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Save TTC signs: A write-in campaign
TTC staff are acting as though they have authorization to “remove” and destroy signs at St. George (including the only example of Paul Arthur’s original sign design), and at Pape, Victoria Park, Eglinton, and Islington/Kipling.
In fact, TTC commissioners have not authorized staff to take that action. But they haven’t prevented staff from doing it, either!
So we need you to write in and ask Commissioners to require that TTC staff preserve the signs that are worth preserving and start work on new signage systems.
Where to write
- You can send E-mail to
- You can send a fax (easy on many computers these days) to 416 485-9394.
- You can write a letter to:
Toronto Transit Commission
1900 Yonge St.
Toronto M4S 1Z2
Address your correspondence to the General Secretary or just to the Commission.
What happens then?
- Your submission goes into the public record. For every meeting of Commissioners, a file of correspondence is printed and handed out.
- Whatever you include in your E-mail or letter will be published in that file, including any visible addresses. (You probably won’t be too concerned that your E-mail address gets printed out, but you may wish to exclude your home address. You may ask that information like addresses be expunged from the public file before distribution.)
- The goal here is to have such a large quantity of interventions that Commissioners have to put the matter on the agenda. Just the appearance of a large number of subject lines and senders on the cover page of the printed-out correspondence will help.
What we need: Short- and long-term solutions
We need to prevent TTC staff from destroying old signs. It’s up to you, but if you’ve read this far, you probably agree that:
- Paul Arthur’s signs at St. George are unique and irreplaceable and should not simply be “removed.” They could be carefully removed and donated to the ROM (where Arthur’s papers reside), donated to his widow or children, used in TTC memorabilia displays, and/or given to transit fans. Another option recently proposed by the TTC is sending them to a far-off transit museum, which would be better than destruction but not by much.
- Eglinton station’s use of the TTC typeface is unique and irreplaceable and needs to be preserved when walls are moved.
- Original signage at Pape, Victoria Park, and Islington/Kipling should not simply be “removed,” destroyed, and replaced with TTC’s half-assed clone of New York subway signage.
- Not every old sign might be worth saving. But it’s quite a leap from that to a policy of removing and destroying every old sign.
That’s the short-term problem.
If you’ve read this far, you probably also agree that:
- In the 1990s, TTC blew a chance to implement a rational, well-tested signage design by Paul Arthur, and we’ve all been suffering ever since.
- The existing TTC sign “standard” was never actually designed, let alone tested, and is an embarrassing example of Toronto copying New York.
- There are several ways to fund research and development of signage that don’t involve new sources of revenue, like diverting money from advertising forms that compete with signage (e.g., video displays, “station-domination” advertising, giant vinyl stickers).
- We don’t have to rush into a new signage design right away. In fact, renovations to Pape, Victoria Park, and Islington/Kipling could be used as testbeds for new signage.
- Even so, we also don’t have to rush into a discussion of the design of new signage. We can start with easy and somewhat objective questions like “How many instances of how many kinds of signs are there?” and “What have other transit systems done recently?”
- Handwritten signs are a problem, but not the overwhelming problem, which is the complete lack of a tested sign system.
In the long term, we need proper research and development and testing of signage in the TTC. If we can spend billions of bucks on new LRT lines, we can put a few thousand into making sure that people can actually get around in the subway.
And if you disagree with any of the above, state your case.