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TTC seeking way to ease riders' wait

Oct. 26, 2006. 06:33 AM

Electronic signs could soon show bus and streetcar riders in real time how long they have to wait until the next vehicle rolls around.

“People don’t mind waiting for a bus if they know how long they have to wait,” said Toronto Transit Commission chair Howard Moscoe.

The service, dubbed next-stop technology, is already available in York Region’s Viva bus shelters. A global positioning system aboard a vehicle would typically communicate wirelessly with signs at bus or streetcar stops.

Moscoe suggests two ways to pay for the service: Sell advertising space on the signs or naming rights to the stops; or swap services with a firm that can provide the technology.

He said he’s considering the latter after meeting with Rogers Communications Inc. One scenario that was discussed, he said, included Rogers setting up the technology in exchange for receiving access to the TTC’s underground fibre-optic network to set up a wireless service for subway riders.

“We have fibre-optic cables through the entire system,” Moscoe said.

He called the discussion with Rogers “preliminary.”

A Rogers spokesperson would not comment on what Moscoe said. But the telecommunications giant does have a partnership with a Toronto-based firm, Grey Island Systems, that specializes in next-stop technology.

Grey Island, through a U.S. subsidiary named NextBus, has set up systems in San Francisco and Washington D.C., and could do it here, Grey Island president Owen Moore said.

“Howard’s idea is certainly a real idea,” Moore said, adding that his firm recently equipped a couple of bus stops in Guelph, and has worked with Rogers to equip GO Transit buses with global positioning systems.

At its monthly meeting yesterday, the TTC approved outfitting its buses and streetcars with global positioning systems during the next few years. The devices will trigger an automated voice that tells riders of each approaching stop.