Union to Finch — May 18, 2020
All the evidence that the pandemic had shut down the city was there in news reports. My own experience, riding my bike around the neighbourhood, makes these accounts all very tangible, closer to home. I see the lower than usual traffic in our area, nearly empty highways, empty commuter parking lots, driveways filled with car. My children and their spouses are working from home. Each of these observations points to the conclusion that people are staying at home. Yet, I resist to fully accept it. I wanted to see it for myself. Why?
The Toronto Subway is like the central nervous system of a wider network of busses and street cars, connecting people to people, to places, events, and work. The crowds on this spinal cord reflect the activity of the city; they are a measure of its vibrance; of life. Daily weekday ridership averaged 1.58 million people or 216 million annually in 2018 . My mid-May trip showed it was almost empty, down 80% according to the news. My experience suggested this was an understatement. If each person is a signal flowing along this line, one might ask whether the body is dead. What might ponder the broader implications?