Long overdue, with prototypes tested three years ago, Metro began implementing its new signage system on a route by route basis this year. The new system matches Metro’s current color scheme and presents more information than the old signs in a clear and consistent format. However, the possibility of significant service cuts put replacement of regular signs (type A in the graphic) on hold, since Metro would have to go back and “patch” the new signs with stickers. Even with the $20 CRC, “budget [for the new signs] will still be a challenge”, says Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke. Metro continues to plan on replacing the large kiosk style signs at busy stops, since those signs feature interchangeable route tiles (types B and C). There’s no estimate on when all the regular signs will be replaced. Complete replacement of the large signs is estimated to take at least 5 years.
You can see the new large signs at 3rd & Pine northbound stop, a few stops on 3rd Ave in Belltown, the island stop at 4th & Jackson, and the 4th & Jackson stop beside Union Station. The regular signs have appeared in many places across King County.
The new system is a significant improvement, in both form and function, over the old signs, which haven’t changed in basic design for decades. It was designed by Portland based Mayer/Reed and Jon Bentz Design in Edmonds, the latter has also worked on Sound Transit’s graphic and signage design standards.
More on the key design features after the jump.
The basic element on every sign is the “route block” which is consistent across all sign types. The route block includes the route number, a modifier (local, express, Sound Transit, etc.), up to two destinations, and symbols indicating connections with Sounder, Link, Sea-Tac Airport, and/or ferries. On the large B and C type signs, these blocks are individual tiles that can be rearranged or removed as needed without producing an entire sign from scratch for each revision.
Every sign is identified at the top by a bus symbol against a colored background that’s reminiscent of Metro’s bus livery. On large signs, the stop’s name is displayed. In the middle are the route blocks, displaying from 1 to 32 routes. Beneath the route blocks are the stop number, which is handy for OneBusAway, whether the stop is in the Ride Free Area or not, Metro’s customer service phone number and web site URL, wheelchair accessibility info, and Metro’s logo.
For some who have travelled to Portland and London, they may note the similarities of Metro’s system to those cities’ bus stop signs, designed and produced by UK firm Trueform. Why didn’t Metro just use them? Metro’s answer: “We evaluated their system, and were able to replicate a model that did the same basic job at a similar cost, while also allowing us to keep consistency with our map and schedule products that appear in many other signage installations throughout the county.” More on maps and schedules in a future post.
The Signing Standards Manual contains all the details of sign design and manufacture.