Tag Archives: transportation

Driver, follow that car!

The taxi is my favourite car, hands down.  Without a care in the world, with my own space in the back, the taxi is the best compromise between public transportation and a private vehicle.  I have taken taxis in at least a dozen countries and it is the same convenience factor that the car lends to its patron.

Taxis are so cheap in Paris because no one takes taxis.  Who are the chumps that take taxis? The lucky ones who manage to find one and after lining up for 10 minutes.  Drivers do not stop for anyone.  Anyone who has lived in la Ville Lumière can attest to the fact.  6 EUROs can get you from Notre Dame in the 5th to Place de la Concorde.  12 EUROs from Belleville to the 7th.  That’s like the equivalent of going from Kennedy station to Kipling in Toronto!

London and Amsterdam are the most expensive cities for taxis.  Congestion on Oxford Street or Picadilly could be reasons.  Maybe Dutch drivers charge a different rate for non-Dutch speakers.  The London taxis are misleading because of they appear small but can actually hold up to 5 people just in the back.  It’s like a circus act, you know, when twenty clowns would start exiting the backdoor of a VW Beetle.

New York City is the city where convenience, rate and quickness come together to make a taxi-rider’s heaven.  The honking (which, by the way, can be fined $250US) slowly blends into the sounds of the surroundings, becoming white noise.  To get from Greenwich to Uptown is change.

Toronto taxis are on the pricey side.  How I wish that $4 was not the starting cost of a ride.  I remember when $2.50 was the norm until the price of gas went up a couple of years ago.  Guess what, guys? The price of gas went down.  Toronto taxi drivers are quite open to conversations, I must say.  It must be hard to have to follow strangers’ directions as part of the job, not to mention the risk of sharing a small confined space.  I have heard horror stories of people with weapons, dashing out without paying, etc. Say hello to your taxi driver next time! They are people. They get bored.

Taxis are my favourite car, hands down.  Nothing screams luxury like a car waiting for you, a courteous driver and knowing that for the moment, I will be home shortly.  Don’t forget to tip.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under City Life, lifestyle

Yet another lamentation about TTC

I live in a bedroom community 20 minutes outside of the Toronto city centre.  ‘Minutes’ as a term has a lot of conditions like, if the Route 81 bus is coordinated with the eastbound train’s arrival, and if the train is on time, assuming that there are no delays, and if it is a weekday.  In short, it is a pocket of people whose connection to their livelihoods and their jobs and what we call ‘city life’ is through public transportation.

Public transportation is supposed to be a mobility device for people with destinations without the stress of driving and finding a parking space nor the stress of trying to avoid honking drivers as you bike on Bloor during rush hour.  When did buses become mobile theatres of humiliation and anguish from both the passenger’s and the driver’s sides?

As I board the bus from Pape station, the expected looks of exhaustion fatigue are dime a dozen.  People who should already be asleep at this hour (10 p.m.) are forced to stand up in the aisles because there are no more seats available.  This tells me two things: these passengers are not the 9 to 5ers who probably have office jobs where they sit in front of a computer all day or they are 9 to 5ers who need to do overtime.  The TTC should have an idea about their clients, or commuters, right? Why are there about 40 people waiting for the same bus? Why do the buses come only every 12 minutes, and this is if they actually are on schedule?

The bus driver announces from behind the glass cage to which she has subjected herself, that the bus is not moving until the last boarding passengers get behind the thick white line.  Imagine your kindergarten teacher asking you very nicely to follow her instruction.  Ok.  Now imagine your kindergarten teacher asking you to do her bidding, in that tone, with you as an adult.  My reaction was disgust.

I think that part of training to work for the Toronto Transit Commission is interpersonal communication.  I realize that drivers probably go for a day without having genuine human contact.  This, however, should not be an excuse to have no sense of what is respectful and not condescending.

TTC employees should realize that they are not transporting people but services.  Everyone on that bus contributes their time to a portion of city life.  Such contributions might be so small that we do not know about them but nonetheless, they deserve respect.

On a lighter note, it is Remembrance Day in Canada.  I want to thank the Veterans who made this country as free as it is today.   This underappreciated freedom to vent is a privilege.  My sincerest gratitude.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oh, TTC. Oh, TTC, be mine.

600px-TTC_logo

I spend a big chunk of my waking life on public transit.  From the east end, my destination of Lakeshore and Kipling seems like a long zombie walk.  I read a lot though between départ and arrivée.

The Lakeshore streetcar is a pleasant but long experience in the middle of the day.  The gentle rocking of the tram enforces the conflict between slumber attention.  Needless to say, I enjoy the streetcar even though it is the long way to get to downtown Toronto.   (I think, I might just made a breakthrough: I like complicating things!)

The Queen/Parliament/Long Branch streetcar is a moving microcosm of life in our city.  For any sociology and anthropology majors, please consider my proposal to take this relatively inexpensive trip within Toronto.

Today, I found my streetcar driver to be semi-maniacal and a self-talker, who laughed at his utterings that no one else heard.  I understand that it is frustrating to maneuver a giant piece of machinery with limitations pertaining to its circulation.  I bet that this is further aggravated by the construction at Church and Queen which slowed down traffic.

I am a reasonable person and a very sympathetic person.  When I ask if I can get off in the middle of a gridlock, is it necessary to respond with a laugh followed up by a denial and a mockery of a reasonable request? You represent the TTC! I realize that it is a monopoly and that people who take it on a regular basis often do not have another choice.  This does not give you permission.

The TTC can be a wonderful experience and is conditionally convenient.  With the threat of a fare hike in the new year, despite some politicians’ promises, TTC employees should remind people why they should pay the extra quarter for the same services they have been providing since the system’s inception.

The fare already exceeds Paris’ more complex system.  What are the merits of a higher fare? Is it reasonable to expect Wi-fi? How about just finishing the St. Clair line? I await answers to these questions.  In the meanwhile, I will just keep my head down, reading my copy of Metro, checking what Twitter updates Ashton Kutcher might have.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized