[Updated Monday, July 9 at 10:45 pm]
I have been advised this evening by Adam Giambrone’s office that the Paul Arthur signage will not be removed at St. George Station. This will not be considered again until this station comes up for modernization, something that is not in the cards for the near future.
The removal had been planned as part of a general cleanup of the station, something that was long overdue.
[Updated Monday, July 9 at 1:10 pm]
The proposed work at Eglinton Station does not involve moving the outer walls of the station back two feet. What is proposed is that safety alcoves 5 x 7 feet will be cut into the walls to provide refuges for workers when trains come through the station. With some careful placement, the existing signage should not be disturbed at all.
As for other stations, there is a press conference later this week that will cover already approved changes at various locations.
[Original post follows]
Earlier today, a reader asked me to comment on the proposed redesign of Eglinton Station and the need to preserve original signs. In writing this, I hope not to engender a slugfest among the design mavens of this town, but we shall see. Worthwhile comments will be posted, repetitive rants will not. If you must rant, at least be original about it.
First, it’s worthwhile asking just what we are asked to preserve, and to that end I visited Eglinton Station earlier tonight. The only original signage still in place is the repeated word “Eglinton” on the station walls in large letters, and along the banner at the top of the wall in a smaller version of the same typeface.
For those who remember the original signs, there were not many, and they disappeared one by one from the station. They included the “Way Out” signs to Duplex and to Yonge Street (pre Canada Square building) as well as the signs at the washroom entrances.
Completely separate from this debate (and the subject of previous threads here — please don’t post again) is the matter of hand-written signs and tattered, out of date announcements. That is a different issue affecting the entire system including surface routes. With luck, nobody will find a service change sign so antique that it qualifies for historic preservation.
I started to make an inventory of TTC signage styles at this station and filled most of one side of a sheet of paper. I did not include the really small stuff like number plates on doors and escalators. The list includes:
- At platform level, many signs in roughly the same style as that found at Bloor Station after the platform widening project.
- At mezzanine level, and in the temporary bus loop, many signs in the “Sheppard Subway” style.
- The “Next Station / Northbound to Finch” signs. These are similar but not identical to the first group as they were installed at a different time. I have never understood what good a “Next Station” sign is when you cannot see it from inside of the train.
- The “Next Train” Solari signs used only in a few stations to distinguish short-turn train destinations.
- The DWA signs including the little “Your Safety Partner” helping hand.
- The “Danger, Stay Off Tracks” and “Stand Back, Mind the Gap” signs. Personally, I have always preferred “Trespassers May be Electrocuted” but none of these is at Eglinton.
- The map boards including a route map, a local area map and a farecard, all in different styles.
- The transfer machines.
- The token machines.
- The Metropass kiosks which include the slogan “Ride the Rocket”, the only sign in a serif font. (People who don’t know what a serif is must stay after class for extra study.)
- The turnstiles.
- The door handles.
- The recycling bins.
- The pictographs on the collector’s booth of “i” (Information) and a symbol that looks like I may have to produce a passport.
- The No Loitering notices.
- Directions to the washrooms, some of which have pictographs and some do not.
There’s more, but that’s enough. Each set of signs probably looked great in its time to whoever dreamt it up. Well, maybe a few are children only their mothers could love. The point is that they are all different.
At this point I have not commented on how effective the signs are and I will leave that to the professional critics of such matters. However, a few points do jump out easily.
The new standard is more generous with information, but can be parsimonious with space. Eglinton doesn’t have a lot of big walls. Both size and placement are dictated by available space such as the pillars at mezzanine level.
Some signs, notably the route names at the bus stops, cannot be read easily from a distance. Yes, there is a map of the station, but some lost soul will probably have walked right by it trying to find their bus. To be fair to the TTC, this is supposed to be a temporary terminal, but even temporary installations deserve good signs. It will be “temporary” for years to come.
I will not even mention the advertising, a medium designed to stand out from, not to complement the station itself. Maybe we could have a rule that all ads at Eglinton, including the TV screens, be in black-and-white in keeping with the station’s colour scheme.
There is a feeling of clutter brought on by the many generations of signs, especially those like the Solari indicators that have not been used for years.
The newest signs are not works of art, they don’t make my heart beat faster with joy, but at least they are fairly consistent. I can take or leave the coloured stripes (red for surface routes, yellow for the subway), and if the TTC took to calling lines by their colours (as in Boston or Los Angeles) this would make more sense as a design. In Boston, you take the Blue Line from the Airport and the Red Line to get to Harvard. The Green Line is a collection of LRT routes running through the oldest subway in North America (1892).
The only thing left to preserve, as I said above, are the station walls at platform level which have the original, much patched vitrolite tiles and the station name in the original Yonge Subway font.
Should we be re-signing the rest of the station to the current standard? Should we update the current standard and retrofit the entire station? Should we impose some order on ancilliary signage such as that on fare equipment and booths?
Any major change in signage style costs money. At the end of the day, how much better will the station be for our effort? Will someone new decry the chosen design only to start the cycle anew?
Finally, if you thought that the TTC hadn’t cooked up any new designs, look at the St. Clair Project which has its own designs for the transit shelters. Yet another “standard” that sneaks in the door under cover of a project rather than as part of an overall, unified design.