An Idea for the TTC

I’ve oft-critisized the TTC (well, its management) in private for practices such as not opening up their data (in GTFS). Toronto’s transit agency is now the main holdout in the area. Actually, only one of the agencies has made their data truly public, the others have given it exclusively to Google. Anyhow, here’s an idea that would help them redeem themselves.

I noticed a few months ago that in a very large number of TTC subway cars, the maps, of which there are typically several per car, were entirely missing. It was pointed out to me that these are stolen frequently. So, here’s the brilliant idea. Sell the TTC maps.

TTC should send out a press release to the local media (couple of radio stations, the free newspapers that everyone reads on the subway already, etc.) announcing that a limited run of 200 of the maps will be sold the following week from the ticket both at the Bloor/Yonge station, for $15. No further advertising is needed, not even a little poster at the ticket booth. The media loves TTC stories, and this one will certainly be reported. All 200 will be sold within the first few days, at which point the TTC can put out a second press release bragging about the incredible demand and that they ran out far faster than expected, and will consider expanding sales and perhaps making them available at other stations as well.

The TTC will make money off this (profit from sales, plus reduced theft costs; not much, but they need whatever they can get), gain regard, and all at almost no work at all. The maps should be printed as-is, no need to make a consumer version of them or package them in any way. The only con I can think of is that the maps are probably not quite able to fit through the tiny window in the ticket booths that is normally used to pass money and tickets/tokens back and forth; I’ll leave this minor problem up to the TTC to figure out.

For those interested, you can see the TTC map (and a user-created similar map) on ahk2chan, an interactive map on the TTC site, and a Chinese version.

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