Update: see previous posts – November 7, 2011 T.T.C Fails the Emissions Test, September 15, 2011 TTC delays and Road Closures – Weekend of Sept. 16 -18/11, October 12, 2009 T.T.C’s Fines Increase effective October 12, 2009
Cheryl Bome, left, and Susan Bigioni are the voices of the TTC stop announcements on the subway, buses and streetcars. The TTC is introducing electronic voices on the new subway trains.
In another case of man versus machine, the iconic voice of the TTC’s subway stop announcements is slowly being pushed aside by an electronic wannabe.
Millions of riders on the Yonge-University line will no longer be nudged along their journey by TTC communications assistant Susan Bigioni, who recorded the stop announcements in 2007.
That’s because the new Toronto Rocket trains come with a built-in computer-generated voice. In about two years the Yonge line will be furnished exclusively with the newer trains.
Although she will continue to be heard on the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard subways for years to come, Bigioni, 49, admits she is saddened at the prospect of having her voice displaced by technology.
“Of course a human voice has a little more warmth in it. Sure I would like for my voice to remain there but I may not have a choice in the end,” she said.
What many riders don’t know is that the stop announcements on streetcars and buses are the voice of another long-term TTC employee, administrative assistant Cheryl Bomé, 47.
There are no plans to replace her voice on the new streetcars that are still about two years away.
Both women’s voices were chosen by focus groups when the TTC realized it would have to install automated stop announcements. Both say they’ve enjoyed their somewhat anonymous fame.
“It’s nice that we’ve made our mark on something. Who get’s that opportunity?” said Bomé.
When her son went off to high school, he rode the bus with his mother’s voice on board, she said, and Bomé still gets a quiet kick out of hearing herself on the bus.
When she occasionally rides the subway, Bigioni listens to herself with a critical ear, wondering if she could have been clearer or done a better pronunciation. Over the years only a couple of stops, Glencairn and Summerhill, have been re-recorded for clarity.
She has also enjoyed her moments in the media spotlight. One website is even running a contest to mark the end of an era, offering the winner a personal voicemail recording by the TTC announcer they prefer.
Although there haven’t been any complaints about the computer-generated voice on the Rockets, TTC spokesman Brad Ross admits Bigioni’s voice is part of the TTC’s auditory image.
“Every four to five months we get called on who are the voices. It’s indicative of the interest people have.”