Walk Left, Stand Right Revisited

Oh gentle reader, you may remember that the TTC, in an unusual show of speed, removed all of the “Walk Left, Stand Right” signs on all of its escalators virtually overnight.  For an organization that can leave up public notices months after they are current (often with two conflicting versions of the same notice in the same place), this was truly breathtaking.

You may also remember that the TTC claimed the reason for this move was that the signs encouraged people to walk on the escalators and this was a safety hazard and we don’t want any of those on the TTC.  In this dubious stance, the TTC was supported by the TSSA, the regulatory body that watches over escalators and elevators.

Today, I noticed a poster on the subway about escalator safety, no doubt a matter of burning interest to riders especially in those cases when the escalators are actually running.  You can look at it yourself on the TTC’s website.

Notice point three:  “Stand Right”.  I’m not sure what you are supposed to do on the left, although point 5 tells us not to rush other passengers, complete with a photo of two people “standing right”.

One of these days, the TTC will learn to check out their own promotional materials before putting out bogus explanations for taking down signs that encourage people to follow an international standard in escalator behaviour.

Now for extra points, class, how long will it take for all of these “safety” posters to disappear from the system and the PDF to be pulled from the website?  No fair stealing them yourself as souvenirs!

16 thoughts on “Walk Left, Stand Right Revisited


    The best one is at the end … that if you’re in a wheelchair you should use the elevators instead. Going down an escalator in a wheelchair is a lot more fun.

    Bring back the Keele speed ramp!


  2. A quote from a TTC staffer that surfaced in the media around the time that the “Walk left, stand right” signs were removed was, strangely, something to the effect of ‘escalators are for people who are unable to use the stairs’. I don’t think it gets more absurd than that.

    The quote I mentioned is from a Globe and Mail article, which is now archived behind a pay wall. I referred to it in a comment to a BlogTO post here.

    The full quote, from Dexter Collins, TTC’s ‘Acting Superintendent of Elevating Devices’:

    “The intent is for the escalator to carry the people up the escalator. If they are capable of walking, they should be utilizing the stairs.”

    Notwithstanding the current situation where you can see dozens of evidently able-bodied — but lazy — riders squeezing into elevators at rush hour, imagine how badly the traffic flow in stations would be distorted if everyone defaulted to stairs? In many places the de facto procedure is ‘stairs down, escalator up’. Stairs simply do not have the capacity to carry all up and down traffic in most stations.


  3. I’m curious to know then how people incapable of using the stairs are supposed to use the lone escalator in most stations when it isn’t running in the direction they need. Some escalators are reversed half way through the day but others only ever go one way, usually up. Does this guy have some delusion that all passengers travel in the same rush-hour direction? And why the hell is it that the TTC always seems to invent policy counter to common sense and historical lessons?!? How do we get rid of these loonies???

    I was glad to see someone remembered the tread-ramp at Keele. Why was this ever taken out of service? There is no escalator at this entrance. Speaking of the rear entrance at Keele, a short while ago folks were met one morning with a sudden and complete closure of that access. There was no warning and no signage posted. A few days later a sign appeared stating that the entrance would be closed for months in order to modernize the automatic turnstiles. They claimed the turnstiles were too small, but this seems odd to me because when I was little my mother would get her, me and my brother together through the things on one token. We only ever got yelled at once! (I always pay proper fare these days, proving that kids shouldn’t have to rely on their parents to know the difference between right and wrong!) The TTC must have received a flood of complaints about the closure because they’ve actually put a collector in the booth during the rush period. Does anyone know if this was ever a regular occurance in the past?

    Steve: The ramp at Keele was intended to handle the flood of transfer passengers off of the Bloor West shuttle streetcar to Jane before the extension to Islington opened in 1968. Once that was open, the volume coming through the east entrance dropped a huge amount, and there was no point in maintaining the ramp. I think also that this was a one-time experiment and that any added devices will be escalators, not ramps.


  4. I’m not sure how global the ‘walk left, stand right’ etiquette is.

    When I lived in Warsaw, everyone just stood on the escalators.


  5. How long will it take for the signs to dissappear? Aren’t there still signs up for the opening of the North Yonge Extension? I’m not kidding. If you look REAL close to the signage at York Mills Stn, you’ll still see (behind black tape) references to Go Dial-A-Bus service.

    As for fun, what ever happend to riding on the escalator handrails?


  6. Very recently, there was at least one “Walk Left, Stand Right” sign left in one of the little used stations. I dare not say which one or the TTC will dispatch an emergency maintenance crew to remove it!


  7. “international standard in escalator behavior”

    This couldn’t be more true, where even in England and places they drive on the left, its STILL “stand right walk left”


  8. Re: GMD’s comments on global escalator ettiquette. I moved to Ottawa fairly recently and have found the same thing here…I’ve actually stopped trying to even bother walking on escalators now as it is invariably blocked by people who don’t adhere to the walk left/stand right concept.


  9. There is one sign Torontonians are going to really have to pay attention to when service is drastically cut. Allow me to point it out now : MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE @*#$%*$# BUS!. All right, I added the @*#$%*$#, and I meant it, too.


  10. Escalators in London England’s tube system say “stand right” only. It’s the “walk left” part that could have conceivably opened the TTC up to lawsuits.


  11. David,

    Old signs are all over the place. At Yorkdale, signs (still visible) direct passengers to the Airport Express and Caledonia buses. At Spadina station, there’s a board that has a system map that dates before the opening of the Sheppard Line (which actually exist throughout the system), next to a neighbourhood map that shows the Route 77 Spadina (at Spadina Station!). At Wilson, there’s still a TimeLine sticker on the sign for the 104 Faywood bus.

    I will broadcast the location of two “stand right, walk left” signs if only because I am sure they aren’t going to be removed, and are positioned next to an inoperable escalator – the Wilson Station North Terminal, which is temporarily opened at this time. The escalator is blocked off with “closed for maintenance, completion [blank]” which isn’t going to happen.

    The speed of removing these signs is similar to the speed the solid garbage bins were removed (leaving stains) and replaced with those ugly open bags installation (and where I doubt anything can be recycled), in the name of “security”.


  12. Addionally, TTC should be advising people to keep to the right when using the stairways. I was taught this lesson in school (way back in the 1960’s). It is amazing to me to see the total chaos at ANY subway station when people are clawing and fighting their way up/down the stairs. Keep right is so simple to avoid the mad crowds.


  13. While I can appreciate that older members of the population, those with disabilities, pregnant women, etc may have a natural requirement to stand still on an escalator, most able-bodied people do not, other than sheer laziness. Dexter Collins has it completely wrong, and evidently does not understand the point in escalators. They are intended to move people of any ability more QUICKLY up or down, not more conveniently. Not that I thought those signs really made any impact, but I too miss them. Listen, if you want to go ride something, go to Canada’s Wonderland, or get out of the damn way!


  14. Andrew Wencer wrote: “Listen, if you want to go ride something, go to Canada’s Wonderland, or get out of the damn way!”

    Bravo! Until I have a mechanism to invoice people for my time when they waste it, let me join in the shouts of “get out of the damn way!”

    Oddly enough, I wrote a screenplay back in 1982 about a guy that was peeved off at all sorts of things we see day to day. One of the scenes involved him approaching an escalator and having four people arrive just ahead of him from different directions and starting a conversation/meeting going up the escalator. The scene was shot at the Wilson subway station (yes, we had a TTC property permit, and I still have it as a souvenir!) and starred Mike Meyers as they guy peeved off (I really have to get a video transfer of this and start selling it on Ebay!).

    Getting back to the main topic, I flew back from a business trip on Saturday and couldn’t help but notice the announcements at T1 for people on the moving sidewalks to stand to the right to let others move past on the left. Yea, it isn’t climbing or descending a grade, but the motion is still there which, I susect, is the root of any dangers.


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