TTC tries out new numbered signs in pilot project

New numbered signs have popped up at Yonge-Bloor station as part of a pilot project. (Kelly McDowell/The Ryersonian)

New numbered signs have popped up at Yonge-Bloor station as part of a pilot project. (Kelly McDowell/The Ryersonian)

“We’re experiencing a delay southbound on Line 1,” a TTC worker said over the intercom Monday morning at Bloor-Yonge station.

Numbered subway lines made their first appearance on signage, too, in hopes of creating an-easier-to-navigate system for TTC customers.

Ian Dickson, the lead behind the pilot project, said he is proud his two-year effort is finally coming to life.

“It’s a big day for us,” he said.

The test project assigns a number to each of Toronto’s four subway lines. The Yonge-University-Spadina line will soon be referred to as Line 1 and this will be displayed on yellow signs.

The other lines will refer to the order in which they were built. Line 2 refers to the Bloor-Danforth line. Line 3 is the Scarborough RT while the Sheppard line is Line 4.

But they’re not losing their names.

The numbers will simply help first-time riders and riders with a first language other than English navigate the TTC subway system.

“The numbered signs are colourful and are supposed to make it easier for riders to find their way,” said Dickson.

The proposed signage plan is taken from a recommendation in the New Wayfinding Standards report, released last fall by the TTC.

Another set of test signs will go up at St. George station in the coming weeks. If the feedback is positive, the TTC hopes to fully implement them by 2015.

“We replaced signs at the station that have been hanging since 1966,” Dickson says.

“It’s a very low bar.”

Dickson created the new signs in response to his visits to the Yonge-Bloor subway station earlier this year.

“Every 30 seconds, someone was asking for directions,” he said. “You’ve got 400,000 riders a day and that many people confused. That’s a problem.”

Lost riders slow down traffic, Dickson said, and the project aims to speed things back up.

Officials debated launching the signs at a lower-traffic station, like Bessarion, but deciding a pilot at a busy and complex station would produce more immediate results.

“We’ll know if it’s working or if it’s not,” Dickson said.

“You are here” spots on maps at each station and clearer signs for accessibility and floor graphics are also in the works, being piloted at St. Clair West station.

For now, the numbered signs project is slowly pushing its way into the standard, daily commute.

To watch a live interview with Ian Dickson click here.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 5, 2014.

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