A detail of the TTC system map, showing the Spadina subway extension and the new LRT lines. (Not, however, the Scarborough subway—apparently at least the TTC graphic design department isn't sure that's coming, no matter what Rob Ford says.)
The image above is only a mock-up from the TTC, but, if transit officials have their way, it will soon be reality. Bloor-Yonge and St. George stations are expected to become the test beds for a new generation of subway signage designed to make route information clear and consistent—which, at the moment, it frequently isn’t.
The big difference is that the new signs would have colour-coded numbers on them in addition to (and sometimes instead of) the familiar subway-line names. So, for example, the Yonge-University-Spadina line would be “line one,” the Bloor-Danforth line would be “line two,” and so on.
A staff presentation on the new signage [PDF], which will be considered by the TTC board at its meeting today, points out some of the advantages of moving to a numerical system, among them the fact that it would be very easy to assign new numbers to new transit lines. (That is, assuming Toronto’s planned transit lines are ever actually completed.) The report doesn’t say this, but the numerical system would also be a handy way of downplaying politically charged nomenclature like “Downtown Relief Line.”
A proposed pilot project set to begin before the end of the year at Bloor-Yonge and St. George stations would include not only new entrance signs, but also new wayfinding signs inside the stations and route signs on subway platforms. All the signs would share the same design elements (including the numbers), and TTC staff would interview riders and use the results to help decide whether to roll out the new signage systemwide.
The TTC started a similar pilot project on the 94 Wellesley bus route at the beginning of the year, and this latest report says the results have been positive, but that new, easier-to-read bus maps are “not universally appropriate.” Among the alternatives being proposed is a bus map that uses different line widths to show how frequently different bus routes run.