RTA Interagency Signage

RTA Interagency Signage


Transit riders had difficulty getting from one mode of transport, like CTA buses, to another, like Metra heavy rail, to reach their final destination. Challenges were both transactional (getting the right tickets at a reasonable cost) and informational (getting to and from their transition points with confidence). I led a Foundational Research study to learn what problems our riders had, and what to focus on.


I proposed new signage inside and outside of stations and bus stops, plus better information on maps and journey planning online to help people make the best connections between transit systems. Simply notating important bus stops on the signs at the Metra stations helped people to know where to go right when they got off the train without having to ask someone. The maps combined transit routes from all three service boards, and directional signage for bus stops provided street information to ease the route from one stop to another. The model for this system was London's transport information. I prepared prototypes and conducted focus groups for feedback. We also had two other projects that complemented this solution - one ticket for payment on all service providers, and next bus signage that indicated when your bus or train was coming.

Key Challenges

We had to involve all of the service boards to approve of the signage design, and to orchestrate installations. I made many presentations to the Boards, and submitted a federal grant application for the $1.25 million in funding that we needed. I also managed the RFP process and selected the contractors who would conduct the foundational research and design and install the signage.


  1. The funding was approved and test signage was scheduled to be installed at three locations when I had left the RTA in 2005. The designs provided a comprehensive system of passenger information at key transit locations and online.
  2. Final signage started to be installed by 2013, and new locations continue to be completed each year. I don’t have data on the actual ridership response statistics.
  • Signs