Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Section 3.3 Trip Planning and Navigation

3.3.1 Static Trip Planning Information

Provide route, schedule and fare information in a clear and intuitive manner through various easily accessible media.

Clear and reliable printed and electronic trip planning information allows travellers to determine the most convenient and comfortable path to their destination. A lack of trip planning information can make transit frustrating, particularly for new or casual users, and may inhibit ridership growth. Making transit service information available to the public in accessible, easy to use formats that comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Guideline 3.4.1) enables current and new riders to learn about the transit system and understand how to use it. This section focuses on static trip planning information, which reflects planned routes and schedules, but does not give information on next vehicle information or actual arrivals and delays. Trip planning information that is updated in real-time is discussed in the next section.

System maps should show points of interchange, destination points, connections to other transit modes and other amenities such as wheelchair access and bicycle parking.

System maps should show points of interchange, destination points, connections to other transit modes and other amenities such as wheelchair access and bicycle parking.

Strategies:

system maps

  1. Provide a system map showing all routes, stations, transfer points and major stops. The routes should be overlaid on a road map with street names and numbers at regular intervals. The font sizes should be reasonably large (not less than 8-point), with different fonts, colours and sizes used to identify different types of information. Different routes should be indicated using contrasting colours, and an enlarged inset should be used if an area with a large number of converging routes is unclear. Where service connects to other transit systems or regional service, indicate connecting routes and transfer points, and provide contact information for connecting systems.

Mississauga’s MiWay trip planner provides multiple route options, estimated journey times, maps if needed and a range of travel options such as accessible, fewest transfers or shortest walk.

Mississauga’s MiWay trip planner provides multiple route options, estimated journey times, maps if needed and a range of travel options such as accessible, fewest transfers or shortest walk.

route maps and schedules

  1. Provide route maps showing major street names, locations of major bus stops, transfer locations and points of interest. A route schedule should indicate inbound and outbound trips, as well as landmarks to indicate travel direction. Travel direction may also be shown through labelling or separation into different tables. Schedules for different travel days should also be separated into different tables.
  2. All printed transportation information (system and route maps, along with route schedules) should be available at terminals, in vehicles, at transit-accessible shopping malls, at municipal buildings, and in electronic format on the transit agency’s website.

trip planners

  1. Develop an interactive, internet-based trip planner to recommend itineraries based on travellers’ origins, destinations and departure/arrival times. The trip planner should propose door-to-door itineraries for the requested trip, providing details on time required to walk to and from stops, journey times on transit vehicles, transfer waiting time, arrival and departure platforms at transfer stations, transfer vehicle arrival and departure times, and fare and transfer payment information. The itinerary should provide optional maps of the overall travel path, as well as neighbourhood close-ups. Further, options should be available to email or print the itinerary, and to create an itinerary for the return trip.
  2. Smaller agencies can start with interactive system maps, routes maps and schedules on their websites.

facility mapping

  1. Provide maps of stations and major transfer stops showing platform locations, accessibility features (ramps, elevators and escalators etc.), customer service counters, emergency call facilities, bathrooms, station retail services and bicycle parking.
  2. Transit system information should include information on multi-modal access, such as connections to other transit systems and other transportation modes such as ferries, airports, bike routes, and pedestrian paths.

legibility

  1. Transit information should be made more accessible by providing information in multiple languages, as well as in large print, Braille and audible formats.

3.3.2 Real-time Trip Planning Information

Provide real-time trip planning information to inform riders of imminent vehicle arrival times as well as incidents causing delays.

Providing real-time information on individual routes and transit vehicles helps to eliminate some of the uncertainties people have when taking public transit. Travellers can feel frustrated when they don’t know how long they must wait for the next vehicle or why the bus passed without stopping. This is especially true when vehicle headways are long, and a traveller may be unsure if they have just missed the previous vehicle, and whether the wait for the next one may be long. In such cases, providing real-time trip information gives customers the opportunity to make alternate plans, such as walking, calling home for a ride or taking a taxi. It has also been found that knowing when the next transit vehicle is arriving can make customers feel more secure while waiting at night.

London Transit’s website offers real-time trip planning information, showing the current location of buses on a particular bus route.

London Transit’s website offers real-time trip planning information, showing the current location of buses on a particular bus route.

Strategies:

real-time systems

  1. Real-time vehicle tracking requires a variety of elements including:
    • a positioning system, such as GPS or a signpost-based system, with receivers and transmitters on each vehicle;
    • a data processing centre to coordinate receiver and transmitter data collection and dissemination;
    • a communication system consisting of a wide-area wireless network based on radio frequency technology; and
    • a prediction model or algorithm to forecast arrival times based on vehicle location information, vehicle speed, traffic conditions, weather and real-time operating data from several buses on the same route. See Guideline 3.2.3 for information on implementing new technologies.

London, ON Transit WebWatch

The London Transit Commission offers the WebWatch Real-Time Bus Monitor. This allows customers to follow the real-time location of London Transit buses on the Internet using Virtual Earth or Google Map applications. When a route is selected, the map will display all buses on that route at their current location as bus icons that move in real-time. Clicking on or hovering over an individual bus icon or stop will give more detailed information about that item.

WebWatch (London Transit)

Transport For London, UK Delay Notifications

Customers in London, UK that register their prepaid fare cards (Guideline 3.5.1) can receive emails notifying them of delays on the transit system in advance of reaching the stop or station.

relaying information

  1. To enhance access to information, make real-time arrival times as well as information on delays and alternative routing options available through a variety of media, such as:
    • internet websites;
    • social media tools such as Twitter;
    • telephone;
    • cellular phone text messages;
    • e-mail;
    • interactive kiosks at transit stations;
    • dynamic message signs on rail platforms, and at transit stops and stations;
    • in-vehicle displays; and
    • audio announcements.
  2. Make transit information more accessible by providing information in multiple languages, as well as in large print, Braille and audible formats.

system compatibility

  1. The real-time information system should be able to communicate with other intelligent transportation systems (ITS) hardware and software that the agency may be using for data collection, operations or other purposes. Also ensure that the automatic vehicle location (AVL) technology is compatible with other systems, such as the computer aided dispatch (CAD) technology.

3.3.3 Wayfinding for Transit Facilities

Establish a consistent and intuitive wayfinding system to assist riders in navigating through transit vehicles and facilities.

Transit systems can be complex and intimidating, so an effective wayfinding system is necessary to make the system more comprehensive, usable and convenient. Not knowing where and how to access transit vehicles, stations and terminals can be a source of confusion and frustration to travellers and a barrier to transit use. Without an intuitive and consistent wayfinding system, including signage, maps and visual and audio cues, travellers may get lost and experience delays and missed connections. These negative experiences can result in reduced rider satisfaction and ridership.

A clear and consistent wayfinding system will save riders time and reduce frustration. This in turn increases the appeal of transit. A comprehensive wayfinding system should be consistently applied to station interiors, station areas, surrounding streets and parking facilities to help orient transit users and direct pedestrians toward transit facilities.

Wayfinding systems should be designed for transit users of varying abilities by applying accessible formats to signs and all information displays (Guideline 3.4.1). This will help transit systems to be welcoming to all riders as well as ensuring transit agencies meet the accessibility standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The paving and signage at a bus station in Tokyo are used together to direct both seeing and visually impaired passengers between the various parts of the station.

The paving and signage at a bus station in Tokyo are used together to direct both seeing and visually impaired passengers between the various parts of the station.

Strategies:

symbols & cues

  1. Develop a coordinated system-wide wayfinding plan so that logos, symbols and cues used on vehicles, at stops and in stations are consistent and complementary.
  2. Each sign should indicate, at a minimum, the bus route number and name, direction of travel, map and timetable. Additional information can be accommodated by providing telephone numbers and websites where more information can be accessed.

Wayfinding signage outside a station in Chicago helps to direct transit users to local destinations.

Wayfinding signage outside a station in Chicago helps to direct transit users to local destinations.

vehicle exteriors

  1. The exterior of the transit vehicle should identify the route name, number and the direction of travel. Identifiers should be placed, at minimum, at the boarding point. If a person with a disability, a newcomer or a tourist cannot properly interpret the signage, the operator should be prepared to offer information to passengers upon request.

legibility & accessible formats

  1. In transit stations and on vehicles, signs should be designed to be highly legible with accessible displays.
    • Signs should be consistently located, have a glare-free surface and be positioned to avoid shadow areas and glare
    • Use text and graphics together on signs consistently;
    • If signs contain more than one word, use upper and lower case for legibility;
    • Text should be flush to the left and ragged to the right;
    • Reserve red, yellow and green fonts for public safety colours;
    • Maintain consistent font size and use font weight to emphasize importance of information;
    • Signage should be high colour contrast with its background; and
    • Avoid more than five lines in a single directional sign.

building maps & directories

  1. For larger transit systems with complex stations, building maps, floor plans and directories should be provided to help orient users to their immediate surroundings. Wayfinding signage should:
    • place site and building plans in the direction corresponding with the setting and the orientation of the user;
    • ensure site and building plans are placed at a height and angle that can be seen by people of all statures and physical abilities;
    • include a “you are here” indicator on site and building plans;
    • display enlarged maps of the area immediately outside of the transit station with the location of the station or terminal indicated so transit users can familiarize themselves with the immediate surroundings and figure out how to get to their final destination;
    • display a transit system map which can help users familiarize themselves with the whole transit system;
    • include Braille on building plans; and
    • display maps and directories that can be replaced to ensure information can be kept up-to-date.

A clock and highly visible directional signage located at a key decision point at this station in Grand Rapids, MI, assists travellers in making quick decisions when travelling through the station.

A clock and highly visible directional signage located at a key decision point at this station in Grand Rapids, MI, assists travellers in making quick decisions when travelling through the station.

 

  1. Use pedestrian flow modelling to plan retrofits of stations and to improve effectiveness of entrances, exits and connections to the street.
  2. Place signs at nodes or decision points (a physical space where two or more paths diverge) in a facility. Use only the information necessary for a user to make a decision. Use maps at key decision points to supplement directional information. At nodes or intersections, place signs such that they may be seen from all directions.

Braille signage at the San Francisco MUNI station assists people with visual impairments.

Braille signage at the San Francisco MUNI station assists people with visual impairments.

Recommended Resources

Code of Practice: Passenger Terminal Accessibility (Canadian Transportation Agency)

Accessible Design for the Built Environment (Canadian Standards Association)

Universal Design New York (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York)

community wayfinding

  1. Provide information and maps indicating walking and cycling trails, transit routes and local destinations at transit stops, station areas and key destinations as appropriate.
  2. Wayfinding signage should be placed on streets around station areas to assist people travelling to the station. Orient way-finding maps so that the top of the map is in the direction the pedestrian is facing. They should be placed, at a minimum, every other block on all major streets or arterials within a six-block radius from the station. Information should include:
    • the transit system logo;
    • the direction of the station;
    • the transit route name(s) and number(s) and transit station name; and
    • the distance to the station.

technology

  1. Consider developing smart phone applications, which provide information on the location of transit stations or stops.
  2. Over longer distances, signs should be repeated to reinforce the information.

audio information

  1. Visual wayfinding information should be complemented with audio information, and vice versa to assist people with visual and hearing impairments.

customer service attendants

  1. Place transit personnel strategically throughout the system to answer questions and provide guidance (e.g. GO Transit’s “transit ambassadors”).

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