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August 2, 2010


Useless Advertising

by Marina

Not to pick on TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) specifically, but that’s where I usually encounter signs and advertising that are completely useless from the users’ point of view.

Have you seen DWA sign inside subway stations? Do you know what it means? Do you know why you need to know that? I don’t!

DWA Sign on Subway platform.
DWA actually stands for “Designated Waiting Area”. Its purpose in life is to let you know where you should wait for a subway train. Hmmm… as if that sign didn’t exist, people would be so confused and wait for a subway on the stairs or one level higher, near the booth, where they sell tokens. Seriously, what would happen, if those signs disappeared one day?

I wonder how the conversations went when someone proposed to spend certain amount of $$$ to design, manufacture and install those signs for every subway station in Toronto. Did they dig out some data proving that, in fact, people were so confused about where they are suppose to wait for a train, that it was becoming a real problem? To solve the problem, we had to create the signs telling them where they should wait. Though not in plain language, like “Wait here for a subway”, but in some cryptic language, using abbreviations like DWA, that a person with grade 8 education or a newcomer, who is learning English, would not understand.

I imagine that the signs like that create even more confusion. As a person, staring at those signs for the first time, here are the questions that might be running through his head:

“I see only two signs on both sides of the platform, do they mean I have to wait in those two places only? Right below the sign? So if I am standing in the middle of the platform and not below the sign, I am therefore outside the designated waiting area and in violation of some kind of rules? Should I move? That’s ridiculous! I see other people standing all over the platform. What do they actually want me to do? What the f*** that sign really means? Forget it! I have no time to deal with that stupid sign.” – the person thinks to themselves while boarding the train.

LRV Poster, Toronto Subway.Here is another example of confusing language used in advertising. To the right you see a poster for…. well, that’s the question, actually. What is it for?

If you stand on the subway platform (that’s where I saw this poster), you can’t see the small print on the poster. The only things you see are “Toronto… New Ride” and . You also see an image of a train. Being at the subway at that moment, I am thinking that that’s the image of a new subway train. However, the train on the poster is shown above the ground, so maybe that’s not a subway train, but a street car?

The next puzzling thing is LRV. Am I suppose to know what that means?

Also, if you look closely at the picture, it looks like the train is actually riding on top of the lake Ontario, as that particular view of the city with CN Tower and Skydome could be only made from the Toronto Island.

If you haven’t heard any TTC announcements about new trains yet and all you had to work with is this poster, would it really be helpful to you?

Click on the poster to see a bigger image and solve the puzzle, or follow the link to learn more about “Low Rail Vehicles”. Yes, that’s what LRV stands for. I’d never guess that, even if my life depended on that.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Marina
    Feb 11 2012

    Well, if I could see all words on the poster, I’d read them. My point was that I couldn’t see all copy from the subway platform and the only lines I could read (in big print) are those abbreviations that I thought most people wouldn’t understand.

  2. Anonymous
    Feb 3 2012

    Ok first of all it tells you right on the poster its a new street car and that LRV stands for Light Rail Vehicle. Instead of being a smart ass try reading(if you can) something first before making your stupid grade 6 comments.


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