If you follow the gaze of the Little Mermaid four kilometres from where she sits at the edge of the Baltic, you’ll hit Nørrebro, Copenhagen’s scarred underbelly. The north-end neighbourhood has, over the last 10 years, been home to gang wars and riots, racial tensions and wealth inequality. It is also the site of Superkilen, an experiment in designing public space to mend a torn social fabric.
Unless you happen to be a subway operator with the Virtual TTC Academy, you might not be entirely clear on how the transit system’s signal system works—or even what, precisely, it’s for. You might, in fact, be familiar with it mostly thanks to the kind of announcement featured at the beginning of the video above: “Attention customers on Line 1, Yonge-University-Spadina: due to signal problems at Davisville Station, expect longer-than-normal travel times during your commute.” (We’re almost positive “Line 1” will soon start sounding far less strange.)
Recently, a staff report that considered what should be done with the Gardiner Expressway concluded that the best option would be to tear down the 2.4-kilometre stretch running east of Jarvis. Yesterday, councillors on the public works committee opted to defer any decision about the expressway’s fate until 2015 and voted 4-1 to send the report back to City staff.
The Gardiner Expressway sucks. A city of Toronto’s size may need the cross-town highway, but anyone with a shred of civic pride has got to hope we can do better. It’s ugly, it’s obtrusive, and every once in a while, it sheds concrete as though it were dandruff. Perhaps worst of all, though, the Gardiner has created a shameful amount of wasted space. Check out this video of the maligned expressway’s underbelly, shot by some Popeye Doyle driving along Lake Shore Boulevard. Patches of scrub, long stretches of empty asphalt—the land in the shadow of the Gardiner is dark and desolate, and its potential has been squandered.
A few months ago, the TTC indicated it intended to take a new approach to signage and wayfinding. The new signs would be clearer and more consistent, and feature colour-coded numbers as well as (and sometimes in place of) the subway-line names to which we’ve all grown so accustomed.
Now you’ll be able to put those claims of improved clarity and ease of use to the test: new signs were unveiled at Bloor-Yonge Station today. The new signage will also be rolled out soon at St. George Station, and then the TTC will collect customer feedback and decide how to proceed.
“This isn’t about renaming our lines; this is about enhancing the line names we already have,” says Chris Upfold, chief customer officer for the TTC, in the video above.
But will it ever feel easy or natural to say “I always take line two to get to work?” or perhaps, “I always take the two”?