TTC Signs: Year 1

TTC “activism” threatened took over my life in 2007. I presented to the TTC a full year ago, waiting a mere five hours to do so and arriving with three perfect coffee-table books to hand out. (TTC never figured out it could download a tagged PDF of that book and print it at will on their own machines.) I met TTC staff several times, and made even more “deputations.”

I wrote a giant paper on TTC signage and delivered it at a major typography conference – to a largely indifferent audience, I later discovered. I attracted a shocking amount of press coverage, and would have garnered even more if, for example, CBC producers actually used E-mail as something other than a way to set up phone calls I never planned to return. I was pleasantly shocked at the turnout for my TTC Type & Tile Tours. I’m still amazed at that, actually, and you have my continued thanks. (I took people’s advice and offered to run custom tours just for TTC staff, which might actually happen.)

The Toronto Preservation Board took the first steps toward designating some subway stations as heritage properties. I was warned, in really the nicest possible way, by the TTC chair’s deceptively plump and lovable assistant that they would oppose such plans tooth and nail and would take this right to the wall. This is only part of the bad news: I know for a fact (I have all their documents) that nothing I did made any impression inside the TTC at all. TTC staff are now rather frosty and defensive, and I’m talking about people whom I like and respect, who actually understand the issues, and whom I’ve publicly credited as such.

The TTC, in one case abetted by a tax-haven foundation that (I say again) nobody had ever heard of, seems intent to barrel right on with its unpopular, expensive, criminally unnecessary plans to remove and destroy its own heritage.

And all this is happening on the watch of the 30-year-old Macintosh user whom some of you still think is a wunderkind. He’s a trained archæologist, he says the first thing that pops into his mind, he’s appallingly ineffective at public speaking (and mangles even the simplest proper names), and he absolutely positively wants all this to happen. He singled me out in the press as the only person on the planet who has a problem with Sheppard-style signage, and he’s never once attempted to start a conversation.

To sum up, then: The only people who don’t support me are the people who have the ability to do what I want.

Later submission to the TTC

For the TTC meeting of 2008.01.23, I submitted a letter along the following lines.

Review of the first year of oversight of TTC signage destruction and neglect

A year has passed since I made my first presentation to the Commission on the deplorable state of signage in the subway. What’s happened since?

I have been publicly corrected in my oft-stated maxim that something is wrong when all the people who love the TTC don’t work there. One TTC employee who loves the system has identified himself. (I guess we can start a list.) So let me update that maxim to say that something is wrong when the people who want to destroy the TTC’s type and tile heritage all work there. One of them is the chair.

TTC Commissioners and staff need to be clear on the fact that they approve and oversee the permanent destruction of irreplaceable TTC heritage. Don’t act like you don’t know.