Friday, June 22, 2007

Toronto backs away from Stand Right, Walk Left

Bad news from Toronto. The Globe and Mail reports its transit authority has reversed its policy of posting 'Stand Right, Walk Left' signs on the escalators because of some bureaucrats at the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) complained walking is unsafe.
The TSSA... recommended the signs' removal because they appeared to condone people walking on the escalators.
The signs are there to remind newbies about a worldwide custom, which makes less bad the riding of a slow-moving escalator in subway setting (hot, sticky, gross, etc.). These do-gooders at the TSSA don't want us to walk on escalators. Better to miss the bus, miss your subway, miss your class or be late for work.

The guy with the improbable name of Dexter Collins is in charge of 'elevating devices' at the Toronto Transit Commission. Dex is cool with removing the signs because he's "never been big on that idea anyway."

Do you get the feeling Dexter doesn't use the subway? If he did, he'd probably feel differently. What does Dex know that people in London, Rotterdam, Edmonton, Tokyo and elsewhere don't know.

Then Dex said something that makes me very irate.
"The intent is for the escalator to carry the people up the escalator. If they are capable of walking, they should be utilizing the stairs."
Wrong, a-hole. First, I hate people who use the word 'utilizing' as much as those who say 'orientated'. Second, Dex, the reason people walk up the left side is to get to their destination faster. But you would know that, Dex, if you used the TTC.

In fact, if Dex was so unlucky as to endure a sweat bath every morning before work, he might learn that many subway stations are quite deep. For instance, the York Mills subway station has 148 steps.

If TTC customers (yes, Dex, they are your customers) want to speed up their hellish subway experience and use the extra time to towel off the sweat from their torso when they arrive at work, why do you want to literally create obstacles for them?

Officials in Toronto acknowledge that walking on the left has become part of the culture and that they are powerless to control those who tempt fate and insist on walking up escalators. No one will be arrested in mid-stride. But both agencies say at the very least, the TTC should not appear to be condoning it.

This is retarded. The signs are needed to help keep out of the way the 10 percent of the population who are clueless about escalator etiquette. The signs ensure all riders are aware of custom to avoid the inevitable arguments as walkers ask standers to move.

By removing the signs, Toronto will end up like Montreal where a couple of genuinely uninformed people will be able to block the path of countless others. This creates a lot of frustration for the customers who use public transit. When you have to rely on a bus or subway to get somewhere, you easily can become worried about having to wait, say, 10 minutes because you missed the bus.

Walking up the escalator gets you to the bus quicker and puts you back in control. It lessens frustration. It makes an otherwise sweaty experience more tolerable.

Imagine if motorists weren't able to use the left lane to pass because people like Dexter said it was dangerous. Imagine the rage on the roads at being stuck behind slow-moving traffic. Allowing people to share the road (or the escalator) reduces rage. It makes the day better. Toronto needs more escalator etiquette signs, not less.

This is a step backward for an otherwise very progressive city.

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