Bus signs cause confusion

Concerns have been raised about the need for the new Dunedin bus signs to be simpler  — like the old example ''64 Balaclava''. One of the new signs —  ‘‘Belleknowes to Waverley via City’’ — is so wordy it carries over to a second screen. Photos by Linda R
Concerns have been raised about the need for the new Dunedin bus signs to be simpler — like the old example ''64 Balaclava''. One of the new signs — ‘‘Belleknowes to Waverley via City’’ — is so wordy it carries over to a second screen. Photos by Linda Robertson/ODT files.
It may be a case of more is less when it comes to some of the new route signs on Dunedin buses.

A series of new, more direct public transport routes came into effect at the start of last week, including one linking Belleknowes and Waverley for the first time.

Transport planners have tried to clarify the changed routes by including overall route information in multi-word signs, and providing the route number, on the front of buses.

The focus was previously on providing the bus destination in one or two words, and the route number.

But some bus users say that some of the new signs are confusing, partly because the point of origin is included as well as the destination, resulting in the overall wording being too small and complex to be easily read.

Information on the ''Belleknowes to Waverley via City'' route is so lengthy the first two words appear on one electronic sign and the next three words appear a few seconds later, replacing the first words.

One regular bus user said buses on this route displayed the combined ''Waverley'' and ''Belleknowes'' route sign when travelling south, via George St and Princes St to the Exchange, regardless of their final destination - either Waverley or Belleknowes.

''You have to flag the bus down, hop on, ask them where they are going, and then either get on or off - frustrating for both driver and passenger,'' the bus user said.

There had been ''some very irate passengers and fed-up drivers last week''.

The bus user had accidentally paid for a trip before realising the bus was not actually going to Belleknowes, and the bus driver had provided a refund.

Otago Regional Council support services manager Gerard Collings said the ''Waverley'' to ''Belleknowes'' signage had caused some ''confusion'' and the matter would be addressed.

The overall bus changes were generally positive but ''anything that confuses the public is not a good thing'' and further thought was being given to signage, he said.

Co-president of bus user group Bus Go Alex King said the signage problems were ''disappointing'' and he acknowledged some sign lettering was smaller than the 125mm height that was an NZ Transport Agency requirement.

Bus Go has sent an email to the ORC emphasising the importance of having large, simple destination signs.

Bus Go representatives said the ORC had responded positively and constructively, saying the issues would be addressed.

Mr King said bus users waiting at a bus stop often had only a couple of seconds to clarify where an approaching bus was heading, before signalling the driver to stop.

There were problems if the wording was too small or otherwise unclear, and the situation was worse if bus users had any visual or cognitive disability.

''The most critical thing about this is to have them easily recognisable for the regular user,'' he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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