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On ST Link trains the sign on the head of the train rolls along “UW STATION” or “ANGLE LAKE STATION” and whenever I look up there or inside the train where intermediate station names are displayed, I end up reading the word “STATION.” Now I am under the impression that the trains stop only at stations and don’t peel off along Othello Street or wander around the University of Washington. In no other transit system I have ever used (and that is quite a few) are rolling signs involved. The rider just needs to know one word: the unique name of the station. On Boston’s MTA, it says “HARVARD”, not “HARVARD STATION”. The system there assumes that the rider knows it is going to the station where Harvard University, Harvard Square, Harvard Street are all proximally located.

When we finally have more than one line, we will have to be able to know what we need to know at a glance on a crowded car or fast on the platform. Could we not do better and assume a little intelligence on the part of the rider?

3 Replies to “Rolling signs”

  1. There definitely needs to be cutbacks on the length of the displayed messages and names. The area inside trains and stations should be considered a closed environment where all names and signage are assumed to be referring to transit stations, especially light rail ones. This is already reflected in the platform-level signage (e.g. “Stadium” and the pictrogram instead of cramming “Stadium Station”, reserved for the entrances).

    In addition, the signs at the front of the trains and on the outside near the doors should be shortened into a two-phase at most, or one-phase. No scroll required for “Angle Lake/Airport” and “Univ. of Washington”. As a bonus, a phased sign can add “via Downtown Seattle”.

    1. That last part could get tricky as the system expands, however. What will a green line train say going south from Ballard say, for example? “Fed Way/Tacoma … Via Downtown, Airport”? Or maybe it would be worth omitting “Tacoma/Fed Way” in the beginning, and just say “Airport & South … Via Downtown”? That could be tricky for trips that terminate before the end of the line (which is highly likely).

      I think progressive signage would certainly be a must, e.g., for southbound green trains…
      at downtown: “Tacoma/Fed Way … Via MLK, Airport”
      at MLK: “Tacoma/Fed Way … Via Airport, Des Moines”
      at airport: “Tacoma/Fed Way … Via Highline Coll”
      at Highline: “Tacoma/Fife … Via Star Lk, Fed Way”
      at Star Lake: “Tac Dome Stn … Via Fed Way, Fife”
      at Federal Way: “Tac Dome Stn … Via Fife, Port of Tac”
      at Fife and south: “Tac Dome Stn … Port of Tacoma”

      Still a challenge though, as that’s 8 total sign configurations for one direction of one line.

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