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Bloggers Help TTC Website

Posted by Zach / January 3, 2007

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Robert Ouellette from Reading Toronto has openly challenged Adam Giambrone, chair of the TTC, to redesign their web site with the help of Toronto's active blogging community. "Toronto bloggers are more than willing to offer their insights into how the TTC site might be designed Why not give us a call and ask for our input," Ouellette writes at RT.

The current TTC web site is terrible. Using drop-down menus for the most important information and ad-like banners for less important announcements and links, the TTC web site throws the study of human-computer interaction on its head. Information that could save you 15 minutes in transit might take 30 minutes to find online.

Giambrone responded to Ouellette's challenge and is interested in the project. This could mark a huge change in the TTC's attitude towards some of its biggest supporters, between the TTC and the large community of people who love and use it.

We need blogTO's readers to give suggestions of how the TTC can make a state-of-the-art web site. What features does it need? What should it look like? The idea is to come together with these suggestions at a "blogger symposium", find the 10 most insightful reader suggestions and present these to the TTC. Then the blogging community can track how the organization responds to the suggestions.

Discussion

40 Comments

Carly Beath / January 3, 2007 at 01:00 pm
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Thank god. The other day I spent 10 minutes trying to find some info on tickets and tokens. Fares are one of the most important aspects of a transit service - it shouldn't be that difficult to find info on them.
marc / January 3, 2007 at 02:06 pm
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YES!!! Their website is horrible!

#1 suggestion in my books (beside making things ont he site easier to find) would be a trip planner. eg an area where I say there I am and where I want to go and it tells me what busses/trains I have to take. When I used to live in Sydney, Australia I used the Sydney one religiously (helped when I was new to the city)
http://www.131500.info
Jack / January 3, 2007 at 02:22 pm
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1. provide any delays in real time that we can access via a subsription on cell or blackberry

2. an email address to provide feeback and complaints, AND a response from a real person

3. non website related: educate TTC employees on how to deal with crisis(such as delays, ill passengers, train problems) every time there is a problem, TTC people have no clue where to direct people to and the shuttle buses are always confusing... as well, replace all the speakers with those people can actually hear what is being announced
Matt / January 3, 2007 at 02:31 pm
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Integrate the existing nonsense schedule information with google maps - if people can find transit routes quickly and easily, they will more likely take transit.

It also makes the city more tourist friendly.
Tlonista / January 3, 2007 at 04:02 pm
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Google Maps/TTC has already been done independently:

<a href="http://crazedmonkey.com/toronto-transit-map/";><a href="http://crazedmonkey.com/toronto-transit-map/";>http://crazedmonkey.com/toronto-transit-map/<;/a></a><br /><br />

It should definitely be included (prominently!) in the official site.
Jerrold / January 3, 2007 at 11:38 pm
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Schedules and estimated travel times based on real data would be nice.

An aesthetic overhaul would be cool.

RSS feeds that inform us of schedule and route changes, emergencies, and delays.
mishka / January 4, 2007 at 12:11 am
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Yes!!

The TTC's site is the crappiest, most user-unfriendly, and not intuitive in the least! Ugh.

Go Bloggerati Go!


Jack / January 4, 2007 at 11:47 am
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one more thing, making those connecting subway stations really connecting.... how many times you travel from east/west to catch a train on yonge and bloor, just to find out missing the train by 5 secs when you are running to get on the train and get the door slammed at you
Jerrold / January 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm
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The Spadina to Bloor line transfer shouldn't even be declared a transfer :P
JOE / January 4, 2007 at 02:31 pm
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I agree ... not very user friendly..
Zach / January 4, 2007 at 03:39 pm
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The RSS feed would be great.

Maybe also a number that you could SMS and it would reply with any delays.

But as for designing the website, we need to think about the most common uses of the page and put them up front. Maps, schedules, fares -- these things should be the most promenant links from the front page.
Ian Stevens / January 4, 2007 at 09:35 pm
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See <a href="http://crazedmonkey.com/blog/ttc/ttc-website-wishlist.html"; title="My wishlist for the new TTC website - crazed monkey">my wishlist on my site</a>.
Jerrold / January 4, 2007 at 09:48 pm
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Ok, so we're seeing plenty of good suggestions on all the Toronto blogs...

...but how is all of this great info going to be compiled and presented to Giambrone?
Disparishun / January 4, 2007 at 10:00 pm
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I kind of ranted on Spacing Wire, but basically -- free the data. Choose sustainability by creating information infrastructure, not just a hard-to-update but better Web site.

Google Transit is great. But the point is publishing in open standards, so that any third-party developer has real-time access to everything they need to build a better mousetrap. Er, trip planner. Google Transit is just one developer.

Among other things, this will make it possible for other regional transit agencies to similarly publish to open standards. Presto -- the third party developers, like Google Transit, are instantly pulling in an integrated trip planner ... and interagency politics are avoided entirely.
Zach / January 5, 2007 at 12:06 am
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There's going to be a meeting I think to collect and discuss all the ideas.

Open standards are a great way to embrace the public.

And on one of the blogs someone suggested utilizing some of the great photography of the TTC.

There's a huge amount to work from and I'm really happy people are talking about this.
Jerrold / January 5, 2007 at 08:45 am
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It's great to see the blogging community working together on this too. This is really how it should be :)
Robert / January 5, 2007 at 10:39 am
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Hi blogto readers, your suggestions are brilliant. Zack, thanks for getting behind this idea. Let's see how the city responds.

Cheers,

Robert Ouellette
Editor
Readingtoronto.com
DavidC / January 5, 2007 at 02:06 pm
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The present TTC website tries to do EVERYTHING (and none very well). What is ESSENTIAL for transit USERS is a clean, clear site only for us. (With links to sites on Commission Documents (some are actually very interesting, even if most have none of the attachments online), Suppliers, Transit Police etc etc) The primary USER site needs information on Routes, Fares and Schedules and it obviously needs a proper journey planner with times and maps. As others have suggested it is essential to be able to print or download schedules and sort and search the schedules/routes. The Transport for London site at <a href="http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/";>http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/<;/a> has an amazing journey planner with all of this.
It's not Red Rocket Science so I hope we see something soon. If the first iteration is not "perfect" it can be improved. Websites should be FLEXIBLE so it can be SPEEDILY adjusted based on user comments and experience. (I suspect that most TTC folk look on a website like a new garage and tries to plan for a 30-year life span!)
DavidC / January 5, 2007 at 02:09 pm
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The present TTC website tries to do EVERYTHING (and none very well). What is ESSENTIAL for transit USERS is a clean, clear site only for us. (With links to sites on Commission Documents (some are actually very interesting, even if most have none of the attachments online), Suppliers, Transit Police etc etc) The primary USER site needs information on Routes, Fares and Schedules and it obviously needs a proper journey planner with times and maps. As others have suggested it is essential to be able to print or download schedules and sort and search the schedules/routes. The Transport for London site at <a href="http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/";>http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/<;/a> has an amazing journey planner with all of this.
It's not Red Rocket Science so I hope we see something soon. If the first iteration is not "perfect" it can be improved. Websites should be FLEXIBLE so it can be SPEEDILY adjusted based on user comments and experience. (I suspect that most TTC folk look on a website like a new garage and tries to plan for a 30-year life span!)
Jonathan / January 6, 2007 at 10:02 pm
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Lifehacker users discussed Google Transit <a href="http://www.lifehacker.com/software/google/google-transit-adds-seattle-pittsburgh-and-more-cities-204078.php";>here</a>.

Check out <a href="http://hopstop.com/";><a href="http://hopstop.com/";>http://hopstop.com/<;/a></a>. New Yorkers swear by it and their subway system (plus co-operation with longer-haul & commuter lines like the Metro North, trains that go to diff. airports) dwarfs ours at present. Dependable and user-friendly, in my experience. Peep it.
Dave Thom / January 8, 2007 at 09:31 am
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I agree that the TTC website is atrocious. The TTC may get away with 1950's subway station design, 1930's mixed-running traffic and being the last transit agency on the planet to use tokens but you can't stop time when it comes to web tools.

My main problem though is not so much with the website itself as the representation of the various modes of transit available in Toronto. For starters, there should be a rapid-transit map that looks more like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:TTCstreetcarmap-2005.png";> this</a> than a map that just shows the relatively sparse subway lines. This would help differentiate between bus routes and streetcar routes, something that is almost impossible for tourists to figure out from the current maps.

Other suggestions - realtime service advisories during delays (like New York), trip planners, suggested travel routes and times for the most popular routes (like to the airport or stadiums), and, god help us, an email suggestion box. Pretending that if you can't see the complaints they don't exist is no way to run a public agency.

Other model websites: <a href="http://www.dart.org/";>DART</a>, <a href="http://www.bart.gov/";>BART</a> and <a href="http://www.smrt.com.sg/";>SMRT</a>.
Kevin McLaughlin / January 8, 2007 at 01:28 pm
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Be sure to include "private transit" operators (eg <a href="http://autoshare.com";>AutoShare</a>, Greyhound, even taxis which already have stands at stations like Finch) in any mapping projects. <br><br>
Also, we used to be able to "call" any bus stop to find out when the next bus was coming. This was a (the only?) Y2K casualty, and could come back via web.

Kevin McLaughlin
AutoShare
Dimitri / January 9, 2007 at 01:17 am
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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.

<b>www.tomapster.com</b>

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
Max / January 9, 2007 at 01:35 pm
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A hand held app called Metr0 at <a href="http://www.nanika.net/Metro/";>http://www.nanika.net/Metro/<;/a> with a current database would be great.
V / January 9, 2007 at 05:08 pm
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Hire a graphic design studio specializing in interactive design. I am convinced some studios might be willing to help at a lower cost.

For help you can contact the <a href="http://rgdontario.com/";>RGD</a> (Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario).
Wes / January 10, 2007 at 02:10 am
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Hello,

My suggestion would be this:

Have the ability to turn off the display of all bus and streetcar routes except user chosen ones. This will allow for a clear and unfettered view of a route(s).

Next, have the ability to turn on and off the display and selection of stops along each selected route... maybe have one colour for stops in one direction, and another colour for the opposite direction. Have these stops or coloured micro dots selectable, where upon a time schedule will pop up and can be read and/or printed for that specific stop. TTC already has time schedules listed at most of their stops, and undoubtedly have this information on file. It would be unfeasible for them to update the sign at each and every stop along a route whenever the schedule changes, but would be a snap to do online once they have the site properly set-up for it.

Also, it would be nice to be able to turn on and off the display of major landmarks around the city, for instance, the AGO or Kensington Market... this would help in quickly locating points of interest, and should automatically scale down in size (keep their size, relative to screen size) as you zoom into the map. If you hold your cursor over these landmarks, a pop-up balloon with information would appear.

Finally, it would be a big bonus to somehow see street numbering along selected routes... maybe at every 100th door or so. Another feature that could be turned on and off perhaps? Of course, I could just google an address to find that out,... or call the business... but if you want a SUPER TTC site, it's just one last suggestion.

Hope you like some of my ideas... I just wanted to add my two cents worth.

Thanks,
none / January 10, 2007 at 01:20 pm
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pay your cash fares with pennies.
Wes / January 12, 2007 at 05:26 pm
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One other thing...

If TTC can't list times for each stop along a route... they should atleast let you pick any route and see the 1st and last bus leaves/arrives from/at either end of that route... and how often it runs at different hours on different days.

If it's late at night and you want to go home from somewhere but are unfamiliar with the routes you would need to take and don't know which routes have stopped running, you could find yourself waiting out in the cold for nothing. Not all stops have a schedule posted by them to let you know.
Jerrold / January 12, 2007 at 05:37 pm
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Bring back the automated phone schedule system! I used it all the time when it was in place, and miss it now.
AnnaM / January 15, 2007 at 12:48 pm
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My 2 cents worth:

1. Yes, an interactive guide is a great idea - I've checked out the ones mentioned in comments above and they don't work so well for me (tomapster.com wanted me to walk down to Bloor from Davenport and sent me far away from my intended destination).

2. Show where the stops are - showing the lines are great, but I want to know which stop I'm getting off at if I'm taking the bus/streetcar somewhere new.

3. The St Clair construction has been so frustrating - the stop location at Bathurst & St Clair changes daily sometimes. It would be wonderful if I could check the site before I left the house in the morning to find out where I should be going instead of wandering around like a moron!

4. finally, the obvious need for a more esthetically pleasing site, most kids are creating nicer looking sites these days.
Mark Kuznicki / January 16, 2007 at 11:22 am
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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. <a href="http://www.radiantcore.com/blog/archives/16/01/2007/betteringthebetterway";>Check it out here.</a>
Sameer Vasta / January 20, 2007 at 12:10 pm
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Hey Jerrold, you know that phone schedule system? Well Spacing <a href="http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=1475";>has a great article on it</a> right now.
Jerrold / January 20, 2007 at 01:54 pm
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Thanks, Sameer! How does the underground compare?
Sameer Vasta / January 20, 2007 at 04:50 pm
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As a transit service, the tube puts the TTC to shame, but I must admit...people in this city love the TTC more than anyone will ever love the Underground. And that's evident in the way people talk about, treat, and use the services.
Wes / February 1, 2007 at 12:00 am
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So what's up? What did you actually send them over there at the TTC? What were your top 10 picks? Are you going to let us all know?
mohamed / July 30, 2007 at 01:54 pm
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<p>I have used the Danish journey planner, and if Toronto was to get a similar site, we would clearly be a global city. Here is the link.</p><p><a href="http://www.rejseplanen.dk/bin/query.exe/en";><a href="http://www.rejseplanen.dk/bin/query.exe/en";>http://www.rejseplanen.dk/bin/query.exe/en<;/a></a></p>
Olivia / October 2, 2007 at 11:55 am
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I recently moved here from Vancouver and agree that the TTC website is horrible. As a newcomer, it is extremely difficult to find out how to go from one place to another. The pdf map provided is not user friendly nor printable. A trip planner is definitely needed. The website a huge disappointment for a large city like Toronto. It's not hard to look for improvement inspiration...try looking at Vancouver's transit website: http://www.translink.bc.ca
Poor TTC website / June 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm
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TTC Website is really disappointment. Even the new version, Do so hardly to deliver a trip planner????!!!!
DingDong / June 28, 2009 at 01:10 pm
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I love how they've split up the massive map PDF's. It's so much nicer to download/open/use those PDF's now. That was my main annoyance on the old website.

They should have an interactive Flash version of the maps too with bus-route hilighting. As soon as you hover your mouse over the red line, it should light up and you would instantly see what station it goes too, and how far the route goes. It's a no brainer, and much easier than following the line and looking at numbers.
swimming pool supplies / May 29, 2011 at 01:27 am
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Wow what a great discussion about swimming pool!

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