Here’s your July 2009 Metropass:

It now contains rock-solid anticounterfeiting features, like a hologram and a sticker. (Except the passes sold by the handful of vending machines TTC has managed to install don’t have the sticker. So those would be the ones you’d want to copy.)

You have to take the sticker off the pass to use it. (Except you don’t have to do that at any automated turnstile or entrance.) How do you know you have to take off the sticker? Well, half the city won’t know that because they can’t understand the instructions. Can you?

This fare media is only valid
if this sticker is removed

Did you have to think about it?

  1. What’s a fare media?

    1. Isn’t it a fare medium?

    2. Isn’t it just a Metropass?

  2. Who calls a Metropass a fare medium? Somebody who works at the TTC and lives in a bubble?

  3. Is it only valid or valid only?

  4. Why is this a conditional sentence? The following outcome takes place if you do this action?

  5. Why is there nobody, nobody at all, inside this billion-dollar organization who can write a simple sentence, like “Remove this sticker to use this pass”?

  6. How many layers of incompetence does an organization need in order to approve an incomprehensible sentence like this one for imprinting on a quarter-million transit passes?


You thought I was done with documenting the abject failure of TTC signage. So did I. But obviously I’m not, because the problem rages on unabated.

You probably think everything is being handled. You probably think that because the greater the evidence I amass (sometimes from TTC’s own documents) that TTC is screwing it up, the greater the TTC’s insistence that everything’s just fine. Because I’m from outside the organization and am not a jumped-up motorman using CorelDraw for Windows, I couldn’t possibly be right.

Instead of admitting it, or not admitting it and just fixing things (a face-saving option always and still available), TTC pushes back even harder. And as a result, the Bloor-Danforth line’s precious design symmetry will be intentionally destroyed. You can blame Susan Reed Tanaka, Adam Giambrone, noted art expert/android Sandra Bussin, Gary Webster, and a host of miscreants. They so resent my rubbing their noses in their own incompetence that they’ll show me! They’ll reassert their authority over their entire transit system by busting up entire subway stations.

Of course I take this personally. It’s meant personally. They’re so incensed with my proof of their own failings that they take the grandiose step of remodelling entire stations exactly their own way, comfortably free of outside influence. Or rationality or history, or responsibility.

Now, why else might you believe the TTC “communications” problem has been resolved? Because they’ve got some guy on Twitter. That isn’t just a joke, it’s a punchline, but it shows just how gullible and shallow people can be. Are you one of them?

Let me explain it to you via analogy: “Twittering” about sunlight cell does not cure skin cancer. Having some guy defend every single thing TTC does, 140 characters at a time, doesn’t fix TTC signs.

Quick: This guy may be issuing Twits from his CrackBerry, but:

  • When’s the next bus coming?

  • Where do I get the Bathurst bus going north?

  • Where’s the Wychwood stop on St. Clair West?

  • How many months did it take them to install the ceiling-mounted box signs at Museum station? (Why weren’t there seven identical instances of them, as the original drawings promised?) How’s the upstairs looking at Museum station?

  • Why is there perpetually “No information available” on those advertising screens masquerading as information displays?

  • How do I get to Greenwood station from Queen and Greenwood? (Did you know you could buy duct tape in flat black? It’s right there on the sign for the bus at Greenwood station. What’s it covering up?)

  • Listen to the stop announcements and tell me the name of the station between Rosedale and Davisville. How many words in the name of the station between Broadview and Pape? Does the terminus of that new subway line have one name or two?

  • What does that error message say on buses’ next-stop displays? (You have ample chance to write it down, since it shows up every day. Did you know your wristwatch has more RAM than that system does? The error message tells you so.)

  • Why does the 92 Woodbine South bus always claim it’s headed to Lake Shore even when it’s hauling ass up Woodbine? (Same goes for 83 Jones and its perpetual stated destination, Commissioners.)

  • What are those fare collectors doing when they barricade themselves inside their booths, covering every square inch of glass up to the five-foot mark with TTC maps?

  • Why was that poster protesting the Ukrainian genocide installed in the Christie fare booth for a week and a half?

  • How many new handwritten signs were posted this week? (Handwritten signs are the problem, right? Once we lick that problem, we can pack up and go home, can we not? And we have in fact licked it, surely?)

I know all the answers to these questions, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it – 2,261 of them, in fact. I can really back up what I’m saying.

So that’s what I’ll be doing during the month of July. I’ll publish new postings on a specific issue that remains unfixed years and years after TTC should have known better. And I’ll post a few additional pictures over on Flickr. Expect those on most days.

Think I shouldn’t be doing this? Well, maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe TTC managers will be so embarrassed and incensed that the Commission will pass yet another resolution that everything’s just fine, but for good measure will order the replacement of all those enamelled metal signs with fake Helvetica on polycarbonate. Such an exercise, easily attainable, would again demonstrate TTC’s supreme authority over its own system, rather akin to an execution in the town square. Shall we consider it a dare?

We’ve been waiting far too long for the Toronto Transit Commission to act like informed, rational, literate adults. We’ve been waiting for them to heed knowledgeable criticism. We’ve waited for them to accept that graphic design is functional, not decorative, and is not the sort of thing only girls and fairies care about. We’ve waited, and waited and waited, for them to fix their defects.

And they haven’t. All they’ve done is put some guy on Twitter.

Time’s up, TTC.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.07.01 15:42. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

(Values you enter are stored and may be published)



None. I quit.

Copyright © 2004–2024