Some say riders without internet or smartphones will be out of the loop on transit schedules
The TTC has been quietly phasing out printed schedules on bus and streetcar stops across the city as both a cost-saving measure and shift towards real-time, digital information — and the move is under fire from some transit riders.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the posted mid-route schedules will eventually be "phased out entirely" as the organization embraces technology like real-time LED schedule signs at bus and streetcar shelters.
Around 200 LED schedule signs were intalled this year, and the plan is for another 200 more in 2017, he said.
Riders can also use third-party smartphone apps, which offer real-time updates on bus and streetcar locations.
By factoring in weather and traffic conditions along transit routes, these options are "more accurate for the customer," Green added.
The organization began removing printed schedules in September based on an "overwhelming positive response" to a pilot project back in March, he said.
And, Green noted, the shift will save the TTC around $400,000 a year — the cost of printing and installing printed schedules — which can be rolled into modernization efforts.
Riders frustrated with disappearing schedules
The change is raising eyebrows among transit riders like East York resident and community activist Justin Van Dette.
Through his Get East York Moving Again campaign — which features an online petition — he's pushing the TTC to address several transit concerns in his area, including the shift away from posting schedules in metal holders at bus stops.
Van Dette expressed concern that some riders aren't be able to access online schedules or apps.
"Those living in poverty, seniors living on fixed incomes...they cannot afford cell phones and they don't have access to the internet," he explained.
In recent months, other riders have taken to social media to raise their concerns about the shift:
Why would @ttc remove the bus schedule telling people to download their app instead??? fix it jesus
When did the TTC think it was a good idea to replace every bus schedule with a sign telling you to use an app.
@bradTTC the decision to have customers use data to check the bus schedules ridiculous, Every city has their schedule posted TTC is #worst
'We realize not everyone has a smartphone'
Green said customers will still have other options, including calling the TTC's customer service line to talk to an operator or have a schedule mailed to their home, using a public library to print online schedules, and viewing the real-time LED signs rolling out in the years ahead. Schedules will also still be posted at subway stations.
"We realize not everyone has a smartphone," he added. "The poles will still carry information saying, for instance, 'this service is 10 minutes or better.'"
That's not enough for Van Dette, who recalled meeting a woman at an East York TTC stop who asked to use his cell phone because she didn't know when the next bus was coming.
"Now we're learning that it's a cost-saving measure, I'm going to go back to the budget committee to get the TTC to find the funds for this," Van Dette said.
"It's the wrong delivery of customer service."
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