Growing up in the country, transit simply did not exist. The trains stopped running and the tracks were pulled up when I was a kid and the only bus I knew, was the yellow one that took us to and from school each day.
We lived for the day we got our driver’s license and had “freedom” to go where (and when) we pleased. Somewhat. If you had a car and your parents trusted you to take it. From then on though, I went where I wanted and when I wanted.
So, taking transit whenever I’m in the city has always been an adventure of sorts. It still gives me some anxiety. Is this the right stop? Did I miss the stop? What if I miss the train?
When you’re accustomed to jumping in your car and driving to the door of wherever you need to be, waiting to leave on a streetcar that makes hundreds of stops and then drops you off blocks from your destination does seem more inconvenient than not. Loathing traffic and parking tickets, I strive to take transit when I can though. Especially since my tax dollars are paying for it.
It’s hard to do when you only visit the city occasionally though and despite how hard I try, I still seem to fail miserably at it.
One time, I planned with painstaking research my route from my friend’s condo to meet another friend at the Eaton Centre. I recall researching how to get a transfer from the streetcar to the subway, then buying a day pass, so I could ride back, only to learn when I got to the Eaton Centre, it was an easy walk.
Another time, I was staying at the same friend’s apartment for my first weekend of classes. The plan was to take the streetcar to class and save parking. There was no parking at her house though, so I had to park in a “Green P” lot (paid parking lots in the Toronto downtown) nearby.
Since the maximum time was 12 hours, I needed to put money in the machine before I left for class in the morning. Not a big deal, except we got a torrential downpour that day. By the time I walked the 3 blocks to the parking lot and back to the streetcar stop, my little umbrella had done little to keep me dry and my pants were soaked to my knees. I walked into my first day of class in the fancy Toronto Stock Exchange Building looking like a drenched rat. So much for pretending like I lived in the city for the weekend.
And even more recent was the missed GO Train incident. Taking the train to Toronto can be an adventure on its own, but that’s another story. Despite taking it several times now, I still fret missing it. It’s part of the reason I bought a PRESTO card because their new ticket machines are so slow. And then, I did miss it.
It was the first time I was taking the train all the way to Ottawa. I would take the GO Train to Union, then connect to a Via train. Paranoid about missing it, I arrived plenty early for my 6:50am train. I was slightly annoyed to see it was delayed and I would only have 15 minutes to connect in Toronto. With Union tore apart with construction, I knew that was tight, especially for someone dragging a suitcase behind her.
I went into the nearby coffee shop to get a coffee and unexpectedly ran into a friend. While we were chatting, the train pulled in, and he asked if I needed to go.
“Oh no, it’s delayed until 7:05,” I said.
5 minutes later, as it pulled out of the station, I realized it was in fact, on time. Luckily, there was one last train that morning, and I somehow managed to still make my Via connection within literally just minutes. From there, it was smooth riding!