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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sex Talk & RTE

posted by on March 4 at 13:57 PM


I’m in Toronto to do Sex Talk with Sue Johanson. The topic is technology and its impact on sex and Sue’s other guest is Wired’s Regina Lynn. I’m excited about meeting Lynn. If you’re not reading her blog, Sex Drive Daily, you should be. The show doesn’t tape until late tonight, so I had some time to kill today. There was nothing I wanted to see at the movie theater near our hotel, so I got in a cab and headed to a theater where Last King of Scotland was showing. I don’t usually take cabs in cities where I can ride buses or trains… but, shit, it’s fucking cold in Toronto and I only have a windbreaker with me. And I didn’t know if there was a subway stop near the theater.

Twenty bucks later, I was dropped in front of the movie theater—which sits literally on top of a subway station. (I mean “literally” literally, Frizzelle.)

After the movie, I took the subway back downtown. And quickly came down with a bad case of Rapid Transit Envy, a malaise that strikes me whenever I’m in a city with a real rapid transit system. It cost less than $3 Canadian to ride the subway downtown and it got me back to my hotel faster than the cab got me to the movie theater—on a Sunday afternoon! Can you imagine how much faster the subway is than driving on a weekday? Toronto doesn’t call its rapid transit system “the red rocket” for nothing, it seems.

But subways can be just as cruel as buses. A little old lady was standing on the platform when we pulled in, and then she waited patiently as people poured off the subway. Just as the last person disembarked and the little old lady took her first step toward the door… slam. So it’s not just bus drivers, Charles. I didn’t see the front car, so I don’t know if the subway had a driver or if Toronto’s system is automated, but someone or something cruel slammed the subway doors shut in the face of that little old lady.

Now if only Toronto could do something about the Gardiner Expressway—a.k.a. “the mistake by the lake”—which cuts the city off from its Lake Ontario waterfront.

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The TTC is wonderful...

As an added bonus, the Toronto Islands are only a short ferry trip from downtown and are car-free. Centre Island in particular is fun to visit. It's pleasant to walk through neighborhoods of tidy little homes and parks without fear of being run down and crushed by a Honda. Totally worth a detour...

Posted by golob | March 4, 2007 2:41 PM

Would you recommend the movie?

Posted by truthseeker | March 4, 2007 2:45 PM

Yes, I would. On its own merits and on the strength of James McAvoy's ass, which the camera lingers over so often that it should have received its own credit.

Posted by Dan Savage | March 4, 2007 2:47 PM

Hot shit! I love you, Savage. As a native Torontonian, it gets pretty depressing to hear people complain about the TTC all the time. It's awesome to hear someone from a different country rave about it. I don't own a car, and the subway is my only option for getting around, besides walking.

My one gripe is that while you're right about it costing less than $3, the fare has been shooting up. There have been two raises in the past year, each a quarter. So don't kid yourself. Rapid transit is amazing, and everybody should take/support it, but it still costs money.

Posted by Thom | March 4, 2007 2:48 PM

Subway cars are manned by drivers. They even have people whose apparent sole function is to check the doors to make sure people are out of the way when doors close.

Posted by Gloria | March 4, 2007 3:23 PM

Has anyone on Slog used the subway in Mexico City?

It's heavily government subsidized, and I read that it only costs $0.19 to ride it.

I'm curious how well it serves such a gigantic mega-city, and also how it compares to taking taxis.

Posted by Original Andrew | March 4, 2007 3:24 PM

The door-slamming is a way-too-common occurance, even though there are supposed to be TTC employees to avoid this. The subways aren't automated, and neither are the doors. We actually pay people to specifically be door-watchers and door-closers. They're located partway down each train.

And I'm so glad you had a good transit experience! I find the service is good over 90% of the time, but when it's bad, it's really bad. Most Torontonians get pretty annoyed at this, since we pay the highest in Canada - or is it North America - for our transit service, and it isn't government subsidized. (A monthly pass is $99.75, because they don't want to go over the psychological $100 hurdle; a monthly pass in Montreal is way less.)

Anyway, have fun in Toronto! (I wouldn't recommend the Toronto Islands in March, but to each his own!)

Posted by Stephanie | March 4, 2007 3:56 PM

Heh --

Yeah, I should have specified it's a better Summer-time activity. Still, pretty nifty as the largest car-free community in North America, right?

Posted by golob | March 4, 2007 4:12 PM

YEAH. Toronto kicks ass!!!

Posted by jonathan | March 4, 2007 5:58 PM

#6 - I go to Mexico (city) twice a year at least, and I take the subway everywhere pretty much, even from and to the airport and bus terminals. Not only is it a cheap way to get everywhere, but it's an awesome place for picking up mexican boys, especially on the routes past the UNAM.
The trains are so frequent that reliability is never an issue. In fact the only real issue that it's always extremely crowded. Oh, and it closes too early to use for clubbing, but that's the case in most cities, and anyways, I'm not sure it would ever be safe to take a subway at 3:00 in the morning, so even if it were avilable, I'd probably cab it anyway.
There is also some excellent Bus Rapid Transit in Mexico DF too - on Insurgentes. It's a lot more convenient than the subway if you are making a quick trip N-S.
In fact transit in Mexico DF is so good, it makes one wonder if the problem in Seattle is simply its affluence. Then again that isn't quite right, because people talk a good green position here. So maybe it's simply its affluence and hypocrisy. After all if you are rich like Al Gore you don't need to change your actions at all to be green. You simply pay someone else to be green for you. It seems when it comes to the war on emisions Gore and most Seattlelites are the moral equivalent of those who paid others to serve for them during the Civil War, which is to say pondscum.

Posted by kinaidos | March 4, 2007 6:01 PM

I'm curious how well it serves such a gigantic mega-city, and also how it compares to taking taxis.

You won't get kidnapped on the subway.

Posted by rodrigo | March 4, 2007 6:04 PM

Torontos seems way cool. Does it have any strip clubs?

Posted by Sean | March 4, 2007 7:32 PM

I'm all about the Sky Train in Vancouver. The trains are automated, and it's like an elevator- if you hold the door, it stays open.

Posted by Victoria | March 4, 2007 9:17 PM

I live in Montreal, where we have cheap metro as well, and pretty close to home. Where I live, most people don't even own a car, so the rapid transit's great. But it's still nothing compared to Europe: people don't even rush when a train comes, because you never wait for more than 2 minutes, and I'm not even talking of rush hours. And even small towns there have decent rapid transit. E.g. Düsseldorf has a nicely developed U-Bahn (underground/overground trains), and it's like 500 000 inhabitants big.
Toronto might be better off than Seattle, but all of Canada and USA are way behind Europe and probably the rest of the world when it comes to rapid transit.

Posted by Mokawi | March 4, 2007 11:39 PM

PS: Rapid Transit in Montreal:
Monthly pass: about 65$
For students: about 35$ (provided you visit them yourself in a place that's open only 3 days a week with some retarded archaic hand-signed document from the university)
One ticket: less than 2$

All prices CAD

Posted by Mokawi | March 4, 2007 11:50 PM

I really miss the TTC. Having a car in Toronto was more of a liability than an asset, and I was pretty disappointed to realize that Seattle wasn't the same when I moved here five years ago.

And as far as strip clubs go, The Brass Rail isn't so bad, if it's still there...

Posted by bma | March 5, 2007 12:12 AM

*sigh* It's been a long time since I visited Toronto. I love their subway system. A friend and I took the train to Toronto, stayed in the downtown Hilton and rode the subway or walked everywhere for a week. It was wonderful and it's a terrific city.

Posted by B.D. | March 5, 2007 5:29 AM

Ah... the TTC. I'm from Toronto (I now live in Ottawa) my parents still live there, and whenever I visit, I drive up, park the car, and it doesn't move again until I leave. Subway all the way.

I think that everyone who opposes the creation of a real rapid-transit service (Ottawa just voted a puny wannabe system down) should be shipped ot to TO, New York, London, or some other city with a real transit system for a week to learn just how fucking indispensable it is.

Posted by Ken | March 5, 2007 9:08 AM

Welcome to our fine city (and country for that matter)!! There are may good things about it... Now magazine (where I have been reading you for years), our somewhat liberal views and our very good Canadian pot! Cheers and Enjoy

Posted by Dan | March 5, 2007 10:53 AM

Interesting to note about the "mistake by the lake" Gardiner Expressway (very much analogous to Seattle's viaduct)- the problem with replacing the Gardiner is that, unlike the AWV, it is one of the most heavily used roads in the city and a major access route to the downtown core from a handful of even more major highways. Thus while it is ugly and needs to be replaced, it has to stay open during the process. The idea is to move it over the rail corridor about 75 meters to the north, and there have been some interesting ideas regarding how to make it an architecturally-pleasing addition to the city.

Posted by Thomas | March 6, 2007 2:20 PM

Sean, T.O. has like, a billion strip clubs...there's actually a whole section on the main drag pretty much devoted to it. The gay male one, Remington's, is pretty good, too, although slightly claustrophobic. If you go on a Sunday you can take women, otherwise no girls can play. Hope that helps...

Posted by Thom | March 12, 2007 1:35 AM

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