Author of Blog: Daniel Day

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anatomy of a Bus Stop Sign

In my travels I have encounter a lot of bus stop signs and the more I see the many different designs, the more I'm grateful for the design of VIA's.

So what should be seen on a bus stop sign?  These are the 5 characteristics that every bus stop should have.

1. It should be recognized as a bus stop 
2. It should be seen from both sides. 
3. It should have the routes listed.   
4. It should have a serial number. 
5. It should have the times when the bus comes.

It is these 5 things that make a great bus stop sign. But sadly, most systems fail to have at least 2, and more just have a lousy sign.  On this page name the Transit System Bus Stops, you'll find a list of all the bus stop signs that I have encountered and my rating for those system bus stops.

1. It should be recognized as a bus stop.
Bus stops come in many designs, the most common features a figure of a bus on the sign. Others have the logo of the transit system. But anyone who's walking along the street should look up at the sign and realize that a bus stops at this location. (Image 55.1)

2. It should be seen from both sides.
This should be a given and it is in San Antonio, that you're able to walk down a street and look at the other side and see that there's a bus stop.  But sadly in other cities, this is not the case.  If you're walking down the street in another city, you come up to a blank grey sign, a tragic part of using public transit. Look at the picture below and tell me if you can see the bus stop. (Image 55.2)

3. It should have the routes listed. 
(Image 55.3) Now you would think that this would be a given, but no. At most, you just have a sign that indicates that a bus stops here, and no more. Other systems like VIA in San Antonio always have the number of what bus route stops at a particular stop. Having this simple indication goes along way with easing people's fears.  It also helps when having Skip Stop Buses, buses that serve the same street as another route, but bypasses several stops to have faster service. 

4. It should have a serial number.  
Again, every bus stop sign in San Antonio has a five digit number on the bottom of the bus stop. (Image 5.4)  It's like a bar code that list a particular stop telling what bus routes stop at that stop and the location it is at.  Other cities do have a serial number for a bus stop, but it is listed on the app and not the bus stop sign.  Houston is going this way, but it will be a while until we see it listed on all the bus stop signs.  But having every stop with a unique serial number can backfire. At the many transit centers in San Antonio, VIA has a different serial number for each bus stop sign at their transit centers.  At Randolph Park And Ride, the 550 will have bus stop number 59883 while the 21 will have 59886.  It makes it hard when using the VIA's 52020 text feature or trying to find the exact bus stop on google maps.  I hope the people at VIA reading this will fix this problem so we all can text to 52020 with one bus stop number for Randolph and get all the routes and when they're schedule to arrive and depart.  


5. It should have the times listed when the bus comes.
Sadly, a lot of systems fail to do this.  Whether it's because of money, or they just haven't figure out how to do it, all bus stop signs should have the schedule listed of the bus route that stops there.  In my travels, I've seen many examples, but they fail to solve the problem of putting the schedule on all the stops. In Charlotte, North Carolina, on the CATS System seem to have solved this dilemma.  Although all the bus stops fail to have a serial number, (Image 55.6) they all however have the times listed on the pole of when the bus is coming.(Image 5.5)



So for my home transit system in San Antonio, TX, you do a great job and I hope that those who are reading this will try to improve our bus stop signs and the way they are cataloged.  For everyone else, I hope you use these standards and improve your bus stop signs so you can bring your system into the 21st century.

55.1:  Fort Smith Transit Bus Stop.
55.2:  Fort Smith Transit Bus Stop as seen from across the street.
55.3:  Houston Metro Bus Stop.
55.4:  VIA Metropolitan Transit Bus Stop.
55.5:  A time Strip seen on the side of a CATS bus stop pole
55.6:  CATS: Charlotte Area Transit System.

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