Does riding the TTC make you smarter?

TTC Street CarAs I boarded the bus this morning en route to school I looked around at all the people reading. I, too, pulled out my book.

Engrossed in Robin Sharma’s Lead Without a Title it occurred to me that people who ride transit are smarter.


Consider the facts.

Generally, I carpool to work and never have time to pull out reading material in the car. Firstly, it is rude to my wife to read while she is driving and it is near impossible to read when I am driving. I am usually able to plough through the A-Section, Business and Sports of the newspaper before leaving the house, but that accounts for most of my non-online reading for a given day.

I have a pile of books that reaches the ceiling on my night table that I intend to read. Sadly, this intention has been ongoing for nearly two years.

Back to the TTC and how it makes you smarter.

A 30-minute commute in a car leads to minimal reading time at best. A 30-minute commute via subway, bus or street car allows you time to read a couple of chapters both to and from work. By my lousy math, that likely equals a book a week.

A book a week? That’s 52 books a year… well maybe 48 since people go on vacation and get busy. But still, that’s a lot of knowledge to be gained by simply by taking “The Better Way” during your day.

If knowledge is power, is it a stretch to theorize that there is a large group of citizens acquiring knowledge in massive numbers daily while riding transit that will one day overturn the authority of our society? I doubt it.

But the fact that I can slay my pile of books by taking transit may be a greater motivating factor than money or the environment when selecting my route to work or school in the future. Of course, I would have to discount the reliability – or unreliability – of our transit system. I’ll save that for another day.

Lessons Learned:

  • Taking public transit provides more time to read, which leads to an increase in knowledge
  • Increasing one’s knowledge may be a greater motivating factor than money or the environment when deciding whether to take transit

About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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11 Responses to Does riding the TTC make you smarter?

  1. Neate Sager says:

    The year I gave up my car was also the year I had a goal to read 50 books — and I did it.

  2. Marc Stuyver says:

    I see a lot of stupid TTC riders stepping out in front of moving traffic every day when their streetcar is still 50 meters away from the stop. Natural selection will soon take care of those ones.

  3. sunshine pye says:

    Great start to your blog. Looking fwd to more

  4. Julie Tyios says:

    Interesting theory. I used to get through a decent book every few days on transit when I commuted from Parkdale to North York. Now that I’ve stopped that commute, I go through about 4 books per year. Sad. Wish I had more time to read.

    • jaimestein says:

      Agreed Julie. Finding time to read is just so hard in ‘these busy times’! Maybe your TTC User Panel could do a Take the TTC and Read a Book a Week campaign and work with a book company for sponsorship? Just throwing ideas out there 🙂

  5. Mihnea G. says:

    I have a similar tale, mind you from the perspective of a driver.
    A few years back my radio was stolen from my car. I never replaced it so my drives to work or school are really productive. I get to think about this, that and the other because I don’t have music blasting or a radio talk show host telling me how to think.
    For those if you who didn’t read this recent HBR article I highly recommend it: The thesis of the story is that the avalanche of technology in our lives makes us dumber because we’re always doing something rather than being bored and using that boredom as a trigger to think.

  6. Dave says:

    Although I work from home, I often head downtown for presentations and meetings and I get a good 45 minutes of reading done each way. In weeks where I have 3 meetings, I usually make my way through an average-sized paperback.
    While I’m at home, I usually opt for what used to be my in-the-car-commute mode of staying smart; namely listening to CBC Radio 1. That’s where I get about half my book recommendations anyways.
    Thanks for sharing and keep up the posts!

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