Signs of the Times

In between all the debate about bus technology, how to run proper transit service, and where to spend the next billion dollars, there are little things that show the bad side of the TTC.

Several people, including me, comment about the lack of proper signage for diversions, special events, maintenance and so forth.  I thought that the sign at Queen’s Quay station, in the dead of winter, telling people about paying their fare at Union was aged, but at Chester Station, we are approaching a record.

At the top of the stair down to the westbound platform, there is a sign advertising the closing of Gerrard Street east of Coxwell for track repairs to start in April 2006.  This is right beside a freshly installed sign advertising the subway diversion at Museum Station.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, for how many subway diversion signs will still be scattered around the system a month, three months, a year after the diversion is just a memory.  Assuming, of course, that the railfans don’t liberate them as souvenirs.

I don’t know by how many people and how many times the suggestion of “best by” dates has been made to the TTC.  Put a “remove after April 1, 2007” [insert appropriate date] line on every poster, and instruct staff to tear down any sign that’s past its time.  Is this so difficult?  Will it take a million-dollar media consulting contract to implement?  I (and many others) are giving the TTC this idea for free, pro bono, hoping that someday we will only see notices that we should actually read.

Yes, it’s a small thing, a tiny thing beside making the Queen car run even close to reliable service, but it shows how simple suggestions are ignored.  How many others that might give us a better system suffer the same fate?

13 thoughts on “Signs of the Times

  1. I work for a National Retail corporation and we have campaigns by the seasons and promotions by the month.

    Each site is sent signage and the promo has a time frame. The site takes down signage at the end or they have to honour any prices posted.

    If the TTC had a discount or promo period, you could be sure those signs would be down on time.

    Each Terminal station should be responsible for removing outdated signage. Area managers should be “scorecarded” on the task.

    But no can’t do that.

    I am trying to get on an Advisory committee here if they still have it. TTC should have an official user advisory committee — does it ? Not politicians, just people like you that will freely offer it.

    Steve: No, there is no user advisory committee. Given the amount of money the TTC represents in the City’s budget, it’s time that we started to have regular area meetings where communities can talk to the TTC about local problems. I worry that an advisory committee would wind up doing all the dog work of listening to complaints about service and routes, and have none of the clout to do anything about it.

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  2. As has been noted here many times before, these ‘small” (but obvious) things are something a “Station Manager could and should look after in addition to getting broken escalators, elevators and doors repaired promptly. (The Fixer column in the Star is filled with examples of these.) Maybe the TTC could experiment with appointing a (shared?) station manager for a few major stations and see if it helps. I bet it would!

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  3. Perhaps the best way to deal with the issue is to invite media scrutiny. Railfans should set out a scavenger hunt challenge to find the most out-of-date service-change postings in the GTA – a simple snap-shot with a digital camera would do for evidence, maybe with a current Metro beside to authenticate… then hand it all over to the Toronto Star, Sun or Globe and Mail to write a story on… do that once a year and you just might shame the TTC into performing the arduous task of removing pieces of paper held up by tape (probably takes special training and tools to do)

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  4. I wonder how many poor saps are still looking for the “Caledonia” bus at Yorkdale Station?

    Caledonia-18 bus was replaced by an extension of Lansdowne-47 circa 1994 (shortly after the demise of the trolleybuses) so this might be the all-time prize for outdated signage!

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  5. Last time I was at Eglinton Station they still had signs about the old-terminal closing down. So that dates back about 3 years now. I’m not sure if they’re still up there. I know the sign about the old-terminal closing at the Duplex automatic entrance of the old Island 10 is still there. Then again that area is fenced so I don’t know if that counts or not.

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  6. It’s maps too that are way out of date. The system map inside the entrance to Spadina Station on the north-west corner has a system map that pre-dates the Sheppard subway and the local “station and environs” map nearby still has the Spadina 77 bus (and this is at Spadina Station!). Many of these maps are at least 10 years old. The local map for Dundas still has the 19 Church bus on it.

    At Wilson Station, the sign for the 104 Faywood bus still has a sticker for the Timeline phone number and stop number.

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  7. If you find outdated signs, why don’t you just remove them yourself?

    Steve: Attractive though this may be, the idea runs aground on several points:

    The ever-officious TTC will have me arrested for vandalism. It will take the intervention of major legal talent to convince them that it is no longer 1994.
    Although I claim that I am doing a public service by removing outdated signs, ATU 113 will claim that this work is their jurisdiction. Serious disruption to transit service will occur until I put the signs back.
    Council will pass a motion declaring the signs an historic site. This will cause their immediate removal.

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  8. It is not only printed – or handwritten – signs that mislead the unwary. The Construction Projects page on the TTC website – St Clair elevators – still says that St Clair is being served by bus replacement. The Lawrence West elevator notice is marked “New” though it is 6 months old. The Mount Dennis Garage has an update from March 2006 – nothing happened since? – and the Union Station subway platform link takes one to a very old City of Toronto page. Of course we are promised a new and improved TTC website – one hopes it will not only be more functional but also more up-to-date.

    Then, of course, there are the Toronto Maple Leaf signs at the College subway station platforms. Doubtless helpful when they played at Maple Leaf Gardens and this was ‘their’ station but…

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  9. Speaking of outdated maps, last time I checked the ‘experimental’ signage at St. George has an outdated version of the map on it. It is nice to look at a single outdated piece of signage over the track, isn’t it?

    I’m still waiting to see when Osgoode is going to be listed as ‘accessible’ on the TTC website. They removed the notice from the construction page (a year after it was supposed to be finished) but it hasn’t moved to the accessible page yet. Does anyone know the progress of this elevator?

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  10. At Queen Subway S/B (if I remember correctly – it was a few months ago), the system map still listed the city as Metro Toronto, and I don’t think there was a Sheppard Subway shown.

    Can the TTC approach the service like some people haven’t ridden it before – e.g. tourists don’t know where Gunn’s loop is (thank goodness they’ve changed it to Keele for the most part). Is the most relevant information the most accessable?

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  11. Osgoode isn’t accessible yet. I believe the platform-to-concourse elevator is working, but the concourse-to-street elevator isn’t connected to the station yet. The tunnel to the Opera House looks finished, but it’s blocked off at both ends, almost nine months after the Opera House first opened. I can’t see what’s holding it up.

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  12. The multitude of signs are down at St. George and Museum now that the Lower Bay diversion is history – but many of the stations aways from there still have signs up (will they be down by Saturday?).

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