But hundreds of thousands of TTC riders still don't use smart phones.
In order to save $400,000 the TTC will no longer replace printed bus and streetcar schedules at stops throughout the city.
The cost-saving move comes amid a TTC budget shortfall that comprises a large chunk of council’s current 2017 budget deficit. But, as the Toronto Star reported, the change has been criticized as a move away from an accessible TTC.
The transit agency argues that most riders have smart phones loaded with transit apps like RocketMan, and thus the need for printed schedules is mostly a thing of the past. After all, according to a 2015 survey by market research firm Catalyst, 68 per cent of Canadians owned a smart phone. That’s a lot. However, the remaining 32 per cent of people makes up a significant part of the population that doesn’t have access to smart phones and the accompanying apps. Thirty-two per cent of 2.7 million daily rides is 860,000 trips without a smart phone, all things being equal.
The TTC knows that this is an issue—you can still call in to hear the schedule, or the transit agency will even mail you a schedule upon request.
But there’s something to be said about the simple convenience of a printed schedule. It doesn’t require an app on a charged smart phone, and doesn’t ask riders to take an extra step to get information. What some might call archaic is actually a pretty elegant solution to letting riders know when the bus or streetcar will arrive (or thereabouts, if we’re being honest). We all know someone who can’t access TTC arrival apps for whatever reason—it might be that friend who still has an inexplicable affinity for their BlackBerry, a classmate who can’t afford the monthly fees, or a family member who just isn’t that into technology (hey dad!).
Beyond accessibility, there’s also the issue of asking the TTC to scrimp and save for $400,000 in a $1.8 billion budget. We’re constantly being told that Toronto needs to invest more in a transit system that serves all residents, and sometimes council goes to cartoonish lengths to do so. Actually posting the schedules at local bus and streetcar stops seems likes a logical way to make transit more convenient. Sure, things cost money, but it’s the little stuff like posting schedules that can make a difference in the transit experience for a significant amount of riders.