A recent study out of the University of Naples compared ridership on two similar lines, only one of which had colorful, recently-redesigned stations. The researchers found that riders were willing to put up with more, including higher costs and longer wait times, at the nicer stations.
But, Eric Jaffe points out, station architecture shouldn’t be privileged over all other improvements. “In a world with infinite resources, no doubt all riders would want transit stations to be unparalleled destinations,” he writes. “In this actual world, at this particular time, let’s not forget that even the nicest hallway is just another way to get from here to there.”