The 110 might be both the most celebrated and the most hated bus route that passes through the UTM campus. Created back in 2007 for the purpose of serving UTM students, it offers a direct route from Square One to the Clarkson GO station approximately every 12 minutes during peak times. To get the full experience of the 110, I decided to ride the entire one-hour route, and along the way I engaged in some shameless people-watching.
My first encounter with the 110 was back in my first year of high school. It was the route I took for four years to travel from Square One to Erin Mills and Dundas. I was always intimidated by the university students, whose fancy outfits put my school uniform to shame.
On the day of my ride I took the 110N from UTM to Square One for a bit of shopping, and then decided to catch the 110S at 3:35 p.m., which I planned to ride all the way from Square One to the Clarkson GO.
As luck would have it, I ended up having to run to catch the bus. When I finally made it to the bus, panting and hoping I didn’t look too stupid running with my backpack, I thanked the bus driver for waiting and took my seat. I tried not to make eye contact with a bus full of people who had all just witnessed my embarrassing entrance.
I sat down in the accordion section of the bus and quickly took out my spiral notebook. As soon as the bus jolted out of the Square One terminal I realized that this was a poor seating choice, because the accordion seats are the bumpiest and do not lend themselves well to note-taking.
It wasn’t just me who felt the jolts. The first turn out of the lot ended up ejecting the passenger on my left out of her seat. The girl who fell stopped short of completely wiping out. I helped her collect her shopping bags, which had also flown free. One minute into the ride and the excitement had already begun.
The girl and her friend laughed off the fall and dove back into the loud conversation they were having about their schoolwork. I noticed that they were the only two people on the bus talking. Everyone else was either listening to music, staring at their phones, or gazing blankly out the window.
Ten minutes into my journey I became convinced that the bus was on the verge of falling apart. There was a constant soundtrack of creaks and groans before we’d even gotten on the highway. It both sounded and felt like one of those wooden rollercoasters at Canada’s Wonderland.
While on the highway I mostly looked out the window and tried to let the high-pitched creaks fade into the background. I noticed that when we made the turn off the highway onto the exit ramp, the girl beside me almost fell again. Her nonchalance made me think that falling out of your seat on the 110 is just something you get used to.
As we made our first stop at Erin Mills and Folkway, I noticed a student sitting in the back of the bus had fallen asleep. Having indulged in my fair share of bus-napping, I have to say that some of the best sleep I’ve ever gotten has been on the 110. Something about the constant rocking and white noise makes sleeping on the bus almost irresistible at times. When I closed my eyes I could hear the loud whir of the heating, the low chatter of the girls beside me, and of course the incessant creaking. It was somehow peaceful.
Five minutes later the bus pulled into the South Common terminal and several students got off. While most of the remaining passengers were occupied with their phones, second-year digital enterprise management student Yvona Mannavarayan told me she preferred to just look out the windows. “Ever since I was a kid, that’s what I used to do,” said Mannavarayan.
When asked about her thoughts on the 110 route, Mannavarayan said, “I think the trip takes too long.” Most UTM students seem to share that opinion about the majority of the MiWay routes
Although Mannavarayan had no stories to share about her time taking the bus, I happen to have enough for the both of us. I once had an older man fall asleep on my shoulder while riding in the seat beside mine. I’ve also seen my share of passenger meltdowns, even witnessing an arrest at the Square One bus terminal on one occasion.
When the bus had almost reached the end of the route, I began feeling a little queasy from being on the bus so long. When I finally saw Clarkson, it looked like a game of Tetris with buses instead of variously shaped blocks. Each bus inched along to try to pull into the cramped lot.
As everyone got off the bus I was surprised to see that no one thanked the bus driver. It seems to me that thanking your driver is one of those unspoken rules of bus etiquette. Other rules include not opening the windows when it’s cold or rainy outside and not sitting right beside someone you don’t know when the bus is empty.
For all the complaints it receives, I love the 110. It’s my kitchen table when I need to eat a quick meal on the go. It’s my desk when I’m doing some last-minute cramming for a test. It’s my bed when I need a nap. Most of all, it’s by far more entertaining than your smartphone when some character decides to stir up mischief. To fully appreciate all that the route has to offer, why not try unplugging for your next ride and watch what happens?