Making a better bus stop sign

Updated: October 31, 2014 - 4:18 pm

Metro Transit plans for more informative signage; plus, an environmental town hall in Linden Hills

When it comes to bus stop signage, the Twin Cities doesn’t compare well to other major metropolitan areas.

That begins to change this winter when Metro Transit tests new signs in parts of North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park that give transit users much more information, including which routes serve a stop and where those buses go. Depending on the results of the pilot, the rest of the city could see improved bus stop signage late next summer, said Laura Matson, transit information services coordinator for Metro Transit.

“The goal is to better serve our customers on a baseline level,” Matson said. “We had heard some feedback that customers get lost and confused (or) don’t know which buses stop where.”

Most Metro Transit bus stops are marked with a sign that simply reads “Bus Stop.” Except for stops along high-frequency transit corridors, most signs don’t even list which routes serve that particular location.

When Matson started looking into potential improvements for bus stop signage a year ago, she found Metro Transit’s were about as basic as they get.

“Unfortunately, we provide the least amount of information,” she said. “Atlanta is the only other transit provider on the scale of Metro Transit that doesn’t at least indicate which routes serve a particular stop.”

The new signs will include Metro Transit’s phone number and website, both of which can be used to access NexTrip, its automated schedule information system. They’ll also be labeled with that particular stop’s six-digit identification number and stickers that indicate which routes pick up passengers at that location.

That’s the minimum Metro Transit has planned for it’s low-usage bus stops. Those with higher boarding rates will also get simplified route maps that highlight major destinations and a chart showing the approximate frequency of bus service for different times of day and days of the week.

(Below, proposed signage for low-boarding (left) and high-boarding (right) bus stops. Submitted images)

Matson said the agency hadn’t yet determined how many daily boardings a stop will require for the more detailed signage, but the majority of bus stops in Minneapolis and St. Paul will probably qualify.

The new, pared-down route maps Metro Transit is testing take up less space, so they’ll be included at more bus shelters in the future, too. Most shelters include more detailed route schedules already, but few include maps, especially if they’re stops on multiple bus routes.

Matson said the new signs would go up in December at about 110 stops, including those on Lyndale Avenue North and 44th Avenue North.

“Part of what we’re testing is using a new material,” she said. “The route numbers are going to be vinyl adhesive on metal plates, which is something we’ve never done before.”

Using stickers for the route numbers means that, in the case of a route change, only the adhesive labels need to be replaced, not the entire sign. That same system works well in other cities, but Metro Transit wants to make sure the stickers can stand up to a Minnesota winter, Matson said.

Asked about the budget for the sign improvements, Matson said that was still being finalized in October. All of the information planned for the new signage takes up more real estate on sign poles, and if that means buying and installing new poles it’s going to drive up the cost of the project.

It’s worth noting, too, that some bus stops already have improved signage, thanks to what might be termed an act of “guerilla urbanism.”

A group calling itself Twin Cities Urbanizing Politely recently began posting stickers on some bus stop poles with information on route numbers and fares. They’ve been spotted in Uptown at stops on the 2 and 4 routes, among other places.


Environment is town hall topic

LINDEN HILLS — Linden Hills Neighborhood Council has invited several of the neighborhood’s local elected officials to an environmental town hall meeting Nov. 13.

Scheduled guest speakers include state Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL–61A), Hennepin County District 3 Commissioner Marion Green and Ward 13 City Council Member Linea Palmisano. Topics could include climate change, renewable energy, waste reduction, public transportation, storm water management or anything else attendees want to bring up, said Diana Neidecker, a member of the LHNC environment and sustainability committee.

“Those are things that we focus on and are important to us as a neighborhood,” she said.

Neidecker said the town hall was intended to be a “low-key” gathering that will give the local officials a chance to update the public on environmental initiatives they’ve been working on and for neighbors to share what’s on their minds. If you show up and want to talk about bike lanes, that’s fine, she said.

The town hall runs 7 p.m.–8:30 p.m. at the Linden Hills Recreation Center, 3100 W. 43rd St. Snacks will be provided.