Paul Arthur’s signage redesign for the TTC

Around 1992 or 1993, Paul Arthur Visucom Ltd. and Lance Wyman Associates developed a new candidate signage system for the TTC.

Paul Arthur (1924–2001) was a British-born Canadian graphic designer. One of his claims to fame was designing pictographs for the parking lots at Expo 67. He wrote or cowrote several books, including People, Signs & Architecture. Lance Wyman is a New York graphic designer of long standing; he designed the graphics for the Mexico City Olympics and subway circa 1968.

The Paul Arthur system had a number of noteworthy features (see photos):

Half of St. George station was renovated to include the new signs. Generations Research Inc. conducted a user test of the new system in May 1994. All tested groups preferred the new signs.

And here’s the most important conclusion from the research: “[T]here were many indications of advantages (though not significant) for the [p]rototypes, while there were no indications of advantages for the old current signage.”

The TTC never implemented the Paul Arthur redesign. TTC commissioners never managed to approve the $8 million it would have taken to retrofit the entire system. We’ve been stuck with a hodgepodge of sign designs ever since.

To make matters worse, the TTC never took down the Paul Arthur signs in St. George station. But now, in summer 2007, the TTC plans to “remove,” that is, remove and destroy these priceless artifacts. This site provides information to the public to counter those plans.

My writing about Paul Arthur

I wrote an article about the signage system for the Toronto Globe and Mail in 1994. That’s how I became acquainted with Arthur. I later edited what he planned to be his second book, EECD: Effective Environmental Communication Design. He died before the book could be published (reminiscence).