Friday, August 31, 2007

Whenever I've boarded a bus at Wilson station, I've seen a sign informing me that the stairs to my right only take me to the upper and lower levels of its bus terminal. There is, as I now know, a third, unused bus terminal at Wilson station that was rendered useless in 1996. Thanks to construction, this north terminal is now under use. A surprisingly long, sterile tunnel connects passengers to the north terminal, which is as ugly, sprawling and cumbersome as every other part of Wilson station. Odds are that just about no one notices this, because no one notices anything about Wilson station or about that part of town.

Traveling on the 96 Wilson bus is as depressing and soul-sucking an experience as anything in the city. The bus travels through some of the poorest, most dangerous and ugliest parts of Toronto. There is an inordinately high concentration of auto body repair shops, massage parlours and dilapidated apartment buildings along Wilson Avenue. An inordinately high number of single black mothers and day labourers board the heavily crowded Wilson bus, which is only marginally better for comfort than a Lahore rickshaw. My intent is not to denigrate the mostly decent people who live along the route, but it is impossible to ignore the sharp disparity between the quasi-shantytown along Wilson Avenue and the gleaming world that is minutes away via an equally gleaming T-1 subway train.

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