Monday, July 24, 2006

tales from the vomit comet

It's not often that I have to use the TTC's late night service from downtown. Whenever I do, it's rare that the ride on the 320 Yonge, affectionately known as the "Vomit Comet" (2003 Toronto Life story) goes without any hitches or strange moments.

I spent Saturday night at a party east of the Don. Fueled by a combination of 3/4 of a bottle of Waupoos Seyval Blanc, 2 cups ginger ale and a bit of sparkling wine, I was tipsy, which most people can attest is a rare condition for me. I wandered over to Gerrard and Broadview to catch a streetcar to take me over to Yonge. It was just after 2, figured I'd be home by 3 at the latest.

Yeah, right.

When I hopped off at Yonge, I heard a screech that I hadn't heard in the while. A crowd of passengers were entertained by Toronto's foremost proponent of the power of push-ups, Zanta! (in case you're unfamiliar with Zanta, check out photos from The Narrative, podcast from Molar Radio) Several packed buses passed before anyone could board.

Just north of Carlton, a pack of loud, obnoxious rowdies hopped on, the type you would expect to bathe in Axe. Combined with another smashed group celebrating a friend's 19th birthday, the fun started. Apparently one soused dude was chatting with the driver, leading to cries of "hey bus driver, he likes penis!". Somewhere along the line, the green lights above the rear doors stayed lit, probably due to a drunk crowd leaning on them. The driver asked folks to step aside, but the lights stayed on. Obscene threats were lobbed at the driver from the rowdies, prompting an evacuation from the bus at Charles St due to "mechanical problems". The rowdies vanished before the driver could see who they were.

This left a fuming crowd standing outside of Payless Shoes, especially when several buses passed by with long intervals in between. Most thoughts in the crowd had an alcoholic haze to them. A group of teens were reminded of crowded buses in Hamilton. One person moaned the original bus driver was a chicken. Another thought a replacement bus should have been dispatched immediately. Sobering somewhat, I took a "c'est la vie" attitude. I also felt like an oldtimer compared to the others and those who'd caused the situation we were in.

Taxis took advantage of the anger, as the crowd slowly hopped into cabs. I felt like I was sobering up and figured that I could have made it home faster (if wobblier) by foot from Gerrard and Broadview. It was well after 3 before I was finally able to hop on a bus again, well past 3:30 by the time I reached the bunker.

Given the crowds I've seen the past few times I've used the Vomit Comet, I find it hard to believe that there isn't enough justification to keep at least the Yonge subway open to 2:30 or 3 on the weekend (say, service from Union to Finch to feed into the east-west Blue Light routes) - JB

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