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.