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TTC Cartography, Signage, and Wayfinding

TTC wayfinding, naming convention, etc could definitely use cleaning up but it’s really not bad at all. Having lived in Vancouver and then visiting Toronto I didn’t struggle to adapt quickly.
 
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The goal of wayfinding is also to minimize the noise of details that a person likely doesn't need to know at that moment as they decide whether or not to jump onto the train about to leave or not. The sign above does have what a person requires, but you need to process a lot more than required and that adds unnecessary complexity. The yellow circle with a "1" and "to Finch" is enough to answer the question important in that moment. In the sign here the "1" gets the right amount of emphasis but "to Finch" is lost in the mix. If we add other languages to the mix this over complexity will really make getting to a point of clear understanding quickly very difficult. In Tokyo I found it very easy to navigate despite not speaking Japanese or being able to read it because the line and destination was prominent. I wouldn't know what 北行き or 次の駅 means. In fact I would see the 駅 symbol and think 次の is the name of a station. When you leave all the less important information off, you leave less chance of misunderstanding.
 
View attachment 524520
The goal of wayfinding is also to minimize the noise of details that a person likely doesn't need to know at that moment as they decide whether or not to jump onto the train about to leave or not. The sign above does have what a person requires, but you need to process a lot more than required and that adds unnecessary complexity. The yellow circle with a "1" and "to Finch" is enough to answer the question important in that moment. In the sign here the "1" gets the right amount of emphasis but "to Finch" is lost in the mix. If we add other languages to the mix this over complexity will really make getting to a point of clear understanding quickly very difficult. In Tokyo I found it very easy to navigate despite not speaking Japanese or being able to read it because the line and destination was prominent. I wouldn't know what 北行き or 次の駅 means. In fact I would see the 駅 symbol and think 次の is the name of a station. When you leave all the less important information off, you leave less chance of misunderstanding.
Overall agree. Although not even sure if the next stop is that useful
 
Stations should have been place names and the move to change Eglinton West to Cedarvale makes sense and this thought process should continue.
I highly disagree. 'Eglinton West' tells me the station is somewhere along Eglinton Avenue West, and makes it easy to select from a list of stations when I am researching my transit connections if I know my destination is along Eglinton Avenue West, for example. 'Cedarvale' doesn't tell me anything - it doesn't make the station jump out, and neighbourhood names are fickle - what was a current name in the 1990s doesn't have to be current now.

By this logic, why have any geographical names at all? You can make Eglinton Midtown, Davisville Midtown Middle, St. Clair Midtown South, etc.
naming the station Union is OK... it doesn't need Front Street in the name.
Stations named for institutions like Union, Museum, or Yorkdale are the exception, because they are all significant landmarks which overshadow everything else in the vicinity. What is at Eglinton West that is significant? "Toronto Police Service 13 Division Station"? What about Wilson? Dundas West? Keele? These stations are all in 'non places', as far as sights go.

S
The cardinal direction for a subway line adds no value. The line is yellow line 1, the directions are Finch and Vaughan... From Finch it travels SSE then WSW for a short period under Front, then NNW, then WSW a bit, then NNW, then NW then NNW... who cares. No commuter is a goose trying to fly south in general... they want to go somewhere specific.
Speak for yourself. I'm a map nerd and I'm always thinking in directions. In the time I can figure out that going eastward means going to Kennedy, or going westward means I'm going towards Kipling, I could've figured out that I need a westbound or eastbound train about 5 times over. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't have signs identifying the terminus stations, but good wayfinding needs to accept that different people think differently of the world, and the information you personally gravitate to does not have to be the information I gravitate to.

It is even worse on the surface network, which can change at the drop of a hat. "Westbound streetcars" at a downtown subway station is infinitely more useful than specifying the destination the vehicle is going to, since, as we've seen in the last 4 years, where that destination is changes at least once a month.

Certainly Durham College Oshawa station

And who named DC College Oshawa GO? Metrolinx, who's wayfinding you hold up as something we should implement.

Moreover, if we accept your argument that stations should be named for places, Metrolinx fails horrifically at this too. Eglinton GO is miles from Eglinton station. There are 6 GO stations in Scarborough, one of which is named "Scarborough", which seems to imply to the ignorant traveller that it is the station for Scarborough. What would you say to a tourist who wants to go to the beach at Rouge Hill and finds themselves at St. Clair and Midland? What about Scarborough Centre subway station, which will be present on the SSE? That doesn't provide a confusing experience for the traveller?

Ontario Line is going to be half north-southish, and half east-westish, we should learn to say "Line 3 towards Exhibition" because south and west is less useful.
That's not true. If one is travelling from the Ontario Science Centre to the Exhibition, they are still travelling in a generally westbound direction. All you need for directions on wayfinding is to give a general overview of the direction the person is going, you don't have to account for every squiggle and bend in the line.

However if you look at subway maps elsewhere such as Tokyo, London, and Paris where transit and a more walk-able environment has been present throughout, stations are named after neighbourhoods and landmarks, and in some cases the station name became the place.
I can also name counter examples from Europe - such as Prague, where most metro stations are named either for a street nearby, or a significant landmark such as the main railway station, or a town square that sits above. I wouldn't dare accuse Prague of being autocentric.

This is one of those times where treating Europe as a monolith is harmful.

Durham College Oshawa GO as "Bloor West - Thornton South"
You are needlessly conflating different things here. Despite what transit influencers would have you believe, local city systems and regional transit IS different. GO is not a local service, stopping at every other street. Durham College Oshawa GO is, as I stated above, a loathsome name that runs counter to all of your principles about wayfinding, being that Durham College is nowhere near. Oshawa GO was a good name, it is global practice to name intercity train stations for the towns that they serve (or the neighbourhoods of the town, if there is more than one station in the city, which is not the case in Oshawa).

If there was no Lakeshore East line and one had to take the bus, one would expect they would call out Bloor West and Thornton South, the same as one would expect if there was a local metro running parallel to the Lakeshore East line.

Certainly the urban layout of Toronto is part of the problem. In many cities streets don't run the same distance. Bloor exists across most of the GTA. Naming something Bloor (or many street names that run massive distances) in Toronto is to name something in a non-unique way.
To which I would say that what goes on outside of Toronto is not the concern of Torontonians. Again, conflating regional and local transit is harmful. Wayfinding should be set up for the benefit of the people travelling locally, it should not be pandering to a city 80 km away that happens to have the same named street.

View attachment 524520
The goal of wayfinding is also to minimize the noise of details that a person likely doesn't need to know at that moment as they decide whether or not to jump onto the train about to leave or not. The sign above does have what a person requires, but you need to process a lot more than required and that adds unnecessary complexity. The yellow circle with a "1" and "to Finch" is enough to answer the question important in that moment. In the sign here the "1" gets the right amount of emphasis but "to Finch" is lost in the mix. If we add other languages to the mix this over complexity will really make getting to a point of clear understanding quickly very difficult. In Tokyo I found it very easy to navigate despite not speaking Japanese or being able to read it because the line and destination was prominent. I wouldn't know what 北行き or 次の駅 means. In fact I would see the 駅 symbol and think 次の is the name of a station. When you leave all the less important information off, you leave less chance of misunderstanding.
I see nothing wrong with the sign you listed. It gives all the information about the service, in whatever language the traveller requires it. They know it's going north, they know it's going to Finch, they know the line runs along Yonge Street, and they know the next station is King.
 
While the Glasgow Subway is the simplest in the world.

The New York Subway is the most complex in the world.


Toronto's Subway is closer to Glasgow, though we did model the original Yonge Subway on New York City system, and used British made trains for the TTC's first trains.
 
'Cedarvale' doesn't tell me anything
Cedarvale will tell you something once people get used to it. It was okay when there wasn't an interchange station there, but Line 5 is going to open, and "Eglinton West" provides zero information for someone on Line 5. If Eglinton West remained as a station, a traveller on the Eglinton line would encounter Eglinton (west) Station twice. Reducing confusion by providing a unique name is a good idea, and just because you're used to it doesn't mean we should keep it that way.
Metrolinx, who's wayfinding you hold up as something we should implement.
What about Metrolinx's wayfinding do you take issue with? The wayfinding is generally miles better than TTC's signage, not to mention the rest of the GTA agencies (looking at those agencies that don't bother to place bus routes on stop flags)
they know the line runs along Yonge Street
This is fundamentally useless information to know. Do we call the western side Bloor Line (wow! second bloor line!) between St George and Spadina? We definitely don't call it the Allen Line, or the Jane Line.
what goes on outside of Toronto is not the concern of Torontonians
This is the mindset that is fundamentally hampering transit improvement in the GTA. How many commuters cross the York-Toronto boundary daily? How many cross into Mississauga and back? There is no rational reason to not care about the transit experience across the street from the administrative boundary, because actual transit users do not care about the administrative boundary. The focus of a transit user is to get from A to B. If you make that experience worse, you are encouraging them to drive or otherwise not make trips.
 
Cedarvale will tell you something once people get used to it
People would also have gotten used to Eglinton West being a transfer point. Failing that, Eglinton West-Allen was on the table.

The point is that Cedarvale is useless from a wayfinding perspective. As I already stated, neighbourhood names are fickle and can change, and I do not especially get the impression that Toronto's neighbourhoods form a "core" part of the urban fabric in the same way, as say, Chelsea, Midtown, or Hell's Kitchen do, in Manhattan. Ask the average Torontonian where or what Cedarvale is, do you think they'd be able to answer without checking the internet?

What about Metrolinx's wayfinding do you take issue with? The wayfinding is generally miles better than TTC's signage, not to mention the rest of the GTA agencies (looking at those agencies that don't bother to place bus routes on stop flags)
I have already outlined several specific examples of what is problematic about Metrolinx's wayfinding in the very post you quoted. If you want another example, OId Elm. How is a tree a navigational point? What about Bronte GO, which is also in Oakville, same as Oakville GO? What about Appleby and Aldershot, which are also in Burlington, same as Burlington? Or Hamilton and West Harbour?

And it's funny that you mention transit agencies that don't bother placing bus stop routes on stop flags - where have you seen Metrolinx do this? Is this a new pilot? Where I am, this is all that there is.

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The same goes for GO stations, I have yet to see one specify at a glance what line serves the station. The signage for the Crosstown stations is the same - I don't see any information here about the services that call at the station at all.

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This is fundamentally useless information to know.
Unless, of course, you know your destination is along Yonge Street.

It's not supposed to be the ONLY piece of information offered, it's supposed to be part of a larger puzzle that helps you make your way through the wastes.

This is the mindset that is fundamentally hampering transit improvement in the GTA.
I would say that conflating regional and local transit is what is hampering transit improvement in the GTA.

The suburbs should have good transit connections, but it should not be in the form of local transit, which is slow and lumbering. Look at the ridiculous places we have, or are, extending line 1 to - if you live at Sheppard and Keele, and you want to get downtown in the morning rush hour, would you take the Barrie Line, which gets you there in 20 minutes, or the subway, which gets you there in 35?

There is no rational reason to not care about the transit experience across the street from the administrative boundary, because actual transit users do not care about the administrative boundary.
But a good transit system should offer accurate information for the people who use it in the jurisdiction that it runs. Creating "unique" names just because a street in some suburb happens to share a name with a subway station goes counter to that.

I would also add that if someone gets off at Bloor station downtown and expected to find themselves on Bloor Street in Oshawa or Mississauga, that is their own fault. I have no sympathy for these people, and you shouldn't, either. We should not be renaming transit stations willy nilly to cater to people who are too stupid to open a map and figure out where they are and where they are going.
 
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Overall agree. Although not even sure if the next stop is that useful

I've found it very useful in places where the character set isn't one i use regularly.

If I'm looking at where I am on a map, and found where I am going, the next stop is a much more immediate confirmation of direction than the line terminus.
 
At least have a neighbourhood map link on the TTC website for each and every station. Each subway station, subways station, GO/UPX station, and Union Station should have a neighbourhood map at each entrance, showing the vicinity within a 5 or 10 minute walk. Like they have at STM.
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Eglinton West-Allen was on the table.
Unless, of course, you know your destination is along Yonge Street.
So you are contradicting your point about the necessity of adding "Yonge Line" to the sign? Again, we don't call it the Allen Line or the Jane Line. Wayfinding is a balance of information. We could add unnecessary clutter onto the sign to benefit only a tiny amount of trips on the Yonge side and generate confusion for everyone else, or we could get rid of it, and have people look at properly placed and well-designed line diagrams instead.
Not that the difference between Yonge and University lines is mentioned much anywhere other than at Union.
Cedarvale is useless from a wayfinding perspective
For someone unfamiliar with the system, "Cedarvale" is much better than two stations named Eglinton on the same line. Considering the perspective of a tourist who is trying to get around the city, the difference between the two stations might not be obvious. Neither would the difference between Bloor-Yonge (Bloor) and Bloor GO be obvious.
where have you seen Metrolinx do this?
This is more Metrolinx refusing to follow their own standards rather than their standards being bad. According to their wayfinding standard, the flag shown in your picture should only be used where it is not possible to display bus routes on the flag. Obviously, this is not the case for the majority of their bus stops. Metrolinx not following their own standards also applies to many of their station namings. Their standards say not to place line numbers at the entrances to stations and instead opts for the mode that serves the station. I agree that this decision is silly.
The suburbs should have good transit connections, but it should not be in the form of local transit, which is slow and lumbering.
The suburbs still need proper local transit. That is beside the point - the point was that the transit experience should not change dramatically the second a municipal boundary is crossed. That is why the wayfinding standard exists and why we are working to integrate fares across the region.
 
I don't think anyone can argue that Metrolinx's station naming process actually makes any sense when it leaves a station named Eglinton on an Eglinton line. Talk about providing zero information...
 
So you are contradicting your point about the necessity of adding "Yonge Line" to the sign?
What are you talking about?

Again, we don't call it the Allen Line or the Jane Line.
Why must our multi-named station complexes be limited to names inherited from subway lines? Allen is the cross street, so if you want to distinguish Eglinton West on line 1 from the station on line 5, Allen would be the logical thing to call it.

Considering the perspective of a tourist who is trying to get around the city, the difference between the two stations might not be obvious.
When I travel to a new city, it is my responsibility to become familiar with the local transit system and study up on where I want to go. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if a tourist doesn't notice that "Eglinton" and "Eglinton West" have different characters and act on that impulse, perhaps they may require a legal guardian as a chaperone.

Utterly preposterous.

In Prague and Bratislava, as well as London, each of their stations is prefixed with the name of the city, i.e. Praha-Hlavní nádraží, Bratislava-Vinohrady, London Euston, etc. All of the airports in London are also prefixed with London. By the parameters of your argument, they should all be renamed to drop the repeated phrase too, right? Because someone might be confused by seeing multiple train stations have the phrase London in them. In fact, as far as I can tell, this seems to be a fairly standard naming convention across Europe.

Neither would the difference between Bloor-Yonge (Bloor) and Bloor GO be obvious.
This is a different thing entirely. The Bloor part of the Bloor-Yonge complex is called Bloor station; so is Bloor GO station. This is a duplication of a station name. This problem could be solved either by renaming both Bloor and Yonge stations to Bloor-Yonge, dropping the distinction between platforms, or, even better, renaming Bloor GO to Dundas West GO. Same thing with Eglinton station and Eglinton GO. It is not at all comparable to stations like Eglinton / Eglinton West, Dundas / Dundas West or Lawrence / Lawrence West, which all have distinct names from each other.

The suburbs still need proper local transit.
And why should that be in the form of transit extended from Toronto? Why have other transit agencies when you could just extend the 52 Lawrence West bus westward along Derry Road all the way to Milton?

Compartmentalizing local transit means that the needs of the community are met. The larger the scope of service coverage, the more likely it is local concerns will fall by the wayside.
 
What are you talking about?


Why must our multi-named station complexes be limited to names inherited from subway lines? Allen is the cross street, so if you want to distinguish Eglinton West on line 1 from the station on line 5, Allen would be the logical thing to call it.


When I travel to a new city, it is my responsibility to become familiar with the local transit system and study up on where I want to go. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if a tourist doesn't notice that "Eglinton" and "Eglinton West" have different characters and act on that impulse, perhaps they may require a legal guardian as a chaperone.

Utterly preposterous.

In Prague and Bratislava, as well as London, each of their stations is prefixed with the name of the city, i.e. Praha-Hlavní nádraží, Bratislava-Vinohrady, London Euston, etc. All of the airports in London are also prefixed with London. By the parameters of your argument, they should all be renamed to drop the repeated phrase too, right? Because someone might be confused by seeing multiple train stations have the phrase London in them. In fact, as far as I can tell, this seems to be a fairly standard naming convention across Europe.


This is a different thing entirely. The Bloor part of the Bloor-Yonge complex is called Bloor station; so is Bloor GO station. This is a duplication of a station name. This problem could be solved either by renaming both Bloor and Yonge stations to Bloor-Yonge, dropping the distinction between platforms, or, even better, renaming Bloor GO to Dundas West GO. Same thing with Eglinton station and Eglinton GO. It is not at all comparable to stations like Eglinton / Eglinton West, Dundas / Dundas West or Lawrence / Lawrence West, which all have distinct names from each other.


And why should that be in the form of transit extended from Toronto? Why have other transit agencies when you could just extend the 52 Lawrence West bus westward along Derry Road all the way to Milton?

Compartmentalizing local transit means that the needs of the community are met. The larger the scope of service coverage, the more likely it is local concerns will fall by the wayside.
We should much rather prefer unique names rather than prioritizing cross streets. Wayfinding is meant for people unfamiliar with the system and should be as simple as possible.

People don't care about the roads above them when they are in the subway, that's why they're in the subway. People will get used to the Cedarvale name, and if people are unfamiliar with the system, they most likely do not care about the geographical nuances of Toronto's neighbourhoods either. They will prefer not having to differentiate between two instances of the name Eglinton on the same line. One is much more likely to generate confusion.

It is not just recognizing characters that matters when wayfinding. If I ask someone for directions to Finch from Laird, eliminating the potential source of confusion when they say "Eglinton" and I wonder if they meant "Eglinton" or "Eglinton West" helps. Comparing that to prefixes of the name of the city is a false equivalency. That would only make sense if the stations were named "Eglinton-Allen" and "Eglinton-Yonge".
 
People don't care about the roads above them when they are in the subway, that's why they're in the subway.
A compelling argument against the neighbourhood name, too, then, no? People don't care about the neighbourhoods above them when they're in the subway.

Of course, people do care about the roads above them, because they form the basis of how one makes their way around the city.

We should much rather prefer unique names rather than prioritizing cross streets.
I've already said that I don't think most neighbourhoods in Toronto are well known enough, like they are in Manhattan, to warrant this happening. Everyone knows where the major streets of Toronto are, few people know neighbourhoods well enough to navigate based on that.

Stop spacing would also make this difficult. Let's look at the Bloor line: the Annex incorporates St. George, Spadina, and Bathurst. Seaton Village straddles the space between Bathurst and Christie. Dufferin and Lansdowne are both part of Junction-Wallace-Emerson. Dundas West and Keele are both in West Bend. Runnymede actually incorporates Runnymede and Jane. I have rarely ever heard most people refer to these neighbourhoods, with the sole exception of the Annex. Then there is the argument that changing all the station names causes much more confusion, as the entire populace has to learn the new station names, and would as well be a rather substantial financial undertaking. Is that really a price worth paying, instead of telling all these confused people who allegedly exist that they are grown ups and to deal with the problem themselves?

If you want to decrease the level of transparency and ease of wayfinding in our system, there is no better way to do it than by adopting unique names.

eliminating the potential source of confusion when they say "Eglinton" and I wonder if they meant "Eglinton" or "Eglinton West" helps.
If you are unsure, you are always welcome to ask them to clarify. It costs nothing.
 

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