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That time the TTC lured customers with a bunny girl

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 18, 2014

ttc bunny girlOf all the gimmicks used to promote public transit in Toronto, this one is definitely the weirdest - and the most sexist. In 1969, at the suggestion of a conference on urban transportation, a bunny girl was dispatched (by who it's not entirely clear) onto a Toronto Transit Commission bus to drum up ridership.

As the awkward photo by Toronto Star photographer Reg Innell shows, "Bubbles" - a waitress at the Town and Country Palace on Mutual Street - was dressed in a skimpy gold lamé costume and black net stockings, despite the February weather. She had "the sure footedness of a trapeze artist and the charm of a Bell Telephone operator," writer Michael Cobden gushed.

Two teenage students on the Eglinton Avenue bus clearly liked the idea: Sal Sapienza, 17, said girls like Bubbles could become, like, totally cool. "Man, it would be groovy to chat up the hostess. I mean, you can't chat up the driver, can you?"

"I ride this bus every day and, oh boy, wouldn't I like some company like this bird," said 19-year-old Henry la Fiura.

The Star reported that a man missed his stop and another asked to hold hands because he felt unwell. The intention appears to have been to find out whether public transit would benefit from airline-style hostesses - someone to guide passengers to their seats, provide information, and generally boost spirits - but how the outfit came to be that of a Playboy model is decidedly murky.

The 1,000 delegates at the First Canadian Urban Transportation Conference at the Royal York Hotel also suggested relaxing music and free rides as gimmicks to entice people out of their cars. The "bunny girl" idea seems to have been the only one tested.

The wife of an elderly passenger, 87-year-old Jim McCormack, certainly didn't approve of the look. "It'd do beside a swimming pool, but not in a bus," she said. "If we're going to have hostesses, why don't they dress like the girls on the airlines?"

The Twitter account of the Toronto Star photo archives sent out a photo from the risqué stunt earlier this week.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Discussion

15 Comments

linden / March 18, 2014 at 09:26 am
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what a great story-it seems Toronto back than was much more cooler city with creative ideas.
what? / March 18, 2014 at 09:42 am
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is that thomas mulcair in the pic sitting next to her? rofl
Dimitri / March 18, 2014 at 09:43 am
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This will upset the feminists on Twitter.
lol / March 18, 2014 at 09:48 am
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'weirdest' and 'sexist' lol. welcome to life outside confused feminist Canada
Ray / March 18, 2014 at 09:52 am
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I may just leave the car at home for that kind of transit service.

If were making the TTC for free to homeless on cold days, can we have adults only ttc and subway cars too?
Joe Public / March 18, 2014 at 10:11 am
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Neckbeards: To cool for school since 1969...
Baby Irwin Mimico / March 18, 2014 at 10:37 am
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I would go TTC if Rob 'n Dog put Playboy Bunny costumes on and rode the bus. Not if Kathy did, though.
where's my tuque? replying to a comment from Joe Public / March 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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Neckbeards were a trend two years ago. Current hipsters trim them. It's not easy maintaining a unique look all of your own that just happens to exactly coincide with everyone else's unique look.
Common Cents Revolution / March 18, 2014 at 01:18 pm
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I don't think that the sexy costume was strange at all; that was what women wore back then. Everyone knows you can attract more bees with bunny than with vinegar.
jen / March 18, 2014 at 01:42 pm
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What, no half naked muscular man for the ladies who take transit?
Danny replying to a comment from Common Cents Revolution / March 18, 2014 at 02:07 pm
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OK, we get it guy, you can stop logging in with different screen names to troll the story already.
Danny replying to a comment from Dimitri / March 18, 2014 at 02:08 pm
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"This will upset the feminists on Twitter."

And people with two brain cells to rub together. Not that you'd fit in there.
Common Cents Revolution replying to a comment from Danny / March 18, 2014 at 03:37 pm
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Someone is getting aggressive. My comment was meant to be light hearted. Do you have a special interest here, "Danny"? You seem really touchy about any criticism. We are just discussing, not shooting arrows. Cool down, bro.
I like Rob Ford's tits / March 19, 2014 at 05:39 am
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Doesn't everyone?
Jay / March 19, 2014 at 11:31 am
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It is interesting how often men are used as sex symbols in advertising these days but never a bad word about that. Not that I care mind you. But using sex to sell is not "sexist". If that is the case, time to pull all ads featuring attractive men and women to this day. I truly believe that the only people who get offended by this sort of thing, man or woman, are those who would never be picked to do this work themselves. AKA ugly peeps. Not saying I am first prize, but I am not the one complaining about seeing good looking people entice customers either.

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