At its regular monthly board meeting this week afternoon the TTC unveiled new-look bus stop poles and maps for its bus shelters.
While the physical poles will not be replaced, the new decals will give the objects a more consistent look as well as improved stop information, said Chris Upfold the TTC’s head of customer service, during a presentation to the board.
The new designs which will be on display on a trial basis along the 94 Wellesley bus route beginning at the end of this week. The three types of poles presented employ colour-coded numbers for every route the stop serves.
For example, regular routes are displayed within a black background. There are also special badges indicating if the route has any unique characteristics such as late night or express service.
In addition, the newly designed poles display Next Bus arrival information for riders making use of the realtime vehicle prediction service. The designs also include the TTC logo which is not always identified on the estimated 3,000 stop poles currently in use.
Following the meeting, Upfold said the decision to keep the existing infrastructure was made to help reduce the cost of the rebranding and to preserve the iconic look of the round “barrel-topped” poles, which suffered more from consistency than anything else.
“They’re are a nice part of TTC infrastructure in terms of what our brand is,” said Upfold. “They’re unique and by keeping them we can save some money.”
The chief failing of the current poles according to surveyed riders is they don’t display what route the stop serves, said Upfold.
“That’s the most critical piece of information riders are looking for,” he said.
Unlike current shelter maps, which contain the entire TTC system on one map, the new maps are customized to present information pertaining to local destinations with less links to the transit system as a whole.
There is also a colour-coded chart which shows route information and the times of day they serve. The full TTC subway map is also displayed as an inset.
But that concerns transit watcher Steve Munro, who thinks the maps will prove more confusing despite their cleaner presentation.
“On one hand they’re trying to be a local area way-finding map but they’re not showing anything besides street information,” said Munro.
“By discarding the general system map, they’re losing a lot of the context on the outer parts of routes.”
He said the issue wouldn’t be as serious in neighbourhoods with less service but could prove a problem in more heavily populated areas such as the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue.
“You’re better off keeping a route map that shows a larger part of the city,” said Munro.
During the trial period the TTC will solicit feedback from riders, which Upfold expects to last for at least a few months.
He said the TTC was also examining how to better and more cost efficiently display route map and schedule information currently contained inside “info posts” which are located at some bus stops.
Upfold also said the TTC wants to expand from 50 the amount of stops containing Next Bus digital displays and is looking to have that cost incorporated in future capital budgets.
TTC board members generally supported the new designs, but Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Bareremaeker called for prominent local destinations and attractions to be included in the final map designs.