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The streetcar, subway, or bus is never a fun place to be during rush hour, and it’s even worse during those slow, wet, and frustrating during- and post-snow storm trips, where the better way can turn into hell on wheels/rails. Between angry drivers, puffy coats, and that strange gentleman who mutters to himself about Polish androids eating his muffins, you’ve got to wonder just how taking transit could ever seem like a nice ride, even if it did save you from digging the car out of that snow bank that formed on your driveway.
Fortunately, the folks to the north have a great idea. Remember the massive snowstorm we had earlier this month? While you were struggling through the curmudgeonly crowds, folks in suburban Thornhill (Vaughan, technically) woke up to the sight of kindly transit representatives shoveling their driveways and offering them free York Region Transit/Viva tickets, giving them the choice of either foregoing their SUV for transit that day, or taking the bus next time around. Commuters already used to taking transit were given a nice surprise when they discovered even more transit reps were giving out free hot chocolate on their usual trip.
They’re calling themselves the Snow Angels, the brainchild of YRT/Viva’s PR folks. Despite this, their random acts of kindness not only encourage drivers to take transit, they also—in their own small way—make taking transit a bit nicer. In the car-laden suburbs, anything that gets residents to take a bus is a step in the right direction.
But then there’s Toronto proper, where an exponential amount of people rely on transit daily. We have to wonder how such a brilliant, quasi-whimsical idea hasn’t hit the TTC yet. A less toxic environment on the bus would make everyone’s day a bit better and get rid of that commute-induced depression that reigns all winter long. Besides, hot chocolate is tasty.
Then again, hot chocolate on a crowded streetcar could just lead to spills and more self-righteous anger. Maybe the solution to winter-transit rage is twofold—streetcars coming more often and free hot chocolate.
With snow expected a bit later this week, the Snow Angels will probably have one or two more chances to make someone’s day this season. As for unlucky Toronto commuters, there’s always next year. Or free transit-lemonade in the summer.
This article was reprinted with permission by The Torontoist, www.torontoist.com, March 2008.
Mathew Katz is a freelance journalist based in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: The League asked three DeWitt, Michigan natives now living outside of Michigan about their views on public transit.