Over the years I’ve made no secret of my displeasure with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Constant delays, slow rides and packed subway trains has been the norm when traveling to/from work. There have been days when I have chosen to ride in the opposite direction for a few stops in the hopes of actually getting on a train going downtown. When I was pregnant I rode the subway up until the day I left for maternity leave. I was rarely asked (even when heavily pregnant) if I wanted a seat and when it did happen it was usually a woman who offered. Now being a mom who has to rely on transit to get around during the week, I’ve become even familiar with more downfalls of the TTC.
Before having a baby, I admit I never really gave much thought to transit accessibility. I’d hop on/off buses, use any entrance to access the subway stop and get off where I needed to. A couple of weeks before C was born I realized that getting around with a baby may be a bit more difficult than I anticipated when I traveled to see a friend in the west-end of town. I was with another friend who had a baby in a stroller and the subway stop we got off at didn’t have an elevator. We ended up having to take the stroller on the escalator which you are technically not supposed to do (people do it all the time though). This caused chaos and nearly resulted in the baby getting stuck. Turns out we also couldn’t use this subway stop on the way back as the only option was going down many flights of stairs to access the train. A pretty stressful situation and eye-opening experience.
I know that not every mom has to rely on transit, but I really wish that Toronto’s transit options were more friendly to those of needing to use the system to get around. There are many places and neighbourhoods that I definitely won’t be able to visit with baby in tow!
If you need to take transit with a baby here is some of the things I’ve found helpful as planning your trip is key on a number of different levels:
- You need to know if the subway stops you’ll be using are accessible or not. Many are not!
- Once you figure out if the stops are accessible you need to figure out where the elevators are. Not necessarily an easy feat. This weekend we wandered around in the rain trying to figure out how to access the northbound platform at Dundas.
- Are the elevators in service? Check the TTC Twitter feed or website for this info.
- If riding the bus instead of the subway, hope that it isn’t busy as getting on/off buses with a stroller when packed is not fun. Try to pick a route that is quieter.
- Rush hour is the enemy. My advice is to avoid these times as much as possible.
- Avoid streetcars at all costs or make sure you are with someone who can help. Maybe the new ones will be better, but the thought of trying to use old ones makes me sweat profusely.