Transit Standards: Branding, Digital Strategy & Graphic Standards for Public Transportation

A collection of resources on brand architecture, customer experience, and design standards in public transportation, compiled by Stewart Mader. Suggestions for additional resources and examples are welcome.

Brand & Graphic Standards

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RidePATH: Official PATH Train App Gives Customers Real-Time Train Info, Maps, & Alerts

Heading home from work? Heading out for a night on the town? RidePATH, the new, official PATH Train app for iPhone & Android offers real-time train status before you enter the station, as well as schedules, maps, and alerts to help you plan your trip on transit.

PATH Riders Council, PATH, and the Port Authority technology team worked closely to ensure that PATH’s official app offers information and tools that help customers have a great experience on PATH. You can use the app to check train schedules by station – even when underground, get line and station-specific PATHAlerts as you approach a station, set your favorite stations so your typical trip schedule is quickly accessible, find the PATH station closest to your current location, and view the PATH service map with regional transit connections.

RidePATH: Official PATH Train app for iPhone & Android

Get the app: iPhone | Android. The Port Authority plans to update the app with new features and functionality on a regular basis. Share your ideas using the ‘Feedback’ option in the app, or tweet to me at @StewartMader.

PATH Riders Council: Building a Model for Transit Agency & Customer Collaboration

In 2014, I helped the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey launch a pilot project to improve customer input for PATH, the subway line connecting New York & New Jersey. We established a rider advisory board, the PATH Riders Council (PRC), which works with PATH to ensure riders have a voice in system design, operations decision-making, and customer service communications. After the successful conclusion of the pilot year, PATH agreed to formally recognize PRC as the agency’s rider advisory body. I was elected chair of the body in 2015, and re-elected to a second two-year term in 2017. Among our accomplishments:

Displaying Regional Transit Connections on PATH’s Service Map

Working with PRC, PATH updated the line map displayed in 300+ train cars to show regional transit connections at or near each PATH station. By showing PATH customers their connecting options, this new map helps people travel using all available transit connections, and moves the region closer to the more comprehensive awareness of regional transit that I am advocating for with the New York & New Jersey Subway Map. The updated PATH line map is a tangible improvement that will benefit riders with greater awareness of transit options in the NY & NJ urban core for years to come.

PATH line map with regional transit connections

This photo shows the updated line map in a PATH train car. The map displays regional transit connections at each station.

I shared the updated PATH map at the Port Authority Board of Commissioners public meeting to highlight collaboration between PATH & PRC, and emphasize the value of giving customers comprehensive information about transit.

 

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Extending PATH: Newark Airport Access, New Neighborhood Connections, & Hudson Transit Resilience

New York has fallen behind its peer cities in a critical area: fast, efficient, and direct rail connections to airports. LaGuardia Airport is served only by bus, and a potential extension of the New York City Subway from nearby Astoria, Queens is still just an idea, despite years of discussion. John F. Kennedy International Airport is served by the Subway and Long Island Railroad, but both services require travelers to connect to the JFK AirTrain at stations several miles away from the airport’s terminals. Stephen Sigmund, executive director of the Global Gateway Alliance, says the prospect of multiple transfers drives people away from taking transit.

In London, the Tube’s Piccadilly Line provides subway service to all terminals at Heathrow Airport, while Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect provide service via regional rail at varying price points and travel times. London City Airport is served by the Docklands Light Rail, which connects to multiple Tube lines. Both of Chicago’s airports have direct subway access: The Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line provides direct service to O’Hare International Airport and the Red Line provides direct service to Midway Airport.

PATH Newark Extension

Extending PATH would improve access to Newark Airport and the city’s South Ward, and improve Hudson transit resilience.

Fortunately, we have a transformational opportunity to dramatically improve airport access, and better connect Newark’s South Ward to transit, by extending PATH, New York’s ‘second subway’, to Newark Liberty International Airport. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates PATH, is currently in the advanced planning stages of the PATH Extension Project, and is seeking public input as the project moves forward. Here are three ways it would benefit the region. Continues…

Microtransit: How Private Residential Shuttles Can Become Hyperlocal Public Transit

Access to transit is a major selling point for real estate developments. In Hoboken, New Jersey, a growing number of residential developments offer private shuttle bus service to the city’s major transit hub, Hoboken Terminal. While these shuttles can streamline trips with luggage or strollers, keep people dry during rainstorms, and warm in winter, they also contribute to congestion on Hoboken’s Streets, aren’t open to everyone, and draw people away who might otherwise ride The Hop, Hoboken’s municipal shuttle bus service. NJ.com reported that 2015 expenses for the Hop totaled $332,000, with a fare box recovery of $74,335, or 22%. That’s dismally low for a city in which 57.6% of residents use public transit, the highest percentage in the country.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

With such a high rate of public transit use to and from the city, Hoboken has an opportunity to turn The Hop into a case study for microtransit, a new transit service model outlined by the nonprofit transportation policy thinktank Eno Center for Transportation in its study UpRouted: Exploring Microtransit in the United States. Eno studied how cities are adapting hyperlocal transit services that bridge the ‘last-mile’ between traditional, fixed-route rail and bus service, and people’s trip destinations in the age of Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand ridesharing services.

For a mile-square city like Hoboken, reimagined Hop service that is more frequent, reaches the residential developments that currently run private shuttles, and has extended operating hours beyond the current 7AM-8PM service could get real estate developments out of the business of running overlapping, redundant transit services, cut congestion on the city’s streets, and provide significant benefits to both the general public and the residents of these developments. Continues…

Regional Transit Diagram: Good Start, but New York & New Jersey Need a Better Transit User Experience

In 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey released a Regional Transit Diagram–dubbed the first of its kind for the region–to help fans and media visiting for Super Bowl XLVIII in early 2014. The diagram was designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse of Vignelli Associates, in a style reminiscent of the 1972 subway map designed by Massimo Vignelli. It depicts the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North in Manhattan below 96th Street, and PATH, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail, and NJ Transit passenger rail service in Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and adjoining areas in New Jersey.

Regional Transit Diagram

Regional Transit Diagram

The Regional Transit Diagram represents the kind of collaboration that’s sorely needed among the key agencies for the nation’s most transit-rich region, but the diagram suffers from some limitations that show us why we need a better transit user experience. Continues…

Hudson Place: A New Public Plaza at Hoboken Terminal

Imagine stepping off your bus, ferry, or train at Hoboken Terminal and onto a new public plaza at Hudson Place. From spring to fall, you can shop at the downtown farmers’ market, and enjoy expanded outdoor seating at adjacent restaurants and bars. A pop-up holiday market brings cheer to the cold winter months. Year-round, Hoboken has a safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza

Year-round, Hoboken has a new, safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

It’s possible, if Hudson Place is closed to traffic between Hudson and River Streets. Creating the Hudson Place public plaza improves safety for the tens of thousands of pedestrians who use mass transit at Hoboken Terminal, and creates a better environment for the local businesses that depend on foot traffic. It improves transit access and traffic flow on the surrounding streets, provides safer space to drop off and pick up transit riders, and increases bicycle and vehicle parking. It is the result of a yearlong study of traffic patterns, pedestrian volumes, sidewalk infrastructure, and development plans for southeast Hoboken. Continues…

What’s Involved in Upgrading a Century-old Subway Signal System?

Transit systems like PATH and the New York City Subway need ongoing maintenance to maintain frequent and reliable service. Since both operate 24/7, work is often squeezed in during nights and weekends when passenger demand is lighter. But sometimes larger work periods are needed for major projects like the complete overhaul of a century-old signal system, deep cleaning and repair of tunnels damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and construction of new stations, like the World Trade Center Transportation Hub built to replace the one lost on September 11, 2001.

Diagram of PATH routes designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects

Over the past several years, PATH service has been suspended in segments of the subway system connecting NY & NJ on weekends to give crews the longer time blocks necessary to make major repairs and upgrades. In 2014 and 2015, service between Exchange Place in Jersey City and the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan was suspended on some weekends from 11PM Friday-5AM Monday, and in 2016 Hoboken-33rd Street service was suspended for 17 weekends between August and December. Continues…

Towers & Transit: Real Estate Projects Should Help Pay for Transportation Improvements

The Wall Street Journal article PATH Strains Under Housing Boom examines an important issue: the interplay between transit capacity and real estate development, with a focus on PATH ridership growth as neighborhoods in Jersey City and Hoboken served by the subway connecting NY & NJ continue to experience strong growth.

7 Extension - 34 St Hudson Yards exterior

The 7 Train extension to Hudson Yards was funded by New York City using bonds backed by future tax revenues from the new Hudson Yards neighborhood.

Port Authority chairman John Degnan noted that the agency is looking to the cities served by PATH, and the real estate developers who build new projects in close proximity to PATH stations, to help fund capacity upgrades. Continues…

Joy, Reflection Mark Opening of WTC Hub and Subway-PATH Connection

A few weeks before the opening of the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, PATH invited journalists and members of the PATH Riders Council for a behind-the-scenes tour.

WTC Transportation Hub at night

WTC Transportation Hub at night

The new Transportation Hub is the fourth station to occupy the site. The first, built in 1909 as the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad’s Hudson Terminal, was replaced by a new station in 1971 under the original World Trade Center twin towers. After that station was destroyed on September 11, 2001, a temporary station opened in 2003. In October 2013, the West Concourse – the first portion of the new Hub – opened, connecting the Transportation Hub and Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center). Platform A opened to regular PATH service in February 2014, followed by Platform B in May 2015. Continues…

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