Eglinton Crosstown Station Names Settled At Last

After an extended discussion at its December 2015 Board Meeting, Metrolinx has decided on names for three stations on The Crosstown that were in dispute.

  • The station at Dufferin will be called “Fairbank”, as originally proposed, after the name of the original community.
  • The station at Bathurst will be called “Forest Hill”, as originally proposed. Although outside of the traditional centre of this community, the Bathurst/Eglinton intersection does lie on the edge of the borders of the original village.
  • The station at Lebovic/Hakimi will be called “Hakimi Lebovic” to recognize that the street changes name as it crosses Eglinton. Originally this was to be “Lebovic” station after the older and longer street of the two, and then the TTC Board, egged on by member Glenn De Baeremaeker, changed the name to “Hakimi” (the location isn’t even in his ward). Metrolinx adopted a “Solomon-like” decision to use a double name.

The Board held a teleconference meeting to discuss one item, the staff report on proposed names. The report proposed staying with the single name “Hakimi”, but this idea did not survive long in the rather short debate. Director Janet Ecker proposed “Hakimi-Lebovic” saying that this preserved some of “the integrity of the process”, but Director Bonnie Patterson wondered why this had not  been the original proposal.

The problem turns on the matter of a hyphen, and such punctuation offends the Metrolinx naming standards. The question of great import: to hyphenate or not to hyphenate? One director pointed out that the hyphen could indicate a link between the two families (as in a compound name), and this tipped the decision against the hyphen.

On a related note, all stations whose names are not already those of intersecting streets will get a subtitle, much as the stations on University Avenue have today, to identify the intersection they serve. Chair Rob Prichard suggested that people unfamiliar with their location could look at the signs on station walls to get the supplementary name, but subway riders will quickly tell you that this is not always possible depending on where a train stops and whether one can even see out of the window. There is also the basic question of access for those who cannot see easily or at all.

The entire exercise has the feel of massive face-saving for Metrolinx staff and the station naming protocols developed with much fanfare. The double name was described by Chief Planning Officer Leslie Woo as being in a grey zone, on the edge of the protocols. This is just plain silly. Many stations will have names that do not match the intersection they serve, and locations with different street names on opposite sides of a line are common (there are at least four on the Finch West LRT alone).

The protocols should be amended so that:

  • Double street names are allowed as station names where appropriate and where another option, such as a major nearby landmark or neighbourhood name, is not available.
  • Station “subtitles” should always be used to clarify a station’s location at a major cross street.

These “protocols” were not engraved in stone and they do not warrant worship as if they are immutable. Two basic issues were missed in creating them, and Metrolinx should be honest and humble enough to address this. “Nevermore” is not the correct answer in this circumstance.

Meanwhile, on a related topic, the actual name of the Eglinton-Crosstown name is still in debate given that the TTC has moved to line numbering. Will it become “Line 5”, or will someone complain that Toronto has scoffed all of the “premium” numbers for its rapid transit routes on a regional basis? At least GO Transit uses letters rather than numbers, and we can avoid a prolonged debate about who gets to use “Line 1”.

Such are the weighty matters that burden transit planners and politicians.

24 thoughts on “Eglinton Crosstown Station Names Settled At Last

  1. Why does Metrolinx want to use weird names for the Eglinton line? I think it is more confusing than just using the street name. What will happen if the Don Mills subway line is ever built? There will be a whole bunch of stations with the same name as a Yonge line station. Somehow people in NYC make do with large numbers of duplicate subway station names.

    Steve: This issue seems to have an almost religious tone to it in the Metrolinx presentations in that they have made up their mind that no two stations shall be alike, and that’s that. Frankly, I think they’re nuts, but they are not an organization that changes its mind easily (unless told to).

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  2. You mentioned numbering. One of the really bright ideas I saw on the Tokyo Metro was that all stations had a particular letter-number code, in addition to the station name. One letter for the line and a number for the particular station. This is helpful for wayfinding by Japanese and non-Japanese readers alike. It’s one thing to know that you would go from Kita-senju to Otemachi to get to Tokyo station … much easier to know that you would go from C18 to C11 (so 7 stops) and switch to the Marinouchi line to go from M18 to M17.

    Granted, while Tokyo’s transit system is more complex than Toronto’s, the TTC will become more complex as The Crosstown and the other LRT lines come into service.

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  3. The problem I have the most with the naming is not the Hakimi-Lebovic issue, but the fact that Eglinton station remains Eglinton. Eglinton-Yonge station would be much more consistent with existing TTC nomenclature. Why does Metrolinx ignore this? It makes absolutely no sense.

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  4. Steve says:

    Such are the weighty matters that burden transit planners and politicians.

    The term we use for this at work is “bikeshedding.”

    Huh, naturally there’s a web page for it. I wonder if that page would be there if it were a term of art in, say, coal mining? :-)

    Steve: We see the same thing at the TTC Board and at Council, although there is a fighting chance that some members of either body will know more about, and be more likely to challenge assumptions in, reports at their meetings. Mind you, there have been some Commissioners who would make good Metrolinx Board material. This has actually been proposed (interlinked boards), but my gut feeling is that it would only spread the limited knowledge and experience even thinner.

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  5. It really is childish that these are labelled as “protocols” in the first place. Public sector or private, the pervasiveness of this type of language (and attitude) in the leadership of an organization usually means that they are poor operators.

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  6. Explanation for the compromise:

    Hakimi Lebovic
    Means no worries
    Hakimi Lebovic
    Means no worries
    It means no worries for all of your transit days
    It’s our problem free
    Philosophy
    Hakimi Lebovic

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve wrote about the Hakimi Lebovic stop:

    Metrolinx adopted a “Solomon-like” decision to use a double name.

    At least this has a GTA precedent, though with a hyphen. YRT’s VIVA system has: 19th-Gamble, 16th-Carrville, and Bantry-Scott.

    I’m with others that say that “Eglinton” should be “Eglinton-Yonge”. Even without connecting routes, the VIVA system has Dufferin-Finch and Esna-Steeles.

    Steve: It is quite clear in this whole process that Metrolinx is the gorilla in the room foisting its own ideas on stop naming on unwilling local systems who can’t be bothered fighting over something this small in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how they would be running “local” services.

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  8. Steve said:

    Imagine how they would be running “local” services.

    I think if Metrolinx were more involved in everyday life, they’d be under more pressure to be “open”. They’d resist it, but they would change. As it is, there isn’t really a strong lobby for Metrolinx because everyone that uses it is so dispersed amongst a larger population.

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  9. Let’s not forget about other station naming battles … renaming Bloor and Eglinton on the GO corridors … and let’s not forget about new Short Track stations between Mount Dennis, Union and Kennedy.

    As for renaming the Eglinton Crosstown because stations won’t be facing on Eglinton (which is quite absurd), I’d like to suggest Crosstown, Crossrail, or Crosstown 1 … but that is subject to a number of board meetings.

    Also, by this apparent standard, if the Finch West LRT is extended south on Highway 27 can we still call it the Finch West LRT?

    Cheers, Moaz

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  10. My Favourite is “Hakimi Lebovic.” My first reaction is who was this guy to get a station named after him? We need to have a contest to develop an identity for this person. If we come up with a good one we could set up a social media ID for him, or her, and it could become a factoid of urban legend.

    My starting point is that Hakimi, is it OK if I call him by his first name, was an Iranian Jew whose family and been there since the Israelite were taken captive to Babylon in biblical times but had to flee the SAVAK, the Shah’s Secret Police. He then moved to Scarborough and set up some business, type to be determined, in year to be determined, and help Scarborough grow. We might as well have fun with the stupidity of Metrolinx.

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  11. Moaz said:

    “Also, by this apparent standard, if the Finch West LRT is extended south on Highway 27 can we still call it the Finch West LRT?”

    This would clearly be a major decision and one best made by a committee of experts, ideally with some from ‘away’ who will require travel and lodging expenses in addition to a per diem. Their deliberations will take at least 6-months and will certainly require review by an expanded Station Naming Coordinating Review Committee. (Actually, I think this urge to deal with tiny details rather than the ‘big stuff’ is that the small things are more easily understood!)

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  12. And yet they won’t rename “Eglinton” station (Eglinton-Yonge), even though “Eglinton” is an ultra-meaningless name for a station on a line most of whose stations are on Eglinton? Oy! Their station name planning system is *broken*.

    Steve: But it’s “their” system and they refuse to acknowledge its flaws. How much other Metrolinx planning (Presto? Fare Integration?) suffers from the same shortsighted approach?

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  13. Metrolinx doesn’t like hyphens, but they seemingly have no issue with ampersands, as in the ungainly mouthful “Aga Khan Park & Museum”. Perhaps we need a Brevity Committee.

    Steve: I am sure there is a consultant somewhere just waiting to lap up a six-figure contract to study the issue.

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  14. Moaz Ahmad | January 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    “Let’s not forget about other station naming battles … renaming Bloor and Eglinton on the GO corridors … and let’s not forget about new Short Track stations between Mount Dennis, Union and Kennedy.”

    Let’s forget about renaming GO’s Bloor and Eglinton stations because you are dealing with station names on a mainline railway which were part of the CN network and over which CN still has operating rights. No two stations on a railway can have the same name and this means on the entire CN in Canada. This is a Transport Canada regulation and not something dreamed up by Metrolinx. What is wrong with those two names? Bloor is on Bloor Street and Eglinton is on Eglinton. One set is on GO and the other set is on the TTC.

    Steve: Ah but someday the dreamers who live only to draw fantasy maps will take control, regauge the TTC and through route everything. Then all hell will break loose!

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  15. “These station names were developed by an inclusive consultation process with feedback channels for authentic responses,” declared Metrolinx VP of Naming Protocols. “It shows that we take public concerns very, very, very seriously.”

    In other news, Davenport is getting a nice big bridge whether it wants it or not, so suck it up buttercup.

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  16. “At least GO Transit uses letters rather than numbers, and we can avoid a prolonged debate about who gets to use “Line 1”.”

    GO uses letters? All the schedules I have seen use numbers or numbers and letters. The 10s are used for Lakeshore West, the 20s for Milton, the 30s for Kitchener, 40s for 407 ETR west bus routes, 50s for 407 ETR east bus routes, 60s for Barrie and Richmond Hill routes, 70s for Stouffville service, 80, for Peterborough and Parry Sound buses (possibly GO trains on the Shining Waters line) and 90s for Lakeshore East services. They do use letters after numbers to distinguish between branches of the bus routes. The timetables use the numbers for the buses but not the trains.

    Steve: I was thinking of their system map where they letter the corridors. Even Metrolinx cannot make up its mind how to name things, and the pretentiousness of their station naming protocol is all the more amusing for it.

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  17. Steve:

    “I was thinking of their system map where they letter the corridors. Even Metrolinx cannot make up its mind how to name things, and the pretentiousness of their station naming protocol is all the more amusing for it.”

    The new maps that one links to off their website do not have letters for the rail lines. I found old maps on google that had letters but not on their current website. I think that they may have had letters at one time for ease of viewing but dropped it for some reason. The letters have remained on many maps published by others.

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  18. Here’s an alternate view of the naming debate.

    Is station naming as a means of wayfinding all that important in the age of the smart phone and Google Maps?

    With more and more people, especially by the time the stations are in use, using mobile devices to navigate, doesn’t a unique name become more inportant than a self-locating name.

    Example: if I type “Bayview station” into Google Maps in a city with only one station named Bayview, wouldn’t that make it easier to find my preferred stop. Would sorting through Bayview-Sheppard and Bayview-Eglinton be helpful. (Before answering remember, the person who knows the difference between the two is also the person who doesn’t need help wayfinding. The idea of the self locating station name is to help those who need the help.)

    More importantly, do we navigate by locating stations or don’t we just put in the address of our intended destination in Apple or Google maps and hit “transit” and let the mapping app do the rest. In that scenario, aren’t unique names more helpful?

    I think our resistance to unique station names may be a relic of old ways of navigating through the city. I think unique names may better align with how we move through the city today and in the near future when the line is in use.

    Steve: I think you are making assumptions about how people mentally map their city to justify your thesis. Smart phones don’t do everything.

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  19. Mapleson | January 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    “GO Rail and GO Bus don’t integrate well.”

    I don’t know how well they integrate but they do make connections between the two modes at various stations. I find they the buses supplement and complement the train services on the lines that I have had occasion to use. They certainly are a lot better integrated than in most other cities I have visited.

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  20. Steve writes

    Some serious re-education of those signs is required.

    Well, the VP of Naming Protocols is busy on a Number of Worthwhile Initiatives. But the AVP of Naming Protocols can surely spare a handful of flunkies for the appropriate re-education of the signs.

    No, seriously, they had a perfectly good name and then they did this whole other pointless exercise. I don’t know whether they drank the Kool-Aid from their own navel, or whether the “name the stations” was deliberately a distraction from issues that actually matter. Either way, it gives me no comfort about the efficiency of Metrolinx. The people who suggest that the TTC should be taken over by Metrolinx are advocating the vacating of the frying pan and the vertical drop to closer proximity of the burning stuff.

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