Friday, December 01, 2006

Way finding

When explaining the Toronto subway system to first time users, I became aware that I rarely used the official line names with visitors. The line colours seem to be easier for new riders to understand, as they can visually identify the line on the subway map. This way of thinking, where colours or symbols are used to convey an obvious message, is called way finding.

When David Gunn was the general manager of the TTC, he proposed such a system, but it never really caught on. If you go to the Bedford Road entrance of St. George Station, you'll see Gunn's sign still standing, a relic to days gone by. The reason why the first TTC route is 5 Avenue Road is because the rapid transit lines were numbered 1 to 4 as part of this plan.

VIVA's way finding system has had more success. The names of the lines are colours, making it easy to name and identify the lines. The only improvement I can think of is to paint the buses the same colour as the line. With a small fleet, that may not be feasible, but it would minimize

So what do we do when we build new lines?

Way finding gives us an option to name lines without confusion, and can even be used to reflect local heritage. Brampton's history, for example, involves the floral industry. Line running out of Brampton could be given flower names. Durham, being mostly greenbelt, can use trees as names for their rapid transit lines. Halton Region could use birds, although I cannot offer any justification for this scheme.

I'm just throwing out ideas here, but half of making transit more attractive is making it easier for people to use. We can achieve that by making it easier for people to find the line they want to ride.



At 12/01/2006 7:43 p.m. , Blogger A Deal Or No Deal said...

My brother, who lives in Waterloo, refers to the subway lines as green and yellow and to the parallel Yonge-University lines downtown as 'the U'. I thought it was unique but I've since heard many others use those terms.

It's a good idea, though I'd keep both. A small part of me, since we're talking, for some jealous reason prefers an obscurantist approach to public transit, especially the subway. It makes knowing everything about the subway a little more special.


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