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TTC eyes Google for planning trips

Commuters could call up best routes

No estimate yet on costs, time frame

Mar. 21, 2006. 12:16 PM

Planning a quick trip across town using public transit could one day be a matter of simply Googling the route.

Tomorrow, the TTC will consider an offer by the Internet search engine Google, which wants to give commuters free online trip information.

Google has asked the TTC for station, stop, schedule and route data to create a trip planner so commuters could input origin and destination points to get the shortest or fastest routes.

Google is running a pilot project with Portland (Ore.) Transit. The TTC had looked into doing its own for about $2 million. There are no cost estimates or time frame for the Google deal.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Alice Smith, TTC acting chief marketing officer. “We support trip planning for our customers. We just have to figure out the best way to get there.”

Smith said the TTC wants to review all technologies for ways to marry systems. For example, a technology providing real-time information on the arrival of the next bus that can be posted at stops might be merged with Google’s mapping system.

TTC chair Howard Moscoe is not so sure he wants to wait, saying it’s too good an idea.

“It looks to me like the costs are minimal,” he said. “I think we should bring it about rather than wait for the staff to develop all of their systems, because it can happen very quickly.”

Meanwhile, the TTC will officially unveil elevators today to make the Broadview subway station fully accessible. The elevators allow access from the street level to the eastbound and westbound subway platforms.

Other station features include an automatic entrance door, an easier access fare gate, and elevator intercoms and closed-circuit TV. Broadview station was identified as a key candidate for elevators because about 27,000 people use it daily, and it connects to six surface routes.

By 2007, 30 of the TTC’s 69 subway and Scarborough RT stations will be accessible.

The TTC is also adding a “move to the back of the bus” taped audio message to its bus fleet, piggybacking it on an automated stop announcement system being tested. It’s an acknowledgement that buses are getting too crowded, said Moscoe.

Drivers will be able to press a button to deliver the message.

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