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Metro Vancouver bus routes pilot “stacked” destination signs

Metro Vancouver bus routes pilot “stacked” destination signs

Bus operator Fraser Doucette and Transit Supervisor Blake Webb believe in delivering great service to our customers. So, for them, making sure the destination signs on our buses provide clear route information simply makes sense.

“When I moved to Vancouver in 1971 from the Kootenays​, every bus said where it was going, either the exact destination or the name of the street it ended on,” says Fraser, who has been driving our electric trolley buses in Vancouver for over 26 years. “You just knew where the bus went.”

But, with the increase in bus routes over the years, Fraser says things aren’t so clear anymore.

“Today, eighteen different bus routes say ‘Downtown,’ which can be confusing for our customers.”

And, for Blake, who joined Coast Mountain Bus Company as an operator in 2006, clear messaging always wins.

“I was at Marine Drive SkyTrain Station, which is a hub for tourists coming in from the airport,” Blake says, “and I noticed there were a bunch of buses on different routes that all say Downtown. So, if you’re not from Vancouver, you don’t know that Route 3 goes down Main Street or Route 10 is on Granville Street.”

He saw an opportunity for improvement.

“When you see something that can help people out, you do it.”

That’s exactly what Fraser and Blake did, submitting the suggestion to improve our destination signs through the bus company’s “Bright Ideas” call.

Since September 7, CMBC has been piloting “stacked” destination signs (two lines of text) on a handful of routes across the region.

“When Service Planning received the idea,” says Daniel Carreira, a service planner with Coast Mountain Bus Company, “we zoomed out and started thinking about it from a system-wide perspective, and not just routes that travel into Downtown Vancouver.”

Daniel says he and his team wanted to be consistent in providing more clarity and improving the usefulness of information displayed on buses across the region.

“We also looked at the destination sign practices of other large transit agencies in North America.”

Currently, the routes included in the pilot are 10 Granville, 119 Kingsway, 151 Como Lake Ave, and 325 140th Street.

Daniel says a big thanks goes to Derek Lee, who is a business systems analyst at TransLink, who helped problem solve the many unforeseen technical issues involved with displaying the new stacked signage. As we’ve covered in the past, programming destination signs is a herculean task.

“Since we did not have stacked destination signs on any routes prior to this, we had to work closely with Derek on making this possible. This is a significant departure from how we normally display destination information on our buses.”

What are your thoughts on “stacked” destination signs? Leave your thoughts for The Buzzer community in the comments below and submit it through our Customer Feedback for the Service Planning team.