I’ve been in Toronto for the last couple days, looking for an apartment, and I’ve been riding public transit quite a bit. The subway is great, but I’ve realized that the TTC needs some serious help with its usability and information design.
For starters, take the confusing and rather ugly TTC web site. Lots of people have put their two cents in on that issue. The only other city I’ve ever lived in is Ottawa, so my main point of comparison is the much-maligned OC Transpo. Ottawa general feels like Toronto’s kid brother, so I just naturally assumed that the TTC would have all that OC Transpo offers and more. Like the online travel planner. Or how every bus stop has a phone number that you can call to find schedule information*. But I couldn’t find any evidence of these things in Toronto.
And then there’s the signage, especially at the bus shelters. I had trouble figuring out what buses were even stopping at a given stop, let alone when they were coming. On the subway, I didn’t find it to be so bad. But compared to other subway systems I’ve ridden — Montreal, NYC, London, Paris, Barcelona — it left a lot to be desired. This is more of a rant than a critique, but if you’d like a more…shall I say, informed critique, take a look at Joe Clark’s site.
In other news, I’ve been accepted at U of T to do a master’s in Computer Science in September. I’ll be doing HCI research in the DGP lab under the supervision (most likely) of Ravin Balakrishnan. My classes won’t start until September, but I’ll be starting my research in May.
*For what it’s worth. Surely everyone has experienced the “disappearing bus” phenomenon at one time or another. Is there some kind of Bermuda triangle in Ottawa where these buses are whisked away to an alternate dimension??