TTC simulator puts you in the driver’s seat News

By Alex Coop

The extreme whether so far this winter may provide extra challenges for TTC operators, but if you’d like to enter the driver’s seat from the comfort of your home or office, a website will now allow you to do that.

Weilan Huang, a student from Seneca College and the co-founder of the digital media production company T2PO, alongside his fellow transit enthusiast Ernest Ng, fiddled with an open-source TTC simulator found online that contained several errors and bugs.

Initially the following for it wasn’t large, but after some tweaks to the code, and updated textures, close to a thousand people now know about the simulation.

TTC Academy allows people to come together online at designated times and operate the subway system on the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge University-Spadina lines.

The simulation mimics several aspects of the Toronto Transit Commission, including detailed signalling, stopping at each platform, and keeping in touch with controllers back at the tower. Members of the site take on these different roles, and are assigned a badge number.

The simulation includes the familiar voice that announces each platform, and even generates door failures, passenger assistance alarms and other obstacles, which the operator has to deal with accordingly.

“Initially we only had four to five active members – now we have close to 40 with over 200 on our roster,” Huang said.

“The development team is currently only myself and two other developers. We are always looking for those that can help us develop for the simulator.”



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TTC operators in training use a simulator that closely resembles TTC Academy. The TTC’s however features a full cab mock up with working controls including bypass switches, speed controls, and doesn’t use a keyboard, explained Huang.

“Our simulator on the other hand has better station textures and the layout of the track is fairly accurate. Our simulator can be used for route familiarization, the types of signals on the route and roughly the speeds to operate on various parts of the line.” He added they are continuing to apply updates.

Corporate Communications Supervisor for the TTC, Danny Nicholson, said transit enthusiasts appreciate the rich history behind the transit system.

Events like the open house at the historic Harvey Shop facility, which took place in November, alongside other regular history-related events, draw people into their system further he said.

“We have the third largest transit system in North America, and we have 1.7 million riders per day,” Nicholson said. “We’re a multi-moded transit system, and people are just really into transit.”

The public may not realize the sheer amount of technical aspects involved with the TTC’s operation, but Huang said this is another major reason why people find it so interesting.

“There is more technical knowledge required than most people think. For example using radio terminology, the types of signals, and the types of trains.”

This isn’t Huang’s first project involving the TTC.  A year and a half ago, while attending William Lyon Mackenzie C.I. high school, he produced a video on the TTC train signals used on the system.

Since then, T2PO Films has also released a documentary focusing on TTC subway crews, which features 18 transit employees. The trailer for it can be viewed below.

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