Riding the Red Rocket Again!

One of the big reasons that Peter and I moved to the city was so that we could access public transit. After settling into our new home, we rode the subway and the GO train everywhere, wile our cars sat lonely and gas-filled in the garage. All that changed 18 months ago, when the pandemic forced our mode of transportation towards running shoes instead.

But our hearts remained with the TTC, and we were pleased to climb aboard to go downtown again last week. There are signs about mask-wearing and reserved seating everywhere, but otherwise not much has changed. There are the usual passengers: street people carrying bottles and cans to exchange at a recycling depot for extra change, business people dressed in suits and working on their phones, nannies cuddling babies and headed to a playground somewhere, students with their noses in books. But everyone is spread out and looking a little nervous.

There is a lot more that hasn’t changed. The same female tells us in her calming voice: “The next station is St. George. St. George Station. Change here for line 2.” There is the same graffiti on the walls near the Keele Station, and the same squeaks as you go around the corner into Old Mill. There are fewer ads above the seats, but some of them are still eye-catching, like the one from Ripley’s Aquarium reminding us that “the octopus can hunt with spine-crushing strength but still can’t grasp climate change.”

One thing we discovered while riding the subway is that this fall marks the 100th anniversary of the TTC. If you go to the website: ttc.ca/ttc100 you can learn a lot of its history, posted decade by decade. In the 1920’s for example, there are pictures of the first buses on the first route in the Junction:

In the 1940’s, due to the number of men fighting in WWII, women were hired for the first time as conductors, maintenance workers, even drivers:

In 1954 the Yonge Subway line opened between Union Station and Eglinton. People thronged to the stations to be the first to ride this new mode of transportation:

In the 1960’s subway cars were re-designed and the University line was opened:

In the 1980’s articulated buses were added and Pope John Paul came to visit:

And in the 2000’s he came back! Guess he enjoyed the ride:

To celebrate the anniversary, there are photographic displays at 12 stations. At the Bay Station you can view station concepts by local artists, or at the Finch Station you can learn about electrifying the system. At the Kennedy Station you can study Scarboro rapid transit. When you are finished visiting all those stations, you can put your feet up and shop at the TTC online store. Masks, T-shirts, books, posters, train sets, even doggie bandanas can be purchased, just in time for Christmas!

One thing that has changed for Peter and me is the 60-step staircase from the parking lot to our station. Hard to believe but it has grown! it used to be pretty short – one brief stop to catch our breath part-way up. Now it requires at least 3 breath-catches to get to the top. That must have happened when nobody was looking. Certainly it couldn’t be us at almost 2 years older, could it?


2 thoughts on “Riding the Red Rocket Again!

  1. Great fun as well as being informative. The pictures of the women drivers jogged a memory of my aunt Anna standing in front of her streetcar in her driver’s outfit. War crept into our lives in many ways.


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