NextBus, er NextStreetcar, Comes To Broadview

This morning, the TTC held a press conference at Broadview Station to launch the rollout of next vehicle information on the streetcar network.

This was something of a non-event given that all we had to look at was one small text display on the platform for the 505 Dundas car and two of the familiar video screens showing expected arrival times for 504 King and 505 Dundas inside Broadview Station.  Oh yes, I mustn’t forget to mention that the display out on the shelter is solar powered.  It will be intriguing to see how well it works next winter.

The announcement neglected to mention that you can obtain the same info online.

Go to  Depending on the behaviour of the browser you are using, you will be taken directly to your most recent selection if you have been to NextBus before.  Otherwise, you will have to navigate to the TTC for your first time in by selecting “Ontario” and then “Toronto”.

It’s a good idea to bookmark at least one lookup (preferably one you want to use regularly) to save on the navigation if your browser won’t “remember” where you have been.

While I was at Broadview, I noticed that the information on the display did not match what was actually happening with the cars.  This was sorted out by a conversation with the NextBus folks.  What they are displaying is a predicted arrival time as this is what people want to know at regular stops.  Terminals are a bit odd in that vehicles arrive and then tend to sit for a while.  They will show up briefly as “Due” and then the display will drop them and show the time for the following vehicle.

This could be confusing especially to someone looking at the video screen inside the station where it is not immediately obvious, especially to a rider unfamiliar with the station, that a vehicle is actually at the platform.  (Indeed a bus may not actually be at the platform but hiding somewhere for a break.)  This information needs to be added, and will be especially valuable in large terminals where displays and vehicle bays may be quite some distance apart.  If someone is waiting for the “next” bus and it has already “arrived”, and will depart (according to the schedule) in five minutes, people need to know this.

Meanwhile in other Broadview Station news:

A display panel about the size of a TTC route map was installed beside the route map last fall.  It is still empty.

The Station Vicinity map here (and everywhere else on the system, except where ancient ones were never removed) is still missing in action.  These were to have been replaced last  fall after the debacle of the many inaccurate maps posted by the TTC.  Maybe the Customer Service Panel will fix this.

Finally, it’s almost May, and there is no sign of any work of the long-closed second entrance to the station.  There is a sign on the barricade saying it will re-open in May 2010, but this has been discretely modified, possibly in the interest of clarity.

Metropass Turns 30

Saturday, May 1, 2010 brings the 30th birthday of the Metropass.

Back in the dark ages when creative cheating on one’s transfer produced roughly the same effect as a ride-at-will pass, TTC management said a pass would simply not work in Toronto.  Over the years, they have trotted that story out for a lot of things, sadly, and the record is wearing out.  (It would have been a record, probably a wind-up grammaphone knowing the TTC back in those days.)

Then a strange thing happened.  Hamilton, little often-ignored Hamilton down at the end of the lake, got a monthly pass.  If it could work there, why not in Toronto?

Metropasses now account for over half of the rides taken by adult customers on the TTC.  With some luck we may see a shift to some form of smart card (that’s an article in its own right) and a much more flexible fare system on the TTC sometime this decade.

On Saturday, go have a coffee and a small pastry of your choice with a little candle, and sing Happy Birthday to your Metropass!