Lost in the PATH? New mapping system rolling out in the spring could save you

Most Torontonians have ducked underground to use the PATH at one point or another — but a common complaint is that it’s not an easy network to navigate.

The Financial District BIA partnered with the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture division over the last two years to develop a new way-finding system for the PATH — a collection of 75 properties in Toronto’s downtown core with more than 1,100 shops and restaurants .

The first prototype panel map is now on display in the Royal Bank Plaza. Sixty maps, as well as new ceiling signs, are set to roll out throughout the network next April.

“The really important piece of this is to create, for people who aren`t used to the space, the idea of how far it is to get to where you want to be,” said Grant Humes, executive director of the Financial District BIA.

Humes said while the current map has been updated since the late 80’s as new buildings were connected, an entirely new map hasn’t been created in decades and it was long overdue.

“Certainly for first time users it can be pretty confusing,” Humes told CBC Toronto.


Donna Rose, who is visiting from Newfoundland with her two kids, said they went straight to the map to figure out how to get around downtown.

This way to the waterfront

The new map displays the major routes on a blue line that shows the user how to get to destinations like the Eaton Centre, while the green line shows how to get to specific buildings.

A red radius tells the user what’s within a five-minute walk depending on where you are in the PATH and arrows at the top point the way to the waterfront, or to other major locations.

“People will be able to intuitively look at this and figure out exactly where they want to go and how long it`s going to take them,” Humes said.

Another new element is showing exactly where elevators and escalators are located for easy accessibility.

Humes said as new buildings were added to the old map over the years, accessibility requirements weren’t taken into account as much as they should have been.

“This map has been installed in a way that someone in a wheelchair can read it easily, that’s very important,” Humes added.

Economic growth

With 200,000 people using the PATH every day, Humes says making it easier to navigate is also an opportunity for economic growth.

“Every one-per-cent growth in regular PATH users adds $17 million in sales revenue in a year,” Humes said, noting that if more people feel comfortable navigating the underground network they are more likely to support the businesses within it.

Locals and tourists approve

When CBC Toronto pointed out the new map to people walking by, the overall reaction was positive.

Kelly Nelles, who works in a building connected to the PATH, said it took her a long time to get used to it and admitted it can still be very confusing.

“I find it easier to go outside,” she said.

But Nelles says the new maps will do a better job of directing people.

“I think it will help a lot of people,” Nelles said, adding that interactive features down the road could be even more helpful.

Donna Rose, who is visiting from Newfoundland, said she and her family have been looking at the map and find it fairly easy to use.

“It was the first thing I looked for,” said Rose, who told CBC Toronto she’s impressed by the underground network.

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