My TTC Ride Today

Seems like a pretty enough title and usually my rides on “The Better Way” in Toronto are pretty uneventful and sometimes enjoyable. But I guess that’s because I always take the same route more or less. Today was not one of those days. I enjoyed the trips well enough, but maybe not the supporting processes (Spoken like a true ITM’er at TRSM)

I went through Finch Station on my way to an interview. I have to give credit to Trip Planner because so far, it has never failed me. The timings are pretty damn accurate, both with when the next vehicle will arrive and estimated time to arrival at the destination. It even gives me a couple of options. I will first say, that I thoroughly enjoyed the rides both there and back home today, especially with the wonderful weather.

There are definitely some improvements I would love to see happen with their planner. What if I don’t know exactly what street I’m on or which transit line I’m on. For example, I took one bus to get to my destination today, but figured I would walk to the other end of the building and get on the bus there since it was a nice day. Someone told me that I could catch one to a closer LRT station than the one planned out. Thought I would give it a try. What I would loved to have seen is how I can somehow plug in my GPS location on my phone to find out where I am AND how I can use this as my starting point and time to plan my trip most efficiently. This is helpful especially if I’m part way through my trip and need to change, because of a re-routing, for example. Just a thought with today’s access to Open Data and mash-ups. There has to be a way to take where I am now and figure out how to get where I’m going, much like Google Maps.

I had to get some tokens when I went back in to Finch Station. I was taking a bus into the station and leaving on another. The shelter there is pretty big and I’m sure that it would be very easy to install one or both of a token machine and metropass machine. I had to go down into the station and out by the turnstiles to purchase tokens. It doesn’t end there.

I had to purchase tokens from one of the two staff people on duty. There were no machines even on the outside of the paid area. I had to take a transfer (waste of paper), come around to one of the staffed booths and purchase them there. Imagine my surprise when I saw an interac machine there! Great, so I can hang onto my cash and use my interac card to purchase my tokens. “Oh, no” says the TTC employee, “cash only”. So I can use my interac card to buy my metropass, but not tokens, when it takes the same amount of time? Does that make sense to anyone else? Please enlighten me.

I hope that the Customer Service Advisory Panel takes a few of these things into account while they are renovating the Finch Station and their overall customer service. Here’s what putting one or both of these machines will do:

1. Saves customers time and energy because they can serve themselves while waiting for their bus rather than wasting time going to the main entrance and missing it.

2. Takes the onus of so many customers in a single area away and reduces the number of people waiting in line to get their purchase. There were always at least 3 in line at any given time.

3. By accepting Interac payments for all of their methods of payment for fares, it reduces the need to keep cash on hand at the booths and potentially reduces the security risks and loss with handling cash.

Some of these seem very simple, especially with the strides that the TTC has made in recent years and hopes to make in the coming years. All it takes is putting a couple of extra machines that you probably will buy anyway in a very strategic place that could potentially boost your sales and improve customer satisfaction. Just sayin’.

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