* for those of you who don't live in Toronto. TTC stands for Toronto Transit Commission (in other words, over priced public transport. ;) *
Yesterday I had a get together with the ladies from my bridal forum. Because we're all so spread out, we decided to meet in Downtown Toronto. We live in Ajax, and I don't drive... which means, public transit! So two of the lovely girls offered to meet me at Union station and help me with the subway. (Thanks again J and K!) K dropped C and I off at the Go train station in Ajax, which was fine. The station has elevators to get you to the platform, and they also have accessibility cars with ramps, operated by some eye candy (at least they were yesterday), so you can get in and out of the train. BUT the TTC isn't so nice.
I don't really understand how a public transit system as big as Toronto's still doesn't have accessibility at all of their stations, and the accessibility that they do have leaves something to be desired. Didn't they just increase fares to $3.00 for adults! I really don't know where this money is going because I saw no changes to anything after not using the TTC in almost 2 years. Anyways, C and I get to Union GO station which is attached to Union TTC station. I meet up with my girls, and we head off to catch the subway. Our first challenge is a flight of about, oh, 5-6 stairs to get to the collector booths. Being independent (read stubborn) I decided to use the elevator. It took the three of us reading the directions to figure out how to work the damn thing! First you have to press the call button.
Collector "How can I help you"
Me "Umm, can you make the elevator work?"
Collector "Press and hold the black button"
In I go to this tiny... I don't even know what to call it. Really it was a platform on hydrolics that barely fit me and the stroller. I get in, the door closes, I press the black button. Nothing happens. Great! I press a bunch of the other buttons. Nothing. I look down, (by this time J and K are already down there looking up at me) and there's another lady there mouthing 'press the black button'. I am pressing the black button lady, settle down! Turns out the door didn't latch properly behind me, I had to open it again and let it shut all the way.
Obstacle 1 overcome. The elevator finally works, and we're down to the collector's booth... Here comes obstacle 2. There's a huge line at the booth, and not much room to navigate with the stroller because I would have to pay the money, then back out of the line and go over to the accessible entrance. So J suggests that I buy a token and do it that way... well the token part is out of service! (Good job TTC!) Then J says why don't we take the token for you and you wait here, we'll get the guy to unlock the gate. Well the line isn't moving. Option three. J hands me her metropass and says flag down the guy, show him the pass then maybe he'll let you through. After all of that we finally get his attention, and he unlocks the gate! Yay!
Don't stop reading now, it gets better! Off we go to College station. Problem 4, (I don't know 4, 5, I've lost count) College only has an escalator. Yes, I know this is doable, but really I don't think it's the safest thing to take a stroller on an escalator. I've been on them when some idiot presses the emergency stop, it's definitely not fun, and I've seen people fall due to the abruptness of the stop. But again, I'm an independent woman right?! Fine, up the escalator (backwards I might add), through the little gate (which has a sign that reads "please close the gate after use!" Thanks again TTC!!) Almost there now, except for the 4 stairs on one side or the gazillion on the other that I have to manage in order to get out of the station.
Now here's where I get mad at Graco. I have a Graco glider travel system. The first time I used it on public transit C nearly fell down the stairs. The streetcar driver who was helping me grabbed the footrest to help me out of the streetcar, just as we were lifting it down the stairs the footrest flew off! Thankfully I was holding the top of the stroller, and we were only a few inches off the step, otherwise the stroller would have gone all the way down. So I get home and e-mail Graco immediately like a good little consumer to let them know there's a fatal flaw in their design. I relay the story, and what is the response I get? (after 7 days I might add):
"Sorry for the delay in responding to you, I have not been at my desk.
When you do to go up and down stairs or street cars; it is recommended in the manual to remove child and fold it to transport the stroller. If you do leave the child in stroller to carry it up or down stairs there is a bar underneath child’s footrest, on your model of stroller (the one that is removable) you should hold it by the bar or on the side of the stroller frame, but the best and safest way to transport your stroller is to follow the manual."
What?! You mean the bar that is halfway under the footrest, the footrest that has the sharp plastic edge that digs into your forearm (ask J)... and you're supposed to explain that to a complete stranger, who may or may not speak english, trying to help you up some stairs? Oh, so you mean take my child out, carry her in one arm, fold the stroller up, somehow manage to also throw the diaper bag on one shoulder, the cup in the cup rest into your coat pocket (and hope it doesn't spill) and carry the 20lbs stroller, the 20lbs kid and the rest of the stuff up the stairs?! Are you kidding me? That's safer??? Never again will I buy a Graco. NEVER!
Anyways, J helps me up the stairs and we finally make it to our get together. The rest of the day went off without much of a hitch. Conversation was great. C even decided that she would stand for the first time on her own in front of the ladies! My little show off! lol Service was a little less than good, but the company was definitely the important part. We need to do it again soon... but next time I'm leaving the stroller at home! Heck, next time I'm leaving C at home too, and let's get some drinks!!
The forever bride