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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An open letter to all TTC streetcar riders

Lately I’ve heard and read a lot of complaints about the disposition of the Toronto Transit Commission’s streetcar drivers. My fellow riders, please offer these drivers due consideration for the high levels of stress and complexity that must deal with on a daily basis.

Sure, they may scream at riders, yell and bang their cabin to get people to move to the back, and absolutely freak out when people are surprised that the streetcar is taking a short turn (I mean, can’t they fucking see the sign on the front of the streetcar that says “SHORT TURN”?)

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you had to deal with their worries on a daily basis. For instance, consider the incredible complexity of the machine itself:

  1. There is no steering wheel.
  2. There are two pedals – one to make the streetcar move forward, and one to stop it from moving forward.
  3. The streetcar travels at about 20 km/hr along a fixed track, and the doors open and close with the push of a button.

And consider the complexity of the job:

  1. Sometimes people will be taking two vehicles during their commute, and will then ask you for a transfer. This requires you to rip a piece of paper off a pad and shove it in their hand.
  2. You have to stop every time someone rings the bell.
  3. People may ask for directions, or the final destination of the streetcar (this is especially aggravating, given that the driver has been doing this route daily for eight years, so obviously the rider should know where the car is going).
  4. Payment can come in a variety of forms: Either people show you a transit pass, or put tokens/change into a box. The box sometimes has to be emptied by hitting a lever.

I know, I know – when you put it all together, it’s amazing NASA isn’t at the TTC train yard recruiting for astronauts. So the next time a driver yells at you for any reason, you’ll know exactly what they are dealing with, and you’ll be happy that your day wasn’t nearly as stressful as these gifted pilots.

Coco T. Monkey

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