In Which I Muse About Public Transit

Roncy streetcarLike most Torontonians, I have a love/hate relationship with the TTC. I truly love that I live in a big metropolis with walkable neighbourhoods and public transit that gets me from one end of the city to the other and beyond. I love that I can walk out my front door and am steps away from the busiest streetcar line in the city. I love that I have a 35 minute door-to-door commute to work that includes a streetcar ride, a subway ride and a little walk. I love the freedom I have to traverse this fine city using my feet and my legs, walking and hopping from one form of transport to another all with a flash of my Metropass – and a smile, of course 🙂 Most of all, I love that I don’t need a car, which means that I don’t have to pay for a car (or insurance, or gas, or maintenance, or parking!!). I honestly see all of this as a huge plus in my life.

Although I am generally all sunshine and roses when it comes to my attitude towards the TTC, there are days when I’m more like rain clouds and weeds. And, it’s not so much when there are subway delays due to an emergency, or a fire investigation, or whatever reason – these things happen, and while it’s annoying, people are just doing their jobs and I can respect that. And it doesn’t even upset me that much when there’s an accident, for example, and a streetcar can’t move and I have to walk, or wait for a replacement bus. At the end of the day, if I’m truly in a bind and have to be somewhere fast, I can always hop in a cab or an Uber. Easy peasy.

What does make my blood boil, however, are the ways in which the people who ride the TTC are seemingly out to make me want to punch them. There are rules, common understandings, and codes of conduct that must be adhered to when riding public transit. Most people seem to understand this. What angers me, what drives me to drink, are the assholes who choose to ignore these rules and make everyone else on the streetcar or subway suffer for their ignorance.

So, herewith, in no particular order, is Ange’s Guide to NOT being an Asshole on the TTC:

  1. Remove your knapsack. It’s easy, and in fact, is AN ACTUAL RULE (it’s written and posted on the subway cars and stations, people). I know you think it doesn’t take up space, or maybe you think it’s too much trouble because it’s heavy (or you’re lazy), or maybe you just don’t care, but allow me to let you in on a little secret: your knapsack on your back takes up the same amount of space as a whole other person. Also, on a personal note, when it’s really crowded, and I’m sardined amongst the regular sized people, your knapsack is hitting me in the face.
  2. Don’t have loud phone conversations while riding the TTC. This one has a sub-rule: don’t have conversations at all on speaker phone. You may laugh because you’re thinking “who on earth would want to have a conversation that a whole streetcar full of strangers can hear?” Well, I agree with you. Apparently not everyone does. Seriously, it’s SO obnoxious. Don’t put people on speaker, and don’t yell at the person you’re speaking to. Nobody wants to hear your conversation, trust me. This one leads nicely into #3.
  3. Use your inside voice. In general, nobody wants to listen to your conversation. No one. It’s a little different on weekends, when people are more relaxed and tend to travel more in groups, and the streetcars and subway trains are generally a bit more abuzz with chatter and laughter. But certainly during the week, when the majority of people are commuting to or from work, just shut up. Let me read my paper in relative silence. My brain hasn’t turned on yet, and I’m basically just focusing on standing upright and getting to work, or conversely, I’m wiped from a long and tiring day at work, focusing on remaining upright and probably hungry and just want to decompress on my way home. Heed the lesson you learned in Kindergarten, and use your inside voice.
  4. Get off your ass to let the person sitting in the inside seat out. It’s not enough (or polite, or practical, or good manners in general) to simply swing your legs to the left or right and lean out of the way. The streetcar or subway is a crowded place and there are lots of tight spaces. Stand up and politely move out of the way so the person can manage their way out of the seat with relative ease. If you don’t, you’re an asshole.
  5. Don’t Manspread. It’s a thing, guys. You see most people (and almost ALL women) being generally conscious of their physicality on a subway or streetcar, and essentially trying to take up as little space as possible. And then you see the asshole who thinks it’s his prerogative to take up two seats, spreading his legs open to, I dunno, air himself out?, making it impossible for someone to sit next to him. Don’t be that asshole.
  6. Don’t fall over. I know this one seems like you wouldn’t have any control over whether or not you fall over, but you do, actually. When you’re on the subway, hold on to something. If you’re unable to hold onto something, then turn your body so it’s parallel to the subway car, as opposed to perpendicular, and stand with your feet firmly on the floor, shoulder-width apart. This will help you keep your balance. If you insist on standing like an idiot, you are going to be jerked around by the subway ride and you will likely fall or stumble…on someone else. It’s really annoying.
  7. Give up your seat to someone else who looks like they need it more than you. I personally, very rarely take a seat on the subway or streetcar. I figure, I’m a young, able-bodied person and there are others who need it more than me. This seems like a pretty basic rule of both transit ridership and general human decency. Luckily, I don’t actually see many offenders on this one, but when I do, I immediately assume you’re an asshole.
  8. Don’t go against the stream of people. I don’t know if I’m alone on this one, but it irritates me to NO END when I’m walking down the stairs into a subway station, along with a sea of other people, and there is a rogue stair climber coming towards me. Just go up the damn escalator, asshole! I have but one choice to go down, I HAVE to take the stairs, you have two options – take the one where you don’t get in my way and force me to awkwardly side step you on the stairs, possibly cutting someone off or inadvertently bumping into someone. When it’s not busy, and there’s lots of room, by all means, get down with your healthy self and walk up all the stairs you like! But at rush hour, when there are hundreds of people coming down the stairs, and you’re the only one going up, trust me, YOU’RE the asshole.
  9. Stand right, walk left. This is actually a universal law/rule/convention in all subway systems across the world (I’m not kidding). When riding the escalator, if you want to stand, you stand on the right side. If you prefer to walk up/down the stairs as they are moving, you do so on the left. It’s a simple rule. Even if you’re from out of town, if you’ve never been on a subway before, you don’t speak the language, or you’re lost, you can clearly see, based on the behavior of virtually EVERYONE else in the station that you’re supposed to stand right, walk left. Get it together, asshole!
  10. Don’t run and push your way onto the subway as the doors are closing. I know you’re busy, maybe you’re running late, or perhaps you are just an impatient person, but seriously? Where do you have to be that is SO important, that is SO urgent that you can’t wait 2-4 minutes for the next train? No, really, I’m asking. I do not understand this logic. The trains come every 2 or 3 minutes during rush hour. I’m pretty sure that that extra 3 minutes is not going to make a difference in your life. I don’t personally believe there is anything in my life that can’t wait 3 more minutes if it means that I don’t have to run and risk physical harm to myself (and perhaps someone else) to get on THAT particular train. This also applies to when a subway train is so full that I can’t possibly imagine myself fitting on it, let alone being even slightly comfortable. But that’s me, I’m a little claustrophobic, so I will gladly wait for the next train if it means that it might be a little less crowded. The moral of the story is this: don’t be the person who pushes their way onto a subway, especially when it’s already really crowded. Trust me; no one is impressed by your subway door-defying prowess. We just think you’re an asshole.

So, there you have it! It may not be the definitive guide, but it’s MY guide to not being an asshole on public transit. Take from it what you will!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to catch the subway…wish me luck!

2 thoughts on “In Which I Muse About Public Transit

  1. Even though I read this a little while back I had to revisit just to say that today I experienced each and every items listed while on my TTC rides. The great part is that even though I was annoyed at these things happening, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I was thinking about your comments here. Thanks for making my annoyance amusing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s