‘Minor’ changes in TTC service alerts cause ‘major’ headaches for commuters

By Tammie Sutherland

The TTC has made some “minor” changes to the way it reports delays on the system, that appear to be causing “major” frustration for commuters.

In early July, the transit system quietly tweaked how it communicates with customers through social media and automated alerts. One of the major adjustments is the language the TTC uses, and its criteria for what constitutes a “minor” delay versus a “major” one.

CityNews first discovered the change during Breakfast Television on the morning of July 16, after this tweet was sent out:

That begs the question: Why would the word “minor” be used to describe a situation where shuttle buses have been called in?

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross provided the following breakdown:


If trains are running, but service has been slowed for any reason, the TTC considers this a “minor” delay. Whether that wait for a train is 5 minutes or 20 minutes, the delay will be labelled as ‘minor’, as long as service is still operating.


A major delay is anything over 20 minutes that may require you to alter your travel plans.


A subway suspension would simply be communicated as “no service.” While that is considered a considerable inconvenience, the word “major” is not used if trains, buses or streetcars are likely to stop operating on a route.

However, judging by comments on Twitter, commuters and TCC communications have very different views on the definitions of “major” and minor”

Here’s just a small sample of some of the tweets sent out about a “minor” delay on Line 1 this morning:

Ross says the changes are based on customer feedback about making the service alerts clearer, shorter and more concise.

The new-look alerts now only include the route number, the problem, and the type of delay, and are sent out to commuters faster through the TTC’s automated alert system.

Ross adds nothing is set in stone.

“If ‘minor’ and ‘major’ become a major issue, we’re open to looking at that, and continuing to evaluate,” he says. “We continue to work out minor vs major, cognizant of customers’ interpretation of minor vs major.”

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