Official Map: New Toronto Streetcar Network Being Rolled Out

Submitted by Rob, who says:

The TTC have decided to include a streetcar map inside the new streetcars when they start rolling out at the end of this month.  What do you think of the map?  With out any actual street grid information it doesn’t seem very helpful since it gives you zero context of where each route is in the street system.

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Transit Maps says:

I think Rob is being a little unfair when he says that there’s no street grid information on the map: there’s actually quite a lot of reference points, but the map makes it harder to find than it should be. The east-west streets shown on the map – the ones that have streetcar or subway service – pretty much define the major horizontal elements of Toronto’s downtown grid, and the names of the stations on the Bloor-Danforth (or newly-christened “2”) Line help to define the verticals, as they’re mostly named after the north-south streets they intersect.

However, the type used on the map is so abysmally tiny that I feel it’s going to be difficult for anyone to actually be able to find and use this information. The map is 35” wide by 11” tall, and I’m presuming it’ll be mounted above the doors in the vehicles. The type used for station labels on the map is in the range of just 11 to 13 points, which isn’t that much bigger than what you might find used in a standard typeset novel. It’s certainly not legible from any further away than two feet or so, especially in a moving, crowded streetcar! At least the route numbers are nice and big.

Technically, there’s some pretty sloppy work with some of the curves in the route lines, particularly with the dashed Limited Service routes, and the eastern end of the 506 line. I also don’t see why the Bloor-Yonge subway station needs a little pointer from its label to the station: there’s no possible chance of confusing that label as belonging to anything else on the map!

Typographically, I feel that the Helvetica used for the map labels sits very uneasily with the Art Deco “TTC” typeface used at the top of the map: a definite clash of eras and styles there.

It’s also interesting to note that the map’s north pointer aligns with “street north”, rather than true north (Toronto’s street grid is angled about 17 degrees counter-clockwise from north). However, this probably just reflects common directional terminology in Toronto.

Our rating: Seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity for something truly useful, although I’d love some reports from the field to see if it really is as hard to read as my gut instinct tells me it is. At the moment, my instinct gives it two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

Submission - Toronto TTC Strip Map at St. George Station

Submitted by criacow, who says:

Check out this wayfinding sign at St. George Station in the TTC subway here in Toronto. (My blurry photo, but TTC signage.) Up is north, but *left* is *east*—they flipped on an axis rather than rotating—and ‘eastbound’ isn’t noted anywhere. I’ve lived here for years and even I was confused by this until I looked at the specific station names!

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Transit Maps says:

I’ll agree that this does look odd at first glance, but I’d bet the map points in the right direction (i.e., Kennedy station is to the left of this viewpoint, with the train entering the station from the right). In effect, this is actually a strip map, showing stations in the direction of travel from this platform, rather than a true system map where the cardinal directions point the way you expect.

I think what really throws you (and probably many others!) is the reversal of the distinctive “U-shape” of the Yonge–University–Spadina line (or should that just be “Line 1” now?).

Historical Map: Homeward Passenger Movement During the Evening Rush Period, Toronto, 1915

Beautiful diagram indicating the patterns of homeward peak-hour travel via public transportation (at this time, mainly streetcar) in Toronto. By my rough count, the collection of yellow dots in the downtown area represents some 49,500 people.

Of particular interest are the red-and-white hatched dots, which represent a point where passengers transfer from the privately-run Toronto Railway Company’s (TRC) streetcars to those of the city-owned Toronto Civic Railways. Due to a disagreement over the terms of the franchise, the TRC refused to offer streetcar service in newly-annexed portions of Toronto, forcing the city to create its own service in those areas. In 1921, the TRC’s franchise expired and all transit was consolidated under the new Toronto Transportation Commission, the forerunner to today’s Toronto Transit Commission.

If you look closely (click on the image to be taken to a much larger version of the map), you can see that ridership totals are also shown for the civic railways, just in a fine black hatching instead of the more prominent blue used for the services branching out of the downtown area.

Visually quite similar to this map of the morning peak flow on the New York City subway in 1954.

(Source: Toronto Transit Alliance)

Historical Map: TTC System Map, Guide and Patron, December 5, 1957
Awesome old publicity photos that seem to feature a helpful TTC guide explaining the system map to Betty Draper. Also, the illustrations around the map itself are kind of incredible. The newfangled subway has only been open for three years at this point in time.
Compare to this similarly amazing TTC photo from 1966.
Reblogged from: torontohistory Historical Map: TTC System Map, Guide and Patron, December 5, 1957
Awesome old publicity photos that seem to feature a helpful TTC guide explaining the system map to Betty Draper. Also, the illustrations around the map itself are kind of incredible. The newfangled subway has only been open for three years at this point in time.
Compare to this similarly amazing TTC photo from 1966.
Reblogged from: torontohistory

Historical Map: TTC System Map, Guide and Patron, December 5, 1957

Awesome old publicity photos that seem to feature a helpful TTC guide explaining the system map to Betty Draper. Also, the illustrations around the map itself are kind of incredible. The newfangled subway has only been open for three years at this point in time.

Compare to this similarly amazing TTC photo from 1966.

Reblogged from: torontohistory

Historical Map: TTC Subway Route Map, c.1975–1977

While we’re on the subject of the Toronto Subway map, here’s a beautiful version from the mid-1970s. This particular map is in a preserved subway carriage at the Halton County Radial Railway museum, and shows the subway as it was before the Spadina extension was opened in 1978.

This is actually probably my favourite version of this system’s map: it has nice horizontal station labels alternating to either side of the route lines (although Finch station strangely breaks the pattern at the very top of the map), lovely even spacing between all the stations, and a very elegant curve at the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth route. The interchange symbol is rather nice, too: a square within a circle that draws attention to it very well indeed.

I’d steal this map to put on my wall over the modern version any day.

Compare also to this map from 1966, when the Bloor-Danforth line first opened. 

(Source: Sean_Marshall/Flickr)

Naked TTC Rocket Map

What goes on underneath the printed map. The lights for the future Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension stations are already in place in the upper left of the map.

Fortunately, the map hasn’t been stolen by someone to reveal these inner workings: it’s simply been moved to the left. This being Toronto, however, it’s probably only a matter of minutes until someone makes off with it to hang on their bedroom/dorm wall.

EDIT: As ytomatoboi points out, the map is missing: what I thought was the map is actually just a separate panel to the side. Seriously, Toronto, what’s the deal with taking the goddamn maps?

(Source: wyliepoon/Flickr)

Fantasy Map: Subways of North America by xkcd

My Twitter feed and my Tumblr inbox are both absolutely overflowing with references to this map from the “xkcd’ web comic, so here’s a post about it!

xkcd has always been a comic for geeks, and has a long history of awesome map-related work — my favourites include this Lord of the Rings movie narrative map, and the particularly carto-nerdy discussion of map projections — so it’s nice to see the strip’s attention turn to this particular facet of cartography. Randall Munroe’s typically wry sense of humour can be seen in a lot of the labels on the map: “graveyard for passengers killed by closing doors”, the “Green Line extension to Canada” from Boston, and the inclusion of the infamous Springfield Monorail from The Simpsons. It’s definitely worth exploring in great detail — my favourite is probably the inclusion of the idiosyncratic and once-futuristic Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system at West Virginia University as the connection between Washington, DC and Atlanta.

A lot of people are already having issues with Randall’s definition of a “subway”, which he defines thusly:

For the pedantic rail enthusiasts, the definition of a subway used here is, with some caveats, “a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route.” For the rest of you, the definition is “an underground train in a city.”

If we’re going to be pedantic, then there are some strange omissions — Seattle’s Central Link light rail (grade-separated, frequent, serves the city and runs underground through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel) just off the top of my head. I feel sure many people could think of others!

What the map does show well, even in its cartoon-like execution, is the complete dominance of New York’s subway system (the mouseover tooltip for the comic states that about one in three North American subway stops are in NYC). Randall has remained quite faithful to the actual official system maps for each component city, so New York ends up taking up a huge portion of the map.

But, despite the undeniable brilliance of this map, I know I’ve seen very similar pieces before this. This more serious map of almost exactly the same thing was featured on the Beyond DC blog last month, and this awesome piece by Bill Rankin from 2006 which shows all North American metro systems (a far more inclusive phrase than “subway systems”) at the same scale is also highly reminiscent of this piece. In the end though, it’s infused with enough wacky “xkcd-ness” to make it take on a life of its own.

Historical Map: Preferred Rapid Transit Scheme, Toronto, 1910

A rather lovely (and somewhat prescient) figure from a report prepared by the New York engineering firm of Jacobs & Davies for the City of Toronto in 1910. It shows plans for a system of “subway streetcars” — a combination of at-grade and subterranean routes — both ahead of its time and prohibitively expensive, especially for a modest city like Toronto at the time (which had a population of just 350,000). 

(Source: levyrapidtransit.ca via @bgilliard)

End of the Line

Great focus point and shallow depth of field here. Fun angle, too.

(Source: cookedphotos/Flickr)

Historical Photo: TTC Subway Map on the Opening of the Bloor-Danforth Line (1966)

You know, I can pretend I’m interested in the subway map in the background, but this photo is all about the awesome uniform the TTC staff member is wearing, so let’s just go with that.

(Source: @CongestedTO on Twitter)