Original proposal for TTC signage inventory

At a meeting in spring 2007, I asked TTC staff if they would consider a proposal to conduct an inventory of signage categories in the subway. It would give us firm numbers on how many instances of how many different kinds of signs there are. The response was a guarded yes, which instantly made my proposal solicited.

So I sent it in. And never heard about it again. Here is what I gave them, with dollar figures redacted.

Sample inventory of TTC signage categories

This document is a proposal to research, photograph, write, and publish an inventory of all non-advertising signage in a sample of TTC stations. The result will be solid numerical data on which to base a possible future program of signage development and testing.


It is accepted that signage on the TTC is unstandardized, somewhat random, deteriorating, and likely confusing or dysfunctional to passengers, including passengers with visual impairments. Nonetheless, signage can be assessed empirically, as this project will demonstrate.


Count and document, categorize, and photograph every sign in a representative sample of stations.


  1. The investigator and TTC will decide on a list of stations to canvass. (Proposed list provided below.)
  2. With a valid photography permit in hand, the investigator will introduce himself to collectors and staff in each station on every visit.
  3. Photograph all signs in the station. Where necessary, also measure signs or photograph with visible scale.
  4. Categorize and summarize signage.
  5. Submit and publish reports and statistical analyses in various accessible formats.



Categories cannot all be established in advance of field work, but some that will surely be useful include:


Photographic documentation will be useful in itself. But because this is also a counting exercise, it will be possible to crunch the numbers and arrive at some estimates of the real-world effects of signage. The project will report:



At conclusion of project:

Online publication

As part of this process, the results of the survey will be published within 14 days of delivery to TTC. This is a project that will be of interest to riders and the media – and to transit fans, most or all of whom are online and are engaged in using the Web to explore the TTC and its history.

Investigator copy

The investigator receives a bound copy of the report at TTC’s expense.

Needed from TTC



[Redacted. It was under the $20,000 signing limit.]



Proposed station list

The list below includes:

The proposed list contains 23 stations, neatly 1/3 of the conventionally-stated total of 69 stations. But, if multi-line stations are counted separately (of a total of 74 stations using that method), the actual sample is 28 stations (39%).

CategoryStation(s)Additional features
Shortlist from “Beautifying Subway Entrances” project MuseumMuseum and St. Patrick are part of the University Renaissance; evaluating them allows us to do a before-and-after comparison. Selecting only two other stations avoids overrepresenting downtown stations
St. Patrick
Two of Osgoode, St. Andrew, King, Dundas, College
Intermodal Bloor–Stations with multiple subway connections. Yorkdale and Union are included because of their connections to GO Transit, but are not viewed as multi-line
St. George
Planned renovations IslingtonAllows before-and-after comparisons
Victoria Park
Sheppard Bayview Sheppard–Yonge also separately included
Scarborough RT Ellesmere Kennedy also separately included
Planned accessibility upgrades JaneJane Station permits Before and After comparisons with planned Transit City LRT network
North York Centre
Exterior surface connections requiring transfers Dufferin [None]
Combined bus and streetcar connections St. Clair West [None]
No surface connections Chester [None]
Non-subway Queen’s Quay Viewed as a de facto 70th station