CTA Using Enhanced Signage to Improve Customer Communication

December 12, 2007

The CTA is focusing on a comprehensive strategy to provide clear information to customers to improve their experience using the system. The agency has worked on a pro bono basis with Ideo, a leading product design and customer experience firm, to examine how it currently communicates with customers and determine ways to improve. In addition, the CTA is looking at other major transit agencies across the world, such as London, Tokyo and New York, to identify best practices and adapt them to the CTA system.

The new Customer Communications unit is revamping the ways in which the CTA uses both temporary and permanent signs to provide information.

For notices on construction impacts or reroutes, the CTA is introducing new color-coded, easy to understand signs to communicate information simply.

Managing expectations and allowing customers to plan appropriately is key. Providing information before a customer enters a station allows them to make the best travel decision for their needs. Throughout Brown Line construction, CTA has placed sandwich board signs outside of stations under construction so customers know what alternate service is available. Customers are now seeing these same type of signs at Blue and Red Line stations where work to eliminate slow zones has required the use of bus shuttles.

In addition, the CTA will be testing mobile, erasable whiteboards at several stations later this year. When there is a change in service, the Customer Assistant can write the information on the board and place it in front of the turnstiles so that customers are informed before paying their fares. This is an innovation learned from the London Underground.

As funding is available, CTA is updating signs throughout its rail system to improve consistency and incorporate the colors of the rail lines serving stations, making it easier for customers to navigate the 'L' and subway trains.

?We want more user-friendly signage to help navigate the system. Integrating the line colors into station signage makes it easier for first-time or more infrequent users of the system to find their way," said CTA President Ron Huberman. ?We have numerous stations throughout our system that are served by multiple lines, and several stations with the same name on different lines ? matching up the rail line with the sign through color is a simple and clear way to provide useful information to customers."

Color-coded signage has been appearing at several stations over the past few years, however, CTA estimates that approximately 40 percent, or 57 out of 144 rail stations have at least one piece of signage that relies more on text instead of color. In the future, customers will continue to see improved signage at stations to make it increasingly easier to ride CTA.

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