Tag Archive: ttc

My piece of the pie

Yesterday, TTC subways were shut down due major communication issues. Something that struck me was a fact the National Post pointed out: there are still $2.7 billion in repairs still needed for the system. (No wonder the system is falling apart with tracks taken offline, floods, mysterious oozing substances in tunnels just to name a few.)

The fact is, this transit system requires a LOT of work to make it run well. Grant it, some like CEO Andy Byford seem to be trying. Part of the problem is, this is the result from years/decades of neglect from multiple parties. Unfortunately, there are different players at the table who are looking to get their “piece of the pie” without considering the effects on the big picture. This includes workers (in particular unions and its executives), managers and directors, politicians at various levels (especially those who push ideologies for their own re-election benefits, not because it’s the best thing to do) and residents who complain about how much they pay (whether in fares or taxes).

This isn’t just exclusive to the TTC. You can extrapolate this to our current teacher/school board conflicts and to corporations/liveable wages. So many conflicts and issues begin with “I want to ensure my piece of the pie” without consideration of the big picture.

What would it look like if we all aimed at the bigger picture and were willing to sacrifice for the betterment of those around us? Not about “How does this benefit me?” but asking “How can I help benefit you?” Not trying to ensure my own security and desires, but striving to ensure what I leave behind is better than what I came into for EVERYONE (not just my particular association). While it may not solve everything, it would at least move us in the same direction together.

Who’s going to step up for the greater good (or will we continue to just take our piece of the pie)?


Transit update

It’s been over three years since our family got rid of our car. To be honest, I’m missing it less every day. Yes, there are times when a car becomes very convenient. However, I’ve noticed a few things about myself over the last 3 years:

  • As I get older, I need more concentration to drive. Perhaps it’s my old age now, but I’m much more attune with the driving (in)abilities of others. Thus, even if I don’t make a mistake, I need to remain vigilant and be aware of other people driving. The longer I drive, obviously the more intense the concentration. When I first got my license, I felt the freedom of driving. Now, more and more, I feel the responsibility of driving. I’d rather just let something else drive.
  • When I take transit, it forces me to walk more. Interesting, when I rent a car for a few days, I actually feel myself more lethargic. Transit at least gets me to go a few more feet to the closest stop.
  • It’s forces me to recognize that not everything is in my control. I think the amount of control we think we have is an illusion. Transit at least reminds me that it’s not always in my hands, and I need to relax and deal with it accordingly.
  • It has saved me money and mental worry. I estimate I am saving at least $100 a month with transit and occasional renting than if I owned a car currently. But I also don’t need to worry about a car. If it breaks down or something happens, I just hand it back. (Whereas with my own, I’d be more anxious figuring how to pay for repair costs.)

At this moment in my life, transit works well. I realize if I were in another area, it may not be a good alternative. But I’ve felt the difference in taking transit .. for the better.

It’s been about 1 year since our family got rid of our car and opted to no longer own a vehicle. We do occasionally rent a car or use Autoshare for moments when it’s much easier to use a car. But for the most part, we try to get by with just transit (TTC, GO Train, etc.). It’s been a year of getting used to another lifestyle in a sense. Some quick reflections on our journey since then.

  • I notice that I tend to feel “healthier” when I don’t have a car. It forces me to walk more and I do feel a bit less lethargic.
  • Given that we didn’t face a really cold winter, we did get off easy.
  • I am grateful for the savings we have from not having a car (although our income did dip as well, so I guess we evened off to some extent).
  • I’ve noticed that I tend to try to maximize my time on transit. I elaborated more on a previous post called “Mobile Office“. I feel that when I drive now, it feels more like “wasted time” when I could be going through email, reading or just resting. I’m contemplating just how can I utilize transit for out of town meetings more to take advantage of those times.
  • Taking transit can sometimes be a nuisance because you need to meet their time schedule. There is a loss of some freedom.
  • Taking transit does make me slow down somewhat. I’m not as “impulsive” in going out. Outings do need to be planned more.
  • Given my cheapness, I try to utilize my TTC pass more and try to rent as little as possible (even if there is some room in the budget).

After a year, I don’t yearn for a car. I’m grateful that I live in a city where transit can provide pretty good accessibility (I don’t know how it would be exactly in another municipality). I don’t really miss driving. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life. Let’s see what year 2 might bring (especially if the winter gets a lot colder).

The mobile office

Today, I had two options for work: I could meet one of our youth pastors at my office for coffee or meet him for lunch at Boston Pizza. I chose the latter. I’m realizing that I feel more at home in a “mobile office” setting than in my own office. For instance, with this lunch meeting also included a 1-hour-each-way commute on the TTC. With some pre-trip planning, here’s what I did:

  • On the bus ride, checked my email and posted some articles via bufferapp.
  • On the first leg of the subway ride, was able to get a seat, whipped out the laptop and did some scheduling (and confirmations).
  • On the second leg, read through a chapter of a book (I seem to be doing more reading lately).
  • Because I got to my lunch appointment 30 min early, I whipped out the laptop to continue working.
  • After the appointment, had a chance to sit outside the restaurant, tap into their wireless and keep working.
  • On the subway ride back, pulled out a piece of paper to plot sketch a rough draft of what my life coaching seminar will look like on Prezi (which I would work on later in the day).
  • On the bus ride home, tidied up my inbox and was able to be present for my family (well, I still need to work on that bit, so it’s my challenge to be more present and less distracted with my phone).

While an office is good at times to do stuff like printing, mailings, etc., I wonder what would my productivity overall look like if I had several locations I could go to in a day and change my setting. Jonah Lehrer mentions this in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works, suggesting that when we change our work environment, we essentially become “outsiders” which helps in the creative process.

I also wonder if this constantly mobile office has something to do with my introvertedness. Because I don’t really need to engage with people I don’t really know in any substantial conversation, I can just focus on what I need to do without being in complete isolation. (Of course, it’s interesting when those “chance” encounters happen with an acquaintance and God’s timing for a specific conversation happens.) It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the company of my colleagues at work. But I wonder if my natural inclination is to have multiple-changing environments that allows me to work on different projects while still being connected electronically.

Maybe I am meant for the road after all.

So we used Autoshare the last 2 days. It worked out. A bit to get all the carseats in, but wasn’t too bad. Price is ok (though doing it too many times can really hit the pocket). Getting used to the TTC. I feel comfortable with it. Still don’t like the idea that I always have to buy child tickets, so if I want to go out with my kids tomorrow, instead of not worrying about how many times we travel, I need to be aware of running out of tickets. Just a hassle.

It seems as though we’re ready to move on without a car. Yet, a part of me has a bit of the “what if”. Right now, the cost of the car is approx. $100 more a month (but if we use Autoshare too much, then it’s a moot point). So a car does become quite handy. We are restricted by where we can go. That being said, the other side of me says that there are so many unknowns about the car (when will something else break down or tire alignment go or tires pop) that it may not be worth it.

We still have a few more days to go before we need to decide. Right now, seems like TTC/Autoshare are winning. Let’s see if we can sustain this.

We’ve been rolling solely on TTC for the last 3 days.  I found out that getting to our church isn’t that convenient via TTC.  (Easier to just walk to the 2nd bus).  It’s seemed to work fine the last 2 days with our errands and work.  (Although we’ll probably need to plan more so we don’t do have more late-night grocery runs). I’ve definitely been getting my walking in with all those transit.  Can’t remember the last time I walked so much.  I also feel my lifestyle pace changing.  I don’t feel as tired as I used to (maybe because I don’t need to concentrate on driving).  At this point, I don’t really miss driving.  But sometimes, the convenience of it is still a bit of a lure.

Just got my Autoshare access card, so that part of the experiment will start this week.  We’ll see if it’s worth doing.  To get the car for 24-hours is about $80 (including gas and insurance).  As long as we don’t use it that often, it may be viable.  But we’ll see if it’s as user-friendly as they advertise.

At this point, I almost have gotten used to life without a car.  I don’t find myself longing to drive; I don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms.  Rather, I’ve started moving my headspace towards transit and utilizing it.  I’m thinking of ways of how best to use that time, even if it’s to just chill and be present.

At the same time, a part of me wonders if I’ll be longing for a car in the winter time when it’s blowing snow and just miserable.  But, we’ll take that one step at a time.  Let the experiment continue.

Well, we’ve dived into this whole transit/car-sharing set-up.  I’ve been approved for Autoshare (woohoo) and hope to use its services soon.  But we’re starting our series of “experiments”.  Today was a trip to Vaughan Mills via their free shuttle from Union Station.

As expected, we decided to get ahead of the game and show up real early (more than 1 hr) to ensure we had seats.  It turns out by boarding time, 2 coach buses were full.  We took our time, got some lunch and prepared for our trek.  While I’m not one to like line-ups, at least when I was on the bus, I actually got to close my eyes.  That was enjoyable.  I think I may have dozed off (as my apparent snoring attested to).  We enjoyed our afternoon at the mall, went at a good pace and then boarded the shuttle to return home.  It took about 40 min. to get to the mall.  However, due to Gardiner Express issues, it took almost 75 min. to return.  This was a problem because I had an appointment that I was now going to be an hour late (and had to eventually cancel).  So what usually would be a 30 min. car-ride home was a 2 hr and 15 min transit trek.  The kids were pretty good about it overall.  Only a couple times at the beginning did they say “when are we getting our car back?”

Some pros: slower pace, got to nap

Some cons: lot more factors that can interfere with schedules

A side thought: grant it, there was about almost 1 hr 45 min that were “wasted”.  The productivity side of me says that’s not good.  Yet I wonder, maybe switching to transit will intentionally cause us to slow down our pace and to actually enjoy each other’s company, to actually waste time well (interesting that Seth Godin blogged on this today in his article “Wasted Time is not a Waste“). (There were times though when the kids’ questions were getting to be a bit much, but that’s another issue.)  Could it be that God is actually getting us to slow down our pace a bit and really sift through what’s worth doing and what can be tossed aside.  Even tonight, we’re already planning ahead but with more room for “interference”.

Tomorrow, our transit to church.

This week, our car had issues.  The radiator is leaking, the hose is broken and the car overheated so there’s a chance the engine may have been damaged.  Our car has almost 203,000 km now.  The question that we started asking was, is it worth fixing (because who knows what other problems might arise as the car gets older)?  Could we really get rid of the car and live off of TTC transit (with the occasion use of Autoshare)?  After 36 hours of prayer, advice from friends and countless conversations between Natalie and me (as well as the offer to leave our car in the mechanic’s lot for the rest of the month), we’re going to try it: let the Transit Transition begin!

Today’s journey to the pool, we missed our intended bus.  Thought we were going to be late for their swim lessons.  But we took an alternate route and just made it in time.  The kids are still getting used to the waiting at transfers.  I’m still getting used to all the walking (no gym membership needed for me if this keeps up).

For the rest of this month, we’re going to use our TTC passes to see if we can do everything we need to do with the occasional use of Autoshare.  I’ve already begun using the TTC to commute to work for the last 2 days.  We’ve also used TTC today for the kids’ swim lesson.  Some other scenarios we’re going to need to try out include:

  • going to the library
  • going to church
  • maybe the Science Centre
  • our daughter’s piano lessons in Brampton
  • trip out to Markham
  • grocery shopping

Will we survive?  Well, the next 2 days are a bit of a break since I need to rent a car for work.  But afterwards, I’ll be blogging what our “adventures” will be like.  Stay tuned.

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