Getting Around – Transit Vs. Traffic?

Let’s face it, getting around in a major city can be a complete nightmare, even without a child in tow. With a little planning and a lot of preparation you can get from A to B, and maybe squeeze in that stop at C, hopefully without loosing your sanity.

During the warmer month that we enjoy here in Canada, I prefer to walk or bike whenever possible.  Of course with a child in tow the bike is right out the window, and pushing a stroller for miles isn’t always pleasant.  For the 11 months that we know as ‘winter’, options are drastically limited.  The following tips will help you tame the transit and get you where you need to go:

1) Plan your ride:
“Where are you headed today?” the driver asked as he helped lift the stroller on to the streetcar – a rare blessing. “Just up to our pediatrician’s, then a quick stop at the mall, maybe pick up some essentials from the grocery store on the way home.” Very kind of him to have this level of interest in our daily outing.
“No no, I mean what subway stop? They don’t all have elevators.”

Ahh… Crap.

I smiled, locked the wheels on the stroller, and frantically started searching the TTC’s website for information on stops with elevators:

  • Line 1 (Yonge-University): Downsview, Lawrence West, Eglinton West, St George, Queen’s Park, Osgoode, St Andrew, Union, Queen, Dundas, Bloor-Yonge, St Clair, Davisville, Eglinton, York Mills, Sheppard-Yonge, North York Centre, Finch.
  • Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth): Kipling, Jane, Dundas West, Dufferin, Bathurst, Spadina, St George, Bloor-Yonge, Broadview, Pape, Main Street, Victoria Park, Kennedy.
  • Line 3 (Scarborough): Kennedy, Scarborough Centre.
  • Line 4 (Sheppard): Sheppard-Yonge, Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie, Don Mills.

Ok, so if I get my shopping done first, THEN the pediatrician’s… but I probably won’t make it in time for my appointment.  Why is getting around so challenging?

I ended up walking MILES that day. It probably would have been more effective just to skip the TTC all together. I learned that day – plan carefully or leave the stroller behind. Which brings me to my second tip:

2) LEAVE THE STROLLER BEHIND!
If at all possible I grab a diaper bag, put the Wee Baby T in a carrier, and head out the door. There are a couple of concerns with bringing a stroller:

  • It is notoriously challenging to get strollers on and off of the old street cars.
  • The aisles in the new street cars are very narrow. If you’re not at the handicapped entrance it’s going to be a tight squeeze for a single stroller. Heaven help you if you have 2 children to cart around.
  • Elevators, as stated above, are few and far between. They’re slow, they’re small, and the TTC doesn’t always provide an update if they are out of service.

3) Try to avoid rush-hour:
I know, I know – parents have places to be too, and if you’re paying you have every right to Ride the Rocket. That said, being at home on leave grants us a *LITTLE* more flexibility in our schedules. K and I try to book appointments after 9 AM, and when we’re both back at work we realize we will just need to leave that little bit (hour) earlier. Add it to the list of sacrifices we make as parents. If you can’t avoid rush-hour, remember tip #2 if possible, and realize you may need to let a few streetcars or busses go by before you can fit on. Getting around may not be fun in the winter, remember to dress in layers!

4) Hey, Presto:
Not just for parents, Presto is a great system, and if you’re lucky enough to live on a line that has regular Presto service I’d STRONGLY recommend it. No more fiddling with transfers or waiting at the front doors to pay cash. Tap on at the back and you’re all set. Plus, boring stuff about tax receipts.

5) Don’t be afraid to ask people to move:
I’m embarrassed to say I have been so exhausted from being up all night with the Wee Baby T that I’ve had a mother with her child standing right next to me and haven’t noticed. I’m not ignoring you, it is just super early and I’ve not had my coffee yet. Speak up and get my attention, I’ll move I promise.  That goes for people engaged with their Furious Fowl game on their phones as well.

The TTC isn’t always the most reliable transit system. There are outages and delays, price hikes, and construction projects that seem to be never-ending. It is, however, an excellent alternative to driving downtown.  Plan ahead, be prepared, and remember – life is a journey, not a destination.

Good luck out there.

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