When Things Go Wrong (1) (Updated)

CBC Radio 1 will be looking at the issue of TTC customer service starting on Monday, January 11, and I will be on Metro Morning dark and early sometime before 6 am.

Updated January 11:  The Metro Morning interview is now available online.

The chats with story producers got me thinking about the TTC’s eAlert system as well as other sources of information.  Knowing we won’t possibly cover all the details in a short interview, and that other aspects of the discussion will certainly come from readers here, I have started this thread.

A long-standing complaint about TTC service is that nobody knows what is going on.  At the best of times, one might peer into the mists on Queen Street and hope that somewhere there is a streetcar, or listen down the subway tunnels for the familiar rumble of a train.  Far too often, the TTC is not at its best, and the lack of information can drive people into a fury, one that may be visited on hapless TTC staff who are no better off than the rest of us.

The TTC’s website can be hit-or-miss depending on whether it is being updated regularly.  For example, the 501 Queen car’s route description was not changed back from the Shaw/Parliament split until quite recently (thanks to feedback from a reader on this site).  However, the 512 St. Clair route description gives no hint of the split streetcar/bus operation.

Diversions pose a special challenge because some are implemented thanks to emergencies such as fires or major collisions, but the most annoying are those implemented locally by the route management team, and not reflected on the website or on notices at bus and car stops.  The 41 Keele (local) service is diverting around construction at St. Clair southbound, but it took a few weeks for this to show up online, but only in the route description.  The schedule page and map still show the route running via St. Clair, and you can look up times for a stop that in fact has no service.  The info is on the “Diversions” page, but there is no alert on the route’s own page to indicate that readers should also consult the diversion information.

The subway, the main target of this article, has additional information sources for would-be riders, although all of these can be quite frustrating.

If you are at platform level, and your station has a working video screen (dead screens are becoming common), and you’re standing close enough to read it, and Transit Control considers a delay to be serious enough to put up a notice, then you have a fighting chance of discovering that something is amiss.  There may even be PA announcements, but they tend to occur only for very long-running delays.  (As I write this, there is no subway service east of Victoria Park, and info about this comes over the speaker systems regularly.  It also appears on the “Service Advisories” on the TTC website.)

If you are anywhere else, and you have cell/internet signal, you may get information from various sources:

I get both the eAlerts and the Facebook updates, and compiled a log of information from both sources.  My apologies to those who don’t like “busy” displays as there is a lot of info consolidated in one place. Continue reading