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Rocket Talk: What Are Those Subway Symbols For?

Have questions about the TTC? Rocket Talk is a regular Torontoist column, featuring TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and Director of Communications Brad Ross’s answers to Torontoist readers’ questions. Submit your questions to rockettalk@torontoist.com!

Reader Alix James asks:

What’s with the differently coloured symbols in the subway? Triangles and circles in green, yellow, and red.

Reader Tom Woodhall asks:

Many subway stations have lately had small, ceramic-looking markers placed on some of the walls/columns on the platforms. Always adjacent, the green circles and orange triangles are sometimes attached from behind, sometimes held on with what appears to be masking tape. They’re usually located about eight feet from the floor.
Is this related to the automatic train control system? Is it to teach small children colours and shapes while they ride the rocket? Why not blue octagons or purple trapezoids?


20100810ttcnewwallmarker-orangetrianglegreendisc.jpg

TTC Chair Adam Giambrone says:

Multicoloured markers on the platform wall help operators and guards line up the train in the station in the right location, and also advise them when to start braking.
As there are different subway cars with different operating characteristics, some signs are particular to a particular car—and since Toronto Rockets (TRs) are going to begin to arrive next month, the TTC is beginning to install new markers.
CURRENT MARKERS
Circular Red Disk (All Trains)
This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the operator to position the train in the station. When the train is stopped with the marker located between the front of the train and the first set of doors, the train is properly spotted (that is, aligned) in the station.
Circular Green Disk (H-type and T-1 Trains)
This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall and applies to H-type and T-1 trains. When the guard’s window is aligned with this marker, under normal operating conditions, the guard knows that the train is properly spotted on the platform and it is safe to open the doors.
20100810ttcnewwallmarker-orangedisc.jpg
Circular Orange Disk (H-type and T-1 Trains)
This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard on H-type and T-1 trains to observe the platform (for passenger safety) for the required distance, under normal operating conditions, as the train is moving to exit the station.
NEW MARKERS
With the arrival of Toronto Rocket subway trains in the near future, the need for new green and orange wall markers has been identified, as the trains have different operating characteristics and the guard of the train is located in a different position.
The following platform wall markers are now being installed on the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth subway lines:
20100810ttcnewwallmarker-greentriangle.jpg
Green Triangle (Guarding from the Trailing Car)
This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard, who is positioned in the trailing car. When the guard’s window is aligned with this marker, the train is properly spotted on the platform, and it is safe to open the doors.
Orange Triangle (Guarding from the Trailing Car)
This marker is typically mounted on the station platform wall to assist the guard positioned in the trailing car to observe the platform for the required distance as the train is moving to exit the station.
Photos by Harry Choi/Torontoist.

Comments

  • http://undefined Swarley

    When can we actually expect to see the trains in service? I know the website says early next year but if they’re arriving for testing in September surely it doesn’t take 4 months to test?

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    The orange markers:

    …assist the guard … to observe the platform for the required distance…

    This phrase doesn’t explain anything, but I have read a better explanation elsewhere. As I understand it, the guard is supposed to pull his or her head back in to the car and close the window as the train passes the orange marker.

    So what it really does is to assist the guard in remaining in one piece.

    (But don’t we call train guards “conductors?”)

  • http://undefined DJ

    and also advise them when to start breaking
    Quite the unfortunate mistake, that one.

  • http://undefined Lizz

    “With the arrival of Toronto Rocket subway trains in the near future, the need for new green and orange wall markers has been identified, as the trains have different operating characteristics and the guard of the train is located in a different position.”
    If the train guard is in a different spot on the train, does that mean the designated waiting areas will no longer line up with the guard’s cars? Many people purposely choose the car with the guard in it when traveling late at night. What happens now?

  • http://www.torontoist.com David Topping

    Oops—fixed now.

  • http://undefined Brad Ross

    The DWA position won’t change on the platform. It’s still an important safety feature, allowing passengers to speak directly with the Collector in the station. A CCTV on the platform also allows the Collector to see whoever is at the DWA.
    With repect to the Guard Car, the new trains will have “open gangways,” allowing you to walk “between” cars safely and freely. You can wait at the DWA, board the train, then walk to the last car, where the guard will be situated.

  • http://undefined Andrew Wencer

    Actually, they are called guards. Traditionally, “conductors” are ticket takers, and these folks are literally guarding the doors and the passengers on the platform.

  • http://undefined Edmund

    One hopes it wasn’t a Freudian slip, although you’d have enough evidence for either spelling.

  • http://undefined Lizz

    Thanks for the update. That’s very helpful.