MONTREAL — French Panic, a local blogger who may or may not be my neighbour, recently spent some time in Toronto. She came back with some pertinent observations about the way that each city’s character manifests itself in bus and subway transfers. Yes, transfers. Read on:
Now, I know it’s dull to compare Toronto and Montreal. They are very different from each other, and shouldn’t be compared. But. These transfers say all sorts of interesting things. The Montreal transfer is devoid of all information, save for a set of arrows to let you know which side to stick in the machine at the metro and a time for when it expires.
But the Toronto transfer is barking information at you. It’s the 307th day of the year! It’s Saturday night! We are the Toronto Transit Commission! Thank you!
When you turn it over, there is the date, the day number, and instructions:
Must be obtained from operator at time fare is paid.
Must be used at first available transfer point (cannot walk to next stop.)
Must be used on day of issue within reasonable time allowance to the transfer point. Not valid for stopover.
Must be issued by the person to whom issued.
Must be retained and shown when requested on Proof of Payment routes.
Then some phone numbers — three different ones depending on what your intentions are — the website (twice) — and a final “Thank you.”
The Montreal transfer is completely devoid of information, aside from the holes so that a machine can read it. If the machine chooses to read it.
Montreal gives you no information. It is blank – you can do whatever you want with it, but it’s not going to share any information with you very easily.
Toronto is eager and polite – but fascist, too.
Next spring, after forty years, Montreal will be getting rid of its punch-card transfers by replacing them with magnetic-strip transfers similar to the metro tickets and weekly passes we already use. We’ll shift from 1960s punch-card technology to, uh, 1970s magnetic-strip technology — but will our transfers keep their Montreal spirit?
Photo by French Panic