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Numismatic dysphoria


 

I think it was a case of horror victorianorum. I mean by this, that horror which even nowadays is felt by almost everyone who visits a display of Victorian stuffed birds under glass, for example, or of Victorian dolls and dolls’ clothes.

I was thinking about the Toronto Transit Commission, and those metal fare tokens whose decades-overdue decirculation is causing so much trouble, and I suddenly realized that David Stove’s memorable coinage captured my feelings perfectly. I do believe photographs of the tokens actually make me a little nauseous. They are somehow redolent of… of rotting boardwalks, rusting fairground rides, oil-gummed old farm equipment. Black-and-white venereal-disease filmstrips. Bad teeth. Waxed moustaches. They represent the past obtruding onto our world. A dead hand grasping one’s throat.

Is this madness on my part? One would assume that living in the West makes one particularly sensitive to horror victorianorum; you don’t develop the psychic antibodies against creepy old buildings or folkways. I use public transit in my city, and I’m accustomed to thinking of it as miserable and irrational. But it has some of the virtues of modernity. It is easy to plan a trip; Edmonton Transit’s website is not pathologically user-hostile, and unlike Torontonians, we didn’t end up behind Fredericton and Walla Walla in the queue for access to Google Transit. Moreover, unplanned service interruptions are rare, despite the climate. Whenever I read or hear about Toronto public transit, and I mean absolutely every time, I just want to hug the first deadbeat dillweed Edmonton municipal worker I can find and buy him a big coffee. A triple-triple.


 

Numismatic dysphoria

  1. Seconded. It's become so terrible I wonder if Toronto (the city, not the residents) has become so enamoured with trashing the TTC that they no longer care to find real solutions to make it effective and viable.

    At least, unlike Madrid, our subway service extends beyond 9-10PM.

  2. Toronto transit is strange. The street cars are more trouble than they are worth, but the buses are not great either. The subway is useful, but the token system is absurd, I agree.

  3. Bureaucrats have completely lost the plot. Chastising people for trying to save a bit of money during recession and just before Christmas while receiving hundreds of millions of $$$ from taxpayers is not very clever. Maybe if TTC behaved like their riders and tried to reign in their budget they would not have to moan about hoarding.

    "Most cities in Canada run on less than it takes to operate the Toronto Transit Commission – a behemoth of a transit monster that threatens to devour Toronto's city budget. This year's cost? $1.28 billion. Add $80 million next year, tens of millions more each year, and by 2013, its annual operating budget is projected to top $1.6 billion.

    This is nuts and bolts, everyday operations – not maintenance, vehicle purchases, subway and streetcar construction or expansion plans like the $2.6 billion to take the Spadina subway line six stops to Hwy 7. TTC spending is a runaway train and there exists no strategy to deal with the annual derailment called a funding shortfall." Tor Star Sept 24 '09

    • "Most cities in Canada run on less than it takes to operate the Toronto Transit Commission".

      I'm not sure that's a meaningful comparison. Excepting Montreal and Vancouver, more people ride the TTC every day than live in any single city in Canada (the TTC has 1.5 million riders a day, the next biggest Metro area in Canada is Ottawa at 1.2 million people). There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of public services in Toronto that cost more to run every year than it costs to run most cities in Canada. That's the nature of a country where 15% of the nation lives in one Census Metropolitan Area, and I'm not sure it's a very useful comparison.

      It also doesn't help the TTC's cause that EVERY city in Canada has a transit system that is more heavily subsidized by the three levels of government than the TTC is.

      • Fares and subsidies come from the same group of people. If subsidies go up, fares come down. Total budget compared to other transit services is sensible comparison.

  4. If only the TTC had a subsidy the size of Edmonton's!!!

    It's undeniably true that there are many, many things wrong with the TTC. However, let's try not to forget that the TTC is the least subsidized public transit system (on a per capita basis) in all of North America. The TTC runs on fares from riders in a way no other system in Canada or the U.S. works. Nowhere else are fares at the booth such a high percentage of a transit system's revenue. If the TTC received government subsidies equivalent even to the North American average it would be a HUGE increase in their budget.

    Efficiencies certainly need to be found, and there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of things the TTC could be doing better. However, I sometimes feel bad for the folks at the TTC, the most underfunded transit service on the continent, yet constantly being asked to cut, and do more with even less.

    • So, TTC's problem is that it hasn't got enough capital given the vast number of people using it? Seems to me like a considerable fare hike would neatly eliminate both the capital problems and the vast overuse of the system!

      I'm sure nobody will object to this for any reason, it is so eminently logical.

      • I believe it is already the most expensive in Canada, the third most expensive in North America, and the sixth most expensive in the world. That's in US$ unadjusted for cost of living.

      • Well, the vast number of people using it is why it can even survive on such a relatively low public subsidy. It's limping along on the fares of riders because it gets insufficient funding from the government.

        I'm not saying the TTC is run well, or doesn't need improvement, I'm just saying that perhaps we should fund the TTC more in line with the North American standard and see how they do with proper funding.

        • Agreed. Expecting fares to account for the proportion of operating income that the TTC does is just asking for increasing debt.

  5. This column is vacuuous crap. D'you hack it out between whiskeys number four and five? Also: get a hair-cut.

    • Colby's mum, obviously.

  6. "Numismatic dysphoria?" "Horror victorianorum?" To brag about Edmonton's buses?

    Pretentious and parochial.

  7. I see very little evidence of federal or provincial largesse on OC fricking Transpo.

  8. Never mind the transit system – whenever I read or hear a Torontonian I feel the urge to hug and buy a coffee for the first non-Torontonian I meet.

    • Everyone in Toronto is from some place else.

      You need to grow up, dear.

      • Er, that's a bug… not a feature.

        • Stop, stop. Between you and The Cosh, I'm overdosing on prairie perspicacity and wit.

  9. * hugs random non-Torontonian, buys her a coffee *

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