Saturday, February 11, 2012

Take The Car

courtesy of kereta_api

courtesy of
Saturday February 11, 12:56 p.m.

A Tale of Two Commissions? Coming back to work at the new downtown school the other day, one of my students, a woman from Tokyo, had come in a few minutes late...nowhere near a hanging offense in my books. She blamed it on the Toronto Transit Commission...the good ol' TTC, since the subway had yet another breakdown in service in the morning. Apparently, a number of students had been affected, and they just said how horrible it was.

It's been quite a surprise over the years about how far the TTC has fallen. Since I'd been annually coming back on vacation from Japan over the last several years, there wasn't too much of a shock about the current sorry state of affairs with our public transportation system. I've been privy to some of the delays and the open warfare between TTC staff and passengers.

The bigger shock was for the students when I told them that the TTC had once been the envy of North America...that "The Better Way" had not been an ironic expression. Now, the nicknames are "Take The Car"and "The Bitter Way". The TTC has simply not been able to keep up with the capacity and the times. Last year's introduction of a gleaming new subway train for the Yonge Line attracted crowds like a new escalator in the only 2-storey building of a rural village.

Tokyo Metro is cleaner, the staff are more polite, and the system is more efficiently run. And for the most part, the subways come at the scheduled time. Still, delays do happen, and the rush hours in Tokyo are legendary in a bad way. If at all possible, I used to avoid the rush hour times like the proverbial plague.

I can only hope the saga of the TTC is in the middle stage of a movie....that there will be a redemption of sorts at the end. Apparently, some Canadian who had been working on The Tube in London was recruited last year to get some semblance of order from chaos. Haven't heard much from him, although I have noticed that there is much less of a Cold War between TTC staff and commuters. But the fights are still continuing between Mayor Ford and TTC Commissioner Karen Stintz about the future of putting up either new subways or above-ground LRT systems. I think just getting the current system fixed is a priority.