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Whoa! This is rare in broad daylight. Nobody else was injured in the incident, but the ETF is searching the tunnels for suspects who might be hiding there.

Actually it's not so rare anymore.

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Nothing is sacred anymore...not even the subway.

Dont' forget this is'nt the first. Remember the Kennedy and Main Stn shootings? And last march someone was actually shot inside a subway car.

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An article about TTC's IT in Computer World trade magazine

http://www.itworldcanada.com quick link "095452"

TTC IT: The Better Way

By: Briony Smith - Computerworld Canada (13 Jan 2009)

The new-look Commission takes on customer information projects

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bills itself as “The Better Way,” but how can you make The Better Way…well, better?

Why, IT, of course.

Enter John Cannon. He is a TTC lifer. “I’ve worked here for 32 years,” the affable, silver-haired CIO said. After working in corporate security, equipment management, management services and material procurement, he moved into the IT department eight years ago.

In his mission to make the Better Way better, Cannon has led the very IT evolution of the TTC, and is improving public transit for the masses via forays into GPS, SMS, and online.

All aboard

It all started off with a bang.

“When I came in, we were just coming off of Y2K, so we were patching our current systems instead of outright replacing everything,” he said. Rather than indulge in a little IT department panic, Cannon got his run as CIO off to a good start by using the scare to put in place a forward-thinking, cost-cutting policy that would eventually even earn him some green cred, too. “We put in a 10-year review process for equipment so that we would tweak things, but generally let them go. It keeps things in a state of good repair.”

While a solid move, it typified the business-as-usual of the IT department back then. IT was still in the back-room at that point. “We’re not an IT company — we’re a transit company,” said Cannon. “IT has always had a support role, but it wasn’t seen as a strategic directive…initially.”

That all changed in 2006. A change in the make-up of the Commission resulted in an annual general meeting that was to bring IT front and centre for the TTC of the future. “The new head of the Commission took an active interest in IT and wanted to put into place customer information systems for the public,” he said.

And, apparently, all at once and as soon as possible.

“They said, ‘Now, we’d like you to look at GIS, next train announcements, an online trip-planner…all at the same time,’” said Cannon. It was indeed intimidating: many of these initiatives had been tried elsewhere and either failed, or taken a very long time to run well. In New York City, for example, the next train arrival system took more than five years to implement.

Cannon and his staff of 168 got right to work.

Delayed again?!

The next two years saw a bunch of projects that have come to fruition in 2008 and 2009.

First up — service delay notifications, one of the somewhat easier endeavors. LCD TVs were installed in subway stations, where partner OneStop Media broadcasted information. Now, all they had to do was hook up their system with the transit control system, and then relay any delay information to the screens, alerting customers to service disruptions.

After a successful pilot in the Dundas station, it was so far, so good. Now, sending service disruptions in e-mail form and SMS is the next step, which is due for June.

Cannon was able to use the same technology to send next-train-arrival-time data to the terminals: a complete roll-out of that is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. But alerting riders to how long it would be until the next streetcar or bus would be along…well, that was a little trickier.

Next vehicle arriving in…

First off, all surface vehicles run on a 25-year-old proprietary system, making retrofitting a big pain. “We had to add GPS by integrating it with very old technology,” he said. More hardware hassles lay ahead — the TTC now had to geocode all 11,000 bus-stops in the city.

It seemed to work well enough. The technology was first put to work successfully in the new “talking bus” program that automates stop announcements on streetcars and buses. But now the GIS, geocoded bus-stops, and GPS would have to work together to locate the streetcars and buses, calculate how long it would take to reach the next stop, and then relay this information to visual displays attached to the stops.

That meant, of course, that rugged LED-based monitors actually had to be installed at each stop. A streetcar pilot is already underway now, but Cannon estimates that it will take around three to four years to get screens up at each of the stops.

By June, the TTC will even be able to send out updates for certain stops via text message, and users can sign up to have notifications sent to them over the Web as well. Speed and accuracy is key. “We have to make sure we have that accountability of information,” said Cannon. “We’ve heard some stories that other (arrival notification) properties are still two minutes behind. People will have no trust in that information.”

You’d think that a complex project with such a tight timeframe would be hell for an IT team — even one of Cannon’s size. But they do have an advantage: a refreshing sense of real purpose. “They’re a great bunch of people, and they know that they’re bringing about change and are helping people,” according to Cannon. “So there’s a lot of excitement here. It’s daunting, but they’re getting it right.”

The best-laid plans

Meanwhile, back at TTC HQ, the public has been clamoring for the long-awaited online trip-planner. Its debut has been pushed back a few times, but the system is now due in July. “The conversion of current data has been a challenge. It makes sense internally for the staff (when giving directions), but it’s not very user-friendly. We just want to make sure that it is accurate,” said Cannon. Hopefully, it should be worth the wait — the trip-planner should contain some handy extras, such as notes on when to obtain transfers, and nearby lodging and sights.

(Along with the trip-planner, a newly redesigned Web site is in the works that will improve the ease-of-use of the site and also offer an online store where people can buy passes and other fare media.)

Next stop: success

Using IT to better The Better Way isn’t easy. The blogosphere is always abuzz with nitpicking over the Commission’s every technological move, and commuters can get very cranky when it comes to their transit, ongoing improvements or no.

But Cannon is determined to keep the “Red Rocket” roaring into the future and up-to-date with innovations that will keep its customers as cheery as possible. “All I hear is positives, although you do get, ‘What’s taking you so long?’. Bloggers don’t have a lot of patience.”

He said that the TTC is moving in the right direction, but cutting the Commission some slack would be nice. “We’re not just ramming something in so we can say, ‘See — we got something in.’ It’s not about that,” Cannon said.

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Dont' forget this is'nt the first. Remember the Kennedy and Main Stn shootings? And last march someone was actually shot inside a subway car.

There as been quite a few stabbings at Kennedy as well over the years along with the man who was murdered on the subway back in April 2007 which shut down Victoria Park and Kennedy for most of the day.

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There as been quite a few stabbings at Kennedy as well over the years along with the man who was murdered on the subway back in April 2007 which shut down Victoria Park and Kennedy for most of the day.

wasnt the man that was murdered stabbed to dead?

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pfft. TTC is slow with tech stuff! like the the next train display at one station! so many systems have had this for years! their so called informations board are a joke, they are mainly ads!

Heh, even their CIS is still unreliable today!

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3rd time in a week the RT has shut down!

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_31538.aspx

1st: Tuesday with the fire at McCowan Stn.

2nd: Wednesday with the snowstorm

It was shut down twice today apparently, first time was switching delays at McCowan (as mentioned by you) - but another was an apparent fire at Ellesmere. Transit Toronto reports this as a fire in one of the cars...

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It was shut down twice today apparently, first time was switching delays at McCowan (as mentioned by you) - but another was an apparent fire at Ellesmere. Transit Toronto reports this as a fire in one of the cars...

I almost decided to take the RT for today. Thank god i took the alternative.

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I suspect this makes any proposal to replace SRT with Mk2RT cars tougher to push through, especially since many of the commissioners have probably signed up to the service updates.

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Not sure if it's been posted yet, but a TTC constable was assaulted on Thursday doing random metropass checks. Apparently the guy had a fake pass, and went crazy on the constable - end result was a broken leg for the constable

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I suspect this makes any proposal to replace SRT with Mk2RT cars tougher to push through, especially since many of the commissioners have probably signed up to the service updates.

How many spares cars does the TTC have? If one or two sets are out of services would it cause a problem? Would here be an equipment shortage? Can you make a married set out of a different set? With salvaged equipment?

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How many spares cars does the TTC have? If one or two sets are out of services would it cause a problem? Would here be an equipment shortage? Can you make a married set out of a different set? With salvaged equipment?

I think his point is that seeing how often the SRT is down (which is related mostly to the technology and NOT the cars) it would be better to upgrade the line to a proven technology that doesn't have as big problems in snow, which would be LRT. When the line is clogged with snow it would affect all trains.

As for switching out cars, it's exactly the same as subway cars - married pairs can be switched around in the yard. The SRT is mostly in a shortage - there are barely enough cars to provide adequate service.

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As for switching out cars, it's exactly the same as subway cars - married pairs can be switched around in the yard. The SRT is mostly in a shortage - there are barely enough cars to provide adequate service.

Actually, that's wrong - the cars are all self-contained, and so as long as each car is coupled to a car facing the other direction can be used in service.

Dan

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How many spares cars does the TTC have? If one or two sets are out of services would it cause a problem? Would here be an equipment shortage? Can you make a married set out of a different set? With salvaged equipment?

There are enough cars to make seven trainsets, and six trainsets are needed during rush hour. So when more than four cars are broken down we can't make rush hour service. This unfortunately happens alarmingly often.

As for married pairs, smallspy is correct... two cars don't have to be permanently married together, they can mix and match quite easily if they need to. Each car can run perfectly fine on it's own, it's just impractical to do so because only one end of the car has an operating cab.

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Actually, that's wrong - the cars are all self-contained, and so as long as each car is coupled to a car facing the other direction can be used in service.

Dan

There are enough cars to make seven trainsets, and six trainsets are needed during rush hour. So when more than four cars are broken down we can't make rush hour service. This unfortunately happens alarmingly often.

As for married pairs, smallspy is correct... two cars don't have to be permanently married together, they can mix and match quite easily if they need to. Each car can run perfectly fine on it's own, it's just impractical to do so because only one end of the car has an operating cab.

Although it's highly impractical to do so I believe... other than the joining of two H5 cars whose partners were wrecked in accidents (5754 and 5x20 correct?) are there any other occasions where this was done?

Are the SRT cars easier to maneuver in this manner (separate married pairs) because of its automatic control?

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Although it's highly impractical to do so I believe... other than the joining of two H5 cars whose partners were wrecked in accidents (5754 and 5x20 correct?) are there any other occasions where this was done?

Totally different technologies. The ICTS cars were designed from the outset to be self-contained - Detroit's are a good example of this. The subway cars were always designed to operate in married pairs, and can not run independently.

It was actually quite a stroke of luck (if you want to call it that) that the TTC happened to have an H5 that had been modified to run on its own. Had they scrapped both of the cars damaged in the Greenwood derailment, than they would have been short two pairs of H5's, rather than just the one they are now.

Dan

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WOW, this is like the 2nd time in the last 5 or so months this station has been robbed. Why is this place so popular? Isnt the station above ground, making it much easier to been seen or caught?

There was an incident @ Lawrence West Station early this morning. Click here for all the deets.

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WOW, this is like the 2nd time in the last 5 or so months this station has been robbed. Why is this place so popular? Isnt the station above ground, making it much easier to been seen or caught?

there seems to be some low income housing projects that are very close to the station that have high crime rates and have been in the news before for shootings, drug bust and murders

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there seems to be some low income housing projects that are very close to the station that have high crime rates and have been in the news before for shootings, drug bust and murders

They're called Lawrence Heights,...or the Jungle.

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