Toronto's Sign Transition
Article: The end of rollsigns and the transition to electronic signs.
This transcribed article was originally published on Page 3 of the May, 1993 edition of the TTC's "Coupler"
newsletter. The article details the labours involved in creating the linen rollsigns, then changes to come with
electronic signs and their overall comparison and benefits the change will bring to the system and passengers.

An original scan of the article was donated from an anonymous source.
The images were photographs taken of my copy of the newsletter page itself.
Linen crew keeps signs correct
It's painstaking work updating TTC's bus destination signs. Just ask the crew at Harvey Shops' Paint
and Upholstery section.

Every time a bus route is changed or extended, or a new one is added, the linen signs, which tell
customers where the bus is going, must be updated. The TTC has 10 divisions and 1,700 buses in
its fleet, which means there are a lot of buses with signs to be updated. In 1990 there were 78
additions and 52 deletions to destination signs.

For Sam Cesario, Charlie Zammit and Don Scorziello, pulling the linens apart, removing obsolete
exposures, and stitching and gluing in the updated ones is a full-time job. Salvatore Ariganello
silkscreens the route names on the linen panels, or exposures.

Sign changes are difficult to keep up with, which is one reason the TTC is switching to electronic
destination signs over the next year, says Chester Storseth, Assistant Superintendent of Harvey

Every division has several bus routes with about 50 to 60 route/destination signs. The routes or
destinations are silkscreened onto the linen signs of enough buses to cover service for a specific
route. There are two signs on every bus. The linen is attached to two rollers, which the Operator
turns when a bus goes to a different route.

The TTC has used linen signs from the time buses and streetcars came into use. They will still be
used on the Presidents' Conference Committee streetcars. The Articulated Light Rail Vehicles and
the Canadian Light Rail Vehicles use mylar signs.

Though it sometimes seems to be a never-ending and complex job, Cesario, Zammit and Scorziello
enjoy the challenge. When putting the signs together they follow a master list to ensure each
exposure is placed in its proper order.

"You have to watch what you're doing because you can miss a destination. It's a painstaking job,
requiring patience and attention to detail." says Brian Batterton, Foreperson of the Paint and
Upholstery Section.

"It's very interesting -- once you know what you're doing." says Scorziello.
Electronic destination signs on buses are a boon for customers and Operators.

The days of putting cardboard signs on the dashboard because the bus doesn't have the correct
linen sign on it will soon be over. And that means passengers will know it's the right bus before they
board and won't need to ask Operators, causing delays.

"Our product is moving people and we have to tell them where we're moving them." says Pat
DiPasquale, Operations Assistant for Surface Rail.

With the old sign system, every time routes are added or deleted at a division, the linen signs must
be updated. And because there are so many route changes throughout the year, It's impossible to
keep up with them. That's why some buses are in operation without the proper signs.

To remedy this situation, the TTC will spend $6.8 million to have electronic signs installed on 1,288
buses, beginning in July (1991) and ending in February 1992.

Some buses already have electronic signs; 79 new ones came equipped with them and six were
retrofitted to test them. Also, the 25 natural gas buses joining the fleet this year have them.

Some of the TTC's 1,700 buses -- those being retired in the next three years -- won't be equipped
with the new signs. But from now on all new buses purchased will have electronic signs. The new
signs won't put anyone out of work, says DiPasquale. Those now working full time updating the linen
signs in Harvey Shops' Paint and Upholstery Section will still work in that section, once linen signs
are phased out.

The benefits of the new signs include:
• Every surface route will be contained on each sign so buses can be moved from route to route
and from division to division, and still have the correct signs. This will provide greater flexibility in
assigning buses to routes and other divisions.
• Buses won't have to use cardboard signs on their dashboards because they don't have the
correct linen signs.
• The new signs should reduce confusion with customers being better able to ensure they're on the
right bus.
• The signs have been tested for visibility with Canadian National Institute of the Blind
New signs aid customers, Operators
Don Scorziello glues the back of a linen destination sign
after new panels have been added and old ones have
been deleted.
Charlie Zammit uses the chain stitch to sew in new
panels, in Harvey Shops' Paint and Upholstery Section.
Sam Cesario cuts out an obsolete panel from a linen
destination sign currently used on TTC buses.