My Comments on Translink’s Wayfinding strategy

So Yesterday, searching Translink’s document Library, I discovered TransLink’s Wayfinding Standards Manual Version 2.0. It’s 165 pages long, so I’ll try my best to recap the most interesting parts:

1.1.1 Purpose of this document 

This document sets out the principles, guidelines and
specifications for implementing a comprehensive wayfinding
system for transit within Metro Vancouver. The document is
intended as a tool for the planning and design of wayfinding
information across the transit network. It provides the basis
for undertaking specific projects as part of a growing and
coordinated approach towards transit information.

2.1.2 See complex journeys as a series of stages 

Locals, visitors and tourists use different mental methods to navigate at different times. A set of stages or
‘stepping stones’, simple codes or recognizable constructs are needed
to assist with memory and provide a connection for the rider.

On the right side is the picture Translink uses to explain the “stepping stones” concept. As a regular transit user and enthusiast, the picture makes me more confused than before.

2.1.7 Don’t make the rider think

Information should be structured and presented to the rider in as clear and logical form as possible. During a journey a rider will have to quickly make decisions; too much information means more time taken to understand and use.

Firstly, Really? The title says “Don’t make the rider think” or in other words, riders shouldn’t exercise the use of their brains. Translink, what do you think we are? Stupid Alien Americans?

Second, the Diagrams on the right have since been implemented, and some changes can be made. A rider has no way of knowing which is “Platform 2” or “Inbound Platform” so better signage is needed. At single platform stations, these diagrams are on the middle, making it impossible for the rider to know which platforms the diagrams relate to.

2.1.8 Provide just the right amount of information

A perfect example of information overload.

This means preventing “Information Overload”.

But the diagram to the right found in Section 2.1.10 shows the opposite

2.2.3 Improve accessibility

– Information should be accessible to those who have any difficulty with language, whether because of learning
difficulties or not speaking English as a first language.
Mitigating steps that will be taken into account are the use
of icons, consistent use of naming and language, colour
coding and other aspects of intuitive design not based on
textual language.

I completely agree, but why isn’t the Multilingual “Stadium-Chinatown” Sign on the station yet?

FOI Translink, 1) Main Street Station is actually easier to get to Chinatown via the 3, 8, or 19, which is how most Chinese get to Chinatown; and 2) Main Station is actually CLOSER to the center of Chinatown (Pender at Main) than Stadium Station.

Other Regions/stops with a high ethnic population (Aberdeen, YVR Airport, Newton, etc…) should have names on transit maps and stations in that specific language.

3.0 Planning Standards: This chapter describes how signage is needed on 5 levels at stations (External, Ticket Hall, Circulation, Platform, Vehicle).

What I find missing, is the wayfinding signage between transit modes ie. where to go when transferring from train to bus, train to train, bus to bus etc.

Example: On the Transit Connections Map, the transfer between Vancouver City Centre and Granville should be 3 minutes, but in fact, with a fast walk, it takes minimum 4.5 minutes, unless you get lost (as most people do) which would take 10 minutes. The truth is that the connection requires you to go through The Bay, and since most people can’t navigate through the clothes, they end up in the Pacific Centre food court instead of Vancouver Centre.

Example 2: Transferring from C. Line to E. Line at Waterfront takes you through a long hallway and 3 sets of doors.

Example 3: Which exit do you use to Transfer from Canada Line to the 210 bus? If you use the wrong exit, it means an extra 2 block walk (provided you don’t get lost). This is where the signage lacks: telling you which exit to take and how to walk to the bus stop.

Another flaw is the lack of signage or directional information in the stations about exterior sights.

Example: Which exit at Main Street Station do you use for the Pacific Central Station? There’s no signage.

Finally, there needs to be more stop information ON the vehicle.

ie. displaying (on the display board on the bus) and announcing (on the automated announcements) when the stop for Capilano Suspension Bridge comes along.
Also alerting riders when City Hall has arrived, or at which stop should you get off for the library.

Overall, a very detailed and descriptive document. I’m astonished at how much detail goes into forming one sign; the mathematical measurements, font, font sizes, colours in a piece of signage are described exhaustively in Chapters 4-6.