Illustration by Roxanne Ignatius/Torontoist.
Torontoist and Spacing have learned that the TTC is on the verge of unveiling its new online trip planner to the public, as soon as next week.
When Spacing, Torontoist, BlogTO, and the now-defunct Reading Toronto teamed up at the start of 2007 to solicit ideas from readers for what was then the TTC’s forthcoming new website, a trip planner was at the top of nearly everyone’s wishlist. Now, three years later—and after a good unofficial trip planner arrived in the form of MyTTC.ca, and a good amount of criticism accompanied the official planner’s continuously delayed launch—it seems that the transit-using public is days away from finally getting its wish fulfilled.
Here are what features we have reason to expect the trip planner will have, and how it will work and look, when it’s launched:
- Provided with two locations and a desired departure or arrival time, the planner will calculate the most effective route between those locations using subway, streetcar/LRT, and bus routes. It’ll provide step-by-step instructions with distances and times of each step, and chart those instructions out on a custom-made Google Map.
- The itinerary of any trip will be determined based on vehicles’ scheduled times and notably not the more accurate real-time location data that vehicles’ on-board tracking systems transmit.
- The planner can recognize addresses, intersections, as well as many landmarks—you can, for instance, plot a trip from City Hall to the Rogers Centre by plugging in just those terms. (Fingers crossed that “SkyDome” will work.)
- The planner has options to determine the best route based on accessibility needs or personal preferences: you can specify a maximum walking distance between stops or stations (walking directions are included in the step-by-step instructions), or search only for accessible routes, or search only certain kinds of transit. Hate buses? There’s an app for that.
- Future versions of the trip planner will likely include suggested alternate routes, in addition to the calculated route that the system deems is best.
- Its design and prettiness won’t rival MyTTC’s trip planner, but its features and accuracy will. (Or such is the hope.)
Back in mid-2007, in an interview with TTC chair Adam Giambrone, we noted that the trip planner was “eagerly anticipated.” It was. In mid-2008, when TTC.ca relaunched, we were told that the trip planner was expected in “early 2009″—and described it then as “the killer feature, the end-all-be-all of any good transit system’s website.” It is. There’s still a line of text on TTC.ca’s front page, there since the relaunch, which simply reads “Future home of Trip Planner.” The future’s finally now. Time to see how closely the TTC’s reality meets transit users’ dreams.