The Useful, Hilarious, and Disturbing TTC Tips
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The Useful, Hilarious, and Disturbing TTC Tips

A look back at TTC helps before the invention of Twitter.


Photo by Jamie Hedworth via Torontoist’s Flickr Pool.

As we all know, Torontonians are passionate about their public transit. A transit delay will almost always bring commuters together as they exchange conspiratorially exasperated looks while recording whatever ridiculous events are transpiring on their phones to later post on Twitter. TTC-bashing is as authentic an urban bonding experience as one can experience in Toronto.

So when Toronto transit enthusiast, Sean Lerner, launched a little project called TTC Subway Rider Efficiency Guide almost 12 years ago, he was met with a resounding “YAS” by commuters desperate for anything to make their journeys a little more comfortable. He received considerable media coverage and public interest for the 200+ crowdsourced tips presented on his TTCrider website and available to download and print as a handy little booklet.

As I wasn’t yet living in Toronto in 2005, the site came to me as a pleasant surprise one day when I googled “TTC tips.” With the fluid nature of Toronto’s citizenry, I’m willing to bet that many others missed this site the first time around, too. That’s a shame, as there is so much to absorb here. Many of these tips are genuinely useful, others are hilarious, and all will resonate with downtrodden TTC riders who just want to get to where they need to go. Here’s a sampling of tips along with helpful interpretations.

The Useful

“If you are only one or two stops away from your destination or transfer point, sometimes it’s faster to just walk there.”

Ah yes—that’s what I pay $146.25 a month for. But this commenter is right, and if we’re being real here, “sometimes it’s faster to just walk there” could be the slogan of the TTC if their marketing department had a better sense of humour.

“The orange dot on six-car subway platforms can be used as an easy way to remember where to wait for the train on the platform, so that when you get to your destination station, you’re lined up near the stairs or escalators. The orange dot is attached to the wall in each subway station and lines up to approximately the 3rd car, 3rd door of each train.”

This is super useful—I always wondered why those dots were there! However, this doesn’t apply to all stations, so be advised:

“A simple way to remember which stations are orange dot stations is to remember them as an acronym: BBBCCCCDDDDDEFIJKKMNOPQRSSSSSUVWWWY

Pronounce it out like a word and remember it by the way it sounds.”

Um…that was less useful, but thanks anyway.

“Hold your nose when riding the SRT between Midland and Ellesmere. There is a bad smell attributed to several things: a parking lot for garbage trucks, a paper processing factory and a recycling plant.”

I have always wondered where they keep the garbage trucks when they’re not out collecting garbage. It really doesn’t surprise me at all that they somehow end up directly on a TTC route.

“If you’re with a buddy who is about to pay $2.75 to board the bus or streetcar, sell them one of your tickets or tokens for $2.10.”

Oh my gosh that’s so cheap!! I miss 2005.

“Use TTC fare as currency. For example, if you have dinner with a friend, and you end up paying for most of the meal because your friend only has big bills, you can ask them to pay you back in TTC fare.”

It’s about time that Toronto had its own currency, and what better currency than tokens?!

The Hilarious

“Warden station sucks. It’s cold, ugly and super windy. Do not move or work near there.”

Duly noted.

“Warden Station’s Café on the Go has the best pizza. Their crust is incredible!”

Mixed reviews about Warden station, then.

“Eglinton Station’s Cinnabon makes tasty cinnamon buns that smell good, but they are heavy in the stomach.”

Be warned: while most cinnamon buns are light and airy in the stomach, the ones at Eglinton station are not.

“Ways to get people not to sit beside you:

  • smell bad
  • scratch yourself
  • talk or sing to yourself
  • place stuff on the seat next to you
  • take an aisle seat instead of a window seat
  • make yourself as wide as possible
  • sit in the middle of three seats
  • assume an intimidating posture
  • clip your nails”

There you have it: all you have to do to get a corner of the TTC all to yourself is to smell bad, act inconsiderately, or somehow work up the nerve to clip your nails on public transit! But now that I think about it, I’ve actually seen people clipping their nails on the TTC more times than I care to remember.

“Looking down the street to see if the bus or streetcar is coming is a good option if you are feeling impatient.”


The Disturbing

“If you have fears about an unstable person pushing you into the path of a moving train, stand at the far end of the platform from where the train enters the station. If this unfortunate event occurs, it will give you an advantage because the train will be near or at a complete stop by the time it reaches you.”

This is actually really smart, though I’d prefer to think that this never happens. Nonetheless, it seems this person put a lot of thought into this, and I appreciate that.

“On crowded vehicles, stand so other people’s bodies will cushion a crash.”

That’s one way to live your life, I suppose. Keeping in mind that these are the same people who were ready to push you onto the subway tracks in the last tip, it seems only fair that they should take the brunt of the crash now.

“Do not put bombs in the trash cans.”

I didn’t realize this needed to be said. It should be noted that this tip came under the “Courtesy, please” section of the website. This is truly the least you could do.


“If you see an old person getting on and you don’t want to give up your seat, close your eyes and pretend you’re sleeping.”

There is no good in the world.

“When giving up your seat to a pregnant or elderly person, directly offer that person the seat as you are getting up.”

Yay yes there is!

See more tips from this legendary project here, and add your own tips in the comments section below.