Where’s My Stop? (Updated)

Updated December 28 at 11:45 am: I have received a note from Brad Ross at the TTC advising that there is an unspecified issue being worked out between the TTC and the supplier of the stop announcement system.  Once this is settled, the backlog of changes will be implemented.

This post is intended as a container for reports about inaccurate stop announcements.  Given the legal hassles the TTC went through about their implementation, it’s odd that they don’t bother to adjust the info in the GPS-based units when stops are moved.

I have relocated two comments about this from another thread to this one just to keep the info separate, and in the hope that someone at the TTC will actually read and act on this.

The single largest problem I have seen in years of watching TTC’s attempts at customer service is the complete lack of co-ordination between departments, and the concurrent lack of credible or accurate public information.

For example, there are still signs at Bloor-Yonge Station telling you that the subway doesn’t run north of there late at night, although the project that triggered this operation ended some time ago.  The line remains closed north of Eglinton for tunnel work, but south of Eglinton, the line is operating.

Other diversion notices remain in place months after they are obsolete.  Even if they contain an end date, a reader may not notice this, especially if they are unfamiliar with the system.  Construction notices acquire a layer of stickers telling us when projects will finish, some day, eventually.  At least they are now real printed notices, not hand-written (mostly).  And, yes, the elevator at the east end of Yonge Station is finally back in service.

32 thoughts on “Where’s My Stop? (Updated)

  1. Why have they not fixed the stop announcements west of Lansdowne [on St. Clair] yet? It’s still confusing some people.

    Steve: This is one of many examples of how the TTC fouls up on the small details. They talk a lot about “customer service”, but do not take seriously the importance of this type of problem to riders.

    The problem arises because the old shuttle bus stops were nearside, while those on the streetcar are farside. The streetcar “calls” the next stop before it is actually at the current one.


  2. Other examples where the stop announcements are skewed.

    The TTC moved a bus stop 100 metres north for the 17 Birchmount NB and have yet to change the stop announcement. IN FACT the stop announcement gives people the impression that the bus just drove past their stop!

    The stop was at Willowmount Drive and before the bus reaches the relocated stop the stop announcment reads… Next Stop: Foxridge Drive.

    Even after informing Brad Ross and calling 3030 it has yet to be fixed and that was months ago.

    I can see someone filing a human rights complaint given the fact that the stop announcements do not even call the stop and the drivers do not either!


  3. The stop on the north side of Humber College Blvd at Arboretum Dr. was eliminated about two months ago and replaced with a stop down the road a bit at Windwood Dr. The stop announcement has yet to be changed, and the shelter is still at the old location. What’s worse, bus drivers somewhat randomly decide whether to stop at the old shelter or the new stop.

    The express stop announcements on Jane incorrectly show “Wilson Ave.” on the screen for the stop at Maple Leaf Drive (but the audio is correct). This has been outstanding for at least 6 months (when I first noticed and reported it).

    The stop on Jane at Methuen Ave. is incorrectly spelled “Menthune Ave.” and has been that way for at least 6 months as well.


  4. 199 had manual stops and recently they are doing a half ass job on the automatic stops.

    The drivers pause the system twice.

    All the voice files are there so there isn’t anything new to record.

    Forget that during rush hour and so many people in it (there is 2 schools and Seneca College) in the route, high schoolers like to talk a lot and when I am at the back of the bus, I can’t hear the bus driver’s announcements, hence why I use the visual aspect of the announcements.

    Steve, want to make a bet when 199 will have all of its stops automatically announced?


  5. The 41E Keele Express does not have the express route override set up yet, and it has been months since it was introduced. So drivers often press the “system paused” button, without calling the next stop, but then lecture riders who haven’t read the destination sign how this is an express vehicle. At least the stops for express routes that existed when the programming was introduced (190, 191, 196, 35E, 45E, 95E, 60E, 96E, 131E) have the express vehicle audio announcement and correctly announce the express stops.

    I don’t know if the changes in the northbound 192 via Dixon Road cause the same problem with the GPS-based announcement system. I would expect that the 199 would not be programmed, just like the 41E.

    I noticed with the new farside stops for the 504 on Roncesvalles that the St. Clair-type errors are now occurring there too.

    Steve: I sent a note to Brad Ross well before the streetcars came back to Ronces asking that this be fixed in advance. It wasn’t as if there were any streetcars running up and down the street where passengers would be confused if the stop announcements were for the new locations. He may be passing these suggestions on, but they are going into a black hole.


  6. As part of the reconstruction of Roncesvalles Ave, the TTC has re-jiggered some of the stops along that strip. The changes are not reflected in the stop announcements, or the TTC’s website.

    The looks on people’s faces when the streetcar sails by their stop at Constance and then unexpected stop at Grenadier a block farther are second only to the looks on their faces when the streetcar doesn’t stop at Geoffrey, only to realize that their “replacement” stop was also Grenadier, now 3 blocks behind them!


  7. This may not be dead on topic, but I think it fits here.

    I have noticed that the drivers always pause the automated system when running the 41E Keele Express bus.

    I usually only ride this route between the Bloor subway and Eglinton, but the system is invariably paused through this section, with the drivers making manual announcements. When I asked a driver if the TTC hadn’t set up the system for the limited stop route, he said they hadn’t.

    So it looks like the TTC has been remiss here; either they have not set up the announcements, or they have not notified the drivers of the code to set.

    P.S. After I commented here on October 19, 2010 about the errors in the 512 St Clair announcements, I submitted a similar comment to the TTC via the web site. I have heard nothing back, nor has anything been done.


  8. The express stop pattern on the 60E was changed in October 2009 and the automated announcements are still not updated to reflect the changes.


  9. In Concord, Route 107 Keele North Southbound has stop announcement for Rockview Gardens after Highway 7, but there is no stop at that intersection.


  10. There’s a series of threads on this topic (e.g., for Toronto) over at the little-known CPTDB.

    Yarmouth Rd. on the 126 is still, to this day, mispronounced as Yarr Mouth Road even though the 126 and 512 stop announcements were updated to call Wychwood Ave. “Wychwood Avenue: Artscape Wychwood Barns.” In other words, Joe Mihevc gets to change an announcement to promote a destination, but an error doesn’t get fixed.


  11. While on the ‘stop announcements’ … I have always wondered why the illuminated signs cannot remain lit until the stop is reached (or even until it is left.) The signs now seem to turn off about 100 meters before the stop is reached. One often sees people who were reading, sleeping or distracted looking around in a puzzled way when a bus starts to stop and clearly wondering where they are.


  12. This isn’t about inaccuracies, but it is one thing which annoys me.

    There is no consistent way in which announcements are made. Sometimes they just announce a street name, sometimes an address on the street. When the the cross street changes name (like College & Carlton) they usually announce the street on the same side, but sometimes they announce the street on the other side.

    This means that you cannot predict what the announcement will be.

    They should have a consistent format, including all that information. The street address of the stop on the road you’re going to, and if there is an intersection, all the streets at that intersection.

    Steve: The issue with intersections whose names differ on either side of the route is particularly annoying. In some cases, the “off side” street has the better-known name, but that’s not what the system calls. It really should call both streets, but I suspect that we will learn that “technical limitations” prevent this from happening.


  13. I agree. I’ve been on buses in other systems where the stop display does not turn off until the bus door opens at the next stop, which would make more sense particularly for those who are hard of hearing.


  14. If you think that’s bad.. here is a truly unbelievable blunder that only a complete idiot could mess up on. The 92 Woodbine South does not call out Queen Street East, it calls out QUEENS Street East. I was on it today and had a WTF moment when I heard it, I looked up and sure enough it said QUEENS (yes there was actually a S at the end of Queen) Street.

    How can you mess up on the name of one of the most important streets in the city… its not like it’s Cathedral Bluffs Drive.


  15. I wish the TTC would redo the stop announcements using professional voice models.

    The current announcements sound as if the TTC staffers making the recordings tried to dehumanize their voices. It’s grim and noticeably inferior to announcements on other transit systems.

    Steve: Yes, it was a TTC staffer who made all the recordings.


  16. Regarding outdated signs at subway stations. This is why they need those Station Managers. Someone to take responsibility and to be held responsible.

    Steve: And those Station Managers are supposed to already exist.


  17. There are some problems related to the introduction of the York University Express bus via the Hydro corridor north of Finch. In particular announcements for stops for the rerouted 105 & 117 south of Overbrook have not been incorporated. Also there has not been an adjustment reflecting the move of the stop from the south side of Finch to the north side of Finch for 105, 117 and 196. As an aside I can’t understand why this new highly used windswept stop does not have a shelter. I also note that the former loop on this corner was not properly grassed over so it could be incorporated into the large park adjacent to it.


  18. re: your note from Brad Ross

    Bigger question is why Brad Ross is not on this board on a semi-regular basis either getting in front of some of the misinformation and half-truths TTC detractors post, or addressing the serious complaints like those listed here. It would seem to be a better use of his time than the Twitter updates and those inane articles that show up at Torontoist from time to time. If not him, maybe those two talking heads that show up on Breakfast Television/CP24 to tell us everything is hunky-dory with the subway can handle it.

    Steve: To be fair to Brad, there are limits to what an organization’s spokesperson can do on an ongoing basis without regularly consulting others to verify what he is going to say. It would be a full time job and then some to respond to all of the online commentary, and it would start to become repetitive.


  19. Worse yet, the bus has no control over the light. The bus lane crossing of Dufferin is exactly where there should be remote control of the light by the bus, so that the bus does not have to wait, and that the traffic on Dufferin is not stopped when there is no bus.


  20. I always thought that there was some kind of detection system (e.g. induction coils) in place there to detect the presence of a bus and gives them the green light. There’s a problem with giving buses control over the light though. I’ve noticed (with the current setup) that there are often situations (particularly during peak hours) when buses would get the green light, they’d cross the intersection, then seconds after the light turns red (for the buses) another bus arrives. That would mean that traffic on Dufferin is stopped for an extended period of time, and potentially exacerbate traffic problems along that corridor. And during peak hours, Dufferin (north of Finch) is a bad enough bottleneck as it is for all vehicles (buses, cars, etc.).

    Steve: This is a specific example of a more general problem. An intersection appears to “decide” which vehicle will control the signal, probably based on which one entered its view first. The problem is that other vehicles in the same or opposite direction may also approach the intersection and benefit from extended green time, but they are not considered. This happens commonly on Harbourfront where the transit phase is so short that operators must “run the red” to get more than one car through on a cycle. I am sure someone has an “explanation” of how this behaviour helps to space out service, but all it really accomplishes is further delay.


  21. No, I completely disagree with this. It is the subway announcements that need to be redone, ideally with the voice from the surface system. The subway announcer is a middle-aged lady who thinks everything is a question? and seems to be reading each syllable while she pokes her finger at it (“Summer—Hill”).

    Cheryl Bome is the announcer for the surface voice, Sue Bigioni for the subway, according to a Post blog entry that may or may not load for you.


  22. Then they need to hire a full-time digital-outreach manager. And not somebody in his (sic) late 40s.

    Steve: The age and gender are far less important than an actual desire to provide outreach as an integral part of “customer service”. I’m not saying Brad does a bad job, but he has a larger role focussed on the more traditional media. The real challenge for anyone in this position will be the difficulty of getting prompt, credible responses to issues posed on sites like this. A “digital outreach” person would not have the authority to engage in a debate much beyond stating whatever he/she was told to say as the “official story”. Couple this with a Commission that may be under attack for poorly thought-out policies, and you have an untenable position for a staffer.


  23. I don’t agree with your premise (or any of your premises, including the likely age and gender). Someone running digital outreach all day could actually answer questions like “Why were there four Dufferin buses at Eglinton last night at 10:37, then none for 20 minutes?” because they’d have access to that data.

    Steve: No, they would not answer the question if they were confined within an organization that refused to acknowledge the problems with its own operations. Imagine if a PR flak actually answered by saying, “ya, the operators all sat around drinking coffee and eventually left the terminal knowing they could short turn themselves at the bottom of the line”, or “there was nobody watching the Dufferin bus at that time of night”. They would not last long.

    People report security-related problems via Twitter. I’ve seen it lots of times. Those would actually get acted upon, surely by having the outreach person actually call up the constables.

    “My driver’s talking on a cellphone” could get acted upon within minutes.

    Steve: I agree that the TTC could do this sort of thing, but the route the info will take internally is little different from what would happen if you phoned to complain. If the organization doesn’t want to address the issues, a PR person isn’t going to make them do it. Anyone regardless of their age, gender, etc., can monitor digital media for comments, but the organization can ignore them.

    “Why is there still no bus stop at Variety Village?” is not the kind of question people are going to ask on Twitter. Policy questions are rare in this context, I know from direct experience. It is certainly true that fora like this one discuss policy all the time. I don’t agree that the digital-outreach manager would be hamstrung in participating. What we have at present is no participation at all. (Brad Ross sending you mail behind the scenes is not “participation.” Among other things, it’s playing favourites.)

    Steve: Brad Ross sent me email because I contacted him about the issue for comment.


  24. I think I’m being rather picky, but it amuses me whenever I ride the 512 eastbound, St Clair West station is displayed as “St. Clair Ave. West Stn.” Also, when riding westbound — Deer Park Crescent shows up as “Deer Park Crescent”, while eastbound shows “Deer Park Cres.” Yeah, I’m just being picky, I know.


  25. Sure there are a lot of problems with the TTC’s stop calling system but the TTC’s system is way, way, better than every other transit authority in Ontario and every American system I’ve ridden. After traveling around and riding other systems I now have respect for our system, I just wish they would update it more frequently.

    Steve: I raised this issue not to slam the TTC’s system which works well, when it works, but as an example of an all-too common problem at the TTC. Something new will be done to address a problem, in this case the result of a legal finding against the TTC regarding accessibility. But things come unstuck for want of ongoing maintenance, or half-finished implementation. With the announcement system, I can’t help wondering why it cannot be reprogrammed because of some outstanding problem with the vendor.


  26. I actually like the TTC’s stop announcement protocol (for lack of better word). People identify stops by the street they are at, and if not at an intersection then the nearest address on the street is used. When there is some “place of significance”, the announcement mentions it as well.

    Here in York Region, the system announces the stop number when the stop is not at an intersection. That is fine if it is your usual stop, but not for someone making a trip to an area they are unfamiliar with.

    The real annoying thing about York Region announcements is that each and every one repeats the street you are on. Imagine travelling on a bus on Sheppard and hearing, “Next stop, Consumers Road at Sheppard”… “Next top, Victoria Park Avenue at Sheppard”… the “at Sheppard” repetition becomes very annoying, and I suspect it is worse for the driver who has to put up with it all day. Many YRT buses have the announcement system volume too low, and I suspect this may be the reason for it. If a bus turns onto a new street or the street it is on changes names (e.g.: Albion/Wilson/York Mills/Parkwoods Village Drive/Ellesmere), a single announcement indicating the bus continues on street X is sufficient. This type of announcement is used in San Antonio.

    Like the TTC, YRT suffers from announcements that only mention the side street on the side of the bus stop, which should announce both. There are exceptions to this on the VIVA system, but that is because the VIVAstation is actually named after both streets (e.g.: “19th-Gamble”, “16th-Carville” and “Bantry-Scott”).


  27. While overall the stop announcement system is pretty good here, there are a couple of examples we could learn from.

    The last time I was in Oslo (about two and a half years ago), they were beginning to phase out the LED dot-matrix displays for next stop announcements and replacing them with flat screen LCD displays that showed the next FOUR stops (with the next one highlighted).

    Will the TR cars have text displays inside them showing the next stop? When I was in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago, their stop announcement system had text displays. As a person who does not speak Spanish (and is not familiar with Spanish pronunciations) the audible announcements were useless to me half the time. Being able to see the text of the next stop and compare it to the map was very helpful.

    Buenos Aires also have displays outside many of their subway (“Subte”) stations indicating operations on EACH subway line, allowing one to decide what to do before entering and paying their fare.

    Steve: Yes, the new cars have text displays to announce station names.


  28. Vancouver’s stop announcements ironed out a few bugs and there are still more. For quite a while, when a bus turned from one street to another they’d identify the stop as being the street they just left. Turning from Hastings onto Renfrew it would announce Hastings which is technically true since the stop is on Renfrew at the southwest corner of Hastings, but not much use on a route that’s just been running on Hastings for 35 blocks. Thankfully, they’ve replaced that sort of announcement with “Hastings at Renfrew”.

    Most of the stops are relatively accurate, though one of them near me consistently jumps the gun and announces the next stop after. And the stops on Broadway mention Yukon (half a block east of Cambie) and Ash (half a block west) but don’t tell you you’re at Cambie itself, or for that matter the Canada Line.

    The worst here is that half the names are mispronounced, or at least have the emphasis on the wrong syllable. You might be able to excuse PENticton, NiCOla or STIKine, but they can’t even get Vancouver or Downtown right, and the pronunciation of Tsawwassen is absolutely bizarre (on the ferries they announce it as Tsa-WAS-sen, and most people say Ta-WAS-sen; the stop announcement seems to put the emphasis on the first syllable and throws an extra one in).


  29. The 11 Bayview and 28 Davisville buses have a similar oddity… when departing Davisville Station they announce “Next Stop Davisville Avenue” before making the North to East turn and stopping at a stop just off of Yonge street.

    A solution to the nit-picky-ness of this oddity would either be to call the stop “Davisville Ave @ Yonge Street” (TTC doesn’t seem to use the X @ Y street thing) so their format of a street address might be better… “Next stop #5 Davisville Avenue”

    Still on the Davisville Ave … the second stop is called “Pailton Cresent” … however the bus stops several hundred meters away before Pailton (and the stop at Acacia Road is actually closer to Pailton than the stop with its own name sake)… which could lead to problems for those who are not familiar with the route… once again a street address for the Pailton stop may provide more use than naming a street that the bus does not actually stop at.


  30. YRT’s routes 91 and 91A (Bayview) has an oddity at the intersection of Steeles and Bayview. There is a stop on Steeles that is set back a distance from the corner that it technically served by this bus, though I have never seen anyone use it and any bus I have been on has been in the left lane by the time it reaches this stop. It is announced as “Bayview at Steeles”. Then, as the bus starts to make its left turn at Bayview, the announcement for the stop that is about equally north of the intersection as the other one is west of the intersection is announced as “Steeles at Bayview”.

    The other issue with YRT announcements has to do with the fact they cannot drop off passengers when travelling north between Finch Station and Steeles. Each and every pick stop is announced with a “passenger pick up only” tagged on the end of the announcement. It baffles me as to why these are announced at all, as they are NOT stops for people on board the bus. The next stop once the bus departs Finch Station is Steeles.


  31. Apologies if this is posted in the wrong thread.

    I received this confusing email ‘Service Alert’ from TTC this morning. Either I need another cup of coffee or this is nonsensical.

    “The 505 Dundas is diverting to High Park Stn and the 504 King is diverting to High Park & Roncesvalles due to a collision at Dundas & Bloor.”

    Does the 505 extend its wings and fly to High Park station? And the 504, is ‘diverting’ to a regular stop? [sigh]

    Steve: There are times the folks who put these alerts out need a few lessons in geography. The Dundas car, of course, would have gone to High Park Loop, and the King car to “College Loop” which is the triangle of Dundas, Lansdowne and College. It’s always impressive to see the TTC put out such accurate information.


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