Rocket Talk: Why Doesn't the TTC Ban Food?
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Rocket Talk: Why Doesn’t the TTC Ban Food?

Have questions about the TTC? Rocket Talk is a regular Torontoist column, featuring TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and Director of Communications Brad Ross’s answers to Torontoist readers’ questions. Submit your questions to [email protected]!

Reader Stephanie Abba asks:

Has there ever been any thought to banning food and drink on the subway, as they have done in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere?

TTC Chair Adam Giambrone says:

Many years ago, the TTC tried to ban food on the transit system, but was taken to the Ontario Municipal Board by people who were required to have food for medical reasons (such as diabetics who are required to maintain a certain blood sugar level). The Commission determined that issuing specific exemptions would be difficult and could cause issues with stigmatizing. Therefore, the TTC considers the issue closed, as it is unlikely the OHRC would rule differently.
I would also add that many people spend upwards of two hours a day commuting on the TTC, especially if they come from parts of Etobicoke and Scarborough. Much of that time is during prime meal-eating periods. If the TTC is going to be part of people’s lives to such a large extent, we need to expect that they will want or need to consume some food and drink from time to time while on the transit system. All that we ask is that riders be respectful of their fellow passengers, and put garbage in the proper receptacles to keep TTC facilities clean.
In addition, the TTC encourages people to make sure they have had enough to eat and drink before getting on the system. A major cause of delays is people fainting, and according to Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS)—which has a partnership with TTC to place paramedics in the subway—the most common cause of fainting is from low blood sugar balances and heavy, tight-fitting clothing. So according to EMS, while eating a proper breakfast at home is preferable, it’s better that you eat breakfast on board on the go than not eat breakfast at all.

CORRECTION: NOVEMBER 2, 2010, 3:06 PM This article originally said that it was an Ontario Human Rights Commission ruling that preventing the TTC from banning food; in fact, it was a July 2, 1987 ruling of the Ontario Municipal Board.