What a Scarborough Single Mother's Daily Commute Looks Like

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What a Scarborough Single Mother’s Daily Commute Looks Like

This 53-year-old travels four hours a day through the city.

In this new photo series, we follow Torontonians on their daily commutes through the city to explore the challenges faced while in transit.

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Jeanly Baylon lives in a house in Toronto’s Rouge Valley with her two children Joshua, 19, and Thereze, 12—and at home, the 53-year-old immigrant from the Philippines is always tackling new issues. Today, the air conditioner is broken. “I was trying to set the thermostat, but I don’t know how to do it,” she laments. “My husband used to always do it. He used to do everything having to do with that thermostat, so now it’s my time to learn to do it, but it seems like I don’t know how.”

It’s a relatively small problem to have, but it only adds to the frustration of Baylon’s current situation. She’s currently working through a difficult divorce, and she must commute four hours round trip every day to get to her job as a housekeeper in central Toronto.

In 1991, Baylon came to Toronto after being sponsored by a family that employed her to look after their three young kids. She bought a house with her ex-husband in Rouge Valley 10 years ago—a house she would ultimately fight tooth and nail for when he left her about a year ago. They were married for 21 years. Now, what Baylon solemnly regrets is not getting her driver’s licence. “I was so dependent on him before,” she says. “I never would have thought that it would be like this, that I wouldn’t have a driver anymore.”

Her new commute on public transit is a tangle of transfers from stop to stop. It begins with a brisk walk to the bus stop, where she hops on the 85 Sheppard East bus. She then transfers to the subway at Don Mills Station, where she heads west on the Sheppard line to Sheppard-Yonge Station. She travels south to St. Clair Station, and hops on another bus west to St. Clair West Station. From there, she walks to her final destination at Bathurst and St. Clair. The entire commute one way clocks in just under two hours—in optimal conditions.

It’s an arduous commute, but Baylon is thankful for Toronto’s transit system. “I know Morningside and Sheppard is far, but I love it here because it’s still part of the city and the TTC is still accessible,” she says. “I know that every day I’m going back to my home and that’s the best feeling even if I’m travelling almost four hours every day going back and forth, it’s a nice feeling even if you have to commute far.”


“It’s like chaos leaving the house in the morning. Run, run, run, run. I have to get up and then I boil water first to keep me hydrated. I put on the kettle and then squeeze lemons into the water and then it’s breakfast for the kids.”

“It’s like chaos leaving the house in the morning. Run, run, run, run. I have to get up and then I boil water first to keep me hydrated. I put on the kettle and then squeeze lemons into the water and then it’s breakfast for the kids.”

“I ask the kids what they want for breakfast. So, I’m juggling that. I have to leave the house at 9:05 or 9:10 (her work day starts at 11:00), so I’m calling up to Joshua ‘Where are you? Your breakfast is ready.’ Whatever my kids don’t eat on their plates after breakfast I eat because I don’t want to waste it.”

“I ask the kids what they want for breakfast. So, I’m juggling that. I have to leave the house at 9:05 or 9:10, so I’m calling up to Joshua, ‘Where are you? Your breakfast is ready.’ Whatever my kids don’t eat on their plates after breakfast I eat because I don’t want to waste it.”

Baylon helps her 12-year-old daughter, Thereze, prepare for the day.

Baylon helps her 12-year-old daughter, Thereze, prepare for the day.

“Joshua takes the bus to school (he just finished his first year at Centennial College) and Thereze walks to Alvin Curling Public School. At 8:20 she needs to be ready at the door. Joshua, I just leave him. He’s a big kid. He knows what to do."

“Joshua takes the bus to school (he just finished his first year at Centennial College) and Thereze walks to Alvin Curling Public School. At 8:20 she needs to be ready at the door. Joshua, I just leave him. He’s a big kid. He knows what to do.”

“Once the kids are gone, I’m rushing to go to the bathroom because you don’t want to get caught having to go while walking to the bus stop or on the bus when the travel is like 45 minutes to the next stop. It depends on the traffic.”

“Once the kids are gone, I’m rushing to go to the bathroom because you don’t want to get caught having to go while walking to the bus stop or on the bus when the travel is like 45 minutes to the next stop. It depends on the traffic.”

“It takes me about 7 or 8 minutes to get to the bus stop from my house and then you wait. But if you miss the bus then you’ll have to wait 10 or 15 minutes. If it rains even just a little or it snows a little, it’s delayed. You’ll have to wait even longer. “Sometimes you don’t know if (your employer) will think it’s an excuse. It’s in your mind. You think that if it’s raining, people will understand. It’s an honest thought, right?"

“It takes me about seven or eight minutes to get to the bus stop from my house and then you wait. But if you miss the bus then you’ll have to wait 10 or 15 minutes. If it rains even just a little or it snows a little, it’s delayed. You’ll have to wait even longer. Sometimes you don’t know if (your employer) will think it’s an excuse. It’s in your mind. You think that if it’s raining, people will understand. It’s an honest thought, right?”

“Once you get on the bus you’re sweaty and sometimes it doesn’t even have air conditioning. Sometimes it’s too cold too, but that’s where you sit, on the bus, and you take a deep breath."

“Once you get on the bus you’re sweaty and sometimes it doesn’t even have air conditioning. Sometimes it’s too cold too, but that’s where you sit, on the bus, and you take a deep breath.”

About 40 minutes into her commute, Baylon heads to the subway.

About 40 minutes into her commute, Baylon heads to the subway.

“When I get on the subway, if I didn’t finish reading the paper from last week, I might read one I have rolled up in my purse or I’d get another paper at the station."

“When I get on the subway, if I didn’t finish reading the paper from last week, I might read one I have rolled up in my purse or I’d get another paper at the station.”

Now that it’s summer, there have been more delays because of construction. It’s much worse compared to winter.”

“Now that it’s summer, there have been more delays because of construction. It’s much worse compared to winter.”

About an hour into her commute, Baylon closes her eyes on a bus from St. Clair Station.

About an hour into her commute, Baylon closes her eyes on a bus from St. Clair Station.

It is a 10-minute walk to her workplace at Bathurst and St. Clair.

It is a 10-minute walk to Baylon’s workplace at Bathurst and St. Clair.

Baylon arrives at her destination two hours later.

Baylon arrives at her destination two hours later.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the 85 Don Mills bus, not the 85 Sheppard East bus. Torontoist regrets the error.


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