Wayfinding Symbols Across the World

Metro stations, train stations and streetcar systems have distinct ways of showing how to get from one area to another. TheCityFix's Jonna McKone looks at mass transit systems from Mexico City to Paris and the visual representations used in each one.

When you're commuting in an unfamiliar place or using different modes of transit, what do you look for? And what sorts of symbols do transit agencies use to help commuters get where they have to go?

Two key visual methods-representational graphics and icons-serve as visual cues that reinforce direction, location, modes and uses of transit.

A variety of ways to access information are necessary to provide useful service. This could include audible cues, as well as visuals like maps, wayfinding symbols and even branding so people can identify different service providers.

Icons and symbols are universally recognizable and good design ensures such images are located within clear lines of sight. Directional demarcations help residents navigate transit infrastructure, which is often underground, multi-tiered and confusing, particularly for out-of-town travelers. But icons are not just about wayfinding; they also ensure that a people can understand and identify transit regardless of literacy or language, help travelers and commuters switch between transit modes and routes, and enforce or legitimize rules of the road.

Thanks to Garrett Bradford

Full Story: Symbolism in the Transit World: Helping You Find Your Way

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