By Eric Lam
Aside from rising fares and declining service, the only thing worse than seeing the Red Rocket pull away from the stop just as you get there (late for school, naturally) is if the bus never shows up at all.
Service disruptions, whether by force of nature (read: snow) or force of budget (I see no Sheppard subway in your future) are very real problems for the student TTC rider. Chances are you’ll run into at least one lengthy delay or complete shutdown this year, so you better have a Plan B to cover your butt.
And maybe a plan C, D, E and F too, just in case.
The Toronto Transit Commission’s fleet of subways, buses and streetcars move 1.4 million passengers a day, adding up to over 440 million passengers a year. Imagine if the whole system ground to a halt for one day. One hour, even. What do you do?
Subway disruptions (most Rye commuters will end up on the subway) are often temporary, be it an electrical malfunction or a blockage on the track.
Surface routes (buses, streetcars) in Toronto don’t have dedicated lanes and carpool lanes are not plentiful so you’ll either be facing gridlock or the bus/streetcar just won’t come at all.
In any case, if you’re already on your chosen mode of mass transit, listen carefully to the announcement so you know what the disruption is. If it’s less than 10 minutes, you’re better off waiting. Anything longer and you should get off and find another way.
Subways offer shuttle buses direct to major points on the line if the shutdown is severe enough. If there’s no shuttle, you should walk instead, or hop onto a bus or streetcar along the same route.
If your bus is snowed in, be prepared for a long wait, long lines and grouchy riders. Subways are usually unaffected by snow, but when you make the transition at the bus terminal up top, the scene is often straight out of a disaster movie. And it’s cold too.
Thankfully, full shutdowns are rare and either the subway or surface routes will be running. The last time there was a full disruption was during the wildcat strike of May 2006, which was not as exciting as it sounds (wildcat means an unauthorized strike).
Oh, and don’t forget to check your Ryerson e-mail in case your class does get cancelled, and TTC.ca for planned service disruptions. It can happen, but it’s better if you find out before you leave your house, not after you get to your exam three hours late.