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The TTC Gets Some Online Help

BERT ARCHER

On the TTC’s website, it’s easy to learn one fact: The letters stand for Toronto Transit Commission. If you want to know anything more — like how to get somewhere, or how much it costs to ride the subway — you’re in for a wrangle.

Though the commission’s site gets as many as 12 million hits a year, Richard Ouellette, an architect who runs a blog called Reading Toronto (readingt.readingcities.com), thought the TTC could do better. So on Jan. 1, he issued an appeal to incoming TTC chairman Adam Giambrone. Calling http://www.ttc.ca “the single worst information site found anywhere,” he wrote: “Toronto bloggers are more than willing to offer their insights… . Why not give us a call and ask for our input?”

As it turns out, a request for proposals to redesign the website had gone out at the end of the last council’s term, approved by former TTC chairman Howard Moscoe (at Mr. Giambrone’s suggestion), so the timing was perfect. “This is almost like free consulting,” Mr. Giambrone says of his decision to take advantage of the energies of an enthusiastic urban blogging community. “Clearly, the current TTC site is not an acceptable site.”

Four local blogs posted about Mr. Giambrone’s interest in their ideas, and the response was immediate: Within a day, torontoist.com had 45 comments on the subject and http://www.spacing.ca/wire had 32. “The first suggestion was something as simple as more information about the fares,” says Zach Slootsky, who wrote blogto.com’s post. “I think that goes to show a lot about how far they have to go to make the website useable.”

James Bow, editor of the specialized transit site transit.toronto.on.ca , says the new chairman is moving in the right direction. “Whether something good comes out of this, we’ll have to wait and see,” he says. “But it suggests that the new chairman is looking for new ideas, and is showing himself to be more open to public comment … “

Representatives from the blogs will be meeting with the TTC chairman in two weeks to deliver their suggestions, and Mr. Giambrone hopes a new site will be up and running by the summer.




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