The TTC has a new website: MyTTC.ca! It’s got a functional trip planner, a stats section with the neat map/video above (“each burst represents a bus departing from the stop in that location”), pages for each route that can be edited by the site’s users, more features like SMS/IM integration and an interface designed for smart phones and PDAs coming soon, and is—surprise—not affiliated with the transit organization in any way, shape, or form.
Instead, it’s the work of developers Kieran Huggins and Kevin Branigan, who met at TransitCamp in 2007 and who created the site “out of a desire for free, open access to transit data.” Doing so required completely rebuilding the TTC’s service data to make it “coherent,” but their hard work now means that other developers can work with the foundation they’ve set to create their own projects or to improve on MyTTC however they see fit. (That’s not easily the case for the TTC’s own website, which will eventually include a trip planner of its own.)
Thankfully, it’s not only developers who benefit from MyTTC’s open approach to transit. Take the site’s crown jewel, its trip planner. Give it a departure point, destination, and any time of any day, and it’ll speedily chart the fastest possible course, step-by-step. Click on any route it offers, and you’ll be taken to a page anyone can edit that contains what Huggins calls “fringe information,” the kind of stuff that the TTC can’t or won’t tell you—which routes don’t run according to schedule, where to wait for a bus or streetcar on a cold winter’s day, and so on. “There’s a wealth of other information,” says Huggins, “that riders both want and collectively have about how the service integrates with their lives that I think is extremely valuable.” That user-generated content—the more the better—is what Huggins and Branigan see as the primary difference in focus between their site and the TTC’s own: “I’m convinced,” says Huggins, “that the quality of our experience as riders of the system could only get better with more information.”