Definitely Not The Better Way

The TTC service on Bathurst St. is mediocre at best, but tonight’s commute home was a new low. After walking three extra blocks to my streetcar stop (there’s no service at my usual stop due to construction), taking the streetcar, then the subway, I came up onto the bus platform at Bathurst Station about 5:45pm, and got in line waiting for the 7 Bathurst bus going north. After a fifteen to twenty minute wait (which is atrocious for rush hour service), there were two full buses worth of people (roughly a hundred?) ready to board.

About halfway through passengers loading onto the bus, the driver took issue with an elderly woman bringing a cart with groceries onto the bus (the kind of small cart that most Torontonians without cars depend on for grocery shopping). The TTC does have rules against bringing large objects onto busses, streetcars and subway at rush hour, but what happened next was pathetic, petty and mean.

The driver said he didn’t have room for the cart, and asked her to get off the bus and wait for the next one. The woman refused to get off the bus, saying it was cold outside (it’s 8˚ C, with 30kph winds), and that she’d already been waiting a long time. The driver asked her two or three more times to leave the bus. Other passengers asked the driver to let her be, and argued that she didn’t need to get off. When she continued to refuse, he “put the bus out of service”, and ordered all of the other passengers to leave the bus as well. Most of the rest of the passengers refused, phones started came out of pockets, and a woman behind me called the police.

Meanwhile, three other busses have arrived, except that two of them are out of service and the driver of the third went inside to buy a coffee. So with four fully functional buses at Bathurst Station, nobody moved an inch.

Let’s think about this for a minute… Ostensibly, people aren’t allowed to bring shopping carts or other large objects on because they cause delays, or take spaces away from other passengers. If she’s not allowed on because it’s rush hour, the next driver would have kept her off his bus too. Having already paid her fare, should she just sit in the station until rush hour is over? That’s ridiculous. If opening up one extra spot by keepoing a cart off is necessary to keep the TTC moving along at “maximum efficiency”, doesn’t ordering everyone else off and going nowhere kind of defeat the point?

I can imagine that being a bus driver is a pretty thankless job, but this guy certainly wasn’t doing himself any favours. Being a by-the-book kind of guy, I understand the driver wanting to stand his ground on principle, but there’s a limit, and he went way over the line.

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