After declaring the site of Metrolinx, né the Greater Toronto Transit Authority, Failed Redesign of the Year, I decided to act journalistically and file an information request. (They’re a public agency and they are subject to disclosure.)

I am looking for documentation of the following:

  • Renaming the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA), including any list of candidate names (in order of preference if given).
    • Identity of any outside naming consultants.
    • Projected and actual cost of the GTTA renaming project.
  • Redevelopment, relaunching, and/or redesign of the GTTA Web site (eventually under the domain Metrolinx.com). In specific, I request documents (including warnings and in- and out-of-house assessments) pertaining to compliance with Web standards and accessibility requirements; qualifications of developers and/or designers used in the project, whether inside or outside; identities of outside developers and/or designers, if any; and plans for and results of user testing.
    • Choice of Microsoft platforms for Web development instead of other platforms, including justifications.
    • Projected and actual cost of the new Web site.

Now, I know that FOI coordinators love to make things as time-consuming, difficult, and expensive as possible for applicants. They also love to force applicants to appeal to the IPC. One method of accomplishing the former is printing out electronic documents to occupy as many pages as possible. Since all these documents will be available in electronic form (E-mails very much are documents of interest in this request), you can simply save them as plain-text files, PDFs (not scanned images of pages; tagged PDFs preferable; no security features activated), or, if necessary, unpublished file formats like Microsoft Office files.

You can simply E-mail files as attachments…. (The Act does not forbid electronic dissemination of documents.) I’m sure you’ll prefer to burn documents onto CD (not any kind of floppy disc), as that would delay the matter further and incur fees. If absolutely necessary, you can do that. I don’t want and won’t pay for top-postings of respondent E-mails, a concept you may have to look up that you certainly [carry out] yourself.

I’m sure you will uphold the letter and spirit of the Act. I’m also sure you would have done everything I warned against in the previous paragraph had I not asked for other treatment. I enclose the $5 fee.

It got bounced around quite a bit. Then one day I received an envelope with a stamp in the corner. It showed my address and a return address, both printed in Helvetica. The letter – ink-jet-printed (including logotype), set in Arial, and signed by W. Michael Fenn, CEO – claimed that just the research time would run $180, which “does not include preparation time, photocopies or CDs.” That adds up to 12 full hours of research. We all know that Metrolinx has the documents readily at hand (in MS Word or PDF formats), so this is sophistry.

In accordance with legislation, the letter informed me the fee could be waived under certain conditions, the only relevant one of which is handing over one’s bank records. (And then they could still say no.) One might also appeal the fee, which costs $25 right there.

Oh, and the whole thing was passed off as “an ‘interim decision’… not binding on the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (Metrolinx).”

So: After blowing taxpayer money renaming themselves, and after blowing even more of it buying intrinsically defective and unrepairable Microsoft products, they want me to pay them to explain how it happened.

W. Michael Fenn, go fuck yourself.

Now: What else does Metrolinx have up its sleeve? Well, a new Web site, for one, although I would prefer that someone file a human-rights complaint first to maximize their pain. Next, you may wonder why the Toronto Transit Camp Web site was so recently updated so many months post-Camp. (I cleaned up the paragraphing after it was updated, but I’ve got nothing to do with it otherwise.) Could that be an indication of upcoming events?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.01.25 15:23. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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