T&C Transit Strike Survival Guide

I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in the city’s negotiator and ATU 113 for failing to precipitate a transit strike.  It is a foregone conclusion that where labour disputes are concerned, Mayor David Miller and the city bureaucracy will fold.  The only question is how soon.  By laying supine and showing its neck to the union’s bigger dog, the city prevented a massive inconvenience, but it also torpedoed my excellent and well-laid plans for dealing with it.  I will share them with you so that you, too, can ride out a transit strike with minimum inconvenience.


The first, best option is to telecommute and not actually go anywhere.  If this is an option for you, then your strike preparedness is already quite high.  If you do not have the option of working from home right now, then you need to quit your current employment and find a job where working from home is an occasional or regular option.  None of the other options for getting to work are very attractive.

  • Walk.  The average human walks at a pace of 5 kilometres per hour.  If you live within 2-3km of work, walking is an option.  In fact you’re probably walking to work already.  Why you would want to take transit to go such a short distance is beyond me.
  • Bike.  When I worked for a company that had a gym and showers in the building, I used to bike 19km from Scarborough to the financial district.  It would take me about 45 minutes and was ten times as fun as waiting for a crowded bus and then packing into a crowded subway.  Because I am a competitive jerk I liked to go as fast as possible, which also generates a lot of sweat.  I could also park my carbon-and-titanium mountain bike in card-access underground parking which made theft a non-factor.  If your company does not have showers and carded, underground bike parking then I recommend biking to work only if you have 1) an old beater of a bike that you don’t mind getting ripped off and 2) can rein in your competitive jerk impulses and not go fast and get all sweaty.
  • Carpool or Cabpool.  This is a good option if you have colleagues who live nearby, and it can be a good opportunity to get to know them.  Unfortunately the only colleagues who live nearby and want to carpool are allergy and asthma-ridden folk who insist on taking cars that have never been exposed to cigarette smoke or pet dander.  I also have asthma, but would be entirely willing to put up with pet dander and cigarette smoke for an hour if I needed a ride to work that badly.  Priorities, people.
  • GO Train.  Everyone else will be using this as their alternate, plus you’ll be competing for parking spots and train seats with all the regulars, so forget it.


Now that you have examined all the options and rejected them in favour of telecommuting, you will have to arrange your home office so that you are prepared to work efficiently.  The ideal home office is actually spread across four separate places so that you have the full range of variety and human interaction that you would have at your regular office.

  • The Backyard or Balcony.  Ensure that patio furniture is suitably arranged so that you can enjoy sunlight without being blinded or baked by it.  Test your laptop’s wireless LAN reception out here so that if upgrades or repositioning of furniture is required, you will be able to make these changes before an actual strike.  The best working posture is semi-reclined with legs resting on a chaise or ottoman.  Ensure that side tables are tastefully decorated and large enough to hold your breakfast plus a pitcher of sangria.  Don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you are going to be working out here for a while.
  • The Living Room or Rec Room.  Ensure that your laptop’s AC adapter is long enough to reach power outlets located here.  You will eventually have to relocate to this space because your laptop battery life will eventually force you to move indoors, or plug in a long extension cable outdoors.  If you are going to operate the TV while attempting to work, stay away from daytime talk shows like Oprah, Rachael Ray or Dr. Phil, whose banality will either enrage you or bore you to sleep.  If find your productivity level is too high, try to simulate the multitasking demands of your actual office by playing a videogame on the Wii at the same time that you are trying to do work.
  • The Neighbourhood Pub.  An important part of your working life is social interaction with your colleagues.  To ensure that you get appropriate face-to-face social interaction while working from home, locate a neighbourhood pub that meets the following criteria: 1) is within walking distance, 2) serves beer or scotch that you actually like, and 3) has a wifi access point.  Relocate to the pub around noon so that you can recreate the working experience of having lunch at your desk, followed by spirited conversation with your new colleagues.
  • The Home Office or Den.  This space should be reserved for non-strike-related telecommuting situations.  Try not to relocate here unless you have no other options (i.e. weather is too lousy for outdoor work, neighbourhood pub is closed for renovations, etc).


  • Prepare in advance.  Ensure that laptop has good wireless LAN signal strength in each prospective location.  Have a week’s worth of shopping done a day before the strike so that you are not competing for roadway or parking with everyone else.  Bring out the patio furniture and clean it in advance.  Be sure to let the sangria sit in the fridge overnight—the evening before the strike—so that the fruit flavours will have seeped into the wine.  Check the menu of the neighbourhood pub to ensure that there are drinkable beers, and not just Molson and Labatt dreck.

Above all else, keep calm and carry on.  The whole point of a transit strike to cause disruption, inconvenience and economic loss, so that riders and businesses apply pressure to TTC management.  I prefer to take the sting out of strikes by making them as personally convenient as possible; that way the only inconvenience lies in not having a strike at all.

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