Wayfinding

Good wayfinding includes legible, well-designed spaces; signing and information when and where passengers need it; effective use of surface treatments, materials and lighting; and environmental interventions such as public art combining to create pathways, landmarks and destinations.

Wayfinding should be complementary to the layout of the interchange facility or zone, minimising the need for signing.

Does wayfinding design and signing facilitate intuitive interchange movement and function?

We have refined a London-wide wayfinding system called Legible London and this is implemented across the capital. The system sets out principles and guidelines for wayfinding for pedestrian and transport environments aiming to deliver an integrated and consistent information system across London.

The system is based on the principles of mental mapping, progressive disclosure of information, consistency of naming, product design and graphic language. It builds on an understanding that wayfinding needs to be developed as part of a wider strategy to remove physical and mental barriers to movement, connecting transport environments to deliver a seamless experience from one transport mode to the next and create incentives for people to walk, reducing the pressure on other forms of public transport for shorter journeys.

Read more about Legible London.

Core principles of effective wayfinding include:

  • Adopt principles of progressive disclosure - selective supply of information when and where passengers need it
  • Break information into manageable chunks to help mental mapping
  • Locate signs based on desire lines and pedestrian flows with maximum visibility at key decision points and gateways
  • Signs and information should cover all modes and services in the interchange zone
  • Exit signs should include major local destinations for orientation
  • Information on signs should be concise, clear, consistent and unambiguous
  • Where possible ensure clear sight lines to destinations, reducing the need for signs and minimising visual clutter
  • Support route, path and destination identification of through landscape and lighting
  • Identify modes through consistent use of TfL and operator visual identities (for example TfL roundels)

Our Interchange Signs Standard should apply to all TfL Interchanges.

Have signs and lighting been installed to meet passenger movement needs while minimising obstructions to flows?

Lighting and signs help to define paths and routes but can create unnecessary obstruction to movement. Where practical, signs and lighting should be suspended or wall mounted avoiding the use of additional physical structures, or fitted flush with the walkway surface such as with up lighters to delineate boundaries at night or in dark places.

Is naming consistent across the interchange zone?

A high quality wayfinding system requires consistency over what is named, how it is named and where signs and information are located. This is of particular relevance when moving from one environment to another. For example, spatial orientation when arriving on street from an Underground station can be made easier through consistency of place naming.

Consistent use of naming from all modes through to signs on street can help minimise this disorientation and make the transition easier and more enjoyable for all users.

Has technology been used to support wayfinding?

Technologies can provide great assistance with wayfinding for all users. This includes the use of audio and visual displays as well as mobile telephones, portable sound and Bluetooth devices.

Where dynamic information is available, it should be consistent with any essential spoken information including:

  • Safety information and instructions
  • Warning, prohibition and mandatory actions
  • Service departure information
  • Identification of interchange facilities and accessible routes to those facilities

Good examples include airport interchange facilities such as Heathrow, where it is possible to receive text messages saying which terminal to go to. Other technological trials are taking place which will be considered if successful. For example, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable visually impaired bus users to check information and receive audio updates of bus services at bus stops.

Some visually impaired passengers can find it difficult to read realtime information if it is displayed on screens mounted above eye level, for example suspended above platforms. It can be beneficial to provide additional screens at eye level, and provide signage to indicate their location.

Are step and obstacle free routes clearly designated?

Step and obstacle free routes must be clearly signed to avoid those wishing to use them having to turn back when confronted with steps or an escalator.

Ideally step-free routes will be provided in the most intuitive locations with long sightlines highlighting their suitability. However, routes should always be indicated with clear signage from key locations within the interchange zone such as platforms, bus stops or station entrances.

Information on step and obstacle free routes should be provided by at least one of the following:

  • Braille maps
  • Tactile or talking signs
  • Audible directions
  • Tactile paths

Tactile paths, when installed, should be provided for the full length of the step and obstacle free route.

See also Accessibility.

Do modes retain their distinct identity?

Transport for London has brand guidelines for all transport modes. It is essential that these are followed to ensure modes retain their distinctive identity, helping passengers identify their mode quickly and easily.

In multi-modal interchange facilities or zones with services and spaces run by different operators, there is a risk that a passenger could become confused. Examples of this include slightly different graphic language or visual conventions used on signs and information displays, variations in the naming of destinations or the colours used to denote exits.

Care should be taken to achieve consistency across facilities used by passengers of all modes, such as information displays, 'exit' signs, benches, clocks and other infrastructure. It should be clear that these facilities are all part of the same interchange zone and transport network.

Are members of staff visible and available to assist passengers?

Staff presence at interchange zones can help all users - providing reassurance for any users unsure of their route or requiring confirmation of service or local area information.

Ideally all interchanges should be manned and sufficient staff available to assist passengers without disrupting operational duties.

Members of staff can also assist passengers with disabilities, helping them purchase tickets and getting them to the platform if required. If a guide dog needs to accompany a passenger, where possible staff should help the passenger to use a route avoiding escalators. Staff assistants can then call ahead to the passenger's destination station to arrange for a member of staff to meet and assist them when they arrive.

Duties are placed on providers of transport services to make 'reasonable adjustments' so that disabled people can use the services more easily. These include:

  • Reviewing practices to ensure that they do not make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to access the transport vehicle or services
  • Providing additional help or assistance to enable a disabled person to make use of a services or facility

Case study examples

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