Not too long after finding the “on” switch to the Nextrip signs at light rail stations, Metro Transit has begun a pilot program rolling out much improved bus stop signage in the Twin Cities. The pilot, funded by grant money leftover from the expansion of a Brooklyn Park park-and-ride, involves stops in North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park. After the pilot, a wider rollout in the northwest metro is planned later this year, and the rest of the system should be updated in the next couple years using a mix of federal, state, and local funding.
Studies have shown that improved amenities at bus stops can affect riders’ perception of wait times. Metro Transit currently ranks behind Portland, Maine on measures of basic bus stop signage–we’re about on par with Wausau, Wisconsin.
Today, you can find the new signage along a stretch of the Route 22 on Lyndale Avenue North in Minneapolis. Here is one of the signs in all its glory at Farview Park.
- Distinctive branding (the “T”)
- Phone number
- Route listing
- Stop number
- An easy to read illustration of frequency
- A route map
This is an enormous improvement!
The map is a little complicated, but very clearly indicates which branches are traveling to which destinations. The chance of hopping on the wrong bus, getting lost in Angry Birds on your phone for ten minutes, and then looking up and realizing you’re in the wrong county–a horrible worst nightmare for all transit users–is lower with this signage. A new or infrequent rider standing at this stop can easily tell that, if they’re going to the Brooklyn Center Panda Express, they need to take the 22 A, B, or C–not the D.
The highest-used third of the system’s stops will receive the map and the note about frequency, others will have a QR code–which feels a bit retro already. In general, a move towards thinking about frequency rather than 3:06, 3:17, 3:25, 3:34, etc, is maybe a good one for more frequent routes–are riders waiting for the northbound Route 18 bus arriving at Nicollet and 28th at 4:09 PM, or are they just waiting for the next 18? That logic doesn’t work in all situations, but it may trick some people into being less frustrated when a bus arrives four minutes late on a route with eight minute headways.
You’d also have to think that the new signage could encourage transit use out on the edges of the core cities and in the suburbs–here, for instance. People in this neighborhood know that there are buses, and that there are bus stops. But people who might never otherwise think about transit may be out walking the dog and see very clearly that, hey, this bus goes some place I’d like to go, and it goes there all the time.
Below is the old and new signage (use the slider to compare side by side), these two stops are right across the street from each other…which do you prefer?
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