Joe Clark pointing at what he considers the worst sign in the TTC system.
Earlier today, Joe Clark hosted a tour of the messy and inconsistent TTC signage and tiles in its subway stations, a topic that he has written extensively on his website. Reading Clark’s comments on his website and interested in TTC design and way finding, I made it out from my home in Ward 9 (yes, I live north of Highway 401!) to listen to what he had to say in person.
Our tour started at Victoria Park at 2:oo PM, and then visited Main Street, Pape, St. George, Spadina, and Bathurst Stations. Victoria Park and Pape were especially significant as both are due for much needed major renovations, under the first phase of a station modernization program. Victoria Park will undergo a major renovation that will involve the demolition of the old bus bays and the building of new, bright entrances. But many fine examples of the 1960s-era steel enamel signs will see all removed. Pape Station will also get a major facelift, and will be the first of the 1960s Bloor-Danforth Station to have its tiles replaced by artificial stone wall treatments. (Eventually, with more station modernizations, there will be multiple station styles in the once-consistent Bloor-Danforth subway.)
The tour group saw many examples of bad and inconstant signage, dating from the old enamelled metal signage with the old TTC subway font, to the current “fake Helvetica” In the picture above, Clark is gesturing towards a sign at Bathurst Station, which directs the public toward an elevator for westbound trains, buses and streetcars. The problem here, is that buses (the 7 Bathurst) run northbound from Bathurst, while streetcars (on route 511) run south. And of course, even the suboptimal Sheppard-era signage convention is ignored – there should be a thin red stripe with the green to signify access to surface routes.
The turnout was very good (50 joined) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
UPDATE: Clark is hosting another tour of the Yonge-University-Spadina Line on Sunday, November 6.
Quoting Clark: “Meet inside Lawrence West station at track level. (Get it right: It’s Lawrence West on the Spadina line, not Lawrence on the Yonge line or Lawrence East in the Scarborough RT.) Don’t be late.”
On the itinerary: Lawrence West (he calls it the ugliest in the system), Dupont, St. Patrick, Osgoode, Rosedale, Bayview (on the Sheppard Line) and Eglinton. More details here.
St. George was the testing grounds for Paul Arthur’s pictogram-based station identification system, an experiment that has been left alone since the installation in 1993. It features the first overhead next station signs as well as its own unique typeface. As a result, St. George is an interesting, but confusing, mish-mash of sign styles and font types.
Spadina Station had two particularly comical errors. On the platform level of the Bloor-Danforth line, the TTC built a new secondary entrance at Walmer Road. Unfortunately, the TTC also forgot to remove the old exit signs that point toward the main exit at Spadina Road as well as the bus, streetcar and Spadina Subway connections, even though a new exit was now available. The picture above also illustrates how the text in the new Sheppard signage blurs.
Inside the new Walmer Road entrance, a local station map still shows the 77 Spadina Bus feeding into the station (replaced by the 510 Spadina Streetcar in 1997), even though the new entrance (with the artificial stone tiles slated for the Pape Station renovations) was opened in January 2001. But there’s a “you are here” decal at the Walmer Road entrance (larger version here). The route 77 number has since been recycled – it is now associated with the Swansea Bus, which runs out of Runnymede Station.
A few more pictures from the tour:
One of the elegant vintage 1960s signs that will be removed with the Victoria Park station reconstruction.
Somewhat confusing signage at Main Street Station. At least this overhead sign in the middle ground does not direct passengers to eastbound trains, buses and streetcars. Also note the mismatched tiles around the elevator retrofit.
At Pape Station. Note the ugly vinyl ad that helps to ruin the simple aesthetic of the tile scheme. The distinctive tile pattern here at Pape will be removed in favour of artificial stone.
Examples of temporary notices taped on the window at Bathurst Station. Note the customer notice on the right, showing the temporary bus bay layout is now out-of-date – the salmon-coloured notice on the left says that the 90 Vaughan bus no longer serves Bathurst Station.