Friday, June 19, 2015

TTC and Me

Spending so much of my life on public transit lately has been quite eye-opening. I can remember way back to last year, when I was interning in four-week stints downtown. I knew there was an expiry date to all of that commuting, which was the sanity I clung to as I rubbed shoulders with the stressed and sweaty. And now I am one of them. Oh, how the times have changed. I spend around four hours of every weekday in transit, and it really gets those brain-cogs turning. I am all about a great user experience in the digital realm, but of course a lot of those ideas spill over into this physical world. For example, check these babies out.

The Perfect Location
I am a big lover of stations in which there are arrows that point to which direction the train will be travelling. I know you could figure this out with a good sense of direction, but being underground gets disorienting, ok! Especially if you travel past Union, you can't really feel the train turning.

The better (but less achievable) method would be to incorporate compass roses into the floor at ground level (so you know which exit to take) and at train level. I know I've felt the scramble to remember which side my train is on, especially if I hear the chimes as I am rushing down the escalator. Problems of a girl who never catches the on-time bus.

I'm sure you've spotted those little shapes on the walls of the subway, right? They've surely got some kind of message to impart to us.

According to The Torontoist, they allow the train operators to align the train perfectly with the station. Harder than it seems, I guess! I know that not all of the subway stations in New York are perfectly shaped for the trains; in fact, some of the trains are too long to be able to allow all of their doors access to the platform! Imagine struggling to the middle of the train to get to a door that will allow you off the train. Anyway, circular markers are for old trains and triangular ones are for the shiny new Bombardier trains. As I gather, orange markers reside at the front of the train (closest to where it's going) and green markers are at the opposite end. So that can be a sort of compass for you! As long as you know which way you're going and which way you're facing. Okay, so, not really that useful.

Presto and the Constant Struggle
I use Presto wherever I can on the TTC (which is not in a lot of places) because it's much easier at the point of fare deposit. All I do is tap my card and go through the turnstile. You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen people holding up the line because their token was rejected (for literally no reason) or because they are struggling to find a token/change in their wallets. I only wish that the *one* presto machine in each station would be solely for Presto. I often have to wait behind people with tokens who could easily have gone into any other turnstile.

Lately, Presto cards have been added to the token vending machines in some major stations, and there is some floor branding that points travellers to the presto machine turnstiles. I was tickled to see that these were installed just at the time that the Presto machine was out of order at Queen's Park station. I couldn't make this up if I wanted to!

Best Seats
Us veterans of the subway will remember the train cars of two generations ago. Yellow and wood panelling was a seventies dream, and each car had but one (count 'em, one) seat that was sandwiched between a door panel and the conductor's compartment. This was the seat that dreams were made of. You could sit by yourself for the whole ride, even on a full train at rush hour. Obviously, that seat was done away with forever after, either because it didn't make good use of space or because too many fistfights broke out over whose butt would receive the intense pleasure of placing itself in that holy grail of seats.

Nowadays, we are not so lucky. But there is still good sittin' to be got, I assure you. I suppose I should first outline the goals I have in mind when searching for a seat.

The first is that I want to have as little contact with other humans as possible. Easy enough. The second is that I want to be able to sleep (or feign sleep) in the most comfortable method. Beyond that, I suppose a seat by a door would be good, but you'll see that that generally goes in hand with number two.

On either side of most of the doors, there is a wonderful seat with a plexiglass panel beside it. This panel is wonderful for leaning, let me tell you. There are also good leaning places on either side of car separators. But the best seat, hands-down, is the specific seat on one side of the car separator. While you can lean to one side in many seats, leaning backward AND to the side is the name of the game. And the only seat that gives regularly-shaped humans the ability to lean their heads backward without causing irreversible damage is that of the seat with the weird square panel jutting forward. I assume this panel encases some kind of emergency kit, but it is also the most comfortable seat on the train. Seems fitting, right?

Baby Strollers
There are so many people with strollers on public transit. I know they've gotta get places too, totally understandable. But have you ever noticed how much space a stroller takes up on a bus, a streetcar, a subway car? Like, a lot. Maybe four or five people's-worth. And that's if the stroller-er knows how to get themselves as out-of-the-way as possible. So here's my idea. What if the crib part (where the baby hangs out) of the stroller could be adjusted up and down on a vertical post. That way, you could tuck the wheel portion of the stroller under a seat, and the crib on top. It would tuck right in, and the stroller-er would only have to stand beside the seat. This would minimize the space that a stroller takes up by at least half. As I see it now, the only place on a streetcar where a stroller can tuck itself in is at the front, where there are three seats that would be blocked. Not to mention, locking a stroller into a seat in this way would be marginally safer for the precious cargo, because I've definitely seen strollers go rolling down the aisle of the bus because someone thought it was locked when it wasn't. Just saying.

No comments:

Post a Comment