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Rider, can you spare 15 cents? TTC looks to charge for text notifications

Rider, can you spare 15 cents? TTC looks to charge for text notifications
The Spadina streetcar—possibly late (Image: r h)

In a move consistent with a Rob Ford–led city hall that never misses an opportunity for cost savings—no matter how small—the TTC will consider a staff report this week that floats the idea of charging customers a nickel and a dime for receiving text messages that reveal when the next transit vehicle will show up.

From the Toronto Sun:

TTC commissioners will consider a staff proposal on Wednesday to give riders the first two text messages in a day for free and then charge them 15 cents for each subsequent message that day.

The change comes as the TTC plans to roll out its next vehicle arrival system (NVAS) text messaging for all its surface vehicles.

Currently, only streetcar riders can send a text message with the stop number and get an estimated arrival time for the next streetcar.

While we’re temped to lay some of the blame for this move at the feet of the Canadian telecom industry—which famously charges some of the highest rates for SMS text messaging in the world—it’s hard not to see this idea as a slap in the face to transit riders. Since riders probably wouldn’t be wondering as often as they do when their bus or streetcar is going to show up if those vehicles actually, you know, regularly showed up, this proposal feels like a way for the TTC to make some money off their notoriously unreliable service schedules.

So, let’s prioritize. Before the TTC starts charging its riders to learn that they’re going to have to wait a half-hour for the next bus, they should probably focus on reducing the number of delays and short turns that keep the transit-going public waiting in the first place. Until then, they should probably reconsider reaching any deeper into riders’ pockets.

TTC looks at charging for text messages [Toronto Sun]An International Comparison of Cell Phone Plans and Prices [New America Foundation]

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