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TTC launches new sign system pilot

Update — Tuesday, March 3, 6:52 a.m.: Today, the TTC issued its first rider update notice, using the line numbers, when it announced a brief delay “on Line 4 (Sheppard)” at Leslie Station.

Wayfinding_Homepage_.pngToday, Monday, March 3, the TTC launched a new sign system at Bloor - Yonge Station, as part of a trial project to improve and ease navigation of the subway system and its stations. The TTC’s 2014 Customer Charter committed the transit agency to improving its way-finding.

Last October, the Toronto Transit Commission — the TTC’s board of directors — approved staff a presentation (.pdf) on using line numbers and colour-coding to identify the four subway and rapid transit lines, using more pictograms and improving signs at station entrances across the city.

(Although early media reports played up the fact that the TTC was numbering its rapid transit lines, in fact, the TTC has been using numbers to identify its rapid transit lines in internal documents at least since 2001. The TTC renumbered and renamed its former 2 Anglesey and 4 Annette routes as the 48 Rathburn and 26 Dupont routes to recycle the numbers to accommodate the new rapid-transit line-numbering system, not long before it opened the Sheppard subway. Previously, it had cancelled service along the 1 Armour Heights and 3 Ancaster Park routes, which ended up benefiting the new numbering scheme. Transit Toronto has also been using the line numbers to identify the various lines in the news updates section of the blog since 2006.)

In this plan, the TTC is not renaming or renumbering its subway lines; instead, applying line numbers more visibly and colours it uses on maps to current line names will make navigating the TTC easier for frequent, occasional and first-time riders and those whose first language is not English.

The TTC is applying “Line 1” and a yellow identification colour to the Yonge - University - Spadina subway line; “Line 2” and green to the Bloor - Danforth subway line; “Line 3” and blue to the Scarborough rapid transit line; and “Line 4” and purple to the Sheppard subway line. The TTC will use numbers five through seven to identify future light rail transit lines and add them to its wayfinding system. “Line 5” will identify the Eglinton - Crosstown line, when it opens. “Line 6” and “Line 7” will identify two more LRT lines which Metrolinx has already approved and funded — the future 6 Sheppard East light rail transit line and the 7 Finch West LRT line. The numbers reflect the order in which the lines were, or will be, built.

The TTC is enhancing subway platforms with better “you are here” maps to further help riders using the system. It will also improve signs for passengers with disabilities.

St George Station, the TTC’s second busiest subway interchange station, will receive new wayfinding signage in the coming weeks. Staff will then begin surveying customers as they pass through both stations to gather feedback. After compiling the results from the survey, the TTC will then make any necessary refinements to the sign system before they roll it out across the system by the end of 2015. The TTC did not require extra funding for this project as it is completing all design and production work -“in-house”, meaning its using its own staff to make the signs.

The TTC has assigned greeters at Bloor - Yonge Station this week to explain the changes to passengers. It also wants your feedback. Visit or e-mail to comment on the project. In its ongoing efforts to clearly explain what the TTC does and why, it’s also posted a short video to its YouTube channel that explains the benefits of the new wayfinding system:

The TTC has also recently redesigned its maps and is testing new on-street signs and maps at bus stops on the 94 Wellesley route.