I don't judge anyone who drives their vehicle* to work in the Greater Toronto Area. Yes, our freeways and commuter arteries are a gridlocked mess most of the time, but it's no wonder. There is little coordination amongst the transit systems of the outlying cities, successive provincial governments have slashed funding to GO Transit, and Toronto has a bad habit of ripping up pre-existing rail lines and turning them into long, skinny parks (or ignoring them altogether).
And then there's the TTC. The Better Way, my ass. It took me 50 minutes to get home from work tonight. If I get a bus right away, it takes me 20 minutes. Walking takes 35.
The problem tonight, I think, was that a bus was missing from the regular pattern of service on the route. This accounts for my 25-minute wait at the stop. Luckily it was only -5c tonight, so I didn't freeze to death.
Between the unpredictable wait times, the oft-surly drivers, the beat-up buses, and the multitude of crazy (and smelly) people who ride, it's all a bit much to take sometimes. Trying to entice people to use public transit is a common problem for large North American cities. I think we could take some lessons from the Europeans. In Finland, you can get a text message to your cell phone telling you when the next bus is due to arrive. In German cities like Berlin and Munich, the U-Bahn is a thing of beauty: extensive routes; reliable, automated, and audible next-station-announcements; directional signage in the subway cars indicating the doors to use for the next platform. Heck, even the MUNI platforms in San Franisco tell you when the next goddamned train is coming.
This post is in celebration of Ontario's new High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. HOV lanes: the traffic solution that many North American cities are abandoning after years of failure. Attention Toronto retailers: your used mannequins have just quadrupled in value...
* as long as it's not a gargantuan SUV with only one occupant