Toronto's transit system is one of the most expensive to use in the world, yet, look at what we deal with on a daily basis.
Those of us who ride the TTC daily know how much it needs upgrading. It’s not just about slapping some polish on a tired, rundown system. I’m talking about the basics: getting fare machines to work, subway fare gates to stay closed and escalators to operate.
The TTC has seen better days, and now a fed-up Toronto resident has decided to take matters into their own hands and start tracking what’s busted.
The account BrokenTTC on Instagram has been documenting TTC malfunctions since December 2016. Photographs range from Presto card vending machines being out of service and token slot jams, to missing signs in subway stations and broken doors on streetcars.
In five weeks, the account has posted almost 30 issues and has amounted to nearly 1,000 followers. Other TTC riders are encouraged to photograph things they see broken with our transit system and submit them to @BrokenTTC as well.
Yesterday, a rider took a photo of the Old Mill subway station sign, where the word "old" that had been handwritten in red marker replaced part of the sign that was no longer there. Today, another photo of caution tape barricading a walkway at Sheppard-Yonge station has already gotten dozens of likes.
The owner of the BrokenTTC account, who wanted to remain anonymous, called the TTC "a frustrating network to use" that's lagged behind other cities.
"I have used the TTC almost daily my entire life," they said. "The funding model is broken, which cascades down to many transportation problems that include old streetcars, buses and subway cars, underwhelming and often broken technology, underserved neighbourhoods and broken machinery like turnstiles, doors and elevators."
But the BrokenTTC account highlights just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to TTC problems.
For about three months last year, fare gates at the Delaware entrance to Ossington station were continuously broken and left wide open. Dozens of concerned – and very honest – riders attempted to notify the TTC on Twitter, taking photos of the entrance. It wasn’t fixed until January.
I ride the 510 Spadina streetcar almost every day. Although that route utilizes the brand new streetcars from Bombardier, something always seems to be wrong with the fare machines. Sometimes the Presto readers don’t work. Other times, one or both fare machines – for customers wanting to pay by cash, credit or token – are out of order. The ticket machines outside on streetcar platforms don’t see to be much help either. They’re routinely jammed or simply switched off.
And let’s not forget the broken air conditioning on the subway last summer. It wasn’t just slightly uncomfortable. The Star reported a thermometer reading of temperatures up to 32.5 C. Toronto paramedics recommended riders bring water and watch for signs of heatstroke.
Mayor John Tory accepted a challenge to ride Line 2 from Kennedy to Kipling, and after emerging sweaty from a stuffy subway car, promised commuters, “We will do better – next year.”
In this week alone, elevators and escalators at eight subway stations are out of service for planned maintenance – and those are just the ones that have been planned ahead of time. Accessibility for riders with mobility issues or who have baby strollers and heavy luggage has been an ongoing issue with the TTC. Every person should have the ability to safely board the subway or streetcar.
The TTC board still had the gall to, yet again, raise fares this year. A study released February 2 that surveyed 89 cities around the world indicated that Toronto transit users paid some of the highest fares at $3.25 cash for a single ride. Only in London, Dublin, Sydney and New York City is it more expensive to take transit.
Last year, the TTC carried more than 500 million passengers on its system, but ridership has flat-lined and the company is facing a $231 million shortfall. I can sympathize that the TTC has lots of issues to deal with, but at the bare minimum, it would be nice to not deal with something like this on your morning commute: