If you mixed these two together, what would Toronto get?
Anyone who knows me well knows that my biggest pet peeves are bad public transit and bad design.
Unfortunately for me (and you), the TTC represents both in abundance. More unfortunate is the fact that the importance of an improved TTC, along with its wide ranging economic, environmental and cultural benefits, is lost on the majority of people in power.
Even in its dilapidated state, the TTC is a tremendous source of civic pride — just imagine what it would be like if the powers that be actually took pride in delivering service that was not only reliable, fast and efficient, but also designed to be as comfortable, exciting, easy to use and fun as possible? After all, the intangibles of riding public transit are just as important as the service itself.
The TTC needs an injection of youth, enthusiasm, money, ideas and love. It needs a dramatic makeover, both in the physical and imaginary sense.
So, where do we start?
1. SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE
– Significantly purchase more modern buses and streetcars which are environmentally friendly, accessible and have a higher capacity than current models. A larger and more effective surface transit fleet is essential
– Create an LRT and BRT network throughout the city, particularly in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke
– Vastly improve Wheel-Trans service. It’s currently operating at the bare minimum
– Scrap the Spadina subway extension and construct a downtown relief subway line, and/or give downtown streetcar routes the right of way
2. DESIGN, ART, ASTHETICS AND ARCHITECTURE
– Re-design the interior of our subway stations. Refresh or add new and vibrant colour combinations for every station (except perhaps Downsview and Dupont), which incorporate both the ceiling and floor into the overall colour scheme. My God, have you seen Chester station? What a depressing place to be…
– Use the original Toronto subway font for all significant station signs
– Significantly incorporate art into every station (and turn on those lights at Yorkdale!)
– Re-design our bus stations. The majority of our bus stations are dull, cold, lifeless, grey slabs of concrete and steel. They’re in dire need of some fresh colour. Have you ever spent time at Scarborough Town Centre station? Where is the City Beautification Ensemble when you need them?
– Re-design the TTC website. This has been well documented of late with some great ideas. Hopefully the TTC will incorporate a history section, have different language options and have downloadable bus/streetcar schedules for phones and PDA’s.
– Design iconographic transit shelters, street entrances to the subway and entrances from buildings. A “Red Rocket” red would be an ideal iconographic colour.
– Re-design the bus and streetcar route maps. When on display, make them oversized and incorporate the route within the real street grid.
– Overview information and wayfinding signage to ensure clarity and accuracy. Different languages should also be incorporated and cease the usage of hand written information signs
– Change the colour of the subway cars back to the classic Gloucester Red (!)
– Create and display maps detailing businesses, interesting facts and places surrounding subway stations
– Create a more efficient method for paid entrance into stations. Anyone who’s ever seen a massive line-up at the collector booth because 1 person is buying bus tickets, knows what I’m talking about. Tickets should be dispensed from machines and there should also be a separate window at the booth used specifically for people seeking TTC information
3. AMENITIES, ACCESSIBILITY, COMFORT AND SUSTAINABILITY
– Add elevators to every station
– Add modern washrooms and water fountains to every station
– Add baby change stations to every washroom
– Strict adherence to cleaning schedule for washrooms and stations (has anyone used the washrooms at Kennedy station? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.)
– Purchase more power washers
– Convert all high traffic doors to sliding doors
– Add two computer stations (one inside and one outside the collector booth) to allow riders to access TTC information (route planners, schedules, etc)
– Create more seating in all stations
– Add video screens to all stations displaying TTC info, the time, news, the weather and waiting times for specific routes
– Add GPS technology to all vehicles and transit shelters
– Reintroduce individual transit shelter phone numbers
– Increase the number of garbage and recycling receptacles in every station
4. TTC STAFF
– Re-design the TTC uniform. When was the last time this was done? Any aspiring fashion designers want to take this one on?
– Create better break areas. When you’re entering Spadina station on the streetcar, you can occasionally see TTC staff reading the newspaper, in what looks like an old storage closet. Is it any wonder why some of them look and act miserably?
5. MARKETING, ADVERTISING, MERCHANDISE
– Viva has colourful banners lining the streets in York Region, creatively selling their services. The TTC should take a page out of their book
– The state of the TTC’s current merchandise is an embarrassment of epic proportions. Toronto has a plethora of talented designers and artists creating t-shirts, buttons and other labours of love just because. Why not hire or license their ideas? Why not sell full-size subway maps?
6. FARES AND PAYMENT METHODS
– Maintain one universal fare because a zone system harms those living in the inner suburbs
– Allow Metropasses to be purchased at www.ttc.ca
– Incorporate the cost of the U-Pass into school tuition fees
I’m sure there are a couple of hundred better ideas out there… please share… the TTC needs them