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Streetcar map for Toronto

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About a year ago I sat down with TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and his staff to discuss a number of little ideas I had percolating in the back of my head. One of my suggestions was to create an iconic streetcar map. Not much groundwork has been made on this idea so I’m taking it public.

I’ve always found it perplexing that while travelling on a streetcar you have no idea of which subway stations have streetcars routes passing through or which streetcar routes intersect with one another. My idea is to place the streetcar maps above the rear exit of streetcars, much like subway maps appear above entrance/exit doors on trains.

The second map I created is for subway riders to see which bus and streetcar routes intersect with subway stations (I’ve used the Bloor-Danforth subway line as my example).

The reason behind this is simple: while on a subway, riders do not have access to any information that would show them where these routes exist (or bus routes for that matter). There are occasions when people change their route mid-trip and need to figure out how to get somewhere. Currently, they would have to get off the subway and make their way up to the fare box area and look at the TTC’s system-wide map. This map would alleviate that excursion all together.

In essence, the below-ground and above-ground transit systems do not “speak” to one another leaving less-knowledgeable riders to make guesses that cost them time, as well as make their trip less efficient and much more frustrating. Often out-of-town tourists and riders from Toronto’s suburbs are intimidated by the TTC’s transit system and need all the help they can get navigating. As well, the streetcars are an iconic symbol for Toronto and we need the TTC to treat the Red Rockets as such. Creating an iconic map would be a good first step.

I am looking for constructive feedback from Spacing readers so that I can refine these maps and officially submit them to the TTC in February and be dealt with at the Commissioners’ meeting in March. My goal is to help make riding the streetcar and subway much easier and I believe these two maps can address some of these concerns.

MAPS ON FLICKR (to download high-res versions):
Streetcar route map
Connection to surface routes



  1. Matt, these are both great ideas.

    Re: Streetcar map:
    It might be of value to riders to somehow show (maybe using small looping arrows) where the streetcar short turns are as well.

  2. These are great, something genuinely useful. It’s actually a little baffling why this hasn’t existed since the system was started.

  3. I love these. Just the other day I was trying to explain to my Vancouver friends how fabulous the TTC grid-like streetcar system was and you’ve put into a JPEG more than I could ever say.

    You might get some complaints on the use of red-on-black though. I think it looks cool, but I’m not colour blind 🙂

  4. Great idea Matt!

    The Streetcar map looks pretty good right now. One question I have is where does the 505 end in the west? I also am having a hard time reading the small print. Can you put up a larger version?

    The Bus reference on the other hand seems not very useful as is. Knowing a bus’ number doesn’t mean anything. Reading that I can catch a 123 or a 112 at Kipling doesn’t tell me which one goes to the airport and which one goes to Sherway Gardens. I’m not sure I have a simple solution to make this seem more useful.

  5. I love the top one, Matt. Looks great.

    Of course, this is just example of more “downtown centric”, anti-everywhere else transit focus. Why is a downtown streetcar line more worthy than a Scarborough or Etobicoke bus line 😉 (though, said in jest, it isn’t an invalid question)

  6. Sean >> The simple answer is that there are hundreds of bus routes and 15 streetcar routes. Its not really downtown centric, per se, just realistic in terms of being able to implement the maps.

    Also, there is no single map for the streetcars. That is the main point.

  7. Map looks great, maybe you could make an interactive one for the TTC website. It could be an interactive map like Montreal STM Metro Map. When you click on a station on their map you find out which buses connect to that particular station.

  8. I love the streetcar map.

    Here are a few suggestions.

    It’d bee cool if you could somehow indicate which stations have streetcar access in the stations, and which stations you have to access from the street.

    I’d also like to see the street names written on the red lines (as opposed to above them), so it works more like a map. On routes like the 505, where Dundas West bends, it would be nice to see “Dundas West written on each “segment,” indicating that the streetcar is not straying from Dundas. Actually, just writing the street name several times over the length of the red line would be helpful. Oh, and do the same for the north/south streets (Bathurst, Spadina, Broadview).

    As for the subway map, I’m with Brian–I don’t think it’s all that useful, and I’m not sure how–or if–it can be improved. I prefer what’s there now to this one…sorry. I think you’re right, it would be really helpful for riders to have access to a TTC map right on the subway car, but perhaps a regular map posted on those plastic “dividers” on each side of the doorway might be a better way to go…

  9. Great work. I wonder how you could signify important bus/street routes; for example knowing that Dufferin goes to the lake could be important to some riders.

  10. Matt,

    I think the streetcar map is excellent.


    I’m not a big fan of the bus/connector route map for the subways.

    Given the current size/shape of the subway based maps I think it would look overbearingly crowded.

    The TTC shows connections on its full sized maps.

    An alternate suggestion would be to have the TTC install full-sized maps adjacent to all the DWA areas, on the platform level of all stations.

    This would be in addition to existing map locations on mezzanine/street levels.

  11. Cute, useful and attractive, good job! I would love to see these on streetcars.

    Somewhat related, I wish there was at least one “full system map” in every subway car. It has so much useful information on it, including all the missing info lamented in this post.

    They have some of those maps in some streetcar and bus shelters. In fact, I can’t even figure out how they determine which shelters get the full system map – our rather underutilized Beaconsfield Ave. shelter has one, but not the shelter at Queen & University.

  12. Hi Matt,

    Great idea. I think the streetcar maps in streetcars are a great idea, with the connecting subway lines also called out by the new announcement system.

    Re. the subway map: showing the connecting bus/streetcar routes is good (this information exists in many other cities, e.g. Berlin). That said, I agree with other comments here that a full system map should also be in **every** subway car. This is also normal in the Berlin system. How about a little plane icon by the 192 Airport Rocket?

    Maybe it would be good to take up the issue of the the Infoposts too. See point number 11 here for a suggestion on how to make the Infoposts more readable and useful.

    Finally, bus and streetcar lines **and stops** should be on the city maps of Toronto that Rand McNally/Perly sell. Even the TTC’s own ride guides don’t show where the stops and alternate subway entrances are. Embarassing.

    Good luck!


  13. The streetcar map should show more of the east end. Currently, it does not clearly indicate that the 506 goes to Main Station (only in small print), and it does not show that the 502 and 503 go along Kingston Road.

    Also, I think that the streetcar routes should be color coded on the map, to make them easier to read. Color coding should be used for the entire system map, in my opinion.

  14. Matt

    On the streetcar map, you should mention where the 502, 503 and 508 end, so tourists know which stations they can board the streetcars at.

    On the surface connections map, you should mention GO Transit connections as well. The one thing that I’m worried about is that changes to surface routes can happen very easily, and so the map can easily become out of date, and so we’d have to print more of these plastic maps. (Or attach little stickers with corrections)

  15. In the Toronto Streetcar Map’s Legend, instead of “DEDICATED STREETCAR LINE” I would put “LIGHT RAPID TRANSIT LINE”. Also, instead of “STREETCAR ON ROAD ROUTE” I would use “SHARED STREETCAR LINE”.
    One last thing, include the names of the loops, ie. High Park Loop, Exhibition Loop, etc. as well as some indication that a subway station is the terminal for that streetcar/LRV.

  16. I like the streetcar map a lot… and like the other commenters, wonder why these aren’t already on the streetcars.

    The only thing I wonder about is if it wouldn’t be good to indicate somehow which roads the streetcars follow. I mean, unlike the subway, which doesn’t depend on surface traffic, it’s good to sometimes know where the streetcar is going.

    Here’s an example — on the 506 route going East from College, there’s a jog from College to Gerrard. On your map, there’s no indication what road this “jog” follows, other than looking up to the subway line, where it says “Castle Frank,” which of course, isn’t helpful when the street is Parliament.

    I guess I feel that without a few major roads on the map (overlaid?) there’s no real sense as to whether your subway map is to scale or not.

  17. It’d be great to have a map in streetcars — right now, it’s hard for someone who’s unfamiliar with the route to know if they’re going the right way or have gone too far.

    A route map for each streetcar route would be ideal, but I’m guessing that streetcars get assigned to different routes each day so that’s not feasible. But only knowing connections to the subway or other streetcars does end up being a bit odd — if I’m on King or Queen, the Dufferin bus might be just as important to me as the Bathurst streetcar.

    A couple of really minor points: “Queens Quay” doesn’t have an apostrophe (I don’t understand why). It and Gerrard have West and East branches, so it seems like they should have “W.”/”E.” even though there’s currently service on only one branch each.

    For the subway map, I’d suggest giving much more prominence to the connecting subway/SRT lines. I know it’s intended to be a surface connections map, but I think people would expect all connections to be listed. Right now you have to know that the unlabeled blue box is the SRT.

  18. I would simplify the streetcar map, just showing the line you are on with stop names running off at 45º angles and bus / subway / street car connections where applicable. (Something like your modified subway map.) A bonus would be to put estimated stop times between stops so that one could add up how long to Dufferin on boarding at Parliament say.

  19. You forgot the dedicated lanes on the 501 east of King Street!

  20. I agree with Andrew MacKinnon’s comment above. Consider using a different colour for each streetcar line. This would help to differentiate them, and it would make it a lot easier to look at the map quickly and find the line you needed. It is particularly confusing when you get near the ends of the lines and they merge. I can’t tell, at a glance, which line goes where.

  21. You forgot the “DEDICATED STREETCAR LINE” or “LIGHT RAPID TRANSIT LINE” on the Queensway between Glendale Avenue (Parkside Drive) and Brookers Lane (LakeShore Blvd. W.).
    The Queensway right-of-way has only been in existence since July 21, 1957, but few know about that.

  22. I think different colours would be rocking the ttc’s proverbial boat too much – they have already decided that red is the colour for surface routes.

    although in their transit city map, they do use new colours for the new ROWs…

  23. An idea that is long overdue. I like the streetcar map as is; I don’t think trying to add stop names or repeating the street name along any given line is a good idea because it will end up making the map too busy. The only change I would make is to show more of the east end (at least to Main). It would be great to show Long Branch right over to Neville, but that would probably be too long to fit easily on a map.

  24. Nice design! For the subway map, I agree that it is not that informative with only the route numbers, as a lot of the time people might not know/remember which number corresponds to the route they are looking for. Having at least the name of the route next to the number would help, although I’m not sure how this could be done without making the map terribly cluttered. I also agree with the suggestions that there should be detailed system maps, if not in every car, then at least somewhere on the subway platform.

  25. Thanks for all of your comments so far. I will address one thing: the colour of the lines.

    I worked on the TTC’s Transit City branding back in March 2007. This included a stylized map, buttons, and a media package. After some deliberation, I selected red as the streetcar line as a shout-out to the Red Rocket days. Red was also not in use anywhere else in the TTC’s subway map system.

    I think keeping the lines one colour is important to keep it legible and iconic. As someone who hopes to continue to work on the branding of the TTC’s Transit City (my work in 2007 was a short two week contract) I want to keep my branding ideas consistent.

    As an aside, I suspect the next version of streetcars will have much better displays of route names. Digitized and properly lit signage will allow the TTC to show a decent amount of info and allow for better route name displays. I would encourage the TTC to display the streetcar routes as “QUEEN STREET WESTBOUND” and then scroll to “501 TO LONG BRANCH” instead of the current mess of a rolodex. Better displays just makes it easier for everyone riding the system.

  26. Both are interesting ideas, but I’m not entirely sold on them.

    The streetcar map “works” because the streetcar system, in isolation, fits within a long panel display (like the subway map). However, without a list of stops or cross streets (detailed or just major ones) or intersecting bus routes, there isn’t enough detail to be be quite useful enough. Which leads to the second point: why should the map show one form of surface transit operating in mixed traffic, and not both forms of surface transit operating in mixed traffic?

    There is a different version of a streetcar map on Wikipedia, which features different design elements. Aesthetically, I am drawn more toward that one, although both have strengths and weaknesses. The Wikipedia map concentrates on streetcar-subway connections, shows better the separate routes, and has angles and curves that don’t look as harsh. However, Matt’s map gives more prominence to the route numbers away from the terminals, and shows streetcar ROWs (although the effect doesn’t work at lower resolutions… looks like a thinner line). Neither map gives enough prominence to the terminals, which would be necessary if this was to be used by unfamiliar riders for navigation purposes… would need to show regular terminals and potentially the main short turn points as well.

    I like the look of the connecting routes map. I find the coloured squares to be intuitive myself and it’s a nice design feature. However, I don’t find the principle of the map all that useful. Like someone above mentioned, it requires that you know what every route number is, but it also can only cover one line at once (therefore would have to be in addition to the existing map).

    Now, I think a map that really would be useful both in trains and on the net (for pre-trip planning) would be a travel time map (as opposed to the travel time matrix currently posted by the TTC, which is useful but could be simplified). I have been thinking of that on and off lately and am actually in the process of making one up.

  27. I definitely agree with the comment that it would be good to somehow show which subways stops have internal surface connections (i.e. no transfer needed) and which have external surface transfers (i.e. you need a transfer). That’s caught me out a couple of times.

    I think, if you added that, the map that shows the surface connection routes would become useful. Surface route connections seem like an obvious thing to have on a subway map, to at least show that the TTC really is based on connections between surface and subway routes.

    Especially if there were full route maps on subway cars. Such an obvious idea. Possibly they don’t put them in because of lack of surface space at eye level, but they should look for a solution. And they should at least have one in every station, so people can plan routes – it boggles my mind that I was never conscious of their absence, although I’ve used the equivalent maps in many unfamiliar transit systems in other cities. In some ways we adapt too easily to unnecessary difficulties.

  28. I see a good purpose to the subway connection map – I think maps like that above should be what the TTC should use in the new subway cars that will offer the lit station maps – use strip maps for the Y-U-S line only with the connections, similar to the strip maps on the MTR in Hong Kong or on the #6 line in New York.

    Maps like those in Montreal and New York showing the system map in a less squished geographic format (especially once the Sorbara Subway is built, and stations squeezed in to Highway 7) should supplement the new overhead strip maps. The Transit City lines could join the map perhaps, once it is in a less confining format.

    I agree with the transfer comments as well. And while the TTC supposedly shows which stations offer in-station paperless transfers versus on-street connections with the circled T symbol, there is no distinguishing between the routes at Union (which has in-station connections with the 509 and 510, but not the 6, 65A/72A, 97B, 172) and Wellesley (the 94, but not the 97B).

    The streetcar map is not detailed enough to really be useful, but removable individual line maps (or put on a roller) would point out the transfers with all routes and landmarks on the way. Streets like Broadview and Roncesvalles are missing as well.

  29. General comments:

    1) There should be three types of maps:

    a) map of the entire TTC system (ie. the TTC Ride Guide)

    b) map of the subway system and the street car system

    c) map of each individual line, like a more stylized version of the maps that we see on bus and streetcar poles… but in the buses, streetcars and subways themselves… like they have in London or Boston. These can have data on main tourist attractions, so anyone on the yellow line can see that the Royal York Hotel is at Union Station and not out in Etobicoke by the Second Cup, the Shopper’s Drug Mart and the Mac’s convenience store.

    2) Add lakes and rivers like New York, London or Montreal? Why do none of our maps feature lakes and rivers? They’re important geographic markers that aren’t intrusive to place and tell riders a great deal about the city. How would anyone know that the most direct way from City Hall (with the fewest transfers) to Sunnyside beach is to take the 501 and get off at Parkside? Or that the Don River runs between Castle Frank and Broadview? A simple river and lake in the background could answer that.

    For the Streetcar Map

    (1) see above

    (2) mark the roads when they merge (ie. Dundas west of college)

    (3) mark all North-South streets (Roncesvalles, Bathurst, etc.)

    (4) name the loops (eg. Exhibition place!)

    (5) add transfer points to other rail systems (GO, VIA, etc.)

    For the Subway Map

    (1) I like it as map c) in a multiple map system as stated in my first comment above.

    (2) Add transfer stations to other transit systems (GO, VIA, VIVA, etc.) Why does the current map have data on parking lots but no information on where other transit systems link? That’s car culture for you!

    (3) Add tourist attractions

    (4) The title looks like a legend because you’ve added the coloured lines there but entitled the box “Connections to TTC Surface Routes”

    (5) As stated before, add the geology. My personal, humble opinion is that the ride under the Bloor viaduct is a pretty decent geographic marker. But maybe it’s just me. =)

  30. Dear Mr. Blackett, If you don’t know where to connnect to a specific streetcar line, go to a fare collector booth at the entrance to a subway station and ask the collector to give you a Transit System Route Map. They are free, and available to any member of the public who asks for them. Yours truly, David Dingwall.

  31. After reading the comments, I do think a streetcar map of the individual streetcar route and key attractions/place markers is a good idea. I wonder how often streetcars travel more than one route? If it’s a rarity, I think this would be the way to go.

    I like Howie’s 3-map idea, but that would require two maps for each streetcar, which seems a bit complicated. I wonder if instead the streetcar route map could be integrated with Matt’s streetcar map. Each streetcar would have a different map that would look similar to Matt’s map, but with that streetcar’s route highlighted and information about key sites/place markers/intersections/connecting busses along that route provided. Matt’s map of the basic “skeleton” of the subway map and neighbouring streetcar routes would still be visible to provide geographic context, but would be muted/in the background.

  32. I would simply focus both maps on just tying in two things: subway and streetcar. If you want to see the bus routes, you need to look at a full map (which would be great if it was in each car).

    Also, you really do need to map out the connecting routes, because knowing I can catch streetcar X doesn’t mean anything to me unless I already know I’m trying to catch that streetcar.

    What I would do is only have one map: your top one (but extended to the north), and use it on both the subway and the streetcar.

  33. Love the idea, I’ve wanted this implemented for every year that I’ve used the TTC.

    From a graphic point of view, I understand that you want to mimic the colours of the Subway Map, however, I’m of the opinion that it’s much easier to read small text on a white background than a black one. I’ve mentioned the graphic design of Transit for London before, but it’s just that good.

    I say challenge them further to make the map clearer and show that there’s a perspective shift going on in how we perceive public transit in Toronto.

  34. Okay, one more, then I’m done: The streetcar map really is too downtown-centric. I didn’t notice it at first, because I live and work within the area included in the map, but yeah…you’re kinda making it look like the rest of the city doesn’t exist. And I think we downtowners do a good enough job of that already, that we don’t need to further reinforce it through transit maps. It’s kinda like producing a map of Canada with Toronto clearly mapped out and vague arrows indicating that there are 9 other provinces out there somewhere–not only does it limit the map’s usefulness, but it just ain’t right.

  35. Great idea – your ‘streetcar’ map should be implemented on all subway lines, as well as the streetcars. It actually makes streetcars a legible alternative to the subway system. Of course it would need to be expanded a bit to cover all the streetcars intersecting the subway lines – but it’s a great start.

  36. Oh – and perhaps add in the street cars stops if there’s any room?

  37. I like the idea. Just check your bus numbers are all accurate – 94 leaves from Castle Frank, not 96.

  38. On a related note: maybe the automated voices on the subway could add the bus and streetcar routes. Approaching Bathurst Station, the voice could say “The next stop is Bathurst, Bathurst Station. Transfer there for the 511 Steetcar southbound and the 7 Bus northbound”.

  39. I really like the Streetcar map and many of the subsequent ideas.
    As Streetcars move from route to route it is clearly not practical to show only one route on a map(though that would certainly be useful as it could show individual stops and streets. (As an aside, I would suggest that the route maps on TTC www site should note EVERY stop, even if only major stops show the times.)
    The streetcar map must be able to be read from a distance, you are unlikely to have more than one or two maps per streetcar – this would eliminate some of the “extras” suggested by others.
    The maps should show standard short-turn locations (Parliament, Church, Humber etc)- it’s confusing for people who don’t just want a “501” but a “501 going to Long Point” .
    I agree that the TTC System maps need to be in EVERY bus shelter and on EVERY subway platform – they do give a great deal of information and no matter how good your streetcar (or subway) maps are they cannot possibly offer it all.

  40. All you would have to do is add the relatively few bus routes that run in the area on the map to make it a more-or-less complete transit map of downtown. I agree that streetcars are cool, but as it looks right now, the map seems to show some kind of ideological objection to buses. A transit rider unfamiliar with the system would conclude that there are no useful connections at Wellesley Station!

  41. A minor point: Perhaps on the Queens Quay line there could be an indication as to the underground portions and stops?

  42. Hi!
    Awesome work, the TTC should consider using Line Exclusive maps on each of the lines just like the Scarborough RT does. It would help when getting around the city and you dont know which bus to take.

  43. This looks fantastic and is very useful. However, many routes seem to be missing. I regularly take the King streetcar from Sherbourne to Spadina and there are numerous OTHER routes on King besides the 504 streetcar. There’s a route that goes to Dundas West, one that turns at Roncesvalles and even the Spadina short turn streetcar (sorry don’t know all the route numbers). For someone new to the city, they could wait forever for a 504 streetcar, not knowing they could hop on any of the above mentioned routes to get them pretty far down King Street. Not sure what the solution might be, but this a great start!

  44. While we’re on the subject of TTC maps, here is an obvious subway related point:
    How many times does the average tourist or inexperienced local get off at Spadina station, thinking they can make a quick transfer to the University line? Then they realize that it’s more like a 500m walk from one train to the other. Not a big deal if you’re physically fit, but it’s a huge deal if you are disabled or just in a hurry!
    I think subway maps should show that the lines don’t actually meet at Spadina, rather there is a space with a walking path between. It wouldn’t be hard to draw.

  45. West of Broadview on the Bloor/Danforth line, there are streetcar connections at Main Station.

  46. I love the streetcar map. Great work.

    This probably isn’t the best place to mention it, but have people noticed that subway maps are disappearing like CRAZY??? I’ve been in 5 or 6 cars where there were no maps at all recently. Tourist nightmare! This seems like a fairly recent thing (last year or so). What’s going on?

  47. Does anyone know what are the dimensions of a subway advertising card (i.e. the ones along the roofline)

    David Dingwall – the TTC does not, I believe, advertise the availability of system maps to the general public. I’ve been living here more than four years and it’s the first I’ve heard of it.

    Matt – might be worth marking 97 on Yonge-Bloor. For the mobility impaired it might be handy to know there is a surface route, albeit one that is not high frequency.

    Also, I’d question marking 6 on Yonge-Bloor – it only applies to the 6A/6B loop I think, and is it considered a walking transfer from Y+B?

    Finally, don’t forget to extend the TTC font from the heading to the station names – although inconsistency in fonts would make it look very TTC-authentic!

  48. Great idea!

    how wonderful would it be if the TTC ended up ahead of the game?
    1. introduce free wireless internet access in subways & stations (not sure if you can do this on buses & streetcars too)

    2. use their existing GPS system to allow customers with wi-fi ready cell phones, computers, what-have-you to access information about the route you’re on, connecting routes, nearby attractions (hello, ad revenues!), etc.

  49. The streetcar map is downtown centric for a reason: streetcars operate mostly downtown. Extending the map eastward is useless since its only Main Station. The map could come in from the west too since there is no need to show the map west of the High park loop. The arrows pointing east and west are perfect.

    Though, a truncated map of the streecar to Main could be achieved by simply condensing the map. I guess I’m contradicting myself. But my original point is that the map SHOULD be downtown centric since that’s where almost all the streetcars are.

  50. Mark – they do not advertise having system maps – isn’t that ridiculous? However, you get the annoying announcement:

    “Need TTC maps fare, or route information? Check your yellow pages, call 393-INFO, or visit

    This is the stupidest of all of the TTC’s dumb or patronizing messages. You are in the subway if you are hearing the message, you paid your fare, your cellphone will most likely not work, the collectors have maps, and there are maps posted (though they might be well out-of-date). That, and many passengers will be quite willing to answer your question if you are nice about it, and they know the answer.

    That’s right, I’m going to wander home and pull out my Yellow Pages or log in to the internet. I’ve never gotten over how stupid this automated anouncement is (which follows the silly chime which I guess is an indication to ignore whatever comes next).

    I guess it’s their way of telling you not to bother the station collectors.

  51. Anna: indeed! Apparently they’re working on ‘next bus info’ now, but I haven’t heard anything about wifi. It’s the kind of project that we at Wireless Toronto would love to work on. Our record with RFPs isn’t so hot, but we’re pretty good at running community-based free wifi networks. Our sister group in Montreal is now working with the city to set up wifi in parks and other public spaces there — which makes me hopeful that the City and the TTC here might consider a community/non-profit solution instead of the standard Big-Tech-Big-Money approach.

  52. Fantastic.

    But… ‘Runneymede’ is ‘Runnymede’. Oops!

  53. To Adam’s comment above on Spadina’s long walk – they do use two dots with a same-coloured line in between to indicate its separated platforms, unlike St. George which is one dot on both lines. that’s pretty clear to most people, I’d think.

    On Matt’s streetcar map: good start. Suggestions:
    -Definitely show the ends of those lines, even if you have to compress geography. If this is the entire streetcar system, show it.
    -Label the loops, especially at line ends.
    -Much like the subway map does (did?), use a ‘T’ symbol at a station where a transfer is needed to change modes.
    -Label streets more clearly; don’t just rely on the crossing station’s name to supply the name, put it on the road itself.

    I do think other ways of showing landmarks and similar navigational aids would be a good idea, but only where you can keep visual clutter at an acceptable level.

    Another suggestion for any map design: mark accessible stations. Even if you’re not disabled yourself, knowing the places that are easier to get around can help at times.

  54. Once the Transit City LRT routes (Eglinton, Jane, Don Mills, etc.) come on the scene the streetcar map would be too crowded to appear over a door-way. It would have to be placed on a side panel instead.
    Another panel should have the entire TTC system on each bus, streetcar/LRV, or subway car. This one should be behind the driver (one at each end of the new double-ended LRVs). On the subway train this should be at one of ends of a single unit or car.
    I agree the single route map should be considered, whether it be subway, streetcar/LRV, or bus in conjunction with the next stop/station announcement.

  55. These are *really* nice! And useful – thanks for taking the time to put these together.

  56. I never had problems getting a TTC map in years past – but when I wanted to get one a few weeks ago, I asked at three or four stations that didn’t have any, before I was successful. Not sure if this reflected bad luck, a temporary shortage of some sort, or a TTC de-prioritization of map distribution…

  57. @Sean Marshall – if you get TTC to fix their redundant announcements, could you also get TSN to stop running generic NHL commercials… during the hockey game!

    For the advertising panels on streetcars, perhaps a route map similar to the B-D line example above would be sufficient, with panels at stops giving the more comprehensive map?

  58. Sorry I’m late getting to this post – one of my all-time favourite topics. So simple, and such common sense. The TTC needs to get its head out of the sand and follow best-practice ideas from other cities. I don’t think there is a rail vehicle in North America that doesn’t offer some sort of route map on board.

    Howie is 100% correct — almost all transit systems have three maps — a complicated, complete system map with bus information; a rapid-transit map with mostly rail info; and individual line maps for vehicles. Toronto’s problem is that is has been trying to get by with the Ride Guide system map for almost everything, supplemented only by the subway map in the subway cars, and those are essentially combined individual line maps. A medium-detail rapid transit map for subways and streetcars is sorely lacking.

    Your version of this map is good but too strongly influenced by the line maps. Why not have a line map for each subway line and streetcar line, and then a general rapid-transit map that would be of larger size and posted in all subway and streetcar stations? This would leave room for some geography, landmarks, street names, etc.

    For the subway line map, adding bus connections is not a good idea. This info gets outdated quickly and is too much detail for this level of map. Instead, just add thin red lines crossing the subway route to indicate transfer connections to streetcar lines, and as Howie mentioned, symbols for GO, VIA, VIVA connections.

  59. Great job Matthew! I have some minor quibbles, but in general I think these are very attractive and generally useful too.

    I like the subway map and think it should replace the full-system map in subway trains which never looks right squished the way they are. Of course a full-system map should be offered as well. GO should definitely be indicated on this map though along with a plane symbol for the Airport Rocket.

    I also think that treating our streetcar network as something above other surface transit makes sense. It’s something intermediate between bus and subway service and should be reflected as such. The TTC is likely hesitatnt as the map doesn’t include other surface routes in the area (ie. Bay, Harbord, etc.) and could confuse some.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve posted these as well on the Urban Toronto forum to help get the word out.

    The direct link is here:

    -Jason Paris


  60. Excellent idea – I’ve made similiar comments in the past, that the Streetcar map at Wikipedia should be on all the streetcars.

    I think many of us here, know where all the routes go, and have no problem hopping from one to another as necessary. But talking to ‘normal’ people, they really don’t have much idea where the routes go, beyond their little world. For example, I realised that many 501 riders, had no idea that they could take a 502 or 503 to get to Coxwell and Queen (perhaps a reason that map should extend just a little further east!)

    I have no idea why you’d want to make all the routes the same colour. Traditionally surface routes have all been red, because it saved on printing costs. Those days have passed us. Different colours would make it clear for people, and very few people care that once upon a time red was used for all routes!

  61. As an outside observer (some 3000 miles away in Los Angeles) this seems to me to be an excellent idea.

    The subway and streetcar systems should always be shown together on maps, since they are both rail based systems. The advantage of knowing where rail-based systems are located is that they are much more permanent than bus routes, which can be cancelled or re-routed at anytime for no cost.

    Also, putting streetcars (15 lines) and subways (3 1/2 lines) together makes the whole system seem bigger and more “world class.” More substantial.

    This type of map could also ease the way towards implementation of the Transit City plan, which emphasizes the streetcar routes (though a few will be placed partially underground). Emphasizing the streetcar routes on a map will make the streetcar routes seem more important, which will increase acceptance of the Transit City plan.

    Just a few thoughts.

  62. Nice work, Matt. I do hope that of the TTC is getting ideas and work of this quality for free that they can manage to take them seriously.

    Too many years of commuting to Yonge and Davisville in the late 1990s (the station under the main headquarters was a showcase for confusing design, IMO) eroded my confidence in the TTC’s ability to produce or even recognize good design. There have been many better ideas in the the last few years, but it’s been a while since it has been the system that allowed me to confidently abandon my driver’s license. It would be reassuring if your ideas don’t meet uneccesary friction.

    It may be one too many layers of information, but differentiating beteen 24 hours blue lines and lines that don’t run all night would be useful. (Do all the lines represented run 24 hours?)

  63. What about just making a bunch of “How do I Get To…” flat-panel touch displays? They could be small (15 inches) and be mounted on the walls of subways/streetcars…

    If they were bought in bulk, and were designed to show advertising when not in use I think this could be done cost-effectively and it would provide up-to-the-minute information about the best way to get from one part of the city to another…

    At the least the tourism people should be looking at these for all of the major tourist attractions in the city, but I think it also makes sense to put them on subways and streetcars…potentially even buses?

  64. George — no offense but that’s the worst idea on this post. Simply because it cost so mjuch — if it breaks there’s no map and everyone loses. If there is ads poeple again lose out since the screen with have to have enough ads on it to make in financially viable for the seller which means the map gets shown very little.

    Print it permanent and cheap and easy to relpace if damaged. The last thing we need is costly video screens smashed by angry punks. This is all about bettering customer service for TTC riders, not making it worse.

  65. Although I appreciate the thought and planning that went behind the streetcar map, ultimately, as very few people have pointed out, the map doesn’t serve a useful purpose if we do not include bus lines. There aren’t many of them downtown, but some of them – such as the 29 Dufferin or the 63 Ossington are just as important as the streetcar routes and carry thousands of people. Penciling them in would not make the map significantly more cluttered, but would be useful for navigation.

    As for the design, I find it very clear and informative.

  66. Hi! Visited Toronto from Montreal the other day, was told Queen West and West Queen West was the place to be! Wish I had had this map at the time.

  67. Designedge canada’s article left me with the opinion that you were open minded about some changes to the design as shown. You can’t please everyone so this isn’t really critism, just thoughts. It should be noted that although I am in the city often, and was born and raised there, I am not a user of the system on a reg. basis. Maybe it would be clearer to a daily rider…but then again someone like me should be the acid test of good design. A stranger from Montreal should be able to figure it out as easily as a native & daily rider.
    1) Orient subway stn titles at a 30%-45% angle to differentiate them from streetcar route names and or street names.
    2) Find some way of showing shared route and where a shared route becomes independent or turns again. A quick glance does not educate you on the route of the 511 or the 505 as just 2 examples. It is only with study that you can get it…which is the aximoron of wayfinding 2a) Consider using a light but colour keyed line (strength of the outline on the “dedicated” lines–which I don’t understand the functional purpose of identifying as separate)
    3)At the east end the Route names are not assoc. with the route numbers as they are in the west….oh sorry, as I am reviewing I am thinking, are these street names and not route names…if so, then there is great inconsistancy and confusion as not all street names where lines run are identified and the subway stn names may or may not be street names etc…..this may be part of the confusion…separate the route numbers from the street names in the west
    4) At the extreme ends where you describe certain lines continuing past teh map….use the red bubble icon for consistancy and recognition.
    5) You have used UpperCase describers, thicker more bold lines, and colour coded, for the subway lines… this showing a reverse priority to the function of this map? At first when I looked at it, I thought it was a subway routemap more with street car info, rather then a streetcar routemap.

    I hope I am not offending….I could offer at least as many positive points!

  68. Dear Matthew,

    I will be landing in Toronto as a student in the near future and have been going through all web resources to check out the best and cheapest possible means of reaching my college from downtown, which is probably where i shall take up student accomodation. Your map has certainly made my research easier and is bound to help in the actual journey to and from college. Many thanks. Your valuable effort, I am sure, is much appreciated by a great number of Toronto commuters.