Winter of their discontent: TTC Riders take kvetches and grumps to social media

Dennis Hanagan – 

Downtown TTC riders are showing their grumpy faces on social media because they’re tired of crowded streetcars passing them by and making them wait for other cars— that also pass them by.

That’s what TTCriders, a grassroots advocacy group calling for better public transit, has found since launching its social media campaign in December called Grumpy Riders at TTCgrumpyrider.tumblr.com.

“We have a number of people who are on social media taking photos of themselves looking grumpy and telling us why they’re grumpy on the TTC that day. It really speaks to the experience people have been having,” says Cabbagetown/Regent Park resident Sandy Hudson who serves on the TTCriders board.

Cabbagetown/Regent Park resident Sandy Hudson is on the board of directors of TTCriders.

Cabbagetown/Regent Park resident Sandy Hudson is on the board of directors of TTCriders.

“Getting passed up by (crowded) streetcars is definitely one for Downtown riders. And you’ll also hear about people who are very frustrated having to wait very long for service,” says Hudson.

Hudson attends University of Toronto’s St. George campus for education studies. She waits in the mornings at Dundas and Parliament for the westbound Dundas streetcar to get to school and understands first-hand why riders gripe about being passed by.
“I take the Dundas streetcar every morning, or at least I try to take the Dundas streetcar every morning. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes I’ll be waiting for 20 minutes because I’ll get passed up because the streetcars are packed. Sometimes I’ll be passed three times in a row,” says Hudson.

TTCriders—founded in 2010 by a coalition including Toronto Environmental Alliance, the Toronto & York Region Labour Council and the Canadian Federation of Students—claims 100 members and 10 000 supporters.

Its current demands ask for two-hour fare layovers so riders can make quick stopovers for things like groceries and then hop back on the TTC without paying another fare. The group also wants speedier service so no one has to wait longer than 10 minutes for a ride.

Further, it wants the province to fund the TTC to the tune of $700 million to improve service, increase access and lower fares for low-income earners. It notes on its website Toronto gets the least amount of government support per ride than any other transit system in North America.

Municipal, provincial and the federal governments should be taking public transit by the horns across the country, Hudson feels. Her group points out that before 1995 Queen’s Park covered 50% of the TTC’s operating subsidy.

“The city, the province, the country should together be able to fund a state-of-the-art, affordable, accessible, well-working public transportation system. We don’t have a national transit strategy in this country. I find that strange. That should be a priority of ours,” says Hudson.

“The way they’ve been giving away revenues in the form of corporate tax cuts aren’t really taking a look at what the people really need, and one of those things that we do really need is improved transit infrastructure,” she says.
For more information visit www.ttcriders.ca.

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