Those who follow my Film Festival reviews will know that I have missed my personal deadline of Thanksgiving weekend by a long shot. Now I’m hoping to be done by the end of October.
A great deal of transit-related activity has been getting in the way.
Two films that I saw at the festival have now opened in Toronto, and I am pushing their reviews out the door while they’re still vaguely current.
The October TTC agenda includes a report on the Subway Station Appearance Improvement program.
Things are proceeding, but slowly. One major change will come in stations that have/had ceiling slats over the track areas. These are hard to clean, and it is simpler to remove them and spray paint the ceiling black. A similar approach was taken on the walls of Union Station.
There is some irony in this tactic. Originally, the ceilings were bare plaster, but this made for noisy stations. Next came sound-absorbing foam, but it quickly turned dark thanks to the ever-present dust in the subway environment. What to do? Cover the foam with slats. Now we have come almost full circle.
Where slats covered station ceilings, they will be removed to provide easy access to all of the conduits hiding underneath. This will bring on a minimalist look in many locations. Probably we could paint all of those conduits beautiful colours, but a few millions would be needed (via charitable donations of course) to grease the wheels, hire a prominent architect to select the paint chips, and then give us a half-finished project. Nobody would think much about maintenance, but there would be a nice photo op.
Speaking of Museum Station, a similar tactic for the outside walls will be installed as a trial at St. Andrew. An ilustration within the report (page 10) shows the process of removing the old slats. What do we have underneath? The original vitrolite tiles! Catch them while you can!
Lest I appear to be unfairly carping about the TTC’s ability to look good while saving money, I must applaud the basic housecleaning practices they are using and hope that they will remain and improve, not fall victim to budget cuts. However, we seem to be moving in the direction of dulling already functional, but not beautiful, stations down to a level of poverty. As a temporary measure, this may do, but for the future, especially for new and rebuilt stations, we need to do better.