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TTC installing display signs in stations and shelters
that let you know when the next streetcar or bus arrives

Last Thursday, April 29, the TTC officially expanded its “next-vehicle arrival” system, when Toronto Mayor David Miller and the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, Councillor Adam Giambrone, unveiled an arrival sign at the streetcar platform in Broadview Station.

TTC staff are assessing the sign’s solar-power energy source so that the TTC can install them at other transit shelters.

When the TTC sets the system up fully, the display signs will let passengers find out when the next two streetcars or buses arrive at their stop.

Flat-screen LCD (“liquid crystal display”) monitors at subway stations or LED (“light-emitting diode”) screens on transit shelters or at the bus or streetcar platforms at subway stations will display the information. The system uses GPS (“global positioning system”) software to determine the location of transit vehicles while they are in service. The software then processes the information about where each vehicle is to predict when the bus or streetcar will arrive at specific stops and then sends the information to signs along the route.

The TTC has already fitted its fleet of 248 streetcars with the GPS system. It continues to install the system in its 1,782 buses.

In 2008, the TTC piloted the system at Spadina and Union Stations with signs displaying information about the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes. It will roll out the system for the bus network in 2011.

The system now includes LED displays at:

  • the 505 Dundas route stops on Dundas Street West at Spadina Avenue;
  • the 504 King and 508 Lake Shore stops on King Street West at Bathurst Street;
  • the 504 King and 508 Lake Shore stops on King Street West at Spadina Avenue;
  • the 501 Queen stops on Queen Street West at Spadina Avenue;
  • the 511 Bathurst stops on Bathurst Street at Adelaide Street West;
  • the 505 Dundas stop at Broadview Station;
  • the 505 Dundas stop at Dundas West Station;
  • the 510 Spadina stop at Spadina Station and
  • the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina stop at Union Station.

TTC crews continue to install the displays at more transit shelters and subway stations along the streetcar network this year. Soon, passengers will be able to use SMS (“short message service”) text-messaging technology to get “next-vehicle arrival” information — at all 800 streetcar stops later this year and at all bus stops by early 2011.

The TTC will test LED displays on all streetcar routes, except for the 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Rd tripper routes, this year. It will equip 52 streetcar shelters, nine streetcar subway bays and five subway stations with LED and LCD displays. Solar technology will power two of the LED displays — the one that Mayor Miller and Councillor Giambrone unveiled at Broadview this week and another at Dundas West Station.

LCD monitors will also appear later this year on the streetcar platforms at:

  • Bathurst Station;
  • Broadview Station;
  • Dundas West Station;
  • Main Street Station; and
  • St. Clair Station.

You can also get information from the web. Next Bus Inc., the company that supplies the software that makes everything work, has a test site displaying TTC information here: (You’ll have to select “Ontario” and then “Toronto” the first time you use the system, but, after that, Toronto data should always appear on your computer — until you choose another city’s information.)

Guelph Transit also uses the “Next Bus” system for all its routes. Niagara Falls Transit uses the system only for the “People Mover” buses to and from the falls and along Lundy’s Lane.

“Next-vehicle arrival” software not only improves service for current passengers, but, maybe, for future passengers, too. Behind the scenes, the technology can also help the TTC plan to improve its service by supplying staff with data on how well — or how poorly — each route serves passengers.