New sign designs!

Metro is testing prototypes of a new bus-sign design. They’re on display in front of King Street Center for about another week. (After that they’ll be at Third & Union, at the Benaroya stop.) I went to check them out yesterday.

Here’s the prototype for a sign at a major stop:

Major stop prototype
Major stop prototype

And here’s the prototype for the smaller stops:

Minor stop prototype

Note that the numbers are bigger and now read left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom. They are also removable, which makes the signs easier and cheaper to update.

As you can see, the route destination is now listed under the route number. This is a helpful addition, but I wonder how Metro will handle routes that don’t always terminate at the same location. Some examples: 48 Rainier Beach vs. 48 Columbia City; 3 Madrona vs. 3 First Hill. Will the route be listed twice? Will there be two destinations listed under the number? (I’m not even going to touch those routes that change numbers halfway through the ride.) Then again, I suppose that’s not as much an issue with the signs as with the route numbering, and that’s a post for another time.

Another cool (but possibly problematic) addition: The stop numbers are now printed on the signs. This is a good thing for those of us who’ve tried calling Metro’s automated service to find out when a route is scheduled to be at a particular stop, only to be prompted to enter a stop number, which is not available anywhere at the stop. Unfortunately, the stop numbers used by this system are not the same as the stop IDs used by Tracker and MyBus. I predict a whole lot of confused riders. But again, this is a problem that’s bigger than the signs.

I love (without reservations) the rail, airport, and ferry icons and the addition of Metro’s rider information number and Web address. Adding these is a good step toward making the system more usable and predictable, and making it easier for newbies to find their way around.

I must close with the disclaimer sign that was posted next to the prototypes.

Disclaimer

This is only a test, folks, so don’t start expecting to see these at your local stop anytime soon.

Of course, the testing phase is a good time for feedback. You like?

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