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New ways to find your way: An interview about TransLink’s new transportation wayfinding strategy

New ID sign at the Bridgeport Bus Exchange

New ID sign at the Bridgeport Bus Exchange

TransLink’s Joanne Proft, Project Manager in Infrastructure Planning, said something interesting when I spoke with her and Jeff Deby, a Project Planner in Infrastructure Planning, about some new wayfinding initiatives rolling out this week: “How many times have you been to an unfamiliar city and don’t want to use the bus system because the level of information is complicated?” I had to pause and think about it. When I was in Portland last year, I didn’t think twice about using the streetcar since it seemed easy and hard to make a mistake when planning my trip. I did take a few buses, but I found it more difficult in navigating compared to the streetcar and asked others waiting at bus stops about routes and times since there were no schedules or maps available for me to reference.

Whether you’re new to Metro Vancouver or have lived here for years, wanting to improve people’s experience using transit is the impetus behind a widespread change in bus stop wayfinding across the entire system that starts this week. This latest strategy to make transit easier and more efficient for users started just before the 2010 Winter Olympics. The transit “T” (telling people from a distance and close up that this is a transit facility) was installed at most SkyTrain and Canada Line stations downtown as well as the Marine Drive, Bridgeport and Richmond‐ Brighouse bus exchanges. The bus stops at these later Canada Line stations were also outfitted with a prototype of a information panel replacing the information tubes we’ve had for years.

New this week

This week the first initiative of the strategy starts with new ID signs to accompany the prototype of new information panels at the Marine Drive, Bridgeport and Richmond‐ Brighouse bus exchanges. Basically, the new ID signs build upon what we already have by adding the “T”, listing the different service types available and providing the name of the stop and bay number if applicable.

Prototype of Our New Information Panels

Prototype of our new information panels

The idea of adding the ‘T’ (which will identify all transit facilities in the future) is to make stops more visible and unify the identity of transit across the system. Having different modes of transit like regular, limited, NightBus or B‐Line, informs users of the service provided. Providing the name of the stop (e.g. Marine Drive Station or Laurentian Crescent—Sheridan Ave) along with the stop and bay number when applicable helps to identify the stop itself.

The information panels will convey much more information than the info tubes currently do. Depending on the stop, TransLink is working on panels of one to three sides. So far, panels can contain all or some of these elements:  A list of key stops, zones, local area walking maps as well as schedule times in larger type than currently found.

These first bus IDs and info panels are just the beginning of bus stop wayfinding improvements that will be rolling out over time. The intention is that once old IDs and tubes are due to be replaced, these new IDs and panels will take their place.

Now, I know some readers (if you’ve indeed read this far) may find this level of detail fantastic, while other may find it overloading. If you’re asking yourself what this is all about, why we need it and what wayfinding is exactly, then you’re not alone. I put those and other questions to Joanne and Jeff. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.

What is wayfinding?

Joanne: How you design environments and facilities so that you provide cues and tools for people to navigate their way. Effective transportation wayfinding assists people in navigating through complicated environments.

Is it simply signage? No, ideally a good legible environment is designed to be intuitive from the outset. A legible environment can refer to building design, materials, lighting, furniture, etc. working together in order to make it easy to get around.

Jeff: Exactly, it’s a conscious and unconscious process for people to try to get from where they are to where they want to go. So for transit wayfinding in particular, this involves maps, signs, schedules and anything else you need to plan to help you on your journey. Wayfinding can be very broad and include things like design of facilities, but the scope of this project is more on identifying facilities, how to get around them, circulation, signage, mapping and scheduling.

TransLink's Joanne Proft and Jeff Deby

TransLink's Joanne Proft and Jeff Deby

So, we already have signage on the system. Why do we have to change what we have?

Joanne: We’re not just changing it to change it. There’s a need to coordinate the systems, both to benefit customers and for efficiency and ease of maintenance. There seems to be a different wayfinding standard used for each transit addition. You go to the Expo Line, you have blue and white coloured wayfinding. You go to the Millennium Line and you have yellow, black and white. Canada Line has a different colour scheme, and all have different approaches to use of text and icons, sign placement and type of information provided.

So it’s unifying.

Joanne: Yes, this effort is about trying to unify what we already have and draw attention to things that need emphasis. It’s also about creating a system identity which is what the “T” is all about. This is the creation of a system of managed elements that all work together to communicate that you can make seamless journeys and have faith in the information that you’re getting is correct and that you’ll be receiving that same level of information regardless of the different modes of your journey. It’s not about privileging one mode over another.

Jeff: The idea with this is that eventually people will be able to get onto the system anywhere, and although they may not know exactly where they’re going, they’ll know when they get to the other end there will be this information there that they’ve already seen on the system thus far and are able to figure out. It will develop a confidence in transit that gives people freedom and security.

Have there been complaints or criticism of the way our wayfinding works today?

Jeff: Our regular surveys have given us scores that are lower than we like for things like quality of signage at stations and stops. After we installed some new signage at some of the SkyTrain stops, we’ve had some survey results that suggests our wayfinding has improved.

Joanne: Wayfinding is one of those issues that everybody likes to talk about. There are some current gaps and inconsistencies in the messaging, which is the result of different systems, different operators, different jurisdictions and incremental development. It’s no fault of one agency or one particular thing. It’s part of the evolution of a system that’s trying to keep up with rapid change.

Jeff: It’s also about a change in the industry. The benchmark is quite high now as far as the type of information that you provide users. People travel many places and see how other systems work. TransLink wants to keep up with the industry standard.

Joanne: There is also a growing body of research that points to a link between good passenger environments, like making waiting easier and more comfortable at stations and providing better information, to a growth in ridership and revenue. By making environments better, it tells people that their time is valuable and provides confidence in the system, which in turn builds ridership. From an economic perspective, investing in good wayfinding can yield great benefits for each dollar spent.

Jeff: It makes sense. If somebody wants to try transit and they can’t figure out how to make the trip or they get lost, they aren’t going to be a repeat customer.

Joanne: There’s an untapped market of possible transit users who are on the margins when it comes to transit, and they could be more drawn to transit if their experience with it is better, and that’s where wayfinding can help.

Why are these new ID signs and information panels only being put in the Marine Drive, Bridgeport and Richmond‐Brighouse bus exchanges?

Jeff: The deployment is limited to a few exchanges at first because we are still working with CMBC service planning, sign shop and bus stop maintenance crews to optimize the information preparation, production and installation/maintenance process. The three exchanges are opportunities to demonstrate the new standard in the meantime and develop familiarity with it as well as allow for further minor design refinements if required.  We’re also awaiting decisions on funding levels and mechanisms before we can determine the best strategy for rolling this out more widely with available resources.

The reason these three exchanges are getting the new signs now is because they are the places we’ve already installed the info panels that are attached to the ID poles.  By putting the new signs in there, we can show the full kit. The reason we installed the info cases at these three exchanges in the first place (Sept 2009) is twofold.: First, when the Canada Line opened, we needed to put in signage at the exchanges, so it was an opportunity to install the new standard without having to remove any existing signage. These were the three exchanges where a lot of bus transfer was expected, and it was anticipated that customers would need a higher level of information as many of them were having their buses rerouted to the Canada Line. Second, Bridgeport was also a key transfer node for the Olympics, so we wanted to be able to provide improved information there and again had the opportunity because of the fresh start.

OK, thanks for the information Joanne and Jeff!

The new IDs and panels mentioned above are just a couple of wayfinding changes that will be rolled out moving forward. I’ll be posting more updates next month and afterwards on upcoming wayfinding changes. Until then, you can read more about wayfinding corrdination with the new fare gates and more on the TransLink website. You can also leave a question in the comments sections, and I’ll try my best to find you an answer.


44 Comments

  • By (> ")>, September 8, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    These new signs and schedules look great. I’ve always had trouble with those plastic tube things with the bus schedules on them.

  • By Matt, September 8, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    So let me see if I understand this correctly, the new ID posts tell you where you are, not where the bus is going. Yeah… that’s… useful…

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 8, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    Hi Matt: Maybe I wasn’t clear on the functionality of the ID signs. The ID signs “tell you where you are” by giving you the both the number of that stop (like the old signs did) and the actual physical location (eg. Broadway and Cambie – new). This is a useful addition. Imagine you’re trying to tell someone where you are. Providing the bus stop number may not be very helpful to someone not familiar with that or other transit stop numbers (and really, not many of us are). Now you just have to say, I’m at the Cambie and Broadway bus stop. It’s simply another bit of identifying information.

    To find out where your bus is going, you can use the information panels. Since routes and times can change, this is the best way to communicate the terminus of the routes since panels can be easily changed and updated while signs can’t.

    I hope that helps!

  • By John, September 8, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    This is good, but the naming of routes should be looked at as well. Having four routes at Surrey Central where the final destination is Newton Exchange (321, 323, 324, 325) tells you nothing about what route or corridor the bus takes to get there. The naming convention of route number plus final destination has always struck me as rather poor.

    It is also inconsistent as in Vancouver you do not see this convention (except for the 9 and a few others), but in all the suburbs this is standard. Electronic signs give so much possibility and yet they are not used to their full advantage. For example, something like “324 132nd Street” flash “324 to Newton Exch” would give far more meaningful information and help distinguish one route from another.

  • By Eric B, September 8, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    A comment and a question.

    In your photo of Bridgeport Station, Bay 9, it only lists the route numbers (352/354) and the fact that they’re “limited service” when they’re actually peak-period services. I’m assuming this stop has an info panel similar to the 2nd photo (of Bay 8), informing passengers that, for example, the 352 travels to Crescent Road and Ocean Park.

    Will this wayfinding plan include installing the same style sign on those stops that are not transfer points? For the most part, bus stops outside downtown only display the full route information at transfer points.

  • By snowystar, September 8, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    Since these now signs removed the destination of the route, how to distinguish, say Bay 5 and 10 of Bridgeport station? Both of them are 403/407.

    Another example would be at Port Coquitlam Centre/Station area, where the 159 and 160 are traveling at different directions on the same road (159 go north to Poco Station while 160 goes south). Moreover, there are 3 routings of C37 (Riverside, Prairie, Poco Station) and 5 routings of C38 (River Springs, Prairie, Coquitlam Station, Poco Station/Kingsway, Poco Station/Shaughnessy) in the area. How can people tell which bus is going where now?

  • By Jacob, September 8, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

    After looking at the photos, I’m against the change. Before, at bridgeport, on each bus pole, there was a triangular board with the times on it. Like snowystar said above, there is no way of knowing which way the bus is going; you have to look at the glass case with so many numbers that your head will spin. Also, on every bus sign, it says “Bridgeport Station”. Who would not know that they’re at Bridgeport station? the maps you installed in downtown bus poles are much better than these poles that don’t tell you anything; Now, in the 1st photo, you have no way of knowing which 407 and 430 stops at bay 10. You have removed the triangular board, and replaced it with a sign that has a T on it. Who would not know that they’re not at a bus loop. These terrible changes are moving a step backwards, not forwards.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 8, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    Hi All: There are some very observant comments here. I’m working on getting some responses for you all very soon. Stay tuned…

  • By Joe, September 8, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    First time I saw one of these signs (on Tuesday at Bridgeport) I was like “wait, does this bus stop at Bridgeport now?” Then I thought that maybe the bus bay was moved and I wandered around looking for the right bay, and even considered finding an employee to ask what the signs meant until I eventually went back, and finally read the timetable, to discover the stops are still the same. I’m not gonna go all the way up to the pole to make sure the 407/430 I want stops at that bay, I want to just glance at the sign from a distance and see “407 Bridgeport/430 Metrotown Station”. I don’t need a hundred signs that all say Bridgeport Station, that’s just white noise.

  • By Adrian, September 9, 2011 @ 2:06 am

    I think we need to keep in mind that these signs will be expanded not only for Bridgeport Station, but for across Vancouver. The \Bridgeport Station\ indicates the location of the stop. Of course at Bridgeport Station, it’s easy, but at locations (Broadway and Main for instance), it will help indicate the location of the stop, improving wayfinding and pedestrian experience.

    I do agree, however, that there’s a need to indicate the terminus of the bus stops (and not on the info board, but directly on the sign instead). Actually, I found this to be a problem in cities like Hong Kong and London (and TransLink’s design cues from the new sign is directly parallel to the ones used for London Buses).

    According to TransLink’s signs guideline (http://www.translink.ca/~/media/documents/bpotp/projects/wayfinding/wayfinding new bus stop signage 2011.ashx), bus stop plates without info boards will receive different treatment and will look more similar to the ones used currently. I think these should actually be standardized and TransLink should only use one ID sign, regardless if there is an infotube or not. For one, it’s more visually consistent. For two, people become more familiar with a system if it is all the same. So if it there are different designs and guidelines used, it will directly affect the user experience.

    Just my two cents.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 9, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    Overall, I’m supportive of the changes, as long as the costs aren’t high. I agree with the others about being able to see the signs from a distance.

    I remember being near Guildford Mall. I was confident that I was between 2 bus stops. I tried to look carefully to see if they really were bus stops, but because the signage was not very clear from a distance, walking to the bus stops felt like such a gamble.

    Making the most important information easy to see from a long distance would make me more comfortable regarding bus stops.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 9, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    By the way, Robert, thank you for writing this blog post. I feel more confident in Translink’s wayfinding efforts, after reading this.

    Robert, I believe that you’re doing a great job.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 9, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Hi everyone. The TransLink planning department has taken a look at most of the above comment and have some responses. One of the reasons why these ID signs and information panels were only installed in a few places is that the planning department wanted to get some feedback from users on them. Having spoken with them about these comments I can tell you that they take them very seriously and I would not be surprised if some of your comments will lead to improvements and changes to the wayfinding project. So keep those constructive comments coming! Now, to those responses:

    John: Thanks for the positive feedback. The issue of route naming and its impact on wayfinding is something that we are aware of. One of the challenges of including the corridor of travel in the route name is that many of our routes don’t just travel down a single corridor, hence the use of the final destination in the route name. However, as you point out, this is not always useful. For this reason, the design of the info panels includes the name of the route plus a description of its general route, e.g., “via Blundell Road, No. 2 Road, Moncton Street “. The panel also includes a list of major stops along the route.

    Over the longer term, TransLink is interested in improving route legibility through naming and numbering guidelines and policies as part of its ongoing network review process. These guidelines and policies would then be incorporated into future wayfinding improvements.

    Eric B: Crescent road is show on the info panel, Ocean Park isn’t. The panel states that “major stops” are shown. We have criteria around which stops to include, but it’s a very long document. If you’d like we could communicate via email about it. :)

    Snowystar: The info panels provided at eye level and are intended to describe in much more detail the route directionality, major stops and destination of the route. The issue raised of two bays having the same routes is something that we will need to consider further, both in terms of how routes are named, but also in designing the signs. As this is just a pilot, these kinds of comments will be valuable as we refine and continue to improve the level of customer information.

    TransLink’s new wayfinding project has looked at how other transit authorities deal with wayfinding. Here’s a good post which shows some of the similarities between TransLink’s new wayfinding and other cities – http://www.designworkplan.com/wayfinding/sds-defining-city.htm

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 9, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    Hello encore…

    Jacob and Adrian: I think most of your comment were addressed in the above responses or the post…

    Eugene: Thanks so much for the kind words! I really appreciate it.

  • By Matt, September 9, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    I understand what’s being said about the glass panel giving further route information. But the question then becomes, will EVERY stop have a glass panel with this route information? Not likely. So will there be two kinds of stops around the system, ones with glass panels and the actual ID post saying the current stop name (as in the photo) and a second kind for where there are no glass panels and the ID post says the route/terminus name that stops there? That’s rather confusing to have two different kinds of ID posts.

    And as alluded here, it makes quick glances from a distance difficult, ESPECIALLY for those who don’t know the system very well and may not know route numbers. You have to walk up and read the glass panel rather than glance across a loop at the ID post to see “UBC” or “White Rock” etc.

    The numbers for the stops, that’s been good. Wanting to add the stop name, I understand the motivation. But maybe flip it. Keep the destination/terminus on the ID post and put the stop name on the glass panel for those stops which have glass panels.

  • By Matt, September 9, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    Oh, and if you really wanted to be forward thinking, you could put QR codes on the ID posts for quick smartphone scanning for the new next bus system. ;-)

  • By ;-), September 9, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

    Perhaps I’m just old and find the new signs to be “busy”. I like the simplicity of the old signs.

    Really like the QR code idea.

  • By Elfren Ordanza, September 10, 2011 @ 12:22 am

    Pretty neat bus stop signs! :)
    I wish all of the bus stops on the bus loops would be like this.

  • By Last351, September 10, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    I’d like to see a sign at Surrey Central Station bus loop that says which busses stop and which bays. Also there needs to be more prominent no smoking signs.

  • By Joe, September 11, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    @Last351: I like this idea! A big prominent sign in the centre of the bus bay island:

    Bay 1: Route X to Destination A
    Bay 2: Route Y to Destination B
    Bay 3: Route Z to Destination C and Route W to Destination D
    Bay 4: Route Y to Destination A

    and so forth. I certainly liked the bus routing map at Bridgeport, so definitely copy that across the system. Just change the signs to be more readable from a distance.

  • By Marvin B, September 11, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    Looking at that sign at Bridgeport station, I think it’s pretty useless. 352 and 354… ummmmmm, to where? It can’t be to Bridgeport station, I’m already there! You don’t need the signs to state where you are! Perhaps on that big map in the middle of the bus bay island it could state “Bridgeport Station” or “Welcome to Bridgeport Station” or something else of that nature.

    In the public timetables it states the route via this street, that avenue, this highway, etc. You could put this information near the ID posts to help people. Why on earth would you make it more confusing for tourists, seniors, those with mobility issues and even late night revelers. This is a bad idea. The individual post should have the route name (ESPECIALLY in Richmond where it’s confusing enough with 2 Canada line stations with similar names, Bridgeport and Brighouse.)

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 12, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

    Hi Matt: I spoke with infrastructure planning about your comment and they have some info I think will answer some of your questions:

    The implementation of new bus stop signage will be phased in over time as funding and resources allow. Over the long term, the intent is to provide new ID signs and information panels at as many stops as possible throughout the region. However, in the shorter term, the priority for info panels will be key bus exchanges and high volume stops (where there are info tubes today). The linked downloadable graphic summary of new signage – http://tinyurl.com/3mhdlbk shows the three phases of roll out, all of which are designed around the common element of the T marker, and intended to be incrementally deployed.

    Marvin: Thanks for the feedback. You have some very adept observations and suggestions (in my humble opinion). Infrastructure planning also weighed in on you comment.

    The new signs are designed to be deployed throughout the system. Understandably, at an exchange all stop locations will reflect the exchange name, however when these appear on the street, not part of an exchange, the stop name will be useful as an orientation.

  • By Reva, September 14, 2011 @ 2:57 am

    Of all the things they could have put to the Translink Listens panel, why not this?? Why not put up a few examples and ASK people what they think of each one BEFORE you go printing a bunch of new signs?!

    First of all, if you have to print just the route numbers, could you please print them in a font that is larger and bolder than the stop number. Good to have the stop number clearly visible, but it is secondary information to most customers; knowing WHAT BUS stops there should be the #1 priority of what to print on a BUS STOP!

    I completely agree that the signs should have the route names on them, it’s plain silly to have just the number. I often hear drivers telling inquiring customers “you need the Arbutus bus on the other side of Broadway” (for example) or something like that, no numbers involved! That customer would cross the street to find two bus stops, one saying 99, the other saying 9, 14, 16! He would have to go up close to read the information board (if there is one) on each stop to decide which route number corresponds to the Arbutus bus, and by the time he managed to do that, he’s probably missed his bus. The signs should be standardized with route numbers AND names, whether there is an information board nearby or not. This info should be clearly visible from a fair distance away.

    The clearer and simpler the better. Yes, more information is good, but rearranging and adding all this stuff to a bus stop signage system that wasn’t broken to begin with in order to attract transit first-timers is rather a step backwards in my opinion. It is likely to frustrate regular users as well. Somewhere on the sign it could tell you how/where to get more information, but the primary purpose of the actual bus stop sign is to indicate what bus stops where, and that’s what people expect to see.

    The “you are here” line at the bottom of the sign is a good addition. However, when at a large loop with multiple bus stops, wouldn’t it make more sense to say “Bridgeport Station, Bay X” instead of simply “Bridgeport Station” on all of the signs? I realize each bus bay is already clearly labelled, but adding the bay number to the station name at the bottom of the sign will give riders a better idea of what that portion of the sign is for and they will know to look for it at other bus stops around town when they’re not sure exactly what intersection they’re at. As it is on the above-printed sign, my first impression was that it was totally redundant and insulted my intelligence, labelling every stop with the same thing, as if I hadn’t already seen it a dozen times on my walk from the train to the bus loop. Simply adding the bay number would make the purpose of that line unquestionably clear to me and I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    Sorry for going on and on but I think the new type of sign is a disaster and appreciate that Translink is taking into consideration the feedback we all have posted here — better late than never. Also better late than before you print up thousands of signs. :op

    Peace! :)

  • By Marvin B, September 14, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the compliment Robert!

    I think the simpler the better. In addition to keeping route names on the signs it may be good to put popular landmarks on those panels, including commercial businesses. Translink may be able to get those businesses to pay for their logos on the signs. I know for a fact that many people go through Bridgeport station as a way to get to Ikea. Maybe on the panel, a little Ikea logo on a Bridgeport Road map? I know some don’t like commercialization, but it’s to help customers. As long as it doesn’t slide down the slope of Bridgeport Station becoming Ikea Station! (or some other corporation).

    Is there a plan in place for when a major bus exchange isn’t a terminus? Such as the 430 through Bridgeport or 100 through Marine Drive? Same route number, different names as they are going opposite directions. If you only see the number on the sign, and you are not a regular on that route, it will be quite easy for someone to get on the first 430 or first 100 they see, not even taking into account there may be another one coming with the same number that actually goes where they want to go.

  • By Donna (CMBC), September 14, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    Like others have said, not having the destination of the bus easily visible on the main sign isn’t ideal. I took a look at the link with the three options, and I think the second option should be scrapped entirely. I’m a pretty heavy transit user, and knowing the general direction of a bus just by glancing at a sign (without having to study an infotube) is important, especially in a bus loop.

    Have the infotubes as well, as they do have valuable, changeable information… but please keep the bus destination on the signs as well.

  • By Bill Lee, September 15, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    And we expect them to be in languages other than English. Not many words needed on a table.
    If Montreal can do it, Vancouver has the capability.

    And the signs should be in front of us–not something we have to find, or look back behind to find.

    T has little meaning and why Helvetica? T for Toilet? No, missing. T for Tuer? T for Chai? T for Symbol for period, the reciprocal of frequency?

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 15, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

    I used to think that not having the destination easily visible wasn’t a big deal, but these people have convinced me that it is.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 15, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    Another example of the destination being important was during the recent amber alert. So little time was spent showing the destination and so much time was spent showing the warning that I missed seeing the destination. It was so frustrating not knowing which bus that was until it passed me. It was as if Translink was mocking me, or as if Translink would rather care about 1 person who was kidnapped than a desperately unemployed person who is struggling to get to a job interview.

  • By Reva, September 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    Rob, do you know if there are any plans to apply the big white & blue “T” symbol to the bodies of buses and SkyTrain cars etc? If not, it should. THAT would tie together some Translink brand recognition for you. The big T is somewhat more enigmatic than a bus or train symbol to non-locals and non-English speakers, but if they saw buses and trains going by with the big T on them it would be very easy to connect that in their heads to the big T on bus stops and outside stations.

    Just stick a T decal next to the Translink logos on all vehicles.

  • By LB, September 15, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

    On a slightly different note from bus stop signs, can I say AMEN to the large T? And the huge font being used on the skytrain stations?

    Burrard Station, for example – it’s labeled with a huge T and “Burrard Station” in letters large enough to be read from a distance. YAY!!!

    For some reason, Canada Line stations are labelled in a smaller font which is pleasing from a graphic design point of view but not so awesome for wayfinding.

    Anyway, I’m so happy to see transit stations labeled with the giant T. Kudos to whomever got that in place!

  • By Dan, September 17, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    While I like the fact that stops will now be named, I believe people may find it difficult to understand what the names mean. If I had never been to Vancouver, I’d assume that the five-digit stop number and stop name referred to the bus number and name. I also concur with the comment being made about how all stops at a single transfer point, such as “Bridgeport Station”, being named simply “Bridgeport Station” without the bay number is rather pointless, as is the inclusion of bus numbers without destination names, as you can’t tell from a distance which way the bus is going.

    Instead, I’d hope that all stop signs at exchanges had the bus number and name printed in a font that was at least as large as the bay numbers are on the current signs. I don’t really care one bit about bay numbers – I want to look for my bus number and direction when I’m at a place that I don’t visit often, like Phibbs Exchange without having to walk up to each sign to read the small print used for the bus name and direction.

    All in all though, I’ve always said that we should have in-context route diagrams at all larger stops, as well as departure information. Infotubes are awkward and prone to weather leakage and vandalism. Even Victoria, as small as it is, had better signs at stops.

    Another thing I’d like to propose – create a special set of five digit “virtual” stop numbers that consolidate multiple real-life stop numbers that are grouped in geographically-close areas, such as exchanges. This way, we can lookup departure times for all bays and positions at a single location by using only one number. Unlike all the other solutions, this virtual stop numbering system would be the least expensive to implement, as it is completely software driven.

    Last but not least, we need more infoboxes. The current infotubes aren’t at that many stops; they need to be placed more frequently on when they are replaced. Transit networks in Asia, Germany, the UK, etc., have contextually relevant route profiles, departure information, trip times, and route identification signage at nearly all their stops. While I don’t suggest we do this at all stops here, especially since ours are so close together in most of the city, we should be putting them at intersections of greater importance, or at least all time and schedule points.

  • By Victor, September 26, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    Instead of using large T signs,why don’t we use that train sign that is used throughout the Canada line? It shows exactly what it means,Canada line would use Canada line train symbol, SkyTrain would be marked with MK II train sign,bus stops can be marked with the bus sign,this makes way more sense than the T sign.
    About Expo and Millennium line signage:I really wish they will be replaced with Canada line signage, I personally think that this signage is the best:those signs are informative,fonts are perfect, materials are great too.
    And also about SkyTrain signage:why are no-smoking signs located all over the system?You see them literally in every station name sign. I don’t smoke myself and there’re really few smoker here in Vancouver, these signs are starting to get pretty annoying. I don’t think someone will smoke on the system just because they don’t see a no-smoking sign
    And of course new signage should be redone. It doesn’t make any sense if there’s no route name,half of the sign is taken by the T,which seems to be far easier to notice than the station itself

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 27, 2011 @ 6:06 am

    Reva’s idea of putting the T on the actual vehicles, next to the name brand sounds interesting. It would educate people about the T, without telling them in specific words, which makes it easier for people to learn. At this point in time, I would have never understood the meaning of the T, unless I read The Buzzer Blog.

    Dan’s idea of virtual stop numbers has merit. I definitely support the goal that he is going for.

    1 of my major pet peeves is finding the first bus to leave. I would prefer that all buses leaving in the same direction leave from the same bus bay, or at least the same area of the exchange. It seems so much easier that way, but for some reason, Translink does not necessarily do it.

    I could not imagine Tranlink needing 99,999 virtual stops. Maybe a 4 digit number would do the trick? A four digit number would visually say that it is a virtual stop [e.g. 0130]. A 3 digit number would say that it is a route number [e.g. 130]. A 5 digit number would say that it is stop number [e.g. 00130].

    Dan, I’d love to know what you think.

  • By Victor, September 27, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

    I’ve somehow forgotten about the digital signs at SkyTrain stations

    That small displays with red lights don’t seem to be good to provide information anymore. Once again, Canada line gives an example of what it should look like:3 next trains destinations and times, just perfect, though TransLink has somehow spoiled even those: they now translate messages like “Don’t lick the power rail” most of the time.

    As long as SkyTrain still runs 4-car MK I trains those signs should also show the car type and the number of cars. I always notice that people never stand in the end of the platform,everyone expects a short 4-car train. If during the next expansion in the number of trains MK I will be arranged in 6-car only this information may be omitted,but now,when nearly half of the trains is shorter than the other half, it’s an important piece of information

    The only additional info that should be on the display beside train info is elevator and escalator notifications,no “don’t hold the doors”,”don’t ride the train roof” or other messages like that, everyone knows that you’re not suppossed to do this,these rules are the same for the whole world.It would be even better if when the esclator and elevator info is up the next train information would remain on the display:on Canada line,when there’s a message up,the whole train info goes down. It would be better if there was the next train info on the top of the message

    All in all, what I think SkyTrain digital signage should look like: big Canada line displays with yellow fonts(I wasn’t really following,but I’ve seen photos where Canada line trains and signs were red:thank god they were replaced),showing the next 3 trains info,including car type,length and the times,translating no additional messages beside escalator and elevator info

    Hope this will be read by TransLink staff, I look forward to a response

  • By Neal Yonson, January 7, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

    Is it deliberate that there are no full system maps inside Canada Line stations (and possibly other skytrain stations – I haven’t checked)? There are panels in the stations that outline the major routes and train lines: a sort of skeleton map of the transit system. These are likely useful for visitors, but are ultimately useless if someone needs to go to a destination not along the major routes. In this case, only a full system map will do, and these appear conspicuously absent from Canada Line stations.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 9, 2012 @ 11:26 am

    Hi Neal: There should be full system maps at every SkyTrain station. I’ll double check on this for you.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 9, 2012 @ 11:51 am

    Hello encore Neal: Please keep in mind that these maps and walking maps are in different locations at each station. This is because of factors like flow of traffic, layout of station, etc. I hope that helps.

  • By David Rossman-Robinson, May 15, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

    Hello,

    How can I contact Joanne Proft and/or Jeff Deby? I am writing my thesis on wayfinding for transit users. They would be great resources.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 16, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    David: I can forward on your comment to Jeff & Joanne and they will reach out to you. Is the e-mail you put in the comment form accurate?

Other Links to this Post

  1. Time to revive the B-Line in Surrey | Civic Surrey — January 9, 2012 @ 8:07 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » New wayfinding signage is going up around the region — May 15, 2012 @ 8:54 am

  3. The Buzzer blog » TransLink 101: welcome to our February special post series! — February 8, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  4. Time to revive the B-Line in Surrey | Metro604 — April 22, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

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