How to make bus stops better
Uytae Lee takes on the task of making a better bus sign in Stories About Here
I have a problem with bus stops signs.
They really just tell you one thing: Which buses stop here?
But there's a critical piece of information missing: Where are these buses going?
If I'm travelling to somewhere new, I have no idea which bus to take based on the signage available. Usually, there's no way to tell where I'm headed.
Now, the above bus stop design is pretty standard. But it's disappointing to see similar ones used at some of the busiest bus stops across the country.
Case in point, this bus stop on Barrington Street in Halifax has no less than 21 different bus routes going through it — and zero instructions on where any of them are going.
The result of all that, I think, is a transit system that can be pretty difficult and intimidating to navigate. But it doesn't have to be this way.
A better way to give directions
Take the subway: As soon as you enter a station, you're greeted with signs and maps everywhere, helping you find your way around the system. The signs tell you what stops are ahead of you, while the maps help you understand where you're about to go within the network.
To me, this is proof that transit signage can be clear, well-designed and — most importantly — helpful for navigation.
That got me thinking: if we can do that for subways, why can't we do something like it for buses?
So, behold, my creation — a new and improved bus stop signage based on real-world stops:
Why does this matter?
I'm sure some of you are thinking, so what? We have phones now. This isn't a problem.
Well, I could reference the plethora of accessibility issues that come with phones, the risks associated with mass reliance on digital technology, the concerns around privacy...
But it's also about who our transit systems are meant to serve.
If you look at the numbers, buses actually make up a huge part of transit ridership in every city.
Then there are smaller communities that have nothing but buses in their transit systems.
I've covered transit issues for a while, and one thing I've noticed is that buses are often overshadowed by other, more flashy forms of public transportation like trains, ferries, or hyperloops — things that draw ribbon-cutting ceremonies, press conferences and politicians.
Buses don't get those things. In fact, if they receive anything, it's stigma. I've heard them described as a "second-rate" form of public transit, something you only take if you absolutely have to.
And I can't help but wonder if that attitude keeps us from actually making buses a lot better.
Because at the end of the day, it's the buses that are moving the vast majority of public transit riders in this country. And I think we could make a world of difference to a lot of people by improving the experience of riding those buses.
Maybe it could start with a sign.
Learn more in Stories About Here: How to Fix Bus Stop Signs
About this series
Stories About Here is an original series with the CBC Creator Network that explores the urban planning challenges that communities across Canada face today. In each episode we dig into the often overlooked issues in our own backyards — whether it's the shortage of public bathrooms, sewage leaking into the water, or the bureaucratic roots of the housing crisis. Through it all, we hope to inspire people to become better informed and engaged members of their communities.
You can watch every episode of this series on CBC Gem.