service. I was caught in what I dub the transit hellhole. ttc subway trainThat is when there is medical emergency of some sort, for which we were politely dumped out on Woodbine station with no disclosure so we were stuck in endless wonderment, hanging like meat in a cooler waiting for some sort of announcement about what’s going on, and what our next move should be. We didn’t know if the subway was still running, if alternative buses were running, nothing. A slue of trains pass, a few dumping off people as the crowd grew larger. Then came the gabbled announcement “we…….sorry……medical emergency “static” …..rrrr…. “Static” bbbb………rrrr……pppp….."static" shuttlebus. That was the key word “Shuttle bus”. This is after more than 25 minutes and four trains pass by with no pick, half the people didn’t understand the announcement and the other half was asking the clueless ones “what did he say?” Me, I just yelled “Shuttle bus people, the trains are out of services” and it was off to the races.

Upstairs everyone waited patiently, aggregately, impatiently for the shuttle buses. Well we assumed it was going to be buses. They sent one, one people and TTC Busthis is after almost 30 minute. I thought I would get on but the pushing and shoving proved too much and I opt for my life preservation. At this point it is ass biting cold, I swear winter is a man, because I could feel that cold hand of winter touching me in places I didn’t know I have and forgot I had. My fingers were frozen and beginning to hurt. To distract myself I took out my ppc (pocket pc) and crank up my eclectic genre of music, some calypso, India Irie, Aerosmith, Fefe Dobson, Evanescence, Luther Vandross, Mary Mary, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Musique, playing in random order just enough to occupy my mind so I don’t get pulled into the madness of the inefficiency of TTC while i waited somewhat patiently for the other shuttle bus. By now 30 minutes has passed and we are still waiting. People are getting anxious and bold. Three people decided to stand in front of me. I was not having it.

Most days I will let inconsideration flow off me like water on down a ducks back but not today. My “unspeakables” were numb, my toes were frozen, my cheeks hurt and they butting in front of me were just stretching my last nerve past the point of enough. So very politely I stated “if you are standing there when the bus arrives please note I will walk over you since you are so considerate to boldly stand here in front of me, who by the way, have been standing here for almost 45 minutes”. Needless to say they moved. A woman standing next to me just started laughing. At this point I am having a private conversation with God (as Mary, Mary sings shackles) to please let the bus come now when a TTC employee arrived just as a shuttle bus turned in and the man proceeded to direct the bus away from where we all stood for hours, well all hell broke loose and people started pushing and running to the bus. The man reasoned that more buses were coming but after freezing for what felt like hours no one paid him any attention. The race was on.

People pushed their way onto the bus, I am there inpush the thick of things and some fools decided they were going to butt me out of the way, yeah right!. Little did they know I was born in the Caribbean, we know about pushing, after all if you ever been to carnival you would know exactly what I mean. I just braced myself and pushed, they didn’t stand a chance. Then I heard it, someone was screaming. A few rows in front of me these two old ladies, screaming but it was the look on one, she was in shear agony. One woman on the side shouted “the lady, the lady” the poor old woman could only scream, I guess the pain got so bad she starting using some four letter words but no one would stop pushing long enough for her to move. I took a deep breath and just started pushing my way towards her; once I got there I pulled her out. The crowd pushing momentum moved so fast that she did not have a chance to step up onto the bus so she was caught between the crowd and the back step of the bus stair, her feet were jammed to the side of the stairs. I had to pull her out and loudly speak over the crowd “step up, step up” while she struggled to comply. I gave another good push and pull her out, cup her elbow and partially lift her so she could get on the bus.

I managed to get on the bus when a man started complaining, “all yuh squeezing me”, I just told complainerhim, “oh shut up, get squeeze and leave or get out and freeze because all of us getting squeezed.” We were on our way, i simply crank up my music and tuned out the commotion going on the bus, i needed to preserve my peace of mind. Once we reached the designated subway “Broadview” I waited to see if the old woman was all right, she was, she thanked me and I was on my way. Not wanting to deal with the subway again that morning I opted to use the streetcar to take me the rest of the way to work. After transferring from one streetcar to another I finally reached to work at 12:30 pm. I was exhausted. A few minutes later one of my Language Interpreter walked into my office and announced that she had to walk to my office because the streetcars from the subway nearest my work was not working. All I could say was ‘thank God l listened to my instincts and took the other route because I would have been caught up in yet another nightmare transit hooray or should I say “day mare”.

All that drama is fast becoming the standard and there is no compensation. Now we have to look forward to an impending strike and possible fare hikes…..nice eh!

4 Years later-Update on Transit System:

  • Yes the fees were raised; it is now $3.10 for adults & students, $2.75 for seniors and .75 cents for children 2years and up. Metro monthly pass is now $126.00, Day pass $10.50 per day, Weekly pass $37.50 Adults, $29.75 students & seniors.
  • There are now pass vending machines at some subway stations where you can purchase your metropass so you can bypass the line-ups.
  • Some booths now have a direct auto payment system call INTERAC where you can pay with your access card if you don’t have cash.
  • The P.A system is better you can actually understand the announcements, no more gravely static and while in the subway you can get regular updates of delays. Only draw back this system is not applicable above ground on buses and streetcars.
  • Some subways are equipped with digital bus schedules that is continually updated (unless it doesn’t work) letting you know when the next bus/streetcar/train is due to arrive.

As for the service travel/commute time, yeah its still a swear word and the drama has become the norm. Delays, breakdowns, and alternative options i.e. bus to compensate for breakdowns continue to show no sign of improvement, it is just as bad if not worst. If there is any improvement it is on such a minute scale that it barely registers.

Delays are now apt to occur going and coming, sometimes 10 pm at night you get dumped off a train and have to wait long times for another train to come. On the streets buses and streetcar delays are worst because one has no way of knowing what is going on. It is only after long periods of waiting -  45 minutes to an hour you realize something is not right. Buses dispatched as alternatives pass you by packed without the driver even stopping momentarily to inform those waiting at stops of what’s happening. I guess that is common courtesy not built in their job description. If you’re lucky a passenger who gets off one of those packed buses will inform the people waiting then people begin to search for alternative routes to reach their destinations.

smiley-happy-faceI take it all in stride. Through it all I manage to smile, sing, read, laugh, do my thing, do me and observe all around me.

21 comments:

  1. Submitted on 2008/03/18 at 6:14 AM

    I made the right decision to go into wild places where the city does not stifle me!
    This is the closest thing to a rant I have read from you, and I not only understand it, I am with you on all of it.
    There is a balance to be struck between the nned for people and tto much of same.
    Hugs from Alaska and the peace of nature

    ReplyDelete
  2. Submitted on 2008/03/18 at 11:11 AM

    Nightmare? Sounds like one anyway! If someone has to do it, may as well be someone else. Happy trails!
    j

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  3. Submitted on 2008/03/18 at 2:22 PM

    Oh damn girl, that is PTSC?! I swear you were talking about Trinidad. I see they did bring out the ‘trini’ in you. But anyway, it seems as though it is a worldwide thing to have transit nightmares/daymares. Here in Atlanta it’s not that bad, but can get ridicilous at times when those MARTA buses and trains start to act up and the drivers decide to pull over for coffee or to play lotto!

    What’s with all those medical emergencies everyday? Does that guarantee free medical or some sort of free something for the patient if you have an emergency on public transport? If de dyam people an dem know dey sick, why the hell dey doh stay home?!

    Girl, start driving to work eh. Cause the way these employers are, just now they will get fedup of you being late, although they know the situation, and they will start acting up too, and you don’t really want employers acting up. They will say you need to either overnight at the office, get up even earlier so you’d be in earlier delays making you ontime for work, or get another job that is closer to home or drive your car to work.

    I feel you pains. I had to go through all of that before I got my car. I got totally fedup of waiting in the cold for the bus and train, and then when summer comes, it’s the heat, then having to put up with the hispanics who just cant shut to hell up!! But the way gas prices are going, I may have to get back on the bus again.

    Sigh……..I hope that this situation gets better real soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Submitted on 2008/03/18 at 4:37 PM

    Just reading this blog was stressful I can’t imagine being a part of it, though I must admit while I lived in NY I had my share of transit problems. I guess it’s a crap shoot either way. If you drive to work you have to deal with the high price of gas and vehicle maintenance. Look at it this way, we have a job to go to (smile).

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  5. Submitted on 2008/03/18 at 5:22 PM

    It’s deja vu for me. I endured the nightmares of mass transit travelling to and fro DC for ten years, so I feel ya! And, Fay is right — employers do not care how you get there. Hang in there! Peace, Love & Together

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  6. Listen, eh. Ours is called SEPTA, and it is a mirror image of what you just described. Years ago, I commuted to downtown Philly. Our troubles came in the P.M. when trying to get home – the same chaos that you mentioned! I drive everywhere, now. I hate SEPTA with a passion and haven’t been aboard it’s vehicles in many years. My mom always says "Eat it, or lay your head down beside it". I am so amazed to finally find someone else who is familiar with that phrase. Loose that evil villain and start driving. The aggravation of driving is way better than public transit. Peace.

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  7. Submitted on 2008/03/20 at 11:12 PM

    Sorry to hear that you had hard times…I think this is reality world we were living todays.
    we have the same problems too and even people’s who driven their car’s still costs of money for the privet parkings therfore mostly people’ were get up early that still dark in the outside driven with head light on to the publick parking spots.
    You were nice lady that even you had enough hard time then still you had sharing warmth helping the old lady…
    she would remember you. We needs more people’ like you in this world…..
    I wish a Happy Easter to you and your families.
    Michiko

    ReplyDelete
  8. Submitted on 2008/03/21 at 7:04 AM

    many thanks for your wish…have a great easter…take care. Love Gena xxx

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  9. Submitted on 2008/03/21 at 3:19 PM



    Good Friday Fab…
    $327 a month for public transit!!! Wow!!! That’s expensive.
    But then if I ever live in a big city again that is how I would have to travel around too.
    Selfishness is hard for me to witness. When I am out and about my eyes are wide open to my surroundings. It really does amaze me what I see sometimes.
    Today…As I read, I will focus upon the positive and say that I am proud that I have you as a blog friend, who no matter what the circumstances, will do the right thing and be a helping hand to someone in need. If I would have been there I would have been right there helping you.
    Have a nice peace filled weekend,
    Greg

    ReplyDelete
  10. Submitted on 2008/03/22 at 3:21 AM



    I cant imagine having to pay prices like that just to ride back and forth to work or anywhere else you may need to go. I am very fortunate for sure. It sounds like a night-mare. I am sorry to hear that it is that bad and that expensive. I have to admit though that I enjoyed this post very much. You have a wonderful way of writing so that when one reads the story, you can actually see everything clearly in the minds eye.

    Happy Easter to you.

    xoxoxo

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  11. I have never ridden on mass transit. I can only imagine from your description that I would not like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the time its alright, if one can avoid the rush hours and the hiccups that comes during those hours when there are delays and disruptions that result in subway shutdowns. Avoid rush hour is not always applicable unless you take work hours that are contrary to the norm. Then for the most time travelling is uneventful though delays are irritating no matter the hour.

      Delete
  12. Well that was really interesting. Ofcourse nothing compares to the chaotic public transport in India!!! I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that in countries aroudn North America a lot of people use private transport and so public transport systems and their problems do not get addressed fast enough? Have a nice week! ( And thanks for the comment on my post. I can well imagine you ticking off a LECH :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some days the driving is smooth and you almost can forget the hiccups of delays and breakdowns. I know in comparison to some places this good however it is still subject to crappy services and soaring rates.

      Delete
  13. I laughed all through as i read, esp at places you forgot you still have! really rhapsody b?..ahahahahhaha..ok! that was in 2008..hmmm...4years ago...but wait a minute! you guys were shoving and pushing?...now! that sounds like Nigeria to me! Oh! Sister! you showed them you were from Caribbean!#thumbs up!# me likey. Thank you for helping out the poor old lady...you sure have a kind heart......fast forward to 2012....ok! they had improved a little?....but still break downs, and delays?.....can't you drive to work instead? ...well, commuter system, in my country, is not for the faint-hearted o! I tell you. The pushing and shoving is a daily occurrence, esp at the peak periods...then the hold-ups are legendary!....no rails yet...mostly bus transit and taxi... i gbadun {enjoy} this post...weldone ma'am.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah there ae some improvements I must be fair and admit it. Girl its hard for me to say and do nothing, most of the time I in a big debate with myself, quarreling, on side saying mind your business the other side say, but what if it were you wouldn't you want someone to help. Which ones wins out depends on the day i guess. As for the pushing and shoving oh trust me, it can get down right nasty.

      Drive, I can't drive. I could perhaps drive you crazy but thats the extent of my driving.

      Delete
  14. This is a terrible state of affairs that commuters are subjected to so much harassment by the transport companies. Here in Kochi public transport is very chaotic but not in the way you have described. There are plenty of buses here but we don't follow the line system. Even friends and neighbors will push each other to get into the bus even when the bus is empty.Old people,handicapped people, no one is spared. The idea is to get a place to sit or stand in a vantage point where it will be easier to breathe.

    The transport companies stop services at least four or five times a year sometimes as long as a week or more demanding fixation of higher fares whenever the gas price goes up. Although the government in the initial stages refuse to accept the demands will finally yield. So fares for public transport keeps going up and up.

    I would say that the reason for all this calamity is mainly due to the apathy of the people.They are prepared to put up with a lot of nonsense from the government and transport services. They willingly suffer in silence.

    So what can be done? We are part of the public. Some of us will moan and groan and that is the end of it.

    Wish you all the best,
    Joseph

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Namaste you are so right, many of us complain but are not willing to rise up. The ones who drive their own vechiles some say, "I don't care it doesn't affect me." Funny thing it is because once fare rises so does gas prices. They seem to go hand in hand. I had a petition going around the last stike when there was the threat of a fare hike. I got some signatures but many were unwilling to participate.

      Delete
  15. Interesting read here the stresses of just trying to get to work.. It's a damn shame . Some things have changed I see for the better, well I hope so for your sake Rhapsody.
    Happy Easter Sheila

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sometimes it can be stressful. Have a great easter holiday.

      Delete
  16. Thank you for send to me very help with need for me.
    I must send in Account place.
    Have a great holiday.

    ReplyDelete

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