Observing fellow travellers as they observe back, over the past few years, I’ve often wondered about how unique our train/bus/subway culture is here in the GTA (greater Toronto area). Having used public transit in Europe, Africa and Latin America, Japan, Korea and China I know that the quality of the equipment, training of the drivers, density of population and mood of the passengers varies enormously.
What is truly unique about our transit system is that as a city with one of the most multicultural populations in the world – many of us have experienced transit elsewhere and yet blended together we create Toronto’s very own transit culture. Add to that, we are the 3rd busiest system in North America, after New York and Mexico cities so we’re bound to have our own unique vibe. For the most part it works quite well too – don’t know why.
The things that happen on the train ride have a certain regularity – make up being applied on the two earliest morning rides is a common occurrence.
So is the eating of breakfast – sometimes boiled eggs – Oh no! Eyes meet across the aisle and grimace but in typical Toronto fashion we say nothing.
Down the passage way a young woman reads a book – ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies’ – and a young couple sits lovingly sharing their music.
The top level is designated a quiet zone – library rules apply! And since we have a very high density of public library users in the GTA it works amazingly well.
Earlier this year we had an art display in the subway system – photos of tunnels seldom seen by daily riders. It was really interesting both to see the hidden labyrinth and also to observe the high number of people who took a keen interest in the photos themselves.
Underfunded, crowded, service often disrupted and yet people co-operate amazingly well to get us all where we’re going. For those of us who are intrigued by the rituals of our fellow travellers in this journey of life – the Toronto commute has many riches.