Free TTC Mobile iPhone app @ bit.ly/ttcmobile (Support)

If the TTC doesn’t reply in 7 days, email followup

January 13th, 2010

I do think I’ve sent an email to the TTC before about this — I know I’ve twittered the bigwigs — but just in case, I’m writing this post as a note to myself that if like the last time I sent a note, the TTC doesn’t reply in 7 days, I should email followup at ttc dot ca. (A part of me wonders if that’s what people do anyway.)

Why the TTC doesn’t just email me a confirmation number and get back to me in two weeks without a further followup email, I’ve no idea. Their phone line, 416-393-3030 just disconnects when I try to call it, it’s so busy.

Anyway, here’s what I sent:

The TTC has outdated info published at http://toronto.ca/open as explained at my blog: http://blog.lsta.me/?p=68

And rather than come up with your own format, why not adopt the General Transit Feed Specification standard at http://code.google.com/transit/spec/transit_feed_specification.html that YRT, Hamilton, and many, many other transit systems use? It’s 100% Google Maps compatible, and even NextBus uses it (in a non-standard way) to publish GPS information.

PLEASE contact me, I’ve written the free TTC Mobile iPhone app launched last Dec and was at the Open Data Lab where TTC employees shared the data, and I’ve been upset that no one has since listened to developers. My app is the only one on the app store with up-to-date info because it doesn’t TRY to get the right data, it just reformats the ttc.ca website — which has an incredible database behind the scenes. I’d be happy with a database dump of THAT if it were possible.

Thanks,

Louis St-Amour

Here’s hoping I get a reply, like the (so far fantastic) YRT has. And why isn’t Metrolinx returning my emails, I wonder? Maybe I’ve been trying to contact the wrong people. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! Good transit data nirvana is near, folks — lets stay positive!


10 Comments, Yay! »
  • http://nextbus.com/ Michael Smith

    Note: NextBus actually uses GTFS in the standard way. What you are referring to is a difference in stop IDs that WMATA has provided to us compared to what they have included in their GTFS data. For other agencies the same stop IDs are used which makes creating third-party applications much easier.

    – Mike (Director of Engineering at NextBus)

  • Louis

    Excellent, thanks! I'm still waiting for a reply on how the York Region Transit (YRT) is implementing its RideNow real-time bus updates service, as its not listed on the NextBus site: “Coming January 18, 2010: Tell us what your bus stop number is by email, web or phone and our real-time technology tells you the next five times a bus is due at your stop. Stop running for your bus. RideNow beginning January 18th.”

    I'll have to investigate further how to query these real-time services — Ideally I'd be able to ask to see all buses within a certain radius of a GPS-provided point, such that a map could show the nearby transit options. Once a stop is selected, perhaps from a favourites list, I'd then want to know how long before the next bus. An alternative would be to ask where all the buses are on that route, so that can see the buses on the route and know, based on experience with traffic patterns, how long it might be for that bus to arrive. Real-time alerts for traffic or how crowded buses are, could be added by an app to offer a better picture of the surrounding area's transit, where GPS data is then more important than NextBus' estimated arrival time. The GPS location features could be compared to past knowledge of the TTC schedule to determine where drivers are likely to take breaks, or if monitored remotely, could indicate if a driver has taken a break recently or is running behind schedule and so might not delay as expected. I would also be curious if distinctions are made between buses in service and those not in service or short-turning.

    I got an email from a TTC bus driver saying how he liked seeing the accurate times when he was supposed to be at a stop, on my app. Suddenly, I realised that the features that make for a better experience for riders could also help drivers. Why not have a display on your iPhone for when you're on the bus, that says if the bus is late or on-time and lets you know when you've reached your stop or of traffic/etc up ahead (perhaps from GPS of the buses in front of you)? To save battery life on the device itself, push notifications from the NextBus GPS could be used to let people know when they need to transfer. (All we need now is cell service or wifi in Toronto subway tunnels where GPS would be impossible anyway…)

  • Louis

    Of course, as GTFS isn't made specifically for real-time data … I feel as if that's something Google should work on. Right now I think most people assume Google's schedule data is in fact GPS-based where transit services already use GPS, simply because “scheduled” is easy to miss, especially on an iPhone. Certainly, some kind of query mechanism would work better for real-time data than a GTFS dump. (Keep in mind that I've yet to look at NextBus' GTFS data though.)

  • http://myflickrapp.com kalebdf

    The NextBus system is being installed and integrated at my school, the University of Houston. We can't wait to integrate its info about our shuttle buses into our iPhone Application, UH Guide (http://bit.ly/5VAw5X).

    I hope you hear back from the TTC.

  • Louis

    Thanks! Let me know how that goes, maybe we can swap ideas and such. I'm working on a Core Data model of GTFS right now, actually.

  • Louis

    As expected, I had to email followup@ttc.ca … @bradTTC suggested I call 416-393-3030 and I actually got through again, only to have them say I should instead email followup@ttc.ca … I'm really impressed now (not!). If I say I want a response, why should I wait a week and then email again? Is that to show how much I care?

  • Pingback: LSTA Blog (TTC Mobile etc.) » Blog Archive » TTC customer service by email is broken.

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  • Sing

    #51029 no follow up at all??? Crazy bus driver on Finch and Cherokee blvd

  • Istvantiszai

    complaint was placed two weeks ago (Feb. 14) and ref. number given as 69696, but no follow up so far