New customer survey: what do you want in a bus headway sign?


Metro manages a fleet with 2,228 buses that averages more than one million weekday boardings. Our buses traveled over 70 million miles in 2012!

It is a big job to make sure everyone knows where all of these buses are headed. We could use your help ensuring that we communicate our bus destinations as clearly as possible.

Just click on the link below to take a short survey about bus headsigns. You could be one of five winners of a monthly TAP card! (You will have to fill out contact information to be eligible for the contest.)

Survey Link

Photo: Metro.

Photo: Metro.

11 replies

  1. The basic design of Metro’s headsign readings go back to the of the days of SCRTD and even the old LAMTA. Before the electronic signs when we had rollsigns, the route number and the destination were separate signs therefore more than one route number used the same destination. When the first dot signs came around 1980, they were limited to 15 characters. Because of the 3-digit route numbers, Sherman Oaks became SHERMN OAKS. The pic used in this article is the main problem with Metro’s headsigns. They try to use the largest font possible and therefore have to put destinations like Sherman Oaks on two separate lines. It is possible to put two lines of text on these sign readings. Signs can be more descriptive. Metro also needs to eliminate the independence of the route number and destination codes and have one code that is used for both the route number and desitnation. This is how virtually every other transit agency in America does it. This will give Metro the justification for being more flexible on readings. Since “Sherman Oaks” could be a valid destination for the 156, 158, 234, etc. At least now, we can see other information added e.g.
    Myself, I miss the rollsigns. I think they were more readable than the dot signs.
    Also, the issue of “Not in Service” came back up. I am not sure if Metro buses still do this, but back in the rollsign days since the route number and destinations were no different rollers, a Not in Service sign would have a route number associated with it e.g.
    35 Not in Service
    When the dot-signs first came out, they used the same logic. Therefore with the 15-character limit, we say signs like:
    424 NOT IN
    424 SERVICE
    I have heard that Metro’s electronic signs still do something like this on some buses. Other than for the needs of bus fans like me, I don’t see any modern need for why the route number needs to be on the sign for a deadheading bus. It just needs to be NOT IN SERVICE on one line.
    But yes, let’s make some improvements to the Metro dot signs. On one look at the sign, a customer must be able to distinguish the route and destination of the bus whenever possible.

  2. well most of the buses i ride the headsigns are not working. Line 30 and 14. they are the new flyer buses. When will yoube pulling thoses buses out of service and put more low floor buses on these lines they are needed badly

  3. I was thinking this survey was simply about the message that the headsign says, rather than the headsign technology being used. I believe some of those older, hard-to-read, single-color headsigns would eventually be replaced with the older buses in the next round of bus purchases that was just approved. The only problem I had with the headsigns were unrelated messages (ie. “Think ahead, stop on red”) that block out the line number and destination for 5+ seconds at a time.

  4. I think that the “Discharge Only” headsign is really supposed to be for express buses operating in areas with boarding restrictions. But I’ve heard BOC (bus operations control) authorize operators to use the headsign when they’re full and passing up passengers or when there’s been a roadcall and the bus is going to go out of service soon for whatever reason. I don’t think that the operators are generally supposed to use it, though.

  5. I was once on a “Discharge Only” bus. Someone was injured during the ride and one stop later become “Discharge Only.”

  6. Sometimes I’ve seen buses with headsigns that read “discharge only.” What is up with that?

    I wait for 20 minutes for the bus to come, I get ready, only to dismayed that they’re not picking up passengers, they’re only dropping them off. WTF.

  7. Buses that are “NOT IN SERVICE” Should read in a color of text that prevents me from waiting for a bus thats ten blocks away, which will only pass me as I realize its not in service. The worst is riding, and jumping off of a bus because you think it will be a a convenient lateral transfer, only to see “NOT IN SERVICE.” upon its approaching and passing of the bus stop. Purple Line and Expo Line signage still needs a bit more clarity too.

  8. Hey, N.B.R, get on the stick, then get on the bus. Take the survey instead of whining!

    • I DID take the survey. And made the EXACT SAME COMMENTS I have been making to Metro for YEARS NOW (e.g. GET RID OF THE LIME GREEN “Headsigns”-which can BARELY BE SEEN!), and make the Headsigns on the light-rail trains, COLOR COORDINATED TO THE COLOR OF THE LIGHT RAIL LINE THE HEADSIGN IS ON! NO IMPROVMENT NOTED, though I have suggested these things to the MTA for YEARS NOW!

  9. Not that the MTA will actually DO anything about customer’s comments (they have not so far!), but you can still make them!