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TTC introduces 'personal car' for eaters, nail-clippers

Chris Upfold, Chief Customer Officer, and Brad Ross, Executive Director Corporate Communications, demonstrate acceptable behaviour on one of the TTC’s new “personal cars.”

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The TTC used April Fool's Day as a hook to launch an appeal for passengers to behave better on transit.

The spoof video, which purports to introduce something called the "personal car," features TTC spokesman Brad Ross and chief customer service officer Chris Upfold. Laden down with backpacks and sharing a large bucket of fried chicken, they explain that, for a limited time, one car would be set aside on each subway train.

"You can do whatever you like on the personal car, Brad," Mr. Upfold explains as his colleague cranks up the music.

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"You can listen to your music and share it with everyone else around you. You can do that while you're eating your dinner. You can do that while you're cutting your nails. You can do that taking up seats. You can do that while you're clipping. It's your personal car and we want you to enjoy it."

The joke video is a way to make the point about unacceptable behaviour without hectoring, the TTC explained in a release.

It comes after a fed-up Toronto rider launched a show-and-shame blog with pictures of riders hogging space. And it follows guerrilla action in both New York and London, where riders have highlighted certain behaviours by posting their own signs in the system.

The Tokyo transit system, which carries many times more people than the TTC, has long run official advertising campaigns aimed at modifying behaviour. Some, speaking to a level of crowding inconceivable in Toronto, encourage passengers to take up as little space as possible. Among the messages, riders are urged not to fold out newspapers and a person sitting with his knees apart is portrayed as a Hitlerian figure.

How people interact is brought into sharp focus by the enforced proximity of urban transit. With written codes not always followed and a lack of general agreement on the unwritten codes, the potential for aggravation can be large.

In the TTC spoof, Mr. Upfold argued that the behaviours depicted in the video are "not entirely legitimate," though not illegal.

"I think we can all agree that public transit is a public space and we all have to get along the best that we can," he said before taking a phone call and clobbering Mr. Ross with his backpack.

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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