As a non-driver (i.e. I don’t know how to drive!), I am heavily dependent on public transportation. The Toronto public transit system has sadly deteriorated quickly over the last few years. There are various reasons for this: lack of public funding, lack of efficiency, slow decision-making, politics (unions vs gov’t) and lack of leadership.
Toronto has so many archaic systems in place:
– Paper transfers
– Most machines and booths only accept cash (no cards)
– No preloaded or reloadable cards. There are only tickets, tokens and weekly/month passes. Bus/Streetcar stops (even major ones) do not sell tickets, nor do transit drivers. If you are in area with no subway stop, you have to seek a store that’s an official vendor of TTC tickets (and there aren’t many).
– Most subways stations only have one turnstile that accept the weekly/monthly pass. The rest only accept tokens (which are easily lost.)
– One fee for any trip, regardless of trip length. Tickets only last one trip, so you can’t even stop for 5 minutes to go the store on the same tickets (which are very expensive compared to other major cities)
For all these reasons, I am very interested in how different public transportation systems work around the world, and after travelling to many cities, I can safely say that among big/medium-sized cities, Toronto has one of the worst public transit systems. The most impressive are the ones in Asia (Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong all have wonderfully run systems). The subways are usually on time, they have reloadable cards (some, such as the Octopus card in Hong Kong, can even be used to purchase things at stores like 7-11).
I hope Toronto can step it up one day and employ more machines that can dispense tickets and introduce reloadable cards. (There is the presto system coming, but it’s proprietary, I believe, and I believe will not be very good.) I hope I can be proud of our transit system one day, because right now, I have very few positives to say.