Friday, November 11, 2005

GALLERY PLACE: Red Line or Green Line?

LOOK CLOSELY. Does anything look wrong here? Let me throw out a situation here from two months ago ... I was at this very spot when a group of English tourists were arguing over whether Metrorail trains servicing this platform would take them to Union Station. What would be your answer? I bet some of you would say the Red Line. But those trains, of course, are on the upper level.

The signage on the wall says this trains serving this platform are from the Green and Yellow lines in the direction of Greenbelt and Mount Vernon Square-7th Street-Convention Center. But the overhead sign sports a big fat arrow that indicates that Glenmont-bound Red Line trains will make their way past this spot.

AND THUS YOU SEE THE PROBLEM. The correct answer, of course, is the sign on the wall for the Green and Yellow lines. But for someone unfamiliar with Washington, D.C., they may not be able to decipher that an arrow on a white background is for pedestrian station orientation -- not for train service orientation.

BUT IT SEEMS JUST SLIGHTLY odd that when Metro placed these contradictory signs in the same area, they didn't think that this may cause a navigation problem. For the English tourists, I was there to tell them that the signs are confusing. But imagine all the other random people who have made their way past this spot who are confused. (I can only be in one place at a time, after all, and can't help all the lost visitors confused with the city.)

For all the money Metro spent on upgrading signage at the Gallery Place-Chinatown station, it's pretty unfortunate that the agency couldn't see that the signage is confusing and therefore fails at its purpose. This is not an isolated problem. It wasn't until recently that Metro got around to fixing signage at Metro Center to alert passengers that Blue Line trains now terminate at Largo Town Center, and not Addison Road-Seat Pleasant -- and this is nearly a year since the Blue Line extension opened to Largo Town Center. When might the next signage audit be? After all, there are still spots where Union Station is still listed as Union Station-Visitor Center.


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