Landmarks Vanish! Tourists Mystified!! (Update 2)

Updated September 22 at 9:50 pm:  According to this evening’s Global news, the TTC will pull the offending maps tonight from all stations.  Now may be your last chance to photograph your favourite blunder.  Mind you, considering how fast the TTC is at taking down out-of-date notices, I suspect the “bad” maps will be around for awhile.

It will also be intriguing to see if, when the new maps are installed, they actually do update all of them in every station.  I found four of elderly vintage without looking very hard yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Star managed to publish an annotated version of the St. Andrew map which shows City Hall where Osgoode Hall actually is, and the CN Tower at the corner of John and Front, north of the rail corridor.  I suppose a paper with its offices in the 905 can’t be expected to know much about downtown Toronto any more.

Finally, I strongly urge that the TTC circulate the new maps for comment to ward Councillors’ offices who might actually know where things are in their respective neighbourhoods.  Even better, as some have suggested in the comments here, put them online so that the vastly better-informed transit amateurs can help out with the project.

Updated September 21 at 3:25 pm:  The TTC has announced that it will be reviewing, correcting and replacing the new maps.  I do not know the details of basic design issues such as a clear identification of entrance locations and inclusion of surface routes, but I hope to get more info as the week goes on.

This morning, I visited many stations with the intention of posting a consolidated view of things.  That post would rival my yet-unpublished detailed film festival reviews for length, and would be of limited long-term value.  However, a few common threads do emerge:

  • Old buildings are hard to kill off, even when they no longer physically exist.  The TTC could argue that nobody will be looking for these buildings, but something else may be there today.
  • Information about schools is largely missing and, when present, is often inaccurate.  Also, the TDSB Education Centre became part of the UofT years ago (I should know, I used to work there), but it’s on the map for Queen’s Park.
  • Union Station is inconsistently identified (on the King Station map, you wouldn’t even know it was a major rail terminal).
  • Many buildings or sites of interest are not shown, but there is no consistent pattern in what’s missing.  Some buildings are not in their correct location.
  • Information is not consistent between maps covering the same area for different stations.  This is particularly evident for the UofT campus and Queen’s Park.
  • Most of Ryerson doesn’t exist according to the TTC.
  • The TTC should conduct a spelling bee for street and building names.  The winner gets to review the new maps.
  • Some stations have old maps, or multiple versions.  St. Clair has a new map at the main entrance (mezzanine level) and an older map at the north entrance.  Spadina has two generations of maps, both out of date (these include the Spadina bus south of Bloor Street).
  • The TTC Lost Articles Office is on the Bay and Bloor-Yonge maps as if it were simply a building, not part of Bay station.  It is not on the St. George map.
  • Space for advertising takes precedence over maps.  The only map at the north end of Bloor-Yonge station is on the south wall of the east mezzanine.  The only maps at Dundas are on the southbound side, but there are three of them, all close to each other. 
  • Visual clutter is a very serious problem at some stations.

The original post follows the break.

This post picks up from a thread on by Sean Marshall.

The TTC is now installing, new, updated area maps for all of its subway stations, and they are so bad in so many ways.  The TTC gets a lot of flak for lousy customer information, and better materials and services are one of the TTC’s key goals.  On this project, they have failed astoundingly.

Someone decided to get new maps.  Someone either assigned the project in house, or contracted it out.  Someone thought that graphic layouts that would shame a student in elementary media arts were good enough for the TTC.  Someone didn’t bother to proof-read the maps or check the basic data that went onto them.

A great deal of time, effort and money went into producing and installing materials that are woefully inaccurate, and this will all have to be done over again.  I hate to say it, but this is precisely the sort of project that gives “public servants” a bad name.

Someone needs to seek alternative employment.

Sean began his commentary on St. Andrew Station, but wanting a closer look, I went there today and took a photo for myself.

This map has so many errors that I had to print a copy and start making notes.  I will leave most issues of style, typography, legibility and other matters related to design and usability to Joe Clark who often fumes at length about these subjects.

My concern is solely with accuracy.  Maps are, after all, supposed to tell you the lay of the land.


  • The maps are not to scale.
  • Buildings, where they are shown at all, are often crammed into less space than they deserve.
  • Buildings are named in very small type which does not always fit within the supposed outline of a landmark.
  • The shapes of buildings and parks do not generally match their actual layout.
  • The station where the map is located is identified with a larger icon than other stations on the map, and its entrances are shown individually.  Alas, this also blocks out part of the nearby area causing affected sites to be ignored or misplaced.
  • The legend includes a green P for parking, but no lots are actually shown even though they do exist.  It is unclear why someone in a subway station needs to know where parking lots are anyhow.

Missing Buildings

Buildings are included in this list because comparable information is provided on other station maps, because other items in the same class of building (e.g. hotels) are shown, or because they are items of major interest.

  • Ogden PS (on Phoebe Street, shown as a park)
  • Osgoode Hall and Law Courts
  • City Hall (New and Old)
  • Elgin-Wintergarden Theatre
  • St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Holiday Inn
  • King Edward Hotel
  • Strathcona Hotel
  • The Domed Stadium / Rogers Centre
  • The CN Tower
  • The Convention Centre
  • The Intercontinental Hotel
  • The Cosmopolitan Hotel
  • The Cambridge Suites Hotel
  • The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
  • The Government of Canada offices on Adelaide east of Victoria
  • The Albany Club (the Wellington Club is shown although I have never encountered anyone asking where it might be found)

Misidentified and Mangled Buildings

  • The Exchange Tower also includes “Rogers Plan 5341”
  • 145 King West is identified by street address, a treatment not used for other buildings
  • Many building sites are shown incorrectly to occupy much less space in a block than they actually do.  Examples include the CBC Broadcast Centre and Scotia Plaza.
  • The Eaton Centre is incorrectly named as “Eaton’s Centre”
  • The building at the northeast corner of Adelaide & University is labelled as the “Guardian of Cananda Tower”.

Street Naming and Placement

  • The Gardiner Expressway is called “Gardner”.
  • Simcoe Street ends at Station Street although it actually goes under the rail corridor to Queen’s Quay.
  • St. Patrick’s Square is not shown, but lanes in the same area are.
  • St. Patrick Street is called “Partick”.
  • Renfrew Place is shown as ending at McCaul Street when it actually runs through to John Street.
  • The Esplanade is shown between Bay and Yonge in the area that is actually the bus terminal.
  • Adelaide, Richmond and Wellington Streets west of Yonge have no “W.” included in their names, although corresponding streets east of Yonge have “E.”.

Transit Information

  • Neither the subway nor the surface routes are shown on the map.
  • The Yonge line stations are coloured orange, not yellow, the standard colour for the YUS on all other TTC maps.
  • Union Railway Station and Bus Terminal are not shown, although the words “Via and Go Transit” do appear on top of the rail corridor.

Meanwhile at Broadview

When I had a look at my home station, Broadview, the map isn’t as much of a mess.  However, that’s fairly easy given that almost half of it is the Don Valley.  The following items are notable:

  • An animal hospital that is actually on Danforth east of Broadview is shown in the block actually occupied by Broadview Station.  The icon for Broadview Station interferes with correct placement.
  • The Music Hall Theatre is shown at the corner of Broadview and Danforth when it is actually half a block to the east.  Again, the proper space taken up by the “Broadview” icon.
  • The Green P lot immediately east of the station is not shown, nor is any other in the area.
  • Jackman Junior Public School is labelled a “Junir” school.
  • Frankland School (Logan south of Danforth) and Rosedale Heights (at Castle Frank Station) are not shown.
  • City Adult Learning Centre (known as CALC) is labelled “City of Toronto Adult Learning Centre”.
  • The nearby “Public Washrooms” have been closed for an extremely long time, and the building now has other uses occupying it.
  • Chester Village Extended Care closed well over a year ago.  The building is now being rebuilt for another use.
  • The road layout at the DVP entrance west of the viaduct is not shown correctly.
  • At least the subway line colour is green, the correct one for the BD line.
  • An last, but not least, Chester Station is shown on Jackman Avenue, one block west of its actual location.

The Roxy Lives!

I passed through Greenwood Station tonight, and noted that the Roxy Cinema, long the home of Rocky Horror screenings, is shown even though this theatre has been closed for well over a decade.

53 thoughts on “Landmarks Vanish! Tourists Mystified!! (Update 2)

  1. I go away on vacation to Europe and something like this happens?

    I can’t stop laughing at this. Why can’t the TTC get Transit advocates/geeks/nerds/etc. to help out instead of doing things “in-house”? I am sure many of us would do it and for a lot less (many maybe even free?).

    I have printed the articles and I am showing it to a friend of mine who is sitting next to me who is a driver in the local transit for Dubrovnik (Croatia) and he can’t believe that this would happen for Canada’s biggest Transit system.

    I will be back around Oct. 20, I wonder how many of those maps will still be around.


  2. Just go to Spadina Station … the University side shows route 77, and the westside exit, for the longest time – don’t know if its still there, had a system map that predated the Sheppard Subway. A similar one was in large scale at Dufferin Loop, a serious problem given its propensity for wayward tourists who don’t know better.

    Steve: There are two generations of map in Spadina Station, both of which predate the Spadina streetcar. However, the subway map near the escalator up to the Spadina west side exit does show the Sheppard line.


  3. “The TTC doesn’t believe in proofreaders?”
    HA! I remember a Ride Guide back in the ’80’s that had to be pulled because of a “typo” that read “Queer’s Park” instead of “Queen’s Park”. Whether or not it was sabotage was never determined.
    Of course, all innacuracies will be a thing of the past once proper Swan Service is in place.

    Steve: The above comment has been published, unedited, so that the howler of a spelling error (deliberate?) is preserved.


  4. Steve wrote: “Before this started, somebody approved a common set of design standards, such as they may be.”

    Steve, you are a brave man. I would not risk making such a presumption.

    “To proofread, you first must know what the correct spellings are for street names,…”

    I suppose the same applies to the approver of the subway train announcements knowing the correct pronunciation of station names. For example “Saint Andrew,” rather than the extant “Sane Andrew” spoken to subway travelers. (Yes, there are other incorrectly pronounced stations, too.)

    It would appear that active oversight is something is a concept not as well known to TTC management as it should be.

    Steve: And who watches the watchers? The transit enthusiasts, of course!


  5. I can’t stop laughing at this. Why can’t the TTC get Transit advocates/geeks/nerds/etc. to help out instead of doing things “in-house”? I am sure many of us would do it and for a lot less (many maybe even free?).

    It should not be up to transit geeks to do work for cheap (or free) for the TTC. They’re a corporation with a $1.3 billion budget. They should be able to do this on their own without free help.

    Steve: But alas, it is the geeks, the foamers, who actually care about the system while the paid staff (mostly non-union for all you ATU bashers out there) screw things up.


  6. As if these maps weren’t enough, I just noticed this yesterday on the TTC’s website describing the Don Mills bus route: “…and the area of Leslie Street and 16th Avenue in the Town of Markham.”

    That intersection is in Richmond Hill.


  7. There is so much to say on this topic.

    For now, why not seriously consider how the private sector and the ‘travelling public’ can facilitate an improvement in transit information?

    Here’s a firm in Washington DC that provides maps of Metro station neighbourhoods. When I visited the city last, I noticed photocopied hand-out versions of these maps in a few — but not every station.

    Sample Map

    Next, even huge commercial map providers now rely on “free” user suggestions.

    Here’s my proposal for how the TTC could harness the efforts of transit observers.


  8. This is not the first time the TTC’s had an issue with proofreading, either. Those ads they had earlier this year, and which still crop up from time to time, talk about how 85% of the surface routes run until 1 AM, “everyday,” when it should’ve been “every day.”

    That annoyed me so much that it’s what I chose to mention to Adam Giambrone when I ran into him at Doors Open. I mean, simple things, right?


  9. Andrew Barton said : “I mean, simple things, right?”

    Yes, like learning how to spell “inaccuracies”. I REALLY need to cut back on the coffee….


  10. Map making is the kind of thing that should have been open to tender for civ/geo companies to work on. We should get a company that actually knows about GIS to do a proper map of the system.


  11. RB says:
    And yes, what is it with those printed bus schedules?? Are they trying to save ink by only putting in the minutes instead of the hours? I’ve lived in Toronto forever and I still can’t make sense of those things.

    Here in Vancouver, they save ink (or whatever) by listing one time and following it up with “every X minutes”. That’s fine when it’s every 10, 15, 30 minutes etc, but try to figure out when your next bus is when it’s 2:00 and the timetable says “10:28 then every 12-13 minutes”.

    I’ve never looked very closely at Skytrain station maps but I will now. But I note at Commercial-Broadway, which isn’t exactly Baker Street, they now have platform numbers on the wall; the “Commercial Drive” stop is now signed as Platforms 1 and 2 and the “Broadway” stop is now signed as Platforms 3 and 4 even though each is just a single centre platform.


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