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news

Help Make the TTC’s Website The Better Way

giambrone.jpg
Adam Giambrone is about to make some new friends…internet friends!
Reading Toronto’s Robert Ouellette recently got in touch with the TTC’s new chief about the horrid shape of the TTC’s website (as Ouellette put it, “the single worst information site found anywhere [and] a true embarrassment”) and asked the G-man if he’d be interested in listening to Toronto bloggers’ input on how to improve it. We and our readers are, after all, relatively tech-savvy people, and some of us are well-versed in the magic of graphic design, coding, and all that lovely stuff.
As it turns out, Giambrone’s game.
Along with the Spacing Wire, blogTO, and, of course, Reading Toronto, Torontoist was one of the city blogs invited to participate in soliciting our readers’ suggestions on improving the TTC’s website. “The objective,” as Robert explains, is to help make the TTC’s site “state-of-the-art.” After we’ve gathered up a pile of ideas and determined our favourites, we’re going to then forward those suggestions to the TTC and track how that organization responds to them. According to Giambrone, at least one of his staffers is going to be on the case.
We have a few suggestions, off the top of our heads: enlist the help of Ian Stevens (for his absolutely amazing transit map) and our own Sean Lerner (for his Efficiency Guide); and please, dear God, no more of that awful scrolling text Javascript applet at the top of the page.
So readers, we ask of you: what would make the TTC’s website better?
Photo of Giambrone from his website at the new subway car launch. Torontoist’s love affair with Giambrone is off to a good start: in case you forgot, we picked him as one of the city’s hottest people and coined the term “giambronies” for the TTC’s new tokens.

Comments

  • Andy

    Type in address of point a, type in address of point b and let me the know fastest way between them via the TTC. That is what I want. Vancouver has it, why not us?

  • velochicdunord

    A trip planning feature, such as that being used on Mississauga Transit’s website (like this) would be really, really useful.

  • http://science.easternblot.net Eva

    I agree 100% with the previous comment: a route planner is what the site needs.
    Right now, if I want to know how to get somewhere that’s not on the subway line, I need to use the giant TTC map of the whole city to find the bus closest to my destination, and then try to trace the route back to a subway stop, and THEN figure out if it’s the east-bound or west-bound bus I’ll need, and when it leaves. That is ridiculously complicated.
    I don’t even care so much if the website is ugly, as long as it allows for simple route planning that DOES NOT involve opening 2 or 3 enormous pdf documents!!!

  • http://thickslab.com/blog/ thickslab

    What the fuck is wrong with the TTC that it takes some guy complaining to them for them to simply *realize* that their site is complete and utter garbage?

  • http://thickslab.com/blog/ thickslab

    It’s worse than I thought. The TTC still doesn’t have a clue – once again it’s “fans” of the TTC who are doing its work for them. I’m sure it’ll shit all over them just like it did with the T-shirt designs. Can we fire these buffoons already?

  • rek

    • Ditto on Andy’s suggestion, with an estimated travel time for rush hour and non-peak average times.
    • I want the map to load in the window I’m running, not launch a second window and then load in a third. I stopped using the TTC’s map because I found it so slow and annoying to load.
    • When I type in an address or intersection, I want the map to automatically load the nearest subway stations and surface routes serving that location, including station names and route numbers.
    • A lot of work, I know, but how about marking the surface route stops on the map? Downtown it isn’t an issue, but further out there it can be a decent walk between stops and from a stop to a particular address.
    • Service interruptions and detours marked on the map, and easily found/linked from the home page.

  • http://www.torontoist.com David Topping

    thickslab, as much as you may like or dislike the way the TTC is run, this is still a great opportunity. If Giambrone keeps up this trend of “listening,” can you imagine how much better the TTC — not just their website, but the whole system — would be? What would you like to see changed on the website.
    I thought of some other suggestions, as well:
    - Ditch .pdfs wherever possible; they’re a mess to deal with for Windows users
    - Make route maps and schedules more easily printable. Schedules should be better layed out, instead of in a messy table as they are now. When I first started using the TTC, I used to copy and paste the route for my local bus into Microsoft Word, decrease the font size, and mess around with the layout until it would fit in my wallet. It was like my own customized TTC Efficiency Guide.
    - Have some kind of easily accessible “news,” with the latest updates to routes, service, promotional campaigns, etc., are aggregated and sorted in descending order. Hey, almost like a TTC blog!

  • http://politicsranter.wordpress.com Carly

    Can we fire these buffoons already?
    -There’s a new guy in charge, and he appears to be starting off on the right foot.
    As for recommendations:
    +TRIP PLANNER! Yes, yes, yes. Ottawa has one, why can’t Toronto? When I wanted to go to Pacific Mall on the TTC, I came to Torontoist to find the info in a post instead of going to the TTC website because their site is so hard to navigate.
    +Better general organization. I spent 10 minutes looking for some info on tokens and tickets last night. It shouldn’t be like that.
    +Better layout. Use more of the screen! Don’t make the whole thing look like three sidebars smashed together in the middle of the page! Make it look like a web destination people would want to come to, instead of an internet hole-in-the-wall.
    +I second getting rid of PDFs. I use a Mac, but they’re still slow and annoying. They’re also unnecessary for a document as simple as the Subway map.
    +Embrace your fans. Create a section with links to things like the Spacing buttons and the Efficiency Guide (I’s day Torontoist’s t-shirts too, but I doubt they’d be allowed with their Legacy contract).

  • http://www.newmindspace.com kevin bracken

    Make the website prettier. Really. Even using a Blogger template would be a huge step in the right direction!

  • Jonathan Seet

    First thoughts (all of these are basic usability issues):
    1. The front page looks like a collection of banner ads. It’s not only garish, but the readability of it asymptotically approaches 0.
    2. Anything useful is first accessed by the drop-down menus. Not particularly easy to get to.
    3. Colour scheme needs unifying. It’s like a circus midway in there. It disguises where the information lies.
    4. PDFs are okay for printing and carrying around but useless for quick, dynamic lookups. Information shouldn’t be hidden from first access. I don’t think abolishing PDFs is absolutely necessary but it shouldn’t be the only way to get what you need.

  • shanbot

    Perhaps more input and money should be put into the TTC system itself first.

  • http://null David

    The present TTC website tries to do EVERYTHING (and none very well). While there is certainly need for website(s) for Commission Reports, Suppliers etc etc what is ESSENTIAL is a clean, clear site for USERS. This needs information on Routes, Fares and Schedules and it obviously needs a proper journey planner with times and maps. Other user information on construction projects, upcoming schedule changes etc should not be on the front page. The Transport for London site at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/ has an amazing journey planner with all of this. It’s not rocket (even Red Rocket!) science so I hope we see Chairman Adam get his folks onto it speedily. If the first iteration is not “perfect” he can be sure someone will suggest improvements and a website design should be FLEXIBLE so it can be SPEEDILY adjusted based on user comments and experience. (I fear that most TTC folk look on a website like a new garage and tries to plan for a 30-year life span!)

  • http://roamnomore.blogspot.com Jonathan Dursi

    Getting the TTC data in the format required for google transit
    http://code.google.com/transit/spec/transit_feed_specification.htm
    is quite straightforward and is easily something the community could help out with. And clearly the trip planner, which google transit would give to you automatically, is the single most requested feature.
    As for the website more generally, just picking any (no really, *ANY*) other major cities web site and having similar layout would be a huge improvement over the enormous eyesore that we currently have, presumably put together by some TTC officer’s 13-yr-old nephew. Chicago’s site is quite nice
    http://www.transitchicago.com/
    (Chicagos fare system is also approximately 3 billion times better than the TTCs, but..)

  • http://roamnomore.blogspot.com Jonathan Dursi

    And the comments about PDFs are off base. PDFs are clearly the right format for a number of documents — whatever their problems, it is vastly superior than the alternatives — but where possible the content should be interactive, with downloads of documents only for things people are going to want to print out and take with them.

  • rek

    • Sortability. I may know the bus number, or I may know what street it was on, so let me search that way, or just let me sort the routes in numerical or alphabetical order as I see fit.
    • Ditto on printer-friendly, 8.5×11 layout routes with timetables.

  • http://politicsranter.blogspot.com Carly Beath

    You’re right Jonathan – I think a better option might be to offer both PDF and HTML versions of pages. That way both people who have computers that crash with PDFs (like me at work) and people who have Macs (like me at home) are happy.

  • http://null Stephen

    They should get rid of the drop down menus, have co-ordinating colours, make the route maps easier to find and get rid of the information posters on the homepage

  • Gloria

    The TTC’s website is a part of the system. It’s not a frivolous investment.

  • http://thickslab.com/blog/ thickslab

    OK, so if bitching is frowned upon, then how is this for a suggestion?
    Instead of relying on people who comment on blogs to tell it how its site sucks — as if its undesign and utter usability aren’t immediately obvious to anyone who has ever visited it — the TTC should hire a someone to head up a Design department.
    This person will be in charge of formulating standards for TTC advertising, route/schedule information posters, website design, and station/vehicle signage. The person will oversee graphic/accessibility/architectural design related to all advertising, media, signage, station and vehicle renovation/construction. He or she will have the power to institute design standards and make sure that the TTC presents a consistent brand image everywhere and that all communication from the TTC is attractive, easy to use, accessible, and consistent.
    If that doesn’t happen, this will just be a one-off, and like all one-offs will end up decaying into another sloppy mess. The TTC needs design everywhere, not just on its web site.

  • james

    I’m with thickslab on that one.. Although not directly related to their website, it would be really nice to see them update the design of the schedules they post on bus stops. It took me at least 2 years of living in Toronto before I really got the hang of decyphering stuff like:
    AM
    3.12
    .22
    .45
    FS
    PM
    5.42
    In my hometown off Ottawa, the system may suck overall, but most stops have a legible schedule, the polls list which bus actually stops there, and there is an automated number posted that you can call to find out when the next bus arrives at that stop.

  • james

    I’m with thickslab on that one.. Although not directly related to their website, it would be really nice to see them update the design of the schedules they post on bus stops. It took me at least 2 years of living in Toronto before I really got the hang of decyphering stuff like:
    AM
    3.12
    .22
    .45
    FS
    PM
    5.42
    In my hometown off Ottawa, the system may suck overall, but most stops have a legible schedule, the polls list which bus actually stops there, and there is an automated number posted that you can call to find out when the next bus arrives at that stop.

  • http://null Val

    If not a person to head up design, at least assign an existing staffer to monitor website suggestions. Keep this dialogue an open and ongoing one, instead of it being a one-time over-arching recommendation about one big site overhaul. That might be a little more realistic – we all know the TTC is cash-strapped. Why they are and whose fault it is a much bigger, harder to solve issue. So let’s try and find ways to improve (even temporary ones) that are feasible in the existing reality of the TTC.

  • http://politicsranter.blogspot.com Carly Beath

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who had trouble deciphering the schedules. I just figured them out the other day, and I’ve been here for 3 months. My instinct is to read left to right, not up and down, which is why I didn’t get them.
    The phone numbers on the bus stops in Ottawa are fabulous. I used them all the time this summer.

  • http://exploreto.wordpress.com Blair F

    This is too funny … I actually just blogged about this last night! My suggestions are:
    - RSS feeds: easier way and more convenient to find out about service disruption / construction projects
    - Google maps or equivalent: Ian Stevens at crazedmonkey.com has put together an amazing transit map of Toronto. How is it that one guy can put something like this together on his laptop, but a massive organization like the TTC can’t? And let’s add a trip planner while we’re at it, shall we? How nice would that be?
    - Consistency. Basically, the TTC website is a facade. The bulk of the information is held on the City of Toronto’s website. I can understand this as it’s a City service, but personally, I think the TTC should have it’s own site independent of the City of Toronto’s website. It can still be hosted on the City’s server, but let’s give the TTC some respect and give it a little home online? The Montréal Metro has it’s own website…
    There’s more info on my website that you can read about … I for one am glad to see the TTC taking a pro-active stance on this!

  • lauralyn

    I was actually looking for a trip planner, and got this article instead! But I would have read it anyway tomorrow.
    The TTC has a big problem with ‘findability’ on thier website. Finding out what the deal is with Kiss n’Ride, I tried and I still don’t actually know if your Metropass gets you into the lot…. the Giant PDF’s also suck. Even a feed where you could find out about delays or service disruptions as they happen would be nice. Hell, an RSS weather feed…
    throw us bone, people!

  • http://null Gord

    First, any politician that refuses to listen to the public on trying to improve our once mighty transit system in the late 70′s and early 80′s needs to go bye-byes.
    Second, improve the web page. Other transit systems have improved them and made them more “CUSTOMER FRIENDLY” (a true key term–I LOVE THIS TERM).
    Third, purchase smaller buses for low passenger bus routes (yrt.ca has uses them where passenger levels are low).
    Fourth, add more EXPRESS routes during the off peak. We have highways utilize them for quick passenger flow.
    Fifth, create A LIMITED STOP route (like the VIVA route on Yonge Street (get the hint). (Look at mta.net Los Angeles transit webpage-see METRO ROUTES).
    Sixth, look at other transit systems and how they operate. If you can’t copy some ideas, perfectic it. Create TRANSIT CENTRES.
    Seventh, the TTC has loads of smart commuters listen to them.

  • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

    Web standards and accessibility first (something almost no developers and no firms in this town can achieve), features second. You’re all leading off with features.

  • Andy

    Also,
    reinstate the phone numbers that could be called to determine when the next bus is coming. I believe they were the only casualty of the millenium bug. With the cell phone usage in Canada increasing steadily that would be quite handy if you’re stuck at a stop, especially with inconsistent streetcars (506).

  • http://null Andrew (A loyal TTC user)

    I agree with some of the posts. Get a trip planner. Also, make info about the TTC and it’s operations a little more accessible, like the history and such. Use some pictures of the TTC in service to raise the appeal of the website.
    Have a news section of the site, where everything from service changes, to fleet improvements/purchases are located, as well as the status of all the projects currently being undertaken by the TTC. This would be a great to keep ‘loyal TTC users’ in the know about their own transit system. Don’t follow the traditional GTA websites. Come up with ideas from the TTC. Make it user friendly, so that a newcomer can easily use the website. This could be a reason why TTC’s growth isn’t as large as it could be. People are deterred when they see the website.
    Perhaps the TTC could use a revised website to lobby for funding as well. With a new website, info about funding shortages should be easily accessed.
    Basically. Most appropriate info about the TTC should be able to be accessed from the TTC website.
    And keep the moving bulletin at the top of the page. I like it.

  • shanbot

    you are right Gloria – the web site is part of the system – more like a reflection of the system really! out of date, unreliable, broken, ugly and unfriendly.

  • http://null kokax

    First, get rid of the chime (I’m sick of hearing it just by taking the subway, I don’t need it stuck in my head when I visit the website) and the java scroll text; together, they stall my browser for a few seconds before I can actually access the page.
    Second, stick with HTML. A lot of newer web designs now uses Flash layout which I really hate, because it isn’t print-friendly and I cannot copy the info and store on my computer and access it without going online. PDFs for printer friendly materials are fine.
    Trip planner or not, I have developed the skill to use the system map and route schedule effectively to do it the old fashion way.
    Third, do a way with the drop down menu for the route schedules. The menu has 100+ listings and it’s a pain to find the route that is midpack.
    They should have an info section that lets transit fans to read about the vehicle information which I think Transit Toronto has a great wealth of that information, but TTC can do better providing official specs, and photos. They are not top secrets, share it!
    This is all I can come up with for now =)

  • Brent

    Those drop-down menus for selecting a route for schedule information are a pain in the neck! A simple example: I want to plan a return trip on the 92 Woodbine South bus. After scrolling all the way down to “92 Woodbine South N” and finding my original trip, I have to scroll all the way through the list AGAIN to “92 Woodbine South S” for the return trip. It wouldn’t be hard to put a link at the bottom of the list of stops, saying “Return Trip”. (Although, preferably, that entire section would be overhauled…)
    Please, don’t do away with PDF maps and schedules. Sure, add interactive (Flash?) route maps, but some of us actually like the PDFs. I save them to my hard drive so I don’t have to go to the website, plus I like to keep them for archival purposes like you might collect ride guides (yeah, I’m a geek) – and I have yet to experience an interactive map for any system that I prefer to a PDF, even as error-prone as PDFs may be sometimes. For schedules, I find PDFs work much better than HTML, although again it shouldn’t be hard to provide both for accessibility purposes.

  • Zach Forrester

    A Search Button
    Google Maps
    Restaurant, Nightclub, attraction, etc, listings
    Lost of other things, too, but I’ll think of them later.

  • George Meyer

    -Completely overhaul of bus router and schedule interface; every major city in Canada seems to do it better than Toronto; look at what they do and mimmick them!
    -Ability to show a list of all departure and arrival times for any 2 or more points on a bus route. -Currently, I there’s no way of knowing how long a bus trip should take at any point of the day, there should be.
    -Trip planning that include the whole region of GTA (e.g. like 511.org in San Francisco Bay Area that integrates several different transit, train, and rapid transit systems with real time updates of service changes and trip planning from any point to any point).
    -Interface to submit suggestions/comments/complaints online.
    -Documents showing transit plans for changes in services, including justification the changes.
    -Put all services changes due to construction, etc on the same page; and keep the information current. Include when accessible services (e.g. elevators) won’t be available.
    -Use Google maps for system map or some other smaller map; the existing PDFs are larger and take forever to render.

  • Gloria

    Shanbot: That’s the spirit.

  • http://politicsranter.wordpress.com Carly Beath

    Trip planner or not, I have developed the skill to use the system map and route schedule effectively to do it the old fashion way.
    That tells me exactly why we need a trip planner. It might be fine to hone this skill if you live here, but tourists and visitors don’t have the time to do it. It should be easy for people coming into the city to figure out the TTC. For a major tourist city, the transit system is not very tourist friendly.

  • http://null Gord

    Ok folks, a lot of your are hitting the ideas on the nose about the ttc webpage and transit schedules. Here’s a good idea to add for a bus route meeting a GO TRAIN. Colour code a trip time (as long as that bus keeps its schedule) green. Or, add a timing point on the schedule and on that page leave GO TRAIN trip times at that station.

  • Gord

    Zach your idea about restaurants tourist sites etc. is perfect. They could pay a small fee to advertise about their restaurant, nightclubs, or whatever and the TTC would just add the route(s) connecting that location. Or, setting a section on the webpage from start to finish and showing the fare (see GO TRANSIT’S web page, click on fares and you’ll understand where I’m going).

  • http://www.jenniferziola.com Jennifer

    I second Joe Clark, the site must use Web standards and be accessible.
    And subsequently, I agree with kokax, for the love of god, please no flash.

  • rek

    What most people here are asking for is better accessibility to the content they need, and the content they want.
    When I go to the TTC’s site it’s because I want to see where this bus goes, or which subway stop is closest to my destination, or what time I can expect the street car, not to enjoy how accessible it is, or marvel at the consistant HTML. Standards and accessibility mean nothing without content.
    How I get that content isn’t a feature, it’s a critical accessibility issue.

  • rek

    (I don’t think I made that as clear as I could)
    How I get that content = Google Maps, PDF, etc.

  • P

    As an example of information that was brutal to find: I wanted to see what time the subway stopped running. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the website, but eventually found it in small print in the corner of one of the humungoid PDF maps.
    Other things to add:
    - Searching through pulldown menus on the home pages sucks. Have links to the most commonly used info directly on the page
    - Kinda funny how the “Fares & Passes” pulldown doesn’t list basic fare info
    - Don’t have the only list of bus route maps in a pulldown menu. Have an html list on a page. Pulldown menu to other routes when looking a specific route is fine. Also, I like the previously-mentioned idea of a link to get the return route
    - For “New Service Changes” link, put the damn date of when it was last modified! shouldn’t have to click a “new” link to figure out that it’s actually 1+ month-old info

  • P

    And following up on my last posting…regarding “have links to the most commonly used info directly on the page”, here are examples of things that the current page has directly on the home page that shouldn’t be there so we have room for useful info!
    - A entire button for “TTC Commissioners and Commission meetings”?
    - Selling to the TTC?
    - A Special Constable Services badge?
    - TTC Auctions?
    - Really, the whole right-most column needs an overhaul

  • http://thickslab.com/blog/ thickslab

    When I go to the TTC’s site it’s because I want to see where this bus goes, or which subway stop is closest to my destination, or what time I can expect the street car, not to enjoy how accessible it is, or marvel at the consistant HTML. Standards and accessibility mean nothing without content.
    Without standards, content means nothing. And while *you* may not enjoy how accessible a web site is, people who are blind or have other disabilities certainly will.

  • dyip90

    At least get rid of the Javascript on the main page. This usually lags a bit and makes loading time longer.
    Make it simple. It’ll help a lot.

  • rek

    Without standards, content means nothing. And while *you* may not enjoy how accessible a web site is, people who are blind or have other disabilities certainly will.
    Nobody, not even the blind, relies on a source that’s easy to navigate but lacks the information they’re after.
    Make it conform, create a version that’s only HTML, make one for cell phones, whatever, but give those of us who aren’t blind or using Lynx the interaction and formats we find fast and efficient.

  • http://thickslab.com/blog/ thickslab

    And rek, even in agreeing with me, misses the point. Content without standards is useless. Standards and accessibility are not little “nice-to-have” fripperies, as you imply in your quote that you go to the site “not to enjoy how accessible it is, or marvel at the consistant [sic] HTML”.
    Just watch the TTC, as usual, do a half-assed, inaccessible job and get the pants sued off them again.

  • http://crazedmonkey.com/ Ian Stevens
  • icingonthecake

    Hire a professional Information Architecture and Design team instead of asking the public to do this for you.

  • Gloria

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with soliciting suggestions and ideas from the public … we’re the ones who use the website, after all. The final execution is still left up to the TTC.

  • http://null Piet

    Just copy London’s! http://www.tfl.gov.uk
    Great website with trip planner. It’s been around for years and years. The TTC site is truly the worst on the planet.

  • http://www.readingtoronto.com Robert

    Hi torontoist readers. Thanks so much for your ideas on this challenge to the TTC. David, your help pushing this project forward is much appreciated.
    Cheers,
    Robert Ouellette
    Editor
    Readingtoronto.com

  • Matt

    Webac cessibilty is great, but those of you who know about it please don’t be snooty about it to those who don’t. Someone said we’re asking for features first and accessibility second — you’re bang on, except 99% of us don’t know about it so we’re obviously going go to talk about features first.
    There are a lot of techie people who can help talk about back-end server stuff, but Joe Blow from Etobicoke will want the features and I think that’s just fine for us to talk about at length. Web accessiblity is what we need and its a background thing most of us will never appreciate. And the people that need it will appreciate it. So don’t rag on those of us who don’t have that kind of a tech background.
    Great suggestions everyone!

  • http://ttcrider.ca Sean Lerner

    - make it easy to contact the TTC with a simple email address (like the City of Toronto has: accesstoronto@toronto.ca). Let people ask for directions and assistance via email, not just by telephone.
    - make things accessible using friendly urls, for example, the Pape 72 route information could be accessible by visiting ttc.ca/72 or ttc.ca/pape
    - make the trip planner (that’s been suggested many times) also accessible via text messaging and email. For example, it could work like this: I’d send the following text message (starting point, destination, desired time of arrival):
    “26 Pape Avenue, 800 Bloor Street West, 18:00″ by text message and then receive directions on how to get where I’m going and what time I should leave by.
    - printable wallet-sized schedules (I always have to reformat the current PDFs in Word).
    - I’d like to echo the idea that the TTC’s data should be free and available to developers, so that they may also create TTC info sites and applications. The TTC may argue that they need to ensure the data is 100% correct, and that they wouldn’t be able to do this if other people were creating info sites, but I think any site that wasn’t useful or accurate wouldn’t be linked to and rarely found through Google.
    - this is a US trip planner I know of. I don’t know how it ranks when compared to other trip planners: http://www.hopstop.com/
    - put a call out to the public (including blogging community) for feedback before they officially launch their redesigned site, and let us try it out and provide more feedback.

  • Mike Drach

    If the TTC intends to partner with Google, there’s a great opportunity for customizability, especially if a rider already has a Google account.
    Because the maps are so humongous, it would be great if you have a list of “My Locations” or “My Routes” where you could easily call up your addresses, have a list of the next three departure times (when you live on Sherbourne where the bus comes twice a friggin’ hour, that’s important), and give alternate route suggestions. Also, the ability to sort the bus routes by name or location is key — not to mention, the ability to switch to a 12-hour clock format. That military time stuff is some bullshit.
    BTW, those PDFs are cumbersome, but I highly recommend you all download and use the Foxit PDF reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/) instead of clunky-ass Acrobat. By my estimation, it opens PDFs eight times faster than Acrobat, and has a tiny footprint. I’m not a shill for them (it’s free anyway), I just believe in efficiency.

  • http://null Roy Hicks

    Trip planner feature on Mississauga Trasnit sight works very well – choice of ways to identify start point, end point, etc, choice of route criteria – fastest, fewest transfers etc. choice of start or end times, etc. Get detailed itinerary – start here, walk to x, wait y minutes, catch bus# in what direction, get off at z, walk to x, wait t minutes, get bus # etc. Would be nice, if TTC goes this route, that it be integrated with Mississauga Transit’s, GO, etc. so one can plan a trip which goes from one municipality to another. In addition, it would be nice if total fare shown as well, where more than one transit authority involved. In addition, perhaps all this could be made available as text message? Sometimes one doesn’t know just when a trip will start and a laptop may not be handy.

  • David Topping

    Spacing has a cool letter from a former TTC management employee who calls the website his “baby” (but who wishes to remain anonymous, for now). The letter explains a little bit of the history of the website, as well as the “roadblocks” he’s faced in trying to get a redesign.

  • http://null Barbara S.

    I have been complaining about the TTC website for YEARS to no avail. It is less than useless. You need to know the NUMBER of the bus route, not its destination, to be able to use the drop-down menu. How stupid is that? And the PDF files just slow everything down. The site needs a comprehensive database that allows users to type in their starting point, their destination, and what time of day they will be travelling. And the database should come up with a couple of routes, listing total travel time for each. Surely, some IT guy out there can design a database incorporating all this information.

  • Ian Swain

    There are a lot of great ideas here. With so many strong ideas, the danger is that the initial redesign will aim too high and fail to excel at anything. The biggest challenge for Giambrone & company is deciding what to focus on and sticking to that focus with rigorous intensity.
    Building a large-scale, quality website is a lot harder than most people realize (trust me, I’ve worked on a team that did it), and that job is even harder within the inflexible bureaucracy of a public corporation. More than any advanced technology or specific design idea, what the TTC needs is to build a team with the skillset to make smart design decisions and the power to say “no” to the various interests within the TTC who believe their little shop deserves to dictate the design of the site. Decisions should be based on what is most useful to TTC users, not on newness or flashiness or internal TTC structure.
    So for its first step, I think the TTC should focus on the following 3 steps:
    1. Hire an internal TTC team that understands how to build and maintain usable websites. Building and empowering this type of team is the only way to ensure a consistently strong website. It’s really an HR challenge.
    2. Build a simpler site that puts the existing information in a much improved structure (called an “information architecture” in web lingo).
    3. Make a prioritized list of the next steps, so that TTC users see that after the basics are down, there’s a clear path to implementing their more advanced suggestions.

  • Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler

    Kudos to Adam for taking an open, if obvious, approach to TTC governance. He’s certainly showing what new and young blood can do for an organization.
    A few things on my wish list (that as far as I can tell haven’t been mentioned):
    -A mobile internet section that will produce an easy to understand schedule for any given route if accessed through a wireless hand-held divice like internet-enabled cell phone or Blackberry (ie. ttc.ca/mobile).
    -When people here mention “accessibility” I think it’s only referring to the ‘easy-to-use’ sense. I’d also like to see the site be accessible in terms of languages and for people who have impaired vision. (I realize there is currently a multi-lingual component to the site but it has so little information that only a person brand new to Toronto and public transit would find it of particular use, it has to be deeper.)
    If it’s reconstituted in this term of Council, the Mayor’s Roundtable on Access, Equity & Human Rights is probably the best place to go to consult on accessibility.
    -Along with a clear table that articulates fares it might be helpful to provide information like “If you use the TTC at least X times each day/week/month you might consider a daily/monthly/weekly Metropass.” I know Metropass sales are skyrocketing as cash/ticket fare goes up but there are still some people who don’t quite have the math figured out — and if they start buying Metropasses they’re far more likely to become committed riders, not drivers.
    -Let’s get serious about advocacy. Too many people don’t understand why TTC fares are too high, why subway stations are in disrepair and why we’re packed like sardines during rush hour. Some easy-to-digest and plain language information about the funding crisis that is TTC should be readily available. Maybe even a graphic that shows “If we had $X we could do Y.” And of course the case for a National Transit Strategy.
    -Work with Tourism Toronto, BIAs or whoever to establish some destinations that can be pre-programmed into the trip planner that appeal to tourists and locals who are looking for an idea. Maybe even a Destination of the Month — show a printed coupon from the TTC web site and receive discounted admission/whatever.
    Cheers to all the people who have taken the time to contribute their $0.02. I’m looking forward to the development process that lies ahead.

  • Nathan

    I agree with the suggestions to add support for handheld mobile devices because you’re not always near a computer when you want to plan a trip. It would also reduce the need for printing and maybe save a few trees. A downloadable trip planner that sounds alarms to remind you when it’s time to leave for the subway station or change buses would be very useful.

  • LL

    Great Ideas,
    I would like introduce an education plan that could be incorporated with a new website. Tools that elementary and high school educators could access for lesson plans would help educate the public on the benefits of increased ridership and alternate modes of transportation. We must start changing the way we view transportation in Canada’s major cities in order to address the issues.

  • http://whererastameetspasta.wordpress.com/ Dara

    My apologies if these are duplicated I just don’t have time to read all the comments ….
    “My Route” Alerts
    I want to know before I go if there is a delay or major stoppage. There is nothing worse than standing around waiting for a subway, bus or street car and not knowing what is going on – MOBILE delivery please! – send me a text message if something is wrong with my route!
    Multi-lingual
    How can we be the most multicultural city in the world and have a uni-lingual transit website. New Torontonians rely on the TTC – they need to be able to navigate the transit system and the transit website – this would also be tourist friendly it would be if site was available in many languages.
    Usable and Accessible
    Ppint above touches on accessibility but there is so much more here like visual impairments, mouse coordination (no flying menus please!) Do loads of usability testing and then do some more – don’t launch anything that is hard to use!
    Launch new features one at a time
    Finally, on how to launch – do small, iterative mini launches; furnish one user scenario at a time. Do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt a massive re-launch that tries to do everything – you will kill yourself trying and you will never launch it! I’m passionate about launch strategies so contact me if you wish…
    Good luck.

  • http://www.tomapster.com Dimitri

    For all those who are asking for a TTC, and maybe even a GTA trip planner based on Google maps.
    This is a trip planner that let’s you plan routes using GO buses/trains and TTC Subway with TTC Buses coming soon.
    http://www.tomapster.com
    You enter start and end addresses and it finds a route for you. It provides walking directions to get to and from stations.
    There are a number of cool features such as Click and Go, you just click two points and the system figures out the route between them.
    The website also allows displaying overview of all subway lines and GO trains and buses.
    contact: dimitri.gnidash@gmail.com

  • http://null Rob Italiano

    I think that the streetcar line number 502 should run as a regular running line as opposed to a limited running line. (restricted between the times of 5 am -7 pm) This could relieve congestion on the very busy 501 Queen streetcar line on a more regular basis and keep a lot of the cars from short turning at Kingston Road and Queen, and letting them complete their run to Neville Park instead. It would also make better use of the streetcar tracks along Kingston Road between Queen Street and the Bingham Loop, replacing the 22A Coxwell Bus Route that currently runs along that portion of the route on evenings and weekends, cutting the 22A back to only 22 and letting it run down to the beach regularly, sharing the loop with the 92 Woodbine route. Between Church and York Streets going westbound, it could use the existing tracks along Richmond Street relieving heavy traffic road congestion downtown along Queen Street, serving one of the heavily populated downtown areas which are rapidly growing above and beyond capacity and making good use of existing streetcar tracks that are hardly ever used but are still very active and handy a lot of times. The 502 could then be extended west of the McCaul loop, which the line currently terminates at, and have it go all the way to the CNE Dufferin Gates. This could relieve a lot of congestion on the routes that currently serve the CNE on both a yearly round basis and special events as well. It would also relieve congestion from feeding subway lines to those routes like the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University-Spadina. Finally it would make use of existing streetcar tracks in another part of the city that are also hardly ever used but are still very active and handy at a lot of times.

  • Alexandra

    If Toronto wants to be a world-class city, then I agree with many others that we need a world-class transit website. GO BIG OR GO HOME: here’s Barcelona’s transit site (this link is to the English version) – trip planner provides a visual ‘animation’ of the trip with a little driving bus and pedestrian to show the walks, for example, or written instructions AND estimated transit time. It’s extremely professional.
    http://www.tmb.net/en_US/home.jsp

  • Alexandra

    If Toronto wants to be a world-class city, then I agree with many others that we need a world-class transit website. GO BIG OR GO HOME: here’s Barcelona’s transit site (this link is to the English version) – trip planner provides a visual ‘animation’ of the trip with a little driving bus and pedestrian to show the walks, for example, or written instructions AND estimated transit time. It’s extremely professional and super easy to use.
    Barcelona transit TMB

  • Barbara Morris

    Something that can be immediately improved without any redesign is the Metropass page in the fares section. Bizarrely, it doesn’t explicitly say how much the Metropass costs; I had to deduce it from the MDP page. And the GTA Pass page is out of date; the price has changed twice since then. It wouldn’t take long for some TTC employee to check the Fares section to make sure it has the correct price for each type of fare.
    Regarding redesign, why reinvent the wheel? Pick an existing transit web site that works (say Vancouver’s) and reuse it. Whatever that costs would surely be less than building it from scratch.

  • http://remarkk.com/ Mark Kuznicki

    Inspired by these posts, a small crew of BarCamp Toronto mavens gathered at the Radiant Core offices to bring together this feedback and our own thoughts on a Better Way for the TTC website. It’s very comprehensive. Check it out here.

  • Anatoliy

    Quite a smart trick to deflect public attention from TTC itself.
    TTC web site is ugly but the TTC services are terrible!
    I don’t care about TTC website. There might be someone who uses TTC once a year to go some place he or she has never been before needs to “click two points” and get happy.
    But not so happy he or she is gonna be after waiting at the bus stop for God knows how long while a bus is supposed to show up every 7 or 10 minutes.
    I am trying to use TTC for getting to and from my office on every day basis. It is horrible. Yesterday I was waiting for 35 minutes where every 12-13 minutes a bus is scheduled to show up. The day before yesterday for 25 minutes. And so on. They say it is traffic. But why only one bus comes and it is only 5-7 minutes behind its schedule. The buses before that one vanished, dematerialized.
    TTC in its present status will never work simply because it a monopoly. I call it Toronto Transit Communism. You can pump into it as much money as you want, create a greatest web site for it, launch its own satellite but it will not work. No monopoly will ever work. Public transportation for the huge city like Toronto is a gold mine but TTC is subsidized. Simply because it exists for itself, for its workers, for TTC’s chief but not for the passengers. Nobody cares about the passengers.

  • Jody

    I recently moved from Mississauga to Mimico. I cannot believe that this is my 3rd day trying to simply find out how to get from Kipling Subway to Sherway Gardens, then from Sherway Gardens to Kipling & Birmingham!! I excitedly logged on to the TTC website and after becoming accustomed to the user friendly, simplistic trip planner provided by Mississauga Transits Web Site you have no idea how disappointed I am!!!!
    The TTC’s web site has the appearance of a 1997 home made Frontpage generated mess some in house Wanna Be Web Master whipped up on his clone at home!!!
    Oh any help with my TTC route issue would be truly appreciated…..How long do you believe it will take to see any changes in the TTC site????

  • http://null Gord

    Mississauga Transit has one of the best route planners in Ontario (maybe in all of Canada). But the TTC is a long way away of trying to get it together. Alot of you have given good ideas but the question still remains. To the City of Toronto Politicians, ARE YOU LISTENING TO THE READERS OF THIS WEBSITE, OR ARE YOU ALL JUST IGNORING EVERYONE ON THIS PANEL!
    I live in Newmarket, Ontario and York Region Transit has been rumered to get their web site an upgrade. They apparently are planning a trip planner sometime this year. By then who will follow them (Durham Region Transit, Brampton Transit, or another GTA area transit company).
    I like to challenge the City Of Toronto Politicians to give the panel of this website their input about changing the TTC website! Ok boys and girls, you were voted into power for a reason, let’s here what you all got to say.
    Adam, if you read this article and web site, please pass the info around.
    Thank you

  • sabrina

    Hi, I hope this isn’t too late to forward on this suggestion. I’m doing my thesis on immigrants and public transit in Toronto, and the site as it stands is especially confusing if you have a poor grasp of English.
    Something like MUNI in SF has other languages clearly displayed across the TOP of the screen, and the language line is clearly visible on the first page that a Spanish or Chinese speaker comes to: http://www.sfmuni.com/cms/mms/home/home50.htm
    The site should be designed with inclusivity in mind from the get-go. For instance, giving the language line as 416-393-INFO is not helpful for a new english speaker, but on this page (www.toronto.ca/ttc/phoneinfosystem.htm) the phone number translation of 416-393-4636 is not given like it is on some other pages.

  • GG

    The TTC website is an amazingly shameful for a large city. Three years ago I sat in my home here in TO, and planned a trip on Vancouver’s public transit system to a business that we wanted to visit several miles from where we were staying in Vancouver. The Translink website gave us explicit directions and timings, specific even down to the side of the street we should go to for transfers. The total time for the trip was given, and departure times for each transfer were specified. We scheduled our trip accordingly, and arrived well in time. We had no idea how we were going to make the journey before visiting the Translink website. It was perfectly clear from the site how we would arrive at our destination. We couldn’t ask for more. Come on TTC! You can and must do a lot better. Right now Toronto is a transit backwater!

  • kay

    They should tell us what the adresses are of the stations. They should also put in map way like they have on google where they can get to point a to point b, because that’s what I really need at the moment. It makes travellers confused of which way to take.

  • Jason Deline

    Check out Chicago’s transit site. Amazing. You can type in an address to start from, then slect a destination, either an address or from a drop-down list of areas and landmarks. And you can select from different route types: fastest, least amount of walking, etc.
    I called the number ofr the directions on the TTC (only open M-F, 9-4:40 ish), and I asked if I could get directions on a website. I was told by the girl that she would be out of a job if that were possible. Interesting… The TTC is pretty union-oriented. They are probably afriad of laying people off in favour of a website.
    It would be great to pay someone a few thousand dollars to revitalize the website, and allow banner ads. The money they’ll make can help lower fares! Ha ha ha ha, yeah right!

  • Jason Deline

    It would also be great if there was an FAQ, that addressed common customer complaints.
    Why do we constantly see empty ‘Out of Service’ subways go by in rish hour? Pick us up!
    Why do busses short turn suddenly? I’ve seen people with walkers get on a streetcar that says Long Branch, only to have them have to wait in the cold for a half hour at the Humber loop. And no explanation is given.
    If a bus is late because of traffic – add another bus to the rotation!! I’ve also had to wait for three busses to go by before I can get on one – and there is room on the busses! The driver doesn’t tell people to move back! We need more busses, and better dirvers!
    AND, please have ALL dirvers call out the street names!!!
    Thank you.

  • Andy

    How do I find the current running status of the TTC? I’m most interest in knowing about delays and other conditions that would effect my trip. We are currently experiencing a bad ice storm and I can not find out if the system running to all of the stops.

  • jj

    Gotta have a destination address search, like when you want to go from one location to another. What bus/subway etc would you take to get there from where you are. Also add time to get there.

  • HelloWorld

    Peace people
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