Tag Archive | Transit

TTC Customer Service Advisory Panel Announced

by Ben

With surprisingly little fanfare it appears the TTC has announced the members for it’s Customer Service Advisory Panel.  The always resourceful Transit Toronto has the full details here.  Here’s what the membership is going to look like:

  • Matthew Blackett, the publisher and founder of Spacing magazine.
  • Robert Culling a professional transit operator for the TTC.
  • Yves Devin the chief executive officer of the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) since 2006.
  • Tyson Matheson, WestJet’s vice president of People Relations and Culture.
  • Dr. Roy Morley, professor of marketing in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.
  • Sue Motahedin of TELUS Communications Inc.’s Loyalty and Retention Department.
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu, a fourth-year criminology major at York University and the president of the York Federation of Students.
  • Kripa Sekhar, the executive director of the South Asian Women’s Centre.
  • Julie Tyios, the chief executive officer of Red Juice Media, an online marketing firm.

Early impressions:

  • First, the TTC announced earlier in the week that there wouldn’t be any members from the public.  That said, I was still holding out home that Steve Munro would be on here.  It was as squandered opportunity on the TTC’s part.
  • I’m generally a fan of Matthew Blackett.  He at least represents the “activisit” side of the equation to some extent.
  • Robert Culling – It appears that Culling is a TTC driver (not sure of what vehicle).  A logical choice for inclusion on the panel, and I’m curious as to what criteria determined what driver was selected – e.g., peer suggestion, Union suggestion.
  • Yves Deviln – Solid choice.
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu and Kripa Sekhar – A surprising nod towards the diverse needs of TTC users.  I’m especially pleased with the community focus of including someone from the South Asian Women’s Centre.   Very impressive choices here.
  • The rest are the usual corporate and academic suspects, no surprises there.

Details of the panels goals are summarized at Transit Toronto and by Steve Munro, so I won’t cover that ground again.  With the report due at the end of June, however, I am interested in how much work will be achieved.  I haven’t seen an indication as to the frequency of the meetings, but I would hope they would at least be twice a week.

Probably a larger fear is how much voice some of the “smaller” members will actually have.  Will the needs of students be heard over the opinion of corporate VPs?  Will genuine debate occur in these meetings, or will they be hijacked by competing interests?

For now I will maintain a fine balance of skepticism and optimism and wait for more details.  Regardless, a positive step.

Transit Tats

by Ben
I’ve often said that I’ve never really been able to think of anything I liked enough to want to get it permanently tattooed to my skin.   At least I didn’t until I saw this:

Props to Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space for the tip

That’s right, a transit map.  On a foot. Chicago’s, no less.

If I were single I’d date this person right now, funky toenails and all.

Autoshare’s Autounlock Auto-tastic!

by Ben
Sorry for the awful title, I couldn’t resist. Auto-standing was a close second.  In any case, I wanted to share a couple of observations related to my ongoing use of Autoshare.

First, I’m pretty pumped that Autoshare will be rolling out a brand-spanking new vehicle access system.  Replacing our current key/lockbock system will be a credit-card sized access card and a transponder on the vehicle.  Keys will now be kept in the car.  From Autoshare:

Technology Transition Reminder

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we will begin rolling out a new vehicle access system in February, initially in about 15% of our vehicles. The following things are part of this initiative:

  • There will be a one-time “KeyCard” charge of $4 when the cards are mailed.
  • We will be mailing everyone a new “KeyCard”, an electronic security access card about the size of a credit card. You will need to carry this card AND your lockbox key to use our service. (We hope to have this finished within 12-18 months).
  • We will install and release the new Vehicle Management System in about 15% of our vehicles.
  • Your new “KeyCard”  will be used to access those vehicles that have been upgraded, by holding it up to a reader in the windshield. The car key will be in the vehicle, and you will not need to access a lockbox for these vehicles.
  • We will be running both the new “KeyCard” system and our current “lock box” system until all of our cars have been equipped with the new system.
  • Eventually, this system will provide excellent reservation improvements, like in-car extensions and ‘instant reservations’ at any vehicle.

Now, while this isn’t new technology (e.g., Australia or Ireland), it is a sign of car sharing maturing in Canada.  Since I’ve been a member of Autoshare (1.5 years or so) they have invested a good deal of time and energy in revamping their website, improving their online reservation system, rolling out a nice mobile reservation site, alongside continual fleet expansion.  So, this is just one more step in the quest to broaden the circle of people who can adopt car sharing as a viable option to owning a personal car.

The second point was to relate the interesting ebb and flow of my Autoshare usage.  Upon first moving to Toronto my wife and I decided to sell our car and go car free.  One reason for this was the fact that we had two Autoshare cars literally in our backyard (well, back parking lot).

Initially we were using a car at least once a week, invariably on weekends for those trips we just had to make to get cat litter in bulk or buy 25 gallons of toothpaste.  Not surprisingly, we started to realize the benefit of these bulk purchases was far outweighed by the aggravation of driving.  Over the past year we’ve gone from once a week, to twice a month, to the point now where it is rare if we get a car in a month.

And have we missed our vehicle?  With a cargo minivan available just around the corner, and a snazzier sedan there as well, our needs are pretty well covered whenever a car is unavoidable.  Living in Toronto, however, I’ve found those situations becoming less frequent.  The only downside?  When I do drive now I become a 78 year old man, hunched over the wheel, driving just below the speed limit and yelling at people to slow down and watch for bikes.

Seen Reading

by Ben

Just wanted to point you all towards a fun little project (now on hiatus) that a friend put me on to.  In the authors own words, Seen Reading goes something like this:

  1. I see you reading.
  2. I remember what page you’re on in the book.
  3. I head to the bookstore, and make a note of the text.
  4. I let my imagination rip.
  5. Readers become celebrities.
  6. People get giddy and buy more books.

I’ve read the first few entries from the beginning of the blog and it is engaging stuff.  For those who are frequent users of mass transit, who hasn’t made up a story to go along with someone you see on the subway/streetcar/bus?  It helps pass the time and is more amusing than any of the crap in the free dailies.

I especially like extra step the author takes of noting the page and pulling a quote from it.  Sometimes they are non-sequiturs, but other times they fit remarkably well.  In either case, have a look.

MyTTC does what theirTTC can’t

Transit users in Toronto have been lamenting for years over the lack of a coherent trip planner on the TTCs God awful website.  A recent beta release of the TTCs new and improved website only hinted at a trip planner in the works, and even that reference appears to have been removed (oh, and FYI, TTC website guys, the new site looks better than the old site – which is akin to saying dirt tastes great compared to feces.)

So, what is a poor, confused transit rider to do?  Why, go to MyTTC and get your route mapped for you there.  MyTTC was developed by a couple of transitphiles who were, like most transit riders, tired of waiting around for the TTC to get their act together.  So, after hours spent organizing the mess of transit data into something coherent, the developers produced a little gem of a trip planner.

As the developers note, this is a work in progress and they stress that they need users to help them make it better.  When I mapped a route yesterday from my house to one of my favorite bars I noticed that it had you walking a little further and taking a bus you didn’t really need to take when leaving my place.  So, like a good user I sent some feedback and lo and behold, Kieran, one of the developers, had gotten back to me last night and said that they were still adjusting the weight given to walking and that it might be a bit high.  Now that’s service.

So, for those of you in the GTA, use MyTTC, provide feedback, support great homegrown work!

Much delayed Toronto subway extension a go

It appears that the federal government has finally gotten their house in order and is getting much needed funding to the Province of Ontario after 2 years of stalling by the Harper government. The feds are chipping in their $697-million share of the $2-billion dollar Spadina subway extension, according to the Toronto Star.

Any subway extension is good news in my book (even the poorly conceived and pointless Sheppard line, but barely), but this stretch is especially important to Toronto. Take a look at the proposed extension below (for the full view, check out my subway map here):

Image courtesy of Spadina Subway Extension Project

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Goodbye, Gardiner?

On Friday the Toronto Star led with a report that Mayor David Miller has finally gotten behind a plan to start tearing down the god awful Gardiner expressway along the Toronto waterfront. While the proposed plan doesn’t remove the entire expressway, it is a promising start.

The proposed plan (which is light on details) suggests tearing down the 2.5 kms of the Gardiner, from the Don Valley Parkway to Jarvis street. The stretch is highlighted below (click for larger image).

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