6.20.2006

Signage

If you have ever lived (or even visited) Boston, then you have more than likely experienced one or more frustrating encounters with bad signage and the T (subway). The people at the MBTA seem to create new subway routes with their bad signage—I think it would be called the "Rainbow line". Almost every time I take public transportation in Boston, I notice something ridiculous. This time, I happened to be coming from a nice day at the beach on the North Shore. Tired from the spending all day in the sun, all I wanted was to get home.

I was listening to a woman nearby whine to her boyfriend about how screwed up it is that you have to use "Charlie Tickets" (a new system of payment currently being integrated—similar to the NY Metro card) at some stations but at others you can only use a token, which you have to wait in line for to purchase from a clerk (cash only). As I was listening to this, I was looking across the tracks and noticed something that made me laugh. Not because it was humorous, but because it was idiotic.

Note, the sign above the "Green Line" sign, denoting the "Orange Line." The Orange Line Outbound does, infact, pick up there. The Green Line, does not. It took me a lot of pondering to figure out what was going on and why someone even thought this could, in theory, be a good idea. The only conclusion I could come to is that the "Green Line" sign is meant to go along with a couple of other signs (which aren't very close to one another) that had arrows on them. If this is true, I can't understand why they didn't put an arrow on this one as well. But then again, I've stopped trying to understand the MBTA.

Basically, what they have done, all over the subway, is applied a "band aid" approach to their signage. BAD IDEA. Rather than adding to the readability and making it easier for riders to comprehend, they have made the space even more congested with unnessary and unclear signage. It seems that maybe they had to deal with some places where the existing signage was not really working (due to new construction) and rather than starting with a clean slate, they drew on a dirty one. It's not working. And don't even get me started on that "Green Line" typography!!

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