I can exclusively confirm that for the first time ever the TTC took the advice of somebody outside the company.

Last weekend (2010.05.22–24), TTC did track maintenance at Bay station, meaning eastbound and westbound trains had to do a pit stop at Museum station. They tried this once before and it was a nightmare.

On the 19th, I attended a TTC media tour and preview of the diversion. We got on a special train and traced the path everyone else would follow. Adam Giambrone took his sweet time showing up, then did a photo op in clear view of handwritten sign reading PLEASE SHUT GATE. Just as he started talking, an entire classroom of noisy children drowned out his op. To this point, none of the three TTC publicists on staff had bothered to acknowledge me.

We went downstairs and “the lovely Jessica” nicely asked who I was. I introduced myself and handed her my card. Kevin Carrington soon came along and tried to bounce me from the event, but Jessica waved him off. He then picked up a discarded fast-food clamshell from the yellow safety line of the platform. Wouldn’t look good on camera. Realistic, but not good.

The train ride was no big deal, though the special keyhole that can open a door on certain train cars was in heavy use. (There’s also one on the exterior. I’ve seen it used.) “I’d heard of him, but I only got to meet him now” was what I heard Jessica saying to Carrington and Danny Nicholson, head publicist.

Upon arrival, we were reassured by Giambrone and everyone else that there would be plenty of “announcements” and “signage” to tell people which of three possible trains they could take (actually five). TTC was proving itself yet again unable to actually keep records, retain an institutional memory, or – of course – admit they screwed up. Nicholson told me to my face the diversion in 2007 went just fine. I told him to his face it didn’t, and explained why: The “signage” was so half-assed that people brought their own ink-jet-printed replacement signs from home. You couldn’t hear the announcements, because they were shouted through microphones in a noisy environment while trains thundered into an echo chamber with tiled walls.

Nicholson walked away from me halfway through our talk, then spent three-quarters of our remaining time in the station talking to Jessica or other TTC staff. In other words, he left not because he had work to do, but for some other reason. So I explained to Carrington what needed to happen: Staff would have to hold up signs – not handwritten ones – stating which incoming train goes where. Plus audible announcements, of course, which you still wouldn’t be able to hear unless you were standing right alongside.

Since everybody is functionally hearing-impaired in those conditions, actual deaf people and everyone who can see can figure out what train to get on. Blind people have to stand near the hailer to hear what train is coming in. My system is the only one that would work, short of elaborate digital displays and FM-loop systems.

I felt more or less listened to by Carrington, who must have been somewhat sympathetic to what I was saying due to his own visible discomfort with the noise level in the station.

I later sent off what is even by my standards a stern E-mail to Nicholson and Carrington and, whaddya know, TTC did exactly what I told them to do. (I didn’t “ask.”)

Supervisor in cap holds up green sign reading East To Kennedy


The trains I took to Museum station were always claiming to go somewhere they weren’t, but congrats to the TTC for finally, at long last, listening to outside advice. Obviously this was a one-shot deal and it’ll never happen again.

One other fun anecdote: The media-tour train back from Museum was supposed to drop us all off at Broadview. But obviously the train was actually heading back to the Greenwood Yard. So I could have gotten a ride as far as Donlands, which I asked for. The supervisor on board OKed it twice – but then Danny Nicholson, standing outside the train, yelled an order countermanding him – just to be a Little Shit™, it seemed.

I’m just reporting everything that happened, as opposed to everything TTC wants you to think happened.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.05.31 12:54. 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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