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Metro Looking at Better Bus Stop Information

Metro is looking for the million dollars it would take to improve the information signs at its 12,000 bus stops, now that it has finished a study suggesting that it could make the signs easier to understand.

Building better signs isn't as sexy as adding express bus routes or stringing out rail lines, but if you take this effort along with the revival of the Next Bus real-time arrival information, you're starting to get a regional bus system that travelers can actually figure out. And that's huge, because bus service is so likely to be a big part of our transportation future, given what it costs to build roads and rail lines.

One of Metro's key problems, according to the study, is that when it tries to jam information about all the bus routes onto one of those standard poles you see at stops, then the names and numbers are really tiny. People who don't have to go to all the trouble of figuring it out just won't. They'll get in the car.

So Metro wants to design new information signs that have a bigger typeface -- 12 point instead of the 4 point you see (sort of) at some stops now -- and just the information a rider at that stop actually needs to know.

The new signs also would highlight the bus stop's individual identification number, which is going to be important for anyone who wants to use the Next Bus system, in which riders can call in on their phones or check the Metro Web site to get the actual time the next bus is likely to arrive.

You can see the full bus study presentation here. (Although, if Metro words the signs like it worded the study, we're still in trouble.) And click here to learn more about Next Bus, which is scheduled to return in July after a lengthy hiatus to work out the bugs in the program.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 5, 2009; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Washington should consider just adopting what London does, they have spent a lot more time thinking about it. A link to a typical London bus stop is here:

While this sign certainly does not solely explain London's higher transit ridership, it helps considerably. The F helps orient you from which stop (among many), which are all shown on a map. The sign tells you where you are and where the buses go, and which buses go there. The schedule shows you the frequency (or schedule) of buses. Further there are maps at every stop, along with schedules.

David Levinson, Transportationist blog

Posted by: dlevinson | June 5, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

For people that are visually challenged, & rely on Metro, rail & bus, this sounds good!

Posted by: Max231 | June 5, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

My main problem with the Metro bus stop signs is that most of them only list the route number, but not the destination. If I go to a bus stop in an unfamiliar area, many times I will not know which side of the street to stand on to go in the direction I am headed. Unless I carry a compass with me I can't always figure out which side of the street is going north/south/east/west. All of the signs need to say the bus route number and end point.

Posted by: SweetieJ | June 5, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

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