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By Jamie McLeod

Walking is for suckers, cabs are too expensive and biking gives you helmet hair. As Toronto natives know, the TTC is the best way to get around town.

But for the uninitiated, the subway can mean getting lost, ending up in Scarborough, and probably getting jumped.

I asked TTC spokesperson Mike DeToma what advice he’d give new riders. He sent me a list of “rules and reminders” that included helpful gems such as “when boarding and exiting a subway train, mind the gap in the floor between the platform edge and the subway car.”

To get some useful advice, I hopped on a train and asked riders to advise the newbies. After several hours of riding up and down various subway lines in the city, talking to strangers (and saying, more than once, “no, seriously, I’m not crazy, I’m a journalist”), riders’ advice boiled down to two major categories:

1) Plan your route

It’s easy to get lost. So to avoid getting stuck in the suburbs, know where you’re going.

“Don’t be afraid to ask people for directions,” rider Vanessa Parmiter said somewhere near Davisville station. “Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist.” is cluttered, hard to navigate and basically a total mess. They’re apparently working on a better one, but until then, get a map. Hell, get two.

“Leave yourself some extra time no matter where you’re going,” Rob Prince said as we pulled into York Mills station. Fifteen minutes is about right for most trips.

If you know your route, plan for it. Spadina and College streetcars are very frequent. The Mount Pleasant bus near my house sucks.

2) Do unto others

This basically boils down to not getting in other people’s way.

More than a dozen people told me “walk left, stand right.” When you’re riding the escalator, walk on the left side or stand on the right side like a lazy bastard. If you stand on the left, people will want to push, kick and verbally abuse you.

“If you’re buying tickets or tokens, always stand aside,” Julie Dicresce said while eastbound on the Bloor line. If you stand in the way of the turnstile, everyone behind you has to wait to pay.

But the best advice I got was from my brother — between hits on his bong. “Be a fucking Canadian and give your seat to an elderly or pregnant person.”

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