The TTC is enjoying its share of improvements under Adam Giambrone. Emailing subway service delays to TTC riders isn't one of them.
The TTC will unveil today its subway service delay emails, available by subscription. But how does that help those left standing at Spadina platform this morning because of a security disruption at Osgoode? Or those poor frozen riders awaiting the notorious Finch line of buses? It doesn't.
The fundamental benefit of electronic updates is that they are instant or close-to-instant. But if you can't access these updates the instant you need them, what's the point?
Not criticize the idea overmuch, because it all becomes a different story for bus routes. But, for the simple reason that subway riders need notice of disruption while they ride the subway, emailing this info doesn't make much sense. The majority of city subways run underground, where the Internet is not available. Smartphones, Internet tablets, netbooks, laptops - none can get a signal when you're deep in the bowels of the city.
And neither can phones access SMS service, which is the TTC's next pointless endeavor for subways.
Giambrone has undoubtedly been the best addition to the TTC since the door-closing chime. But occasionally his attempts to modernize service get caught in meaningless tech-showmanship. This email service will improve the TTC experience for no one, and pleases only the minuscule group that follows the TTC's online developments religiously. Giambrone's biggest supporters seem to be transit enthusiasts, and the type that spends a chunk of time in front of the Internet. Though he made genuine progress on the TTC website this year, this service seems like it's pandering to his adoring transit geek audience.
The subway innovation that truly requires Giambrone's attention is the Next Vehicle Arrival System, which went into a pilot project last month. It's currently not close to being at every station, from the looks of things. Until it is, riders will have to stand for this bell-and-whistle addition that is the subway e-alert.