Metro’s new Transfers Design Guide

pdf here

Metro’s Planning Department recently completed a Transfers Design Guide to help Metro, cities and local transit agencies improve the transfer experience for our customers. It’s already an important issue — and will be even more crucial as the Metro system expands in the coming years.

Already, about 64 percent of Metro riders transfer at least once during their journey.

The Transfers Design Guide also won an award from the American Planning Association Los Angeles award for “Best Practices in Planning.” Our folks did site visits, looked at best practice guides by other agencies and assembled a checklist of things worth thinking about when designing new transfer points — or making existing ones better.

I know that we have a fair number of readers from the planning world and thought you might find this an interesting read and good resource. What are some transfers on our system that you think could be improved? And how? Comment please.

9 replies

  1. I think my biggest suggestions are regarding signage. As a rider who takes several transfers, I am often making a split-second decision as to which route will get me to my destination quickest (or more likely without significant delay), and signage is helpful in making those decisions.
    *Whenever you are connecting between rail types (at Union Station for example) or between bus and rail…there are no useful digital signs at ground level indicating how soon a train is coming. You have to walk a couple hundred feet and down several flights of stairs before you see the first indicator of how soon a train is coming. I could’ve been walking at a fast clip if I’d known a train was imminent, or that I can take my time if there isn’t one coming for a little while. This is especially painful in the evenings when there’s 20 minutes between trains.
    *The people who design the visual information for Metro need to go and see the spaces for themselves while the stations and trains are busy to see how hard it is to find important information as a rider sometimes. I would like to take someone at Metro on a tour of my commute to point out the very simple ways that signage could be made more useful, visible, and helpful. You’ve got signs across the system that are not coordinated with other signs in the system and everything is on top of each other and blocking each other…meanwhile there is so much space that goes un-used. Tons of room for improvement!!

    • The technology is there for better schedule information. Heck, I’d be happy with A version of SF Muni’s “inbound Embarcadero in 3 minutes” type of announcements.

  2. Now we have bus lines run every 7-8 minutes, every 10 minutes, every 12 minutes, every 12-13 minutes, every 15 minutes, every 17-18 minutes, every 20 minutes, every 22-23 minutes, every 25 minutes, every 30 minutes, every 35 minutes, every 40 minutes, every 45 minutes, every 50 minutes, and hourly (and maybe also every 70 minutes). I think we have too many headway patterns here, which makes transfer really painful. Maybe Metro could consider to make headway patterns simpler? For example, bus lines may run every 7-8 minutes, every 10 minutes, every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes, and hourly. I’m not sure if this is going to cause any scheduling problem though. And for those Rapid lines that run every 20-30 minutes, maybe Metro should just discontinue them or replace them with peak-hour limited stop bus, and increase the headway on the local lines. Regarding the slowness of the local lines, Metro may consider things like, coordinate with the cities to make the bus zone longer so it’s easier for the bus to pull back into traffic, and set bus stop every 0.2-0.25 miles i/o every 0.1 miles.

  3. Here’s one thought/suggestion: the need to re-tap your TAP card at 7th/Metro when transferring between the Red/Purple and Blue/Expo line is baffling both in theory and in practice. In theory because now that we have free transfers and locked faregates, you should be able to move freely between trains behind those faregates, and in practice because having some gates you need to tap to pass through and some you can just walk on by is pretty confusing and I imagine leaves a lot of people technically in violation of fare rules even though they’ve in fact already paid.

    • I have to second this. Where the fare gates between the Blue/Expo and Red/Purple Lines are placed makes zero sense. It makes it appear that people exiting at 7MC need to TAP. Everybody passing through that area should have already (theoretically) tapped in, so asking people to do that again in light of free transfers make no sense. In practicality it backs up traffic because there’s invariably a few people who pause at the TAP gates and not know immediately what to do.

      Another bug is that sometimes I wish to get off one line but get to the other side of 7MC (for example, when I get off Expo, but wish to exit to Figueroa St). I can either make a (long) detour around upstairs, or I can go down the escalator to the Red/Purple line tracks and come back up the other side. I would not tap again in this case but it somehow looks like I’m evading a fare.

  4. Transfer Suggestion: Metro Orange Line Woodman Station is by the awesome Line 158, which unfortunately still runs old-school once an hour, even though it intersects with most of the major lines in the Valley both north/south and east/west and connects with Metrolink in Chatsworth. Increase 158’s frequency or add an express line so 158 is a more useful transfer for those coming off the Orange Line at the Woodman Station.

    1st/Last Mile Suggestion: Restore the Canterbury Avenue Bike Path in Arleta, which runs along County/City property in the residential areas between the two spreading grounds but much of which was gated off in the ’90s. The still open sections are used much more these days by pedestrians and bicyclists. The remnants of the paving in the closed sections are still visible via Google Maps satellite view. The entire original bike path intersects with major bus line stops as well as the proposed Van Nuys Blvd light rail and the North Valley BRT project routes and are within extremely close proximity to some of the proposed project stations. If the closed Canterbury Avenue Bike Path sections were reopened and the path restored, it would provide a safe, protected means for walking/biking members of the community to access these transit lines and the proposed light rail stations as well as the proposed bike lanes along Woodman Avenue.

  5. As the heated responses for Anna’s article on forced transfer TAP prices indicate, the TAP system needs to be improved to not penalize those taking first/last mile muni buses.

    • And as we saw, there will be use of multiple TAP cards to avoid some of these “penalties” which means that Metro will not be getting the full trip data that TAP can provide service planners. Let’s hope that with time, this issue can be resolved.

  6. Seeing the bus that you had intended to transfer to pulling out just as the bus that you are on is arriving can be very disconcerting, especially when the transfer is to a bus that arrives an hour apart. Metro should look into using one of the new AI (artificial intelligence) programs to help design schedule times and transfer points for optimal effectiveness. Contact me for information on this.