Photo of Adam Giambrone at Thursday’s meeting by David Topping.
It’s not the better way just yet, but it might be soon.
Earlier today, the TTC gave the media a sneak peek at the first beta preview version of its new website, just before unveiling it to the public a few minutes after 3 p.m. And, in the words of Chief Marketing Office Alice Smith, who gave the TTC’s presentation of the new website, it’s an “extreme makeover”: a complete overhaul, based in part on input in part from “blog postings” (that’s us!), Transit Camp, public surveys, private consultancy. And it’s not nearly over yet.
The final site is slated to be finished (though without a few key features) by the end of July, with two beta builds to be finished by mid and end of June, respectively. In the interim, the TTC once again turns its watchful eyes towards the public to solicit feedback, and will continue to operate its normal website alongside its new one.
A complete list of features, new and forthcoming, is after the fold.
A Better Layout. It’d be hard to not improve on the TTC’s old site, and while the new site is nothing spectacular, it’s well layed-out, and, most importantly, far easier to find information on. A search box on the homepage lets you find bus or streetcar routes (by number or by name), and, if there’s no other route with a similar name (say, Bay and Bayview bus routes if you search for “Bay”), takes you right to it. There are some minor points: the TTC’s logo could look a lot better and a lot less squished; what is not working yet but coming soon should be more clearly marked off; and some boxes need to be more clearly defined from other boxes. But all in all, it’s an extremely practical and well-organized website that is infinitely better than the 10-year-old monster that preceeded it.
Schedules & Maps. Lots and lots and lots of schedules and maps, with lots and lots of info. Check out Dundas West Station’s page, for instance, which displays the location of its elevators and escalators, its opening and closing and first train and last train times. (It’s not quite as good as Sean Lerner’s ridiculously exhaustive TTC Subway Rider Efficiency Guide, but it’s a start.) Or the route map for the 501 Queen streetcar, which shows all of its stops (or just the timed or, uh, one accessible one). You can go deeper, too, and see the data for an individual stop, like Queen & Roncesvalles.
RSS. For now, it’s limited just to service alerts, but they’re expanding soon.
Improved Accessibility and Standards Compliance. We’ll have to defer to Joe Clark on this one, but it’s apparently been vastly improved. And again, it’d have been hard not to have vastly improved.
A whole lot of other stuff. Want to busk? Charter? See some event listings? Find answers to frequently-asked questions? Well, there’s that. It’s also print friendly.
Trip Planner (early 2009). This is the killer feature, the end-all-be-all of any good transit system’s website; you will tell the TTC where you want to go, and it will tell you how to get there. For now, we’ll happily stick with Ian Stevens’s fantastic interactive map.
Next Vehicle Arrival (later in the fall). All TTC buses and streetcars are currently equipped with GPS notification that will allow them to use the feature, but it’s not coming just yet. Once implemented, you’ll be able to track the vehicles online—something to do if your TV is broken, joked Giambrone.
Notifications (in the fall). Though you can subscribe to an RSS feed for subway now, you’ll be able to get notification for problems of any kind, for any kind of transportation (including specific routes) via e-mail, RSS, mobile phones, etc.
Lots and lots of other stuff. E-commerce! Jobs! History!
Once you’ve kicked the tires a bit, help the TTC out and fill in their website survey.
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