Thanks to a phenomena called “crowdsourcing,” transit riders can now send text messages to warn other riders about serious delays on subway, streetcar or bus routes. Although these are unofficial alerts from individuals, the information can dramatically enhance that which the TTC itself provides.

A few months ago, Brian Gilham, who rides GO Transit and the TTC, started forwarding official alerts about subway shutdowns to Twitter users.

Recently, he added an enhanced version called TTC Updates, Community Edition, and asked the public to contribute tweets when people encounter major delays. The same messages can be seen at

You can also access the Twitter effort from or via the “Links” page at

Can crowdsourcing help reduce travel frustration? Every person who decides to post real-time warnings could potentially help many others get to work on time or keep appointments.

The TTC now warns of subway disruptions online and by email, and will gradually expand this service to include delays on surface routes. And for those who can’t receive text messages, the transit agency aims to improve real-time communication within the system.

Later this year, the commission also plans to launch “NextBus” technology to tell riders when transit vehicles are projected to arrive at a stop — based on their actual location, not the schedule.

– Toronto-based transport writer Ed Drass covers transit issues every Monday;