Today, the TTC unveiled the next step in its customer information services with the ability to obtain next vehicle information via an SMS text message from any cell phone.
The cell phone “short code” for this service is 898882 (txtttc), and all stops for which this service is available now have stickers showing their individual codes prominently. The reponse that will come back looks like this:
505 E 3min / 505 E 3min / 504 E 4min / 505 E 4min / 504 E 6min / 504 E 7min. Predictions generated as of 14:54.
This happens to be for the northbound stop on Broadview at Withrow for my return home after today’s press announcement across the street in Riverdale Park. The message does not include location info because you would already know this from making the request in the first place.
The list shows the next predicted vehicles at the stop. For stops served by multiple routes where you are only interested in a specific route, you can append the route number to the stop number as in:
where “12345” is the stop number and “504” is the route number. This can be further qualified with a direction (N, S, E or W) although few stops have cars for the same route travelling in more than one direction.
An as-yet unadvertised service is the ability to retrieve information for any stop using a route, direction and stop name lookup from NextBus. Once you reach a display you want, you can bookmark it for direct access. Even if you want to look up a different location, it is faster to pick any bookmarked lookup you already have, and then select an alternate location. These displays auto-update. (The link given here takes you directly to the TTC route selection page.)
At some point, the TTC will create a page on their own site where you can look up stop-based info using the stop number, or navigate to NextBus for the more general selection menu.
Finally, I hope that the TTC will agree to expose the NextBus maps to public view again soon. There have been internal debates about the way these maps show how, at times, the service is not well-organized, but this information is very useful in cases where someone wants to get a general idea of the state of a route for use in the near future without having to look up service “now” at a specific stop.