TTC Trip Planner Available For Beta Testing (Updated)

Updated February 3 at 10:55:  The TTC added another server to the trip planner last night, and this may explain some of the outages during the evening.

The TTC has announced a trial version of its online trip planner.  Those of us who have played with earlier versions know it has some warts, and the TTC wants your input.  There is a feedback form linked to the planner pages.

The TTC wants feedback from users about the beta version of its trip planner as it continues to develop this tool. When complete, the TTC trip planner will include alternate route suggestions, an expanded points of interest list, a mobile application, the ability to create profiles, and complete integration with e-alerts and service changes. Later this year, the TTC will make its trip planner data openly available to the public and outside organizations, such as Google, so applications can be developed that will be useful to TTC customers.  [From the TTC’s press release]

Please direct technical notes about what it does or doesn’t do to the TTC, and keep track of your submissions (I’m sure the dedicated among us will have many).  The real test will be how quickly changes and fixes are implemented.

37 thoughts on “TTC Trip Planner Available For Beta Testing (Updated)

  1. Would this be too much to ask?

    Just tried out your trip planner. It works great.
    However, 2 suggestions
    1. There are sometimes alternatives also available. for e.g. from my place of residence to work, I have the choice of either 2 street car routes (501 or 508) or two bus routes (plus subway transfers). It would be nice if you showed the alternate routes.
    2. Please work with the regional transit systems so that you could present a trip that goes across regions. i.e from york region to toronto or vice-versa.

    Steve: Please enter this info on the TTC’s Trip Planner feedback form. I am not the TTC, and have no connection to the trip planner’s development or enhancement.


  2. I tried the planner and have submitted some feedback, but I thought you might find this funny. In planning a trip from my home to my church, the planner suggested I take a route involving a bus, the Bloor line, the Yonge line, and then another bus. Normally I just take the St. Clair bus (now the streetcar) to the Yonge line, and it take about the same amount of time. I guess the planner doesn’t have much faith in the streetcar line either.


  3. I should have been more clear.. I did enter that information. Just wondering if it was too much to ask .. especially time table integration with other transit systems.

    Steve: Thanks. I wanted to make sure we didn’t start a string of replies here that should have been on the TTC’s form.


  4. Did fine on my usual trip home. It also picked a different route on a Sunday trip to Queensway/Loma depending on the likely arrival (Coxwell-Keele-80) or not (Coxwell-Royal York-15-walk 560m) of the Queensway bus which was interesting.

    For a trip where there are multiple choices it might be worth trying departure times 5-15 mins either side to see what alternate routes it would suggest. Better still to go with the myttc approach of offering alternate routes by default, which is what I will tell them on the form 🙂


  5. Well, the TTC’s trip planner does not understand “Rouge Hill GO station” nor “Long Branch loop”; understands both. Hmm.


  6. Wouldn’t it be the responsibility of Metrolinx to present some sort of integrated trip planner? And wouldn’t we all be better off with one unified platform able to handle cross-regional trips? Then again, who would you rather design this thing, TTC or Queen Park? Tough choice…


  7. If your route involves the subway and you are not already familiar with your route, you are bound to get lost. For example, a segment N/B on the Yonge subway to Eglinton to catch a bus will show up as “… TO FINCH” They should really label it as “… TO EGLINTON (DIRECTION FINCH)”.

    It would be nice to also automatically show you the next bus (in case you miss your connection).


  8. For what it’s worth, the website properly parses my York Region address even though it does not know the YRT system. I can only guess that that’s part of phase two.


  9. One of the better “improvements” they could do isn’t directly tied to the trip planner… rather, the site has been refusing to load for most of the evening (and I’m not the only one this is happening to).

    Guess the trip planner is putting too much stress on the server. Oops?


  10. Just trying to get onto their website.No go. Just wondering if this trip planner is slowing things right down or just down for updating.

    Steve: As of 11:35 pm Tuesday, the planner is up, but the feedback form is down.

    The planner still has problems with locations which are served by multiple stops. If you try to get on, for example, at Pape and O’Connor, the planner does not know that the southbound stop is served by the 100 Flemingdon Park bus. It wants me to walk west to the next stop at Beechwood.

    This problem was reported in the pre-beta version and has not been fixed yet, along with a number of other issues I flagged.


  11. This dern thang has me goin downtown by way of Kentucky (and I don’t mean fried chicken … the state).

    Talk about indirect routing. Google is much better.


  12. PSC wrote,

    “For what it’s worth, the website properly parses my York Region address even though it does not know the YRT system.”

    I haven’t tried the TTC’s system, but YRT has had this for over a year now. Most of the time when you enter an address, it comes back with a choice of things that are similar sounding and I find it strange that often some of the choices are in Toronto, and not necessarily close to Steeles. I suspect that the database may be similar to what the TTC is using which is why they understand addresses not served by each respective system.

    Oddly, YRT’s system often provides out-of-the-way choices. I have used it for a trip from Major Mac at Bayview to Kennedy at Bur Oak (a bit south of Major Mac) and instead of having me use route 4A on Major Mac to Kennedy and then route 8 or 18 down Kennedy (or even walking!), it has come up with taking route 4A all the way to the Mount Joy GO Station (east of Markham Road!), then take route 18 back along Bur Oak to Kennedy.

    Another time, going from Leslie and Major Mac to Victoria Park and Steeles, one of the choices had one taking YRT route 90 to the Don Mills Subway station, then TTC route 224 to VP and Steeles. That works, but one must pay the additional TTC fare (which wasn’t mentioned).


  13. I submitted my feedback to the TTC. My main “issues” were, as many others have said, the lack of other options, but also this:

    I told it to take me to St.Clair West Subway. I typed that into the box, and it auto-complete suggested I perhaps meant “ST CLAIR WEST STATION” and yes I did, so I picked that.

    On the next page, it tells me “To
    Your best match:
    Which is different from the auto-complete above, and then asks me
    “Did you mean?


    While I understand that programs need to apply to people who are perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed, this is a little overkill IMO


  14. Do not like:

    “This does not factor walking times”

    That is really unfortunate, and I wonder if it is really that difficult to parse, because the next problem is that it tends to cut transfer times way too close. I put in my trip home from work last night, and it suggested getting off at Dupont station to take the 127 Davenport bus. My concern with that is Davenport only runs every 20-25 minutes during off-peak, so if there had been even a minor delay, or I was a slow walker because of age or injury, I could have been waiting in the snow a very long time. Echoing others, alternate routes would be appreciated.

    Steve: It should be easy to calculate an average walking time considering that the detailed instructions say “walk x metres to location y”. Stir in a standard time for each transfer, especially to subway stations which take longer than just crossing an intersection, plus say half a headway on the connecting route, and you would have a much more realistic estimate of the trip, all using information the planner has available to it and must retrieve as part of its calculations already.


  15. The most glaring thing to me, is that the planner will spit out the routes by appending the route name with that route’s destination, whether you will ride to that point or not. So that, if you are to take the Yonge line south from Bloor, it will merely say “Yonge Subway to Downsview”, even if you are only going to King. It’s confusing and misleading, and further, does not specify direction. Strangers to the city – or even non-regular users of the TTC – will surely get lost from these directions, as among other things, wayfinding signage in subway stations tends to refer to direction of travel, not ultimate destination.

    (A side note: yes, I know that the Yonge subway eventually goes up to Downsview, but on either side of the U, it should be considered as heading to UNION, and then from Union goes to either Downsview or Finch. Maybe that’s just me.)

    What it should say would be “Yonge Subway Southbound to King”, etc. The same goes for surface routes. I rather thought that the whole point of having route numbers, and variations on them (34, 34C, etc) was that the suffixes would indicate the various end points.

    Steve: A related issue is with routes that are commonly short turned. Someone going to, say, Queen and Jones from Yonge Street can get on cars signed for Neville, Racetrack, Victoria Park or Connaught on the 501 or 502.


  16. Most people dont need a trip planner and old folks like me used to use “a map” so the trip planner, while great, still seems quaintly 1995 to me. Most people [want] live info about service/delays and integration with their mobile device. Will this happen in my lifetime?


  17. If TTC proivde their data to Google, and other GTA transit systems do likewise (York, Hamilton and Guelph already have), then we can all use Google Transit for planning cross-border trips. Metrolinx should then work on a trip planner which has features above and beyond what Google Transit provides.

    Any timeline on other transit systems providing data to Google?


  18. I sure hope the TTC planner does not tell people to get on a 501 or 502 signed RACETRACK. For one thing, the racetrack no longer exists and secondly the sign that says Coxwell/Racetrack was removed in 2000. If the Trip Planner starts telling people to get on vehicles that do not exist.. we have real problems.


  19. The cynic in me is screaming that a trip planner is useless when service is never on time.

    Related to this, I remember Metrolinx began working on a planner and allowed comments on it during transit camp back in 2008. It was supposed to merge transit with walking with cycling in a sort of super planner for transportation throughout the region. Wonder what happened to it?


  20. “So that, if you are to take the Yonge line south from Bloor, it will merely say “Yonge Subway to Downsview”, even if you are only going to King. It’s confusing and misleading …”

    I remember when it used to be signed … WILSON VIA DOWNTOWN, which was technically accurate until the train passed downtown and was heading north on the U-S leg of Y-U-S. Or in the 60s, the sign on the train would say EGLINTON but the NEXT TRAIN indicator would say DOWNTOWN. It caused so much confusion that they changed it to EGLINTON VIA DOWNTOWN.

    At Bloor-Yonge, it used to say EXIT AND YONGE TRAINS DOWNTOWN instead of YONGE TRAINS SOUTHBOUND … which also confused people — they’d think “I’m already downtown”. And at Bay and St. George, there was no SOUTHBOUND direction, it would just say DOWNTOWN for southbound.

    Very confusing.


  21. While using a map is the old or current way to figure out how to get to the destination, the trip planner should SUGGEST the best time to be at the first stop and how long the waits for the transfer will be. Would prefer to see alternate routes displayed as well.

    For me, it had suggested that one should transfer from the 76 Royal York South bus to the 501 streetcar to get to Mimico Avenue, instead of staying on the 76 Royal York South bus to the very same intersection.


  22. For some trips this tool seems to work okay… but a routine trip I make across town using the Spadina streetcar north and BD Subway west is made oddly reliant on buses by the trip planner… It suggests the Dundas streetcar west for the east-west portion of the trip and then a bus north to above the BD subway… Odd… for what it’s worth gives me the route I use (and what I’m convinced is the best trip)…

    As well, even when I turn off the bus checkmark when searching, it still shows me the bus route as suggested. Duly reported through the feedback form.


  23. Twice-TWICE-on two different days and for two different times, I requested a travel plan from 31 Ardrossan Place, the home I grew up in during the 70s and 80’s near Lawrence and Mt. Pleasant (and keep in mind that Mt. Pleasant is closer to Yonge at the intersection than at any point further south), and 70 Clipper Rd, the last place I lived before coming to Ottawa (one block west of Victoria Park, at Van Horne). In both instances, the planner told me to WAIT for a 162 LAWRENCE-DONWAY bus, transfer at Don Mills, and again at Van Horne, or, on the first occasion, transfer at Victoria Park and get off at Van Horne. Travel time: 67 minutes. Not once did it even suggest to take the subway–much closer to my home address–transfer to the Sheppard subway and then to a bus at Don Mills Stn. That trips takes no longer than 45 minutes at the worst of times!!!!

    Travel Planner FAIL!!!!

    Steve: As other’s have pointed out, the planner seems to get confused by trips that are more productively taken by going “backwards” to a faster route. It seems to be very oriented to the way a motorist would travel, including insane suggestions such as walking out of your way to use an express bus — just the way a motorist would drive out of their way to go one interchange on the 401 because “it’s faster”.


  24. So, I experimented with this and found some results to be VERY bad.
    Note: My trip starts at Steeles and Brimley on a Saturday.

    I am heading to City Hall this Saturday, and usually take the Green line to Yonge, then transfer to Yellow, down to Queen, and get off. Walk the short distance and I’m there, takes me about 30 – 45 minutes.

    Trip planner told me to board the 53 Steeles, to Finch Station, from Steeles and Brimley. Then take the Yellow subway to Osgoode. The take the 501 to Queen and Bay. This involves back tracking. This journey is said to take 78 minutes – same time to go to Yorkdale Mall (trip planner too).


  25. I entered the same trip, but at different times, and I got 2 different routes, even though the bus route run all day.


  26. While the trip planner shows the total trip time, I wonder if TTC would break down the trip times for each route you take?

    Steve: The trip segments are shown in the detailed itinerary.


  27. To Jon above:
    I don’t see how you could possibly ever get from Steeles and Brimley to City Hall in 30 or even 45 minutes – even from Kennedy station it would take at least 35 mins. Maybe you had a jet pack or something…


  28. “TTC Loops do not exist on the Trip Planner – I have made the suggestion to include them.”

    They do, but it’s far from consistent. For example, Long Branch Loop does not exist, but Starspray Loop does! Kind of ironic, because, in reality, Long Branch Loop is a hub. Again, poor planning.

    Steve: I suspect that problems like this are less poor planning, but having the underlying map data created by people who are unfamiliar with the city and its transit system.


  29. There are people who think the trip planner is the “real” planner. Those who don’t understand computerese, don’t seem to know that “beta” is a test version. In fact, most dictionaries don’t show the computerese definition of “beta”. “Beta” allows testing by the everyday user looking for bugs. If a bug (another computerse term) is found, it should be reported so it can be looked after by the programmers.

    Steve: I have studied and worked in the IT field for longer than I have been a transit advocate, and I understand “beta”. My issue is that there are a lot of problems that could have been caught in an “alpha” test with keen, knowledgeable users, so that the public “beta” didn’t have so many glaring problems. There is always an issue in giving a client a new system when it still is held together with scotch tape because they expect more of it than it can deliver, and the IT folks take a lot of flak.


  30. I tried it out for a trip at 5 pm on a weekday going from Thirty-Seventh Street and Lakeshore (Long Branch) to Don Mills and York Mills.

    It sent me on the 110B Islington South bus, which is fine. But it sent me straight across on the Bloor-Danforth subway to Pape Station and then onto the Don Mills bus.

    Personally I have found that transferring to the Yonge subway and going east on a York Mills bus is a bit faster.

    Perhaps it tried to plan the trip with a limited number of transfers. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to try to minimize distance traveled on surface routes in an attempt to eliminate the delays of traffic and road closures, etc.

    Certainly the route it gave works and is reasonable, so I can’t fault it for that.

    Steve: There are times it works well, and others that are dubious.


  31. I’m sensing a theme here. Several people entered trips where one would usually use the subway for at least one part of is, but the trip planner tends to make use of surface routes, often with longer trip times.

    Steve suggested, “It seems to be very oriented to the way a motorist would travel,” which may very well be true, but perhaps there is another explanation…

    (Pause for a moment and listen to the sound of me pressing my tongue in my cheek…)

    The trip planner is the TTC’s alternative to building a DRL! By giving trip routes that avoid the subway, they will get more people off of the subway and ease the crowding at Bloor/Yonge! 😉


  32. I just tried the trip planner and no surprise I got a message that said the page isn’t available. I am actually not surprised since I have become used to the TTC not being reliable.


  33. I found the trip planner too slow and had to select too many things before I could plan a trip.

    myttc is way better, though even there some of the routes available are not shown.


  34. GO Transit today unveiled its Google based trip planner. It works quite well and provides integrated routing with other transit agencies which also use Google trips such as Hamilton’s HSR.

    See the Star article.

    Of course, the TTC looks foolish for creating their own proprietary planner which may be obsolete in short order.

    Steve: I was testing the Google trip planner earlier today, and it seemed to do a much better job than TTC’s effort. For one thing, it takes into account that walking and transfers require time, and factors this into optimum trip calculations. It also was smart enough to adjust the proposed trip based on the departure time to account for differences in peak and off-peak services.

    The only functionality it is missing that is specific to the TTC’s site is that it does not have options for including or excluding specific modes (e.g. “no subway”) or of plotting an all-accessible path. However, unlike the TTC site, it works quite well on a Blackberry with the Google Maps application.


  35. As noted 6 weeks ago, by several people, the Trip Planner still tells one to get on the Subway and then tell you to get a bus but fails to tell you at which subway station. That seems so basic that one really wonders if anyone with TTC experience even looked at it before it went live.

    Beta testing is fine but it would surely be better if some obvious problems , like this, were actually fixed fairly speedily. As with most TTC things, one sends messages off with comments, compliments or complaints into the void with no idea they have been received and certainly little sign anyone cares! Before he had his ‘difficulties’ I must say that an email to Admiral Adam did produce a speedy response, and often action but (even if he clearly had too much time on his hands) it is really silly to have to report ‘operational’ problems via the Chair.)

    Steve: I will be writing soon about an update that was presented at the March 24 TTC meeting on various projects including the Trip Planner.


  36. Hi Steve *long* time no type – like, almost 20 years? I read about you all the time in Metro. Keep up the good work. Thanks for the blog, it was the only way I could find I tried the TTC trip planner, but it doesn’t seem to understand where Yonge and Dundas is. Or, more accurately, it finds it, but then tells me it can’t find a subway train arriving there on Tuesday morning around 8 a.m. (???)


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