October 6, 2019

Show Me The Way To Go Home

Un-named Skytrain Station

What is this — a café? A library? A corner store?

Unless you regularly travel by transit to Langara College or the Alliance Française, you’re forgiven for not recognising this as the 49th and Langara Skytrain station. This photo was taken from the west side of Cambie Street looking east on 49th Avenue.

And unless you’re standing in front and looking directly at the entrance, there’s no way to identify this as an essential part of urban infrastructure.

Why is Translink so bad at signage? The last time we travelled by Skytrain from Waterfront Station to the airport, we wondered why, unlike every other subway system on the planet, Translink didn’t have big prominent station names on the walls of the stations. One station looks pretty much like another, and when you look out the window at a station platform upon arrival, there’s no obvious signage to tell you where you are.

This past week I looked again and figured out that it’s not actually a lack of signs. It turns out that Translink has placed them at the very top of the wall, just below the ceiling of the station, where most people on the train can’t see them. Unless you’re sitting in one the very few window seats the sign is nowhere near being in your line of sight; if you’re standing, it is literally impossible to see them.

Translink Station

Perhaps it’s time for some guerrilla action. If you’re a fan of Stephen Quinn‘s CBC Early Edition you’ll have heard about local transit user (and YouTuber) Uytae Lee, who stepped up and designed new bus stop signage. As he puts it, the existing signs “…tell you what buses come here, and when they come, but don’t tell you where they’re going.”

Check them out:

New Bus Stop Signs

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  1. This is one of the flaws of the P3 process. (I call them P4 – Public Pays for Private Profits.) With these projects, it all comes down to $$ at the cost of usability. All the stations are full and look basically the same inside and out. I haven’t seen a line as full as this one anywhere. Another issue is having to use multiple elevators to reach the track level

  2. Those new bus stop signs created by that young thoughtful person are truly great! As for knowing which Skytrain station one is at, I make sure I can see the internal digital sign that names the next train stop…and I have memorized my route. Ah, we are such a demanding group. And who is to pay for more signage and Art for each station to make them unique?! Especially when we do need to build MORE infrastructure to unclog city cross town roads and speed pedestrians on their way.

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