In-Flight Service, on the Subway




In-Flight Service, on the Subway

Improv in Toronto's "subway attendants" handed out refreshments, blankets, and good humour on the Bloor-Danforth line.

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Improv in Toronto’s “subway attendants” get ready to change trains at Kennedy Station. Photo by Will Penman.

The eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth subway line got a little more civilized on Sunday afternoon as six members of Improv in Toronto acted as self-appointed “subway attendants.” Dressed in flight-attendant uniforms, the crew of volunteers handed out newspapers, blankets, beverages, and snacks to passengers between St. George and Kennedy Stations. Those same passengers were also treated to demonstrations of the subway car’s safety features.

Co-organizer Cole Banning said that the group’s goal was simple: to make riding the subway a little more bearable.

“People are taking the subway because it’s cheaper,” he said. “You’re crammed on there, it’s not the same standard [as air travel.]”

“With air travel, there’s someone there to make sure you’re happy and comfortable,” added co-organizer Jenna Warriner.

Warriner was in charge of making the attendants’ uniforms, a process she said took “way too long.”

Although initially confused, subway patrons were incredibly receptive to the attendants’ offer of refreshments and reading materials. Warriner was impressed with how smoothly things went.

“We chose the Sunday because we thought it would be sparser, but it turns out there are still a lot of people,” she said. “But people still loved what we were doing. The Corn Nuts were a big hit. I had no idea how much people liked Corn Nuts.”

“The best part was having people yell out ‘Thank you,’ as they left,” added Banning. “That was great.”

Improv in Toronto has a long history of staging events on the subway. They’ve been involved in the Toronto editions of the Subway Dance Party and the No Pants Subway Ride. Banning said the group likes public transit for a couple of reasons.

“On the TTC, you have a captive audience,” he said. “No matter what you’re doing, people have to participate. On the street, people can ignore you or walk away or whatever…Also, because it’s kind of a Toronto thing for people to complain about the TTC. Why not make it better for them?”

Banning said that while he was pleased with how passengers responded to the event, he was even happier with how it made them interact with each other.

“It really got people to smile and talk to each other and say, ‘Thank you,’” he said. “It was nice to see.”

UPDATE: February, 26 2013, 3:25 PM And here’s a video: