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Shame -- TTC stalls stop for Variety Village: Strobel

by Mike Strobel

Heartless. Disgraceful. Shocking. Crass. Pig-headed.

Pick your own word to describe the TTC’s decision to kick Variety Village in the teeth yet again.

“Shame!” says Shaun Forrester, a Variety Village user at the commission meeting with his wheelchair-riding friend Christopher Geen.

They had come to celebrate.

Surely transit staff, flush with Christmas spirit and a $60-million surplus, would recommend a long-awaited bus stop for the Village.

Surely the new commission, fresh off electoral victory, would declare, “Yippy ki yay, let’s do it!”

And surely a moving appeal by new Ward 36 councillor Gary Crawford, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, would seal the deal.

Merry Christmas, kids. Enjoy your new bus stop. Then…

Hah! Gotcha! First, the bureaucratic drones slam on the brakes. Then the commissioners meekly stall ‘til June.

“I don’t get it,” says Crawford. “They’re ignoring the disabled, the people who need them the most.”

The councillor has just told commissioners how the TTC can’t get daughter Hannah, 16, to her weekly therapy at the Village.

“I urge you,” he says, voice cracking, “not to prolong the isolation of Variety Village.”

Instead, the TTC’s staff drones take turns explaining why the Village does NOT deserve its own bus stop.

Manager Mitch Stambler touts the #12 bus stops “immediately south of Variety Village itself. The walk from Kingston Road is 225 metres.”

Okay, Mitch, though I counted 341 strides two weeks ago. Maybe the earth has shrunk.

Whatever, it’s a tough slog. You expect the blind and the lame to climb a sort of dirt-bike hill through the woods to the back of the Village?

“The path itself is a problem,” concedes Stambler. They’ll look at paving it, adding lights.

Beautiful, Mitch. Pave a cliff, it’s still a cliff.

He drones on. The #69 bus runs on Birchmount, stopping at Danforth, “480 metres, a six or seven minute walk” to the Village door. Six minutes? Try that on one leg with your eyes shut on a blustery day, Mitch.

And the Wheel-Trans shuttle bus from Main St. Station? The TTC drones can’t figure why Variety Village doesn’t faint in gratitude, why only 12 people use it per day, though it’s open to all.

BECAUSE IT SUCKS, that’s why.

“It’s horrible,” says Village day program coordinator Cathy Price. “It’s once an hour during the day, but even then sometimes it’s early, or late, or doesn’t come.”

If you live in Scarborough, getting to Main station, then backtracking to Variety Village could take weeks. And many teens with minor disabilities would rather not be seen on a Wheel-Trans bus, thank you.

So, what do TTC chief drone Gary Webster and his junior drones promise to do? Expand the shuttle’s hours.

Great. Take a lousy service and provide more of it.

Why? Because, like all bureaucracies, the TTC is driven by rules and formulae. Any disruption to the status quo makes drones sweat and stammer — and scribble down rules and formulae.

For instance, they calculate rerouting some #12 buses past Variety Village would force current riders to wait longer.

“We treat every request with the same weight, ensuring no favouritism to any group,” says drone Stambler. “A shorter walk to this facility (Variety Village) would mean an inconvenience to other travellers.”

Oh, well, you should have mentioned. How long a delay? Half an hour? Fifteen minutes, three days? No…

Twelve (12) seconds. TWELVE SECONDS?! Gadzooks. Now I see the problem. To hell with those cripples, I’m not gonna wait an extra 12 SECONDS for my bus. I can have an entire relationship in that time.

“All this over 12 seconds?” wonders Village CEO John Willson.

For crying out loud, drones, make up the time. Ask the driver to run, not walk, into Starbucks.

So, I’m listening to this crap, thinking new Chair Karen Stintz will toss that blonde mop and flash those steely eyes and growl, “Quit dragging your asses, clones. Just make it work. Put in a stop.”

Do it, Ms Stintz. Be a hero to the disabled kids and kind citizens of this city. Stare down those drones and declare…

“Deferred six months.”

Heartless is right.