I do not qualify for public transit

Transit in Toronto pushed me over the edge.

I had spent two nights in Toronto with my two year old daughter, P. We stayed at my sisters’ apartment. To get there we had to take a Go Train and two subway trains.

I hauled P, her stroller, paintings we won at a chairty auction, and bags full of overnight toddler necessities. My back burned, P’s feet kicked impatiently. Train schedules were to be met.

There were no elevators in the subway stations. I had to lift the stroller up and down flights of stairs. My heart stopped, all of my energy was focused on keeping my baby safe. I took her out sometimes and had her follow me as I carried her stroller. I am lucky that she can do stairs now, it has made life simpler- in the suburbs. In the city, my normally outgoing monster turns into a wide eyed, frightened baby bird. The many steps were huge. I couldn’t walk ahead as mothers don’t really have eyes in the back of our heads. When we got to the train platform many passengers blocked entry and would not let us in. We would wait for the next train more than once.

There was an elevator from the subway platform to Union Station. It brought us to a floor with only rotating doors bearing ‘no strollers’ signs. My words were decorated with all kinds of colour at this point, despite the innocent ears attached to the head of my curly, blonde haloed daughter. I folded the stroller up, emptied the baggage and with the help of an older man who took pity on me, I managed to escape . To be met with more stairs. This incident was more aggravating because of the extra luggage and the big city stress. This was not an isolated incident. Dump the extra baggage; you still have a two year old. With said two year old is her full diaper bag. Then your own stuff and for simplicity sake we’ll say you didn’t go out to buy groceries. Elevators are full of seemingly able bodied people, some of which will block you from entering or glare at you for taking up space. Many businesses have no ramps to their entrance. Those with automatic doors do not come with a guarantee that they will work. Durham Transit’s designated seats that push up for wheelchairs and strollers occupy quickly with people who don’t need them. I once witnessed a man yell at a young mother for having a stroller on the bus with her four- month-old and demanded she walk instead, pointing at the dated no stroller sticker that was not completely taken off the bus, in the middle of December.

Everyone was a baby at one point. No apologies need be made for that. Children can not be locked up until school age when they no longer require the luggage and a stroller. Just because I do not drive, or have access to a vehicle does not mean I am undeserving of the PUBLIC transportation provided through the city I live and work in. In time P will no longer need a stroller. The diaper bag will be packed away. She will be walking around carefree and taking a seat next to me on the bus, or stand if need be. She will walk up the steps to business entrances, and open their doors. The sight of stairs will no longer be coupled with stress and sore muscles. Still, public transportation is not accommodating all of the public. The definition of public is not, ‘ideal candidates.’

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