Bay Area transit agencies on track for common system of maps, signs, digital displays

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Salesforce Transit Center Sign. Photo credit Noah Berger

By Kathy Chouteau

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)’s Operations Committee approved a $6 million contract with Applied Wayfinding Inc. on July 8 to devise a single mapping and wayfinding system for all Bay Area transit agencies, according to the MTC.

The project’s overriding aim is to create and implement a consistent “suite of maps, signs and transit information in all Bay Area transit locations, from individual bus stops to major hubs like the Salesforce Transit Center, the Eastridge Transit Center or the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station,” per the MTC. It further looks to provide a guide to related info on walkable destinations, shuttles, etc.

According to the MTC, the aptly named Regional Mapping and Wayfinding project is slated to deliver physical map and sign prototypes in early 2024. From there, design and installation is expected to commence in 2024 and continue into 2025 at Sonoma County transit spots before expanding into Solano County, and later, the remaining parts of the Bay Area in 2026 onward.

With the project’s launch comes the first wave in a 27-point action plan recommended in 2021 by the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force  that MTC organized in 2020. The Task Force’s purpose was to “guide the post-pandemic future of public transportation in the Bay Area and to make the regional transit network more equitable, efficient, connected and customer-focused,” per MTC.

Calling the project “a great step forward in making transit more accessible and understandable for regular and new riders alike,” MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza said the unified system of maps and signage “will make it easier for Bay Area residents to feel comfortable riding transit wherever they find themselves in the nine counties.”

California Sen. Josh Becker, author of the Seamless Transit Transformation Act (SB 917)—which was approved by the Senate and is pending in the Assembly—applauded the project’s launch, noting that transit operators will help shape the system and that the overall process will “[demand] focus on the customer experience.”

Director of Transportation of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force member Jeffrey Tumlin echoed Sen. Baker’s remarks, saying that, with this project, “finally the Bay Area is putting transit riders first.” He said the project will be “a sea change for transit riders who will no longer have to figure out a new system every time they transfer from one transit operator to another.”

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the San Francisco Bay Area’s nine counties. Click for more info regarding the Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan.