Friday, May 25, 2007

There's something about the summer heat that makes the subway stop running like an old air conditioner. Signal problems at Union Station completely shut down subway service south of Bloor Street during rush hour, to be replaced with buses. In the meantime, crowds at Yonge-Bloor station swelled to the point that the station had to be closed: there was no more space on the southbound platform or in the mezzanine to hold any more passengers. Dejected passengers seeking shuttle buses swam upstream against the thousands of people, causing some faint-hearted commuters to fret that the subway had shut down entirely.

Crowds swarmed the turnstiles and the mezzanine on the inside, sweaty from the 32-degree heat outside and without space to even move. The numbers increased and increased, the claustrophobia increased and increased, and then the collector booths were closed and transit police ensured that crowds did not try to get over the turnstile.

I wasn't in a hurry at all, so I hoped that there would be some sort of small-scale riot against this large-scale futility of the highest order on the part of the TTC. Just as that seemed to be the case, a quick-thinking supervisor wearing a foppish red hat relieved the situation by ushering in all passengers heading east or west into the station for free and to descend, via the small intestine, into the bowels of Yonge-Bloor. An empty westbound train sat waiting mysteriously and serendipitously, and I promptly forgot the drama above in favour of a nap.

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