As part of Auckland Transport’s trial around platform markings they are also updating other signage at stations. I need to get out and have a look at them in more detail but one of the most obvious changes is in the station name signs. Below you can see what it looks like at Fruitvale Rd.

Station Name Signs - New - Fruitvale Rd

There’s a couple of interesting features:

I like that they seem to using W in a green circle to indicate the line. Although Western Line is listed in the top left corner under the AT Metro logo, perhaps the prominence of the W suggests AT are thinking of moving to a single letter system for the train or Rapid Transit lines. This would likely tie in with new route numbering that is being rolled out as part of the new network which sees frequent bus routes have one or two digit numbers with less frequent routes having three digit numbers. If I’m correct it will be interesting to see how they’ll treat stations served by multiple lines e.g. Otahuhu.

I also like that they’ve added the next and previous station information on them, it’s little things like this that add to usability. At Fruitvale at least they’ve taken this further with a list of upcoming stations printed on to the screen stuff that covers the glass to prevent damage (don’t have a photo sorry).

Many of the old MAXX signs these replace had been scratched and vandalised – as far as I’m aware the signs only appeared on Tuesday and had already been vandalised by that night. Hopefully these signs are cheaper and easier to replace when that happens. Speaking of the old signs, I personally think these new ones look much better than the signs they replaced, an example of which is below.

Station Name Signs - Old - Glen Eden

What do you think, an improvement or what would you have done differently?

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  1. They have done a number of other signage upgrades at same time, noticed this morning at Fruitvale. The best one is adding a metro style dot/line map showing all the stations in order, towards the end of the line. This is on the shelter. Also other signs have been upgraded around the station, such as HOP machine has a bigger and much more useful sign on it. This is all really great, simple stuff to improve usability of the trains, more of it please.

      1. I watched two guys sticking the graphic onto the tagging post last night as my train home called there. It did look awfully like the graphic covered up the screen on the tagging point – can anyone confirm that? If so I think it is a bit of a fail – I hope that’s not going to stay that way!

  2. Local maps with walking destinations proximate to the stations would be great too, especially for any with public attractions, like the Hospital, Museum, Prison[!] at Grafton… Museum, Parnell mainstreet, and Uni for Parnell etc.

    1. I have heard of people being asked for directions to the prison from the station, so yeh why not.
      As an aside, old prison surely must be due to be turned in to tourist attraction, one of most distinct buildings in Auckland, not many old stone buildings around though once were many, this must be largest.

    2. At Ellerslie Station they have such a map, about A2 size, next to the timetable. It has lots of walking times and directions to schools, busses (showing destinations from each stop), local attractions etc. Are maps like that no where else?

      1. I think this was done as part of Onehunga EMU line rollout, would love to know why it hasn’t been extended across the network.

    3. Fully agree, there are a few signs in the CBD from memory but not much elsewhere. Having recently moved to London, the Legible London signage programme has been very valuable and made it easy to navigate around town when the phone has died or credit has run out. A consistent region-wide wayfinding/ signange scheme is a fairly easy win to improve our experience of the public realm.

  3. agreed on the walking maps Patrick, also useful could be signs alongside the tracks (and busway) and visible from the train/bus indicating that you are approaching X, Y or Z station

    such signs would enable casual users to prepare themselves to alight, rather than spotting the sign once the vehicle had stopped, of course an on-vehicle announcement or display would be even better

  4. I like it – reminds me of what you see in Wellington, but taken to the next level with the route branding as well. Good move AT.

  5. It’s a bit of a story, but I’d love to see Auckland Council / Transport / ATEED adopt a single system for GPS walking trails. Right opposite Kingsland Station is the Billy Apple trail with its very own app, the Billy Apple Compass. That’s one on its own but should be signposted at the station – and Twin Streams from the nearest station and so on. So far Council has refused to engage with this but has headed off in multiple directions, using QR codes for the WWI trails and Walk Auckland’s GPS system in others.

      1. White lettering on a dark blue background is difficult to see at night. Black on white or black on yellow is better – Asian and European standards. White lettering on a black or a dark blue background only works when the sign is internally backlit. ‘Previous Stop’ and Next Stop’ wording is unnecessary – just the next and previous station names only are sufficient.

        1. I think the word you were looking for is “nostalgic” or possibly “skeumorphic”.

          But Auckland rail is morphing to be less “19th century railway” and more “21st century metro”. The new signage suits that, as well as making it easy and welcoming for new users.

          But on old signs, don’t worry, there’ll always be Parnell, Swanson, Glen Eden.

  6. They should put route branding on the trains, too (just like on buses), making it easier to distinguish between trains on different routes where they share the same stations, eg much of the Southern line.

    And presumably the Northern Express will be route N?

    1. Trains aren’t fixed to a specific route though so branding them just would lead to confusion and inflexibility. Branding the buses as NZBus did was a completely pointless and confusing move especially since they also run their buses in different places to what they’ve branded it with.

        1. but is “W Britomart” more, or less informative than “Britomart via Newmarket” which is what the train currently displays? The text is better IMO. The line designator is less friendly to the casual user.

          1. Going north that’s fine, but for every station south of Newmarket anyone taking the via bit of “Papakura via Newmarket” at face value is going to find themselves many kilometres (and dollars) from where they want to be. Signage should be accurate, not incorrect for 90% of the journey, and that is where route signage scores – just as with buses.

  7. Signs should be large and there should be several. You want to know you’re in the right place. The letters on here are still too small.

    White on dark blue looks fine.

    1. Position and height of sign is also uber important- needs to take into account a short-sighted tall person standing up on the train. That’s the great thing about the Underground in London – signs are frequent, large text size, easy to read, and well-positioned. Nothing more irritating than craning your neck down and squinting to try and read a station sign. Any chance that someone from AT could confirm that this has been read and understood?

  8. Timely post. I hope EY proposal to sell the naming rights of Stations isnt taken seriously by Council. I cant imagine anything worse for creating an easy to use and legible rapid transit system than the name of stations constantly changing subject to the commercial interest/ successes/ failures of various businesses.

  9. Does anyone know if these signs are lit in anyway? Not much use in shiny new signs if you can’t see them for much of the time the trains are running (particularly in winter!). There looks to be a conduit running to the base of the Fruitvale road sign so I hold out some hope.

    1. Some lighted ones in other places but don’t think this one is. I think the wire/conduit is just the required grounding strap.

      For a big sign with lots of lettering of different sizes, internally lighting it in a vandal-resistant way is going to be hard.

  10. Why is the writing so small in proportion to the sign? The most important criterion of such a sign is that the writing should be as big as possible. The point size could be doubled within the same border. Similarly with the next/ previous information, which is so small as to be useless unless you happen to be sitting right opposite when the train pulls up. The words ‘next stop’ and ‘previous stop’ are unnecessary.

  11. I like the arrows to the previous and following station – but I’m really not sold on the colour or text size on these new signs; the MAXX signs were far easier to read and stood out more.

    The large “W” (or E or S on other lines) is also way too close to the station name – it’ll be harder to read at a distance or from the train itself which I think is a bad move. At least the MAXX signs had the name entirely on its own line so you could almost spot the station name just by the shape.

    1. There must be some combination of “S”, “W” or “E” + station name = rude word. Do we have a “Anker” station anywhere on the network?

  12. Will there any way for the directionally challenged to identify which platform at a split-platform station to be standing on to go in a “direction?”
    Let’s not forget the basics.

    1. Agree, an inbound/outbound, towards City Centre/towards Swanson, eastbound/westbound sort of thing would be useful.

      Do non-transport-nerds understand inbound and outbound intuitively?

  13. Talking about new signage – what council idiot designed the new street signs that are gradually going up around the city. For those who havn’t seen them, they are about half the size of the old street signs, and painted dark green with dull gray type. I was looking for Peary Road in Balmoral the other day and twice missed it completely, and had to drive around the block a couple of times to find it. It played havoc with a tight work schedule. Next time I will just stop in the middle of the street and reverse back, and blame the council for the subsequent traffic chaos. What was wrong with the old blue signs, which were large and visible from about 50 metres away so you could plan your moves and indicate accordingly.

    1. Those ones in Balmoral were a trial of an option to change them. You’ll be happy to know the trial was considered a failure for the reasons you point out, and those signs will not be permanent. Street signs will not change.

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