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TTC Cartography, Signage, and Wayfinding

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.
Yes, it tells you it is along Eglinton West which is just under a 19km stretch of road that begins at Etobicoke Creek (beyond which the street is Eglinton East) to Yonge (beyond which the street is Eglinton East). With the Science Center moving perhaps the station could be named Eglinton Central East to match the naming convention. Does it tell you it is on Eglinton West? Sort of, I mean that could also be the name of the neighbourhood because there isn't a standard... Osgoode isn't on Osgoode street. If you do decide that yes Eglinton West is on Eglinton St West you that still doesn't tell you that you need to go there because if you are going to 174 Eglinton St West, Eglinton Station is closer despite the "West" and for I'm not doing the math but I would hazard a guess that less than 1% of the addresses people might go to in this city do not have stations named after their streets (e.g. Marlee), but far more streets do belong to neighbourhoods. The naming of stations to match street names misses the point that people do not navigate subways that way. People don't hang a right on Eglinton, they get off at Station Name and transfer to bus route. The more clear and unambiguous the Station Name the better.
By this logic, why have any geographical names at all? You can make Eglinton Midtown, Davisville Midtown Middle, St. Clair Midtown South, etc.
I don't know how you can say "by this logic" when if you are following at all that is the opposite to what I am saying. I'm saying it should be named after a Neighbourhood or a Place Name that the station is closer to than any other station. Sometimes those neighbourhoods do have a street name in them, so they should use that, but most have neighbourhood names that don't have street names. St.Clair Station is in the neighbourhoods best described as Yonge - St.Clair or Deer Park, so those names are unambiguous. Nobody living around St Clair West says they live in the St Clair West neighbourhood, they would likely say they live in Forest Hill South. Why would it be acceptable to have a station named Forest Hill and Forest Hill South? Because those places are actually near each other whereas if you wrongly head to Lawrence, Lawrence West, and Lawrence East you can be in a completely different place far away from where you want to go. Wayfinding should work a bit like taxonomy... start at the high level then work your way down Metro (airports, national rail) -> City (RER) -> Neighbourhood (Metro) -> Street (Bus) -> Street Number (Sidewalk) -> Unit (Elevator/Hallway). If you are focusing on street too early you could be at Dundas East in Mississauga.
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.
So station names with the latitude and longitude perhaps, and directions with compass co-ordinates to help the map nerds. I just don't think there are many people who honestly navigate that way and as we add lines that are not straight like the GO lines once they are running RER like service, or the Ontario Line to the maps, people aren't going to navigate with compass directions. I can't imagine anyone in Tokyo, London, or Paris navigating by north, south, east, and west.
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.
Surface routes are a different ball game. On the surface you have a sense of direction, you are going places you see, you follow streets, you stop at streets, and routes are more dynamic.
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.
I agree Metrolinx sucks too. Metrolinx hasn't renamed other stations like it has Cedarvale unfortunately. They started off with a plan and ran out of gas, then new politics got involved, and now you have Durham College Oshawa GO.
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?
It does, that is why I think they need to continue with station renaming. I'm not sure why someone wanting to go to the beach at Rouge Hill would find themselves at St Clair and Midland though... there is a Rouge Hill station in the West Rouge neighbourhood. It seems like a good station name... not the Lawrence East East station or whatever a street focused naming would have called it. Scarborough GO, Bloor GO, and Eglinton GO are also offenders.
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.
What if you are going from the Ontario Science Centre to Pape, then you are travelling in a generally southbound direction. You can't change the signage based on where the person might get off.
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).
I'm not conflating different things. I'm saying metro/subway and bus is different, that metro/subway serves a different purpose than bus and therefore station names and stop names should talk about different scales.
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.
Who is talking about places 80km away, the distance between 1900 Bloor St Mississauga, and 4357 Bloor St W Toronto is 650m, and 4357 Bloor West is East of Mississauga. For people travelling through the GTA, Bloor isn't a place.
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.
I'm not saying it is inaccurate, I'm saying it says more than it needs to be. You could write on the sign that this is not the right platform for the University Line also known as the Spadina Line, that you are currently on sublevel 3, that the station the train is arriving from is St.Andrew, you could write on the sign that you should take this train to Eaton Centre and Yonge-Bloor because those are popular spots, you could also write on the sign that there is no smoking on the TTC, no urinating or defecating on the train, and that the current CEO is Rick Leary. All those things are entirely accurate.
 
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Yes, it tells you it is along Eglinton West which is just under a 19km stretch of road that begins at Etobicoke Creek (beyond which the street is Eglinton East) to Yonge (beyond which the street is Eglinton East).
Well then, what does Cedarvale tell you?

Sort of, I mean that could also be the name of the neighbourhood because there isn't a standard... Osgoode isn't on Osgoode street.
Osgoode is one of the exceptions to the rule. I would say it is not an exceptionally helpful name and I would not have chosen it if I had been in charge in 1963, but it's also become lived in and changing it would do much more harm than the vague initial name ever did.

The more clear and unambiguous the Station Name the better.
If you want clear and unambiguous names, how exactly does naming the station for a neighbourhood most people who are not locals won't have heard of fit the bill? Especially considering that there are 3 neighbourhood names, as Northern Light observed, that could be chosen to refer to the locale.

Why would it be acceptable to have a station named Forest Hill and Forest Hill South? Because those places are actually near each other whereas if you wrongly head to Lawrence, Lawrence West, and Lawrence East you can be in a completely different place far away from where you want to go.

I don't follow this line of thinking at all. Have you not been arguing that naming something in a non unique way is harmful? How exactly does that make a Forest Hill and Forest Hill South OK, but Street name / Street Name West are no good? Lawrence and Lawrence East are quite a distance from each other, tis true, but other stations not necessarily - Eglinton West, when line 5 opens, will be a trivial jaunt from Eglinton, no different to the distance between St. Clair West and Eglinton West.

Moreover, I don't understand what problem this is solving. The fact of the matter is, we can't appeal to everyone in everything we do all the time, and especially in this era when you can download a free app that will literally plan out your entire journey for you step by step and all you have to do is look at it and pay attention to the names it calls out, I do not see the benefit in doing so. We are not talking about opening a paper road atlas and using the register to find where you are and where you need to go (though this is not at all a difficult task, either); we have idiot proofed wayfinding and navigation. If someone still suffers, that shows that they are ignorant and refuse to engage with the world around them. Nothing more, nothing less.

So station names with the latitude and longitude perhaps, and directions with compass co-ordinates to help the map nerds.
I think this rather unfair and dismissive. A damn sight bigger portion of the population finds their way through directional navigators like "up north", "down south", "out west" than do through latitude and longitude. Again, no one is saying the cardinal directions have to be there in place of all other navigational information, but I don't see what problem them being there causes. What kind of intolerably foolish person have you constructed in your mind that understands "Line 1 / To Finch", but is utterly stumped by seeing "Line 1 / Northbound to Finch"? And if such a person exists, why must we cater to this kind of stupidity?

I'm not sure why someone wanting to go to the beach at Rouge Hill would find themselves at St Clair and Midland though... there is a Rouge Hill station in the West Rouge neighbourhood. It seems like a good station name... not the Lawrence East East station or whatever a street focused naming would have called it. Scarborough GO, Bloor GO, and Eglinton GO are also offenders.
Rouge Hill is the good name, it is Scarborough that is not.

What if you are going from the Ontario Science Centre to Pape, then you are travelling in a generally southbound direction. You can't change the signage based on where the person might get off.
Northeast and southwest still exists. Or is this the part where I find that our education system is so intolerably awful that this is yet another concept that the general public can't wrap their minds around?

I'm saying metro/subway and bus is different, that metro/subway serves a different purpose than bus and therefore station names and stop names should talk about different scales.
If the subway had express stop spacing (no local stops), and all of our neighbourhoods were as distinct and widely known as those in Manhattan, I might agree; however, our subways serve very much a local transit function for the most part (buses even more granular). As I have stated in my rebuttals, a subway might hit multiple stations situated in one neighbourhood.

Who is talking about places 80km away, the distance between 1900 Bloor St Mississauga, and 4357 Bloor St W Toronto is 650m, and 4357 Bloor West is East of Mississauga. For people travelling through the GTA, Bloor isn't a place.
We are discussing Bloor as being an inappropriate station name because Bloor exists in other parts of the GTA, were we not?

The western end of Bloor Street West on the Oshawa/Whitby border is 45 km from Yonge-Bloor; to Etobicoke Creek it is 16 km. 80 km is a touch hyperbolic, but both instances are far and away outside of the area of what anyone in the downtown core of Toronto should care about. We should not be renaming our subway stations to appease geographically challenged suburbanites. The Yonge subway crosses Bloor Street at Bloor Station - Bloor is the only appropriate name.

I'm not saying it is inaccurate, I'm saying it says more than it needs to be. You could write on the sign that this is not the right platform for the University Line also known as the Spadina Line, that you are currently on sublevel 3, that the station the train is arriving from is St.Andrew, you could write on the sign that you should take this train to Eaton Centre and Yonge-Bloor because those are popular spots, you could also write on the sign that there is no smoking on the TTC, no urinating or defecating on the train, and that the current CEO is Rick Leary. All those things are entirely accurate.
I didn't accuse you of accusing the sign of being inaccurate; I said I see nothing wrong with it, i.e. I have no problems with the level of information presented.

Your counter example seems like a wildly out of control strawman; it is also not dissimilar to the littany of PSAs riders are forced to listen to on GO Transit, which again, is operated by Metrolinx, whose example you laud so much.
 
Well then, what does Cedarvale tell you?
That it is the station close to the Cedarvale neighborhood. A much smaller zone.

Your counter example seems like a wildly out of control strawman; it is also not dissimilar to the littany of PSAs riders are forced to listen to on GO Transit, which again, is operated by Metrolinx, whose example you laud so much.
You seem to think I believe Metrolinx can do no wrong. I just think the wayfinding standard is good.
 
Which is unclear and ambiguous to anyone not living in that area.
Someone tells you they live on Marlee, get off at Eglinton West, vs get off at Cedarvale. Which one could get messed up? There is only one Cedarvale, but there is an Eglinton bus, an Eglinton line, an Eglinton station, an Eglinton West street in Toronto and Mississauga, an Eglinton West station, an Eglinton West neighborhood centered between Dufferin and Caledonia, there are Eglinton West stops on most north south bus routes. Eglinton is everywhere.
 
Someone tells you they live on Marlee, get off at Eglinton West, vs get off at Cedarvale. Which one could get messed up? There is only one Cedarvale, but there is an Eglinton bus, an Eglinton line, an Eglinton station, an Eglinton West street in Toronto and Mississauga, an Eglinton West station, an Eglinton West neighborhood centered between Dufferin and Caledonia, there are Eglinton West stops on most north south bus routes. Eglinton is everywhere.
Well I'm a full grown adult, so neither would get me messed up.
 
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Why would anyone give you such vague instructions unless you already have some context of where it is that you wanna go? Moreover, how do you "get off" at a bus line or neighbourhood? And what kind of abysmally foolish person would think of Eglinton Avenue in Mississauga if they know their friend lives in Toronto?

I don't believe anyone thinks this way.
 
BTW, there is a Cedarvale Avenue in East York, so that's out too, right?
I would suggest changing it if a study group of out of towners who had never been on a subway before found it confusing. I doubt they would though because I doubt Cedarvale Avenue in East York is well known or features prominently on the TTC map. Is ending up on Cedarvale Avenue in East York something a subway rider can do?
 
I'd say people know the cross-streets better than these supposed neighbourhoods for the most part, so just name the stations after the 2 cross streets like LA does.
 
The street-based station names that currently exist can be straight-up misleading if you try to use them for navigation. An example that happened to me: I was visiting Toronto for Doors Open and was hurriedly trying to reach the Toronto Archives at 255 Spadina Road. Being in a rush, I didn't check a map, but I figured I could get off Line 1 at Spadina station. As I soon discovered, the correct station would have been Dupont. In this case I only suffered a few minutes' extra walk, but it raises the question: why, of two stations on Spadina Road, is one called Spadina and the other not? If I were to visit a different Toronto landmark in the future - at 366 Eglinton Ave W, for example - Eglinton and Cedarvale (née Eglinton West) stations would be even farther off the mark - Avenue station will be closest.

As far as line names go, the Yonge and Sheppard subways are the only ones which reliably follow the streets they're named after. Navigating anywhere based on the name of the "Spadina subway" would be hopeless, as not only does it have a station which is itself called Spadina, it has twelve other stations which are nowhere near Spadina due to the line being named after an expressway which does not exist rather than the actual Spadina Road or Avenue. Even a relatively straightforward name like "Bloor-Danforth" is not much help - how do you reach the Danforth from Bathurst station based only on the line name?

The solution to these problems is to look at a street map first, find the station which is actually closest to your destination (rather than guessing based on its name) and then to find the routes which take you there.

My point in these examples is not that street names are bad or something to avoid, but that station and line names should exist for identification purposes, not navigational ones - especially at interchanges. To this end, unique and unambiguous names should be preferred over potentially ambiguous ones.
The stations on the original Yonge, University, and Bloor-Danforth lines were named appropriately for the time in which they were built, but that was 50 years ago. In a future where there may be five lines with stations on Lawrence Avenue, and far too many stations to write all their street addresses on the subway map, naming conventions must evolve to meet the needs of the growing network.
 
I'm going to attempt to convey the simplicity of wayfinding idea again a completely different way.

Product simplicity

Mary O'Neill and Peter Smith have two boys and two girls. How do we name them?

Option A:
- Peter-the-First O'Neill-Smith
- Peter-the-Second O'Neill-Smith
- Mary-the-First O'Neill-Smith
- Mary-the-Second O'Neill-Smith

Option B:
- Joshua (Smith)
- Mason (Smith)
- Susan (Smith)
- Chloe (Smith)

I'm arguing option B. Sure, option A has more data but speaking to the video that sparked the conversation there is a lack of unique traits (he had a rant about inbreeding). If you think the goal of naming is maximum data conveyance then option A is a clear winner. Option B has unique names and the common higher level taxonomy is optional (e.g. (Toronto) Pearson). You might not have all that extra data but conversations and addressing people is simpler.

Going back to the founding of the city, what would be the better name of this place?

Option A: Ontario-shores-upon-the-Don
Option B: Toronto

Argument back in the 1800s ensues... how can you argue against option A, look at all the useful data in the name. Nobody knows where or what Toronto is! It is here where we are standing because we name it so. This will never catch on and is a bad idea because it is meaningless.


How should we name stations?

I argue the criteria to be:
1. Name uniqueness
2. Name simplicity
3. One bonus points for a single word name
4. One bonus point for being a place already associated with the area or a landmark.

The arguments against suggest the criteria:
1. Use the names of the cross streets or a landmark
2. Add other descriptors until you have achieved a unique name.

Some station names by the criteria I would argue for:
A1. Cedarvale station
A2. Terry Fox station or just Terry station
B1. Science Centre
B2. Crossing
B3. Flemingdon
B4. Augustus

Good name by the criteria others who argue for "more data" in names:
A1. Eglinton West - Allen
B1. Eglinton East - Don Mills

In wayfinding I argue that the goal is to convey the least amount of information possible at all times, in the simplest and fewest number of terms, words, and symbols, while still achieving the goal of telling the person what they must know to navigate successfully.

The counter argument is that there are more things people like to know and more is better.

Hence the YouTube video at the beginning of this post. It is hard to argue there isn't more data to work with on the Microsoft box. The question is really whether or not you need that information or if you are doing a disservice to simplicity and clear communication to try and convey maximum meaning at all times.
 
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I have never been lost myself, but I'm not stupid enough to believe the TTC has achieved wayfinding and station naming perfection with no room for improvement.
No one has achieved wayfinding perfection. It's an evolving field, that neither of us are experts in.
 
On Tuesday, had to go to St. Joseph's Health Centre for a minor surgery. Took the 501 QUEEN from Windermere Avenue. Had about a 7 minute wait for the eastbound streetcar, so looked around. Noticed the transit map in the shelter. Remembered that the construction ended recently, so expected to see an updated map. Wrong!

1701873006461.png


Wasn't the 313 replaced by the 335 in 2015? And doesn't the 304 go up Roncesvalles today? Or are they waiting to implement the revised Blue Night Network, when the 507N streetcar would be running past this Windermere stop, and then replace the map?

BTW. When the streetcar approached, it slowed down before Windermere, even though it had a green light. There was a "10 km/h" speed limit sign for streetcars.
 

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