Tag Archives: public transportation

Only Child asks: Are Toronto buses missing their schedules?

TTC bus today

 

When I was a child, my mom and I would play a mild form of roulette to catch the bus. Our street was halfway between two stops so we would walk the very short half block to the main drag, look both ways, and decide which bus stop to go to. Sometimes we could actually see the bus coming and sometimes we couldn’t. But there was always the chance the bus would show up as we walked (or ran) to either stop.

Fast forward to today. Bus schedules for each route are shown on the TTC website. Any “alerts” as the TTC calls schedule interruptions or changes are posted and continually updated. Those with smart phones can get an app so they can get up-to-date bus arrival times. A few bus stops have digital information with arrival times for the next two buses. Subway station bus levels have electronic times posted that change to match the actual bus schedules.

So all should be working well – even when buses are delayed for some reason. AND WE BUS RIDERS SHOULD KNOW ALL THIS BECAUSE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE.

Hah!

Here’s my experience… or some of it.

From where I now live I can take four different bus lines – two stop at the stop near my home and all four stop a long block away. Usually I check online before I leave to see what’s what with the schedules and any alerts including construction nonsense.

Might as well save my time and eyesight, though because…

The Woodbine bus does run to schedule – its own schedule which seems to be timed about halfway between the actual schedule posted online..

The O’Connor bus – well it will take you for a ride (or not). Even on Sundays when there is no construction in the way, the drivers (and in some cases their supervisors) can’t get it right. Last Sunday I was coming home from some grocery shopping – no problem with the subway, but when I landed at the subway station to switch to the bus, it was “fun and games”. The electronic schedule said that one O’Connor bus was now due. I can take either one to get home. So, that was good. A bus did come in right away and stop on the O’Connor side of the bus platforms. But its sign said “Coxwell 22” bus, which means it was going the other way on Coxwell Avenue. So after unloading the passengers, it drove around to the other side of the station where the Coxwell bus picks up passengers (and unloads them too). Furious, I returned to the electronic schedule on the wall. Now the O’Connor C was scheduled to arrive in 14 minutes and the O’Connor A in 18 minutes.

Guess what probably happened. The a****** supervisor probably gave the O’Connor bus driver instructions to switch to the Coxwell south route because of the bridge work there and a festival being held by the Lakeshore. Meantime the Coxwell buses were arriving okay and people got those buses. So what was the problem?

The O’Connor buses? The C was late and arrived a couple of minutes before the A. I boarded the A. Both buses took off right away from the station like a herd of elephants was after them. (Maybe that should have happened earlier). As the A bus beetled out of the station, another A bus was entering. My A bus was right behind the C bus, until the C turned down one street.

This is a regular occurrence. So is the change of drivers’ nonsense. I don’t know if the drivers themselves are arranging to switch at stops partway along the route instead of the subway stations (or wherever the end of the line is) like they should – just for their convenience, or some you-know-what supervisor in his or her “wisdom” is telling them to do so. But it is annoying to have the driver suddenly grab his bag and leave the bus – often with not telling us why – because his shift is over. Sometimes his replacement driver doesn’t arrive for some time.

Customer service?

I have sent in complaints to the TTC before on these shenanigans, but is anybody doing anything about it?

It would appear not.

I have a courtesy rule. When I get off a bus, I say “thank you” to the driver. But not when they are late or do the driver switcheroo mid-route – especially if it is after dark.

Too bad I can’t afford a cab or Uber.

Will I be forced to hitch-hike?

As for my late Mom – she is probably rolling around in her grave. Or her spirit is frowning. She definitely is not laughing.

Anybody have similar experiences with public transit where you live.

Let’s share stories.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Customer Service, Mother, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit, TTC buses

Only Child pays tribute to Dad for Father’s Day

My Dad

When I was growing up, dinnertime for Mom, Dad and me was sitting around the table in our small kitchen. Mom and Dad would sometimes be talking about the household budget while little ears lapped it up as well as the food – often leftover roast. But Dad had one habit that drove Mom crazy.

He looked at his watch, then up at the wall clock above the table, then back to his watch, lifting up the expansion band. I expected it to go “boing, boing,” but it was silent.

Not  Mom.

“Albert, do you have to keep doing that?” she would ask.

“Have to take it in to get regulated,” Dad replied. He had good reason for this.

You see, my late father worked for the railway, CN (or CNR as it was called back in the 50s and 60s). He was a timekeeper but he worked in the head office, then in downtown Toronto. As far as I know he wasn’t out on the tracks timing the trains. But who knows. The trains came in right by his office at Toronto’s Union Station.

Only Child loves train travel although engines aren’t steam anymore

He carried this penchant for time when the three of us rode the rails travelling in the summer. It was a free ride, and not just for Dad. Mother had the spouse’s free pass and until I turned 19 I had the child of the CN worker’s pass. Mom got unlimited free rides; I was limited to seven a year. But we never took more than three or four trips a year – and one would be not really a holiday. There were a lot of funerals in my family and a few weddings.

But that’s for another post. Today’s post is all about Dad and time. When we rode the rails, Dad made sure we arrived at Union Station early – sometimes two hours before train time. Did Dad think we would miss the train?  No. He was just doing his job outside his job. No one missed his scrutiny – from the cab driver who drove us to Union Station – via a different route than Dad had dictated to who carried our luggage (not the red cap porter) to the trainman who collected our tickets once we had boarded the train. Dad’s favourite expression was “Typical CNR” which could be taken as either a bad review or I suppose even a small compliment. At any rate Dad and his watch kept close company.

But riding the rails had its fun, interesting and now looking back – nostalgic times. Nothing like the murder and other crimes that occur on the train to Hanover in my short story “Porcelain Doll” (Beyond theTripping Point, Blue Denim Press, 2012).

Consider the times we were travelling in – mid to late 1950s and early 1960s. Right when train travel in Ontario was still in its heyday – although not for much longer with the almighty automobile starting to take over. (Note: my parents didn’t drive so we had no car).

Our main annual trip was to visit the farm relatives on my mother’s side of the family. That took us to Mildmay Ontario (a few miles from Walkerton, the town that had the bad water scandal in 2000), and Lucknow, Ontario. Then we had to take three trains, which meant two changes. But what rides and what differences. The trains from Toronto to Guelph had diesel engines. The one from Guelph to Palmerston still had a steam engine whose noise used to scare me and my constant travelling companion, my doll Darlene. Guelph was also an interesting ride through. As that second train started out from Guelph, looking out the windows you could see the train was running on a track right in the middle of a street. It is still that setup today (although the trains are more modern) and it still makes me hold my breath when travelling through. The third train, with its short ride from Palmeston to Mildmay, was the most interesting. The “coach” we rode in was actually a sleeper car and Daddy would go into a short talk on the closed dark wooden bins above which came down and turned the area into a bedroom. I also remember the texture of the seats – they itched the back of my bare legs.

Only Child at 13 with Mom and Dad at the Lucknow farm

Dad has been long gone (he died of brain cancer, at 66. I was 16). However, I have inherited his penchant for time. I must get what is on my daily to-do list done that day and God help anyone or anything who interferes (Telemareters and long-winded acquaintances on the phone pay attention). But I also go after transit that is not on time, but not the CN, or VIA rail which has taken over the railway passenger service in most of Canada. No, it’s the city public transit, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) which more times than naught, messes up on its schedules. So I sometimes complain online about the incident. Couldn’t do that back in the day.

Guess I do have my father to thank for to be aware of time. And in line with that, on this upcoming Father’s Day I will honour my late father by thinking of him and toasting him – not with his favourite drink – beer, which I don’t really like – but wine. It’s the thought that counts. I’m sure Daddy would understand.Happy Father’s Day Daddy (wherever your spirit is), from your little railway brat.

How are you honouring your Dad this Father’s Day?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

C

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Father's Day, Only child, Time management, Train travel

Only Child says anger not always bad

Only Child behind barbed wire

When I was a child I hid my anger under shyness and the belief that you don’t show your anger because others might retaliate and hurt you. Let’s face it I was a wimp when growing up. Perhaps it was due to my  personal background or just the mores of the times (1950s and 1960s). More likely both.

Nowadays as a senior, I am not afraid to show my anger.

Let me clarify that. It is only verbal and written. I do not condone physical violence and I don’t condone verbal and written anger  that is sexist and racist. There is never any excuse or reason for that.

But on a personal level I will tell someone off if they are blocking the subway doorway and I and others can’t get off or (and my big pet peeve), they are standing on the steps down to the subway platform and playing with their digital device. I also tell bus drivers off if they are really late arriving (although for this I am more likely to just not say “thank you” as I exit the bus). My usual exit is to thank bus drivers as I leave the bus. In the majority of cases bus drivers are just doing their job and some go out of their way to help passengers.

Not so the “clown” driving the Woodbine bus I took last evening. Not only was he late (the next bus was almost on his tail), but he sped away from the stop as soon as I used my Presto card to pay. As I struggled and lurched to get seated, I yelled, “It  might be a good idea to let us sit down first.” Fortunately I landed in a seat without injury. And why was this bus driver in such a rush? He just had to make the green light half a block away down the street. He missed it and had to wait. Thank God or somebody for Karma.

On a wider scale I am also angered by government cuts in funds to libraries, education and healthcare, something we in Ontario are now experiencing that the populist you-know-what Doug Ford and his Conservative cronies who rule the roost are doing. I am also angered by the lax sentences for murderers and other perpetrators of heinous crimes under the Criminal Code in Canada and I covered that in a recent post. And if you harm a child, harm someone who is disabled, you get my wrath too.

Anger, I find can be redirected into action with the forming of community groups and the like to make changes, for example public transit riders groups (I know; I seem to be on this public transit kick). Even just writing this post is a good redirection or writing a short story.

I am not alone in being angry some of the time. See Facebook and Twitter and news clips. t seems to be a sign of the times and the number of people being angry over specific things is increasing according to a Gallop Poll from last year which went through 142 countries. See here for the poll info which also covers worry – and that does go hand in hand with anger. The age bracket for most angry was not us seniors, but it went up to age 49.

So what about us seniors?

That’s fodder for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anger, Life demands, Only child

Pictures can help you write your memoir

 

For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?

Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.

So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.

And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your  mind) to your story.

As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.

“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”

“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”

“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”

The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past,  lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?

You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.

Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.

Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir

Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
90 mins

Location

S. Walter Stewart Library

S. Walter Stewart

In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.

Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.

And the picture below my signature.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Libraries, Life, Only child memoir, Writing workshops

Mr. Ford please don’t take over my TTC subways

Toronto Transit subway

Now that the reduce-the-Toronto-wards-number fiasco has been struck down in court, Premier Doug Ford can perhaps look elsewhere to do some damage. And yes, I know he plans to use the little-used not-withstanding clause. But Mr. Ford also wants to take over part of the TTC, er, his PC government does. That would be the subways. But Toronto can keep  the bus, LRT and other streetcar service. See story here.

Mr. Ford might do well to look at the history of the TTC –  when it was a jumble of privately run companies and when the Toronto Transit Commission began taking it all over. Mr. Ford can start by going here for a little history lesson. Even better read the Mike Filey  book mentioned in the article  – The TTC Story: The First Seventy-five Years (Dundurn Press, 1996). Can’t find it online or in a bricks and mortars store? Toronto Public library has copies. And if Mr. Ford doesn’t have a library card, he can get one easily – and it’s free. That should suit him.

I am a life-long TTC rider and even though I complain loudly about the crowding, the stoppages for various reasons, dividing it up with the PCs taking over the subways and the TTC keeping the rest will create chaos. Remember the old saying about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

When I was a child (back in the grey ages) my mom, dad and I travelled by TTC to everywhere. We had no car and my parents couldn’t drive anyway. I enjoyed the subway rides on Yonge St. to downtown to shop at department store no longer around (but that’s fodder for another post) – this latter mainly with Mom. But Mom, Dad and I used to take the subway to Eglinton and then on buses afterwards to visit family and friends. When I started work ,the first phase of Line 2 along Bloor and Danforth had started running. And yes, it was crowded then too (albeit not as bad as today). When the Yonge line was first extended to York Mills I was living in North York and commuting to work at Bloor and Yonge from Sheppard and Don Mills. This  required an extra bus to York Mills. So I was glad when the subway line got extended to Finch. And since then, there have been more extensions and something called an LRT now being built along Eglinton.

Mr. Ford is saying that the TTC will still operate the subway system and can keep all revenues generated. How generous. If  Mr. Ford wants to get his hands into the TTC, maybe he should concentrate on the province giving more funds to the TTC so it doesn’t need to use so much of the fare revenue to cover costs for maintaining and building new subway lines, etc.

Emphasis on the word “public”. I am part of this public. I pay for my TTC pass (soon to be a Presto card) and pay my municipal taxes – some of which go to pay some of the TTC expenses no doubt, as one of my Facebook pals pointed out. But we (the public) have our rights.

And for the record I did not vote for the PCs in the election this year. And the NDP I voted for in my riding got in.

Many people speculate that Mr. Ford is doing all this to Toronto in retaliation for Toronto voting mostly NDP in the election. Whether that is true or not, the fact that Toronto voted NDP says something about our wishes.

But hey, democracy seems to be turning into a bad word. Just look at south of the border.

Comments, please. And here’s the link to my Facebook page. Scroll down a bit to see some comments on this TTC ruckus.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Toronto public transit, TTC Subways

Only Child’s 2018 resolutions for public transit riders

Toronto transit streetcar – the old kind with little room

I have posted previously on the inconsiderateness of public transit riders, particularly on Toronto’s TTC. Since then I have observed more bad uncivilized behaviour and I’m not even referring to anything violent. So instead of boring you with my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list some of these  public transit mis-behaviours where the perpetrators need to make resolutions to change.

But before I do, I would like to give kudos and my gratitude to the baby buggy brigade – at least 85 per cent who have really smartened up since my last post on this. Mothers and fathers with baby buggies on buses, streetcars and subways are really trying hard not to take up too much space. And I try to do my part for those who take an especially considerate approach. I, in turn, approach them and thank them.

Now, here are the situations on public transit requiring  those inconsiderate public transit users to consider trying to change this year.

1. Blocking the way in and out – on buses standing at the front, texting or swinging between poles (as I caught one young woman doing and as the drive said nothing to her, I did. From her response, she clearly was on some drug), with their bags taking up even more room. And they aren’t even getting off at the next stop and the bus isn’t even crowded. People have difficulty passing by them to get on or off. Ditto on subways when not crowded in rush hour  – people standing in the doorways and texting while there are clear signs by the doors or on the doors “do not block doorways.” My solution is to first make sure they aren’t getting off at my stop and as I go by I tell them they are blocking the doorway or way out.

2. Standing at the top of or bottom of  or actually on steps in subway stations and texting. Not only is that inconvenient for others going up and down the stairs, especially for us oldsters who have to hang onto the railing, it could prove hazardous for the person texting. In rush hour, crowds hurrying up and down stairs may not realize someone is standing in the way and texting. Could be a nasty accident. Solution: get out of the way. Do your texting on the subway platform (most subway stations now have wi fi) or on the level above the stairs.

3. Young healthy people hogging the blue seats which are meant for seniors, anyone who is disabled, and parents with kids. I will give credit to most who do move when someone with a cane gets on the bus or subway and there are a few kind souls (men and women) who offer me a seat  because I am a senior.

4. People who hog extra seats for their bags of groceries, suitcases and even their purses. Even more insulting is when they do this and just sit there texting, oblivious to those who are left standing.

5. People who are too lazy to move to the window seat – whether they put  bags or not on the seat beside them, so anyone who wants to sit down has to climb over their big feet, etc.

All who are guilty of any of the above (and other inconsiderate behaviour), take note and try to change your ways. Remember it is public transit, not private transit. If you want to take over the seats and space, use Uber or a regular cab. or hire a limo.

And transit drivers aren’t all good guys and gals, either. Without going into a long list here are some driver issues that need changing in 2018: those drivers who find it more important to make the light before it changes then pick up passengers just arrived at the stop (probably because they had to cross at that light), keep to your schedule no later or earlier than five minutes for the scheduled stop time – I’m fed up with two buses – same number and same route – one minute apart instead of the 10 to 12 minutes they are supposed to be.

And one more thing, transit drivers If a passebner is doing one of the above five – at least on a bus or streetcar- please set them straight. It should really not be up to the passengers to do your job.

And that’s it. Feel free to post this on your blog or wherever.

And any comments here are welcome, especially if you have stories to tell about bad  actions of transit riders and drivers.

Happy 2018!

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under New year's resolutions, Only child, Public Transit, Public transit riders bad

Only Child admonishes cyclists who ride the sidewalks

thumb_bicycleEarlier this summer I was walking on the sidewalk across the Woodbine Bridge. Traffic going by on the road was noisy and my left ear doesn’t hear as well as it used to. I thought I heard a faint bell but wasn’t sure. Then someone spoke from behind. A made adult cyclist was behind me and he demanded to pass by me. I told him I don’t hear too well, but I was also ticked off at his sense of entitlement – illegal as it turns out. Try as I might I could not convince him that riding on the sidewalk is illegal in Ontario. He kept saying it was and rode off.

So many things I could have said to him if my mind wasn’t on hold from shock. Besides it being illegal, that is. I could and should have told him the kicker – i.e., why is the City of Toronto adding bicycle lanes on the road and not the sidewalk if it isn’t illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk? The other point is there is a notice on this sidewalk at the end to “walk your bikes.”

When I arrived at my destination – Shoppers Drug Mart – I saw a police cruiser in the parking lot and stopped them to just verify that is is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. In my upset I was even wondering if I had it right.

I did. After one of the officers verified I meant an adult on a bike, he said it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk but it is hard to catch those who break the law here.

As a former cyclist back when I was a kid and in my mid-twenties, I never rode on the sidewalk. Just looking at the sidewalk in where I grew up in Toronto made me worry I wouldn’t even be abler to keep the bike on the sidewalk. My dad taught me to ride my bike, albeit a bit late (I was nine and a half) but he always had me ride on the road in our neighbourhood – not busy with traffic right there.

My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads – the gravel ones where the only vehicles you might encounter were the occasional car or tractor. I would ride with my cousins near their farm and it would depend on who I rode with which bicycle I used. If I rode with the girls, I borrowed one of the guys bikes – and vice-versa.

In the mid-70s, when my then husband and I moved to Aurora, Ontario, we used to ride our bikes all around Aurora – on the road and I actually liked riding on the busy road in the lane by the sidewalk. What I hated was having to wait to make a left turn – and this wasn’t even on the busy roads. Trying to balance on the bike while waiting wasn’t exactly my favourite position.

After our son was born, I lost interest in bicycle riding.

But not the law. So adult cyclists who ride their bikes on the sidewalk, look out if you are near me. Now if I can find my whistle I might bring that along and blow that at these cyclists who think they are entitled to ride wherever they please. It isn’t safe. Many seniors have much worse hearing than me and may not be able to walk as well as I usually can.

And what about mothers pushing baby carriages (despite my opinions on them blocking the aisle on buses) and worse, young kids with our without a parent walking along the sidewalk and some jerk adult on a bike comes up behind them and scares them ringing the bike bell or if no bell, using his voice (and the men are more likely to ride the sidewalks than the women – at least what I’ve seen so far). Or no warning and…

Comments on this please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Cyclists and Entitlement, Only child

Helping lost people turns into something personal

GO train on the go

GO train on the go

This summer I am making it my business to help people who are having difficulty finding their way around Toronto. I don’t actively seek doing this but when I see someone who appears lost – or if they are asking for help getting around – I do my best to help them. Some days when I’m out nothing happens; some days there are a couple of instances. But last Saturday it got personal as my friend K. from Oakville had to return home by GO train and the situation for boarding was very vague.

K, N and I had spent a day at Harbourfront and N and I walked K back to where she figured she would go to get her GO bus. It was where she had exited.

The long waiting room with windows on one side and entrances to stairwells to some of the platforms on the other side was not very helpful. Neither was the Departure schedule on one of those changing digital boards. All the upcoming GO trains and Go buses were listed, but the boarding platform was not listed until five or 10 minutes before boarding time. Instead, you saw the word “Wait” beside the trains and buses. There were no officials around to ask; no indication where the nearest washroom was, and no seats to sit on.

K has back problems and other medical issues. N has a hip problem and I have a couple of digestive disorders. We would have appreciated at least a place to sit and someone official to ask if we were even in the right place. With this Union Station in construction flux, this latter part isn’t unreasonable. Last time K came to Toronto in the fall, she boarded her GO train at the other end of the large Union Station. So it wasn’t inconceivable that there was another place with platform entrances, particularly as the ones we saw here didn’t go up very far in numbers. The wall maps were useless.

So we waited, fretted and oh, did I forget to mention – no air conditioning so it was hot and humid inside. By continually checking the departure board I figured out that all GO bus platforms were numbered in the 40s. I also figured to get to them, you would go to the end of this long room, through the doors and there would be an indoor walkway to take you across the street to the GO bus terminal. Not for trains, though.

Five minutes before K’s GO train was scheduled to leave (they were running every hour only on the weekend because of construction) a platform number appeared. By that time, there were a number of people huddling around and they all proceeded through that numbered door. K hugged N and me and followed the others through the door to board her GO train.

I was so outraged by this major consumer service flaw, that I filed a complaint with GO online using their complaint form. Besides what I mention here, I also suggested they take a page from VIA rail (also goes through Union station but in the main area), i.e., that they list the platforms for all GO trains and buses departing – all the ones on the screen as they appear. The one word “wait” which they have, should deter people from entering the platform ahead of time in case there is another GO train or bus departing or arriving there before then. VIA does this and it is not unusual if you arrive early for your train when you go to the place to line-up, there is another line-up for an earlier departing train. VIA rail also has updated announcements via loudspeaker. That wasn’t happening a this GO waiting area. So that makes you wonder what blind people do? Maybe GO is in some violation of accessibility laws.

There was a notice in the waiting area and GO online that the platforms would be changing August 10 for construction so I also suggested they implement my suggestions when they do their construction.

If they can’t get their heads around giving good customer service to regular GO riders, they need to remember this is the big tourist season in Toronto and if regular riders (K does take the GO but in her area only, not into Toronto usually) get confused, what about tourists?

What do you want to bet that the powers that be at GO Transit all drive cars?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Friends, Getting lost, Helping Others, Only child, Public Transit, Union Station Toronto, VIA Rail

Only Child does stay vacations

Sailboats at Toronto Harbourfront Centre on Lake Ontario

Sailboats at Toronto Harbourfront Centre on Lake Ontario

When I was a child, my mom and I used to travel around Toronto by public transit (TTC) – buses, streetcars, and then the subway when the first line was opened. Some TTC galavanting was for shopping but Mom picked good and interesting areas, such as the Danforth, which had the big “dime stores” as they were called. You know Kresge’s, The Met and Woolworth’s. Yes, that’s dating me, but it was an adventure to go into all three stores before Easter to get that Easter hat. And stopping at the restaurant counters at The Met for a hot dog and ice cream was a treat. We also stopped in butcher shops and greengrocers. Sadly, the “dime stores” are all gone although Woolworth’s upgrade Wal-Mart is still around, in malls. And “dime stores” would never fly in these expensive times. Instead we have the Dollarama and Dollar Tree chains – which I actually like. They are the 21st. century’s Kresge’s and Met.

Mom also took me to places like the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and to visit family and friends.

So, recalling all the above, and for the sake of my almost empty wallet, I’ve decided I’m doing a lot of visiting local touristy sites in Toronto, the free ones. Sure, I still hope to do my annual visit to my cousins in southwestern Ontario, but there is still the rest of the summer.

Besides my once or twice a week trip down to the Danforth for groceries, I also head for some of the events there, such as Taste of the Danforth – a celebration of food (yes, I’m a foodie), not just Greek in this Greek area of Toronto, but Italian and Asian. The nearby park, Withrow Park has several weekly evening events such as a Farmer’s Market and Shakespeare in the Park.

On Sunday I headed down to Toronto Harbourfront Centre on the shores of Lake Ontario. Since the street has been made more pedestrian, cyclist and streetcar friendly, it is easier to get around and also looks better. The Car doesn’t rule here anymore as cars are confined to two lanes. In fact all the traffic – pedestrian, cyclist, streetcars and cars – have their own lanes. There is also art in two buildings, although the outdoor art seems to be missing this year, a boardwalk to walk along the lake, lots of boats and ships – some you can book rides on. If and when I can afford it I’d like to take a two-hour tour on the Tall Ships.

Each summer and early fall weekend, Harbourfront has a theme and the foods and music are tied into that. Last weekend it was Latin music. And there are craft booths, two stages, grass (the fake type, which might be a blessing in this summer’s drought-ridden Toronto), and some restaurants. One building which used to have two or three restaurants and several small shops is now down to one restaurant – a pub and grill – and the Sobey’s grocery market (now expanded) on the main floor. It looks like the rest is being renovated but gone is my favourite – Tilly’s – you know the company known for travel clothes, especially the Tilly hat. The beaches are clean of mess and overcrowding. And it is fun to sit on a bench along the boardwalk and people watch.

But  my favourite part of Harbourfront is the Toronto Music Garden. Every other Sunday at 4 p.m. and one evening a week, classical music is presented by various musicians from all over. It is relaxing to sit on the grass steps (real grass here) or benches and listen and watch. And just walking through the other parts of the garden and looking at the flowers is amazing. I spent a lot of time trying to take photos of bees landing on the echinaccea.

Perhaps the highlight of this afternoon was helping a family from Cincinnati find what they were looking for. I was walking from Union Station (where I exited the subway and I prefer to walk from there than take the streetcar – the lineups are too long) to Harbourfront and waiting for the light to change when I heard a woman from behind call out something about needing direction “Any locals?”

I turned around and went up to them and started chatting with the woman. She had her smart phone out and said there was supposed to be an LCBO Market on the corner here. After I found out from her that she wasn’t looking for a Farmer’s Market (there are lots of those around closeby), but that she meant an actual store, I explained that the LCBO is the Liquor Store outlet but there was a Sobey’s Grocery right just down the street in Harbourfront.

“I’ll walk with you as I’m going that way, too,” I said.

She introduced me to her husband and their two daughter and we all shook hands.

We asked each other questions such as how long had I lived in Toronto and how long were they here for holidays. They asked about Casa Loma and I told them how to get there and also mentioned another historical place, a house set up in the early 1900s, Spadina House, just across the street from Casa Loma. When we arrived at the corner with Sobey’s, she said, “That’s the place.”

I looked at the sign: “Sobey’s Urban Market.”

We parted ways at Sobey’s, but it was good to help someone to find their way – literally. As I did explain – I get lost too.

Afterwards I thought of so many other places they could look into and the dine Toronto  blog for restaurants that are rated.

One of those slapping your head for forgetting situations.

But, I’ll be going to some of the places I wanted to tell this Cincinnati family about.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Part of the Toronto Music Garden including some echinaccea

Part of the Toronto Music Garden including some Black-eyed Susans and Lavender

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Filed under 1950s, Cities, Getting lost, Helping Others, Holiday Travel, Holidays, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transportation, The Danforth

Only Child warns transit riders to mind their manners

Toronto transit streetcar

Toronto transit streetcar

I am quite vocal on the problems and mistakes with public transit, particularly Toronto Transit, known as the TTC. In pointing fingers at everyone from TTC management to drivers, we tend to forget ourselves, the passengers.

We have our faults when travelling public transit and a few of them that cause other passengers grief need to be addressed. So, here in no order of importance are the biggest offenders and offences of TTC riders that I see in my many travels on public transit.

  1.  Blocking the exit doors inside the subway when you are not getting off at the next stop. Many passengers seem to think they own the doorway and stand around yakking, using their smart phones for anything but phoning. The majority don’t move their butts when the train arrives in a station and the doors open. That leaves the rest of us having no choice but to push our way on or off, often stepping accidentally on toes. Would it really hurt to move in (unless it is sardine-crowded in rush hour) or at least go to the doorways on the opposite side of the car which is not being used at the time?
  2. There is much concern with people using their devices to text, etc. when driving or walking along the street. But a few jerks have the nerve to block the subway stairwells to text because they are too lazy to move a few feet off the stairs. I know they are trying to catch the reception, but standing at the top, bottom,  or midway on the steps by the railing is not only bad manners but unsafe for those of us who have to hang onto railings to go up and down stairs. I usually use my outside voice to tell these clowns (and this is an insult to clowns) that they are blocking the way and I need to use the railing. One a****** had the nerve to tell me to use the other railing on the other side of the stairs. I snapped back “that’s for people coming up the stairs.” He moved. Some people may be tempted to give these device addicts a shove, but more to the point, in busy rush hour with everyone hurrying, someone might just accidentally careen into the device addict.
  3. This one is more for bus and streetcar passengers. Those oversized baby buggies with the widely-placed wheels. Yes, I know parents have to get their babies and toddlers around. But some think they own the whole aisle at the front of the bus so just park their buggy anywhere there. Sometime they stand with it. Sometimes they sit in one of the front side seats. But do they have to take up all three seats with their carriage and themselves? Or worse – straddle the carriage to the first window seat, effectively locking in whomever is sitting there. One of the worse scenarios occurred on a bus I travelled on and to me it was a clear case of ageism. A senior with a walker got on right after me and she stopped near the front of the bus, but to the side as best she could, considering Mrs. Entitlement Parent was blocking most of the aisle-way before her with her monster baby buggy at the front. You can imagine the difficulty people had getting on and off. But there was worse. Mrs. Entitlement Parent wanted to get off at a stop and insisted the old lady with the walker get off the bus so she could do so. Now, if Mrs. EP had moved further in, she could have exited via the back door. The buses we’ve had since 2004 in Toronto have the wide exits with no stairs and the doors push open to the outside. Note: a few parents are considerate – move their baby buggies in well enough for people to get by and also use the back exit. A few have even pushed the side seats up and stood with the buggy there. Not Mrs. EP. And the driver didn’t even say anything to her. But I did. The lady sitting in front of me turned around and asked “Aren’t you afraid of repercussions?” I replied, “I’m too old to care.”
  4. People who park their bags on the seat beside them. And I have been guilty of this one a few times, so a bit of mea culpa here. Suffice to say, if you are carrying a lot of bags, try to place them on your lap, on the floor by your feet (I put an extra bag on the floor between my feet to avoid people tripping over feet and or bag), or on that shelf at the front of the bus just inside the front door. It does get tricky with suitcases but it can be done. Yesterday on the bus there were two ladies with huge suitcases, but they managed to each put their suitcase, standing up,  in front of them on the floor  – and they only took up two seats in the three-seater side seats
  5. So, for the last one, to all passengers. Think before you plunk yourself on public transit. It is public transit you are travelling on, not in your own private vehicle.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Only child, Public Transportation, Toronto public transit