Basic strategies to build an efficient subway station.
Tips & Tricks
Everyone visiting your station has effectively unlimited viewing distance, but only in a straight line (people can’t see around corners, obviously). Signs serve little to no purpose in the middle of a long hallway unless it’s a junction or corner, and can only cause more problems for you and your visitors.
Keep signs to a minimum
Stairs, escalators, elevators, exits/entrances and subway lines all come with built in signs. Once people see them, they will follow its directions (up/down) just as they would a normal sign. Once they see their exit or subway platform they no longer need signs to get there. Consider line of sight and determine if a sign is really needed there.
People look for a specific exit when they want to leave your station, and will follow ANY signs with the right letter. Only use the ‘all exits’ signs for broad directions across the station, and start using specific exit name signs closer to the exits.
The items that fulfill people’s needs are best placed along choke points or plazas where many routes come together. Like exits and subway lines, once people see something they need, they will go for it and use it. Placing items and buildings on paths between a subway line and exits means that signing for food, drinks, tickets or ATMs is almost never needed. Reserve signage for entrances, exits and platform directions to keep yourself sane.
Tourists need information before they can determine where they even want to go. Always place information boards directly on the platforms, and around any entrance/exits or choke points leading to them. If you get a lot of tourists who have spent too long in the station, it means they were probably looking for an information sign for too long.
Whenever people need to change level, always provide them with stairs, escalators and an elevator. Most people can and will use the stairs. Escalators are needed for the elderly, but are slower at moving large numbers of people. Elevators are needed for the disabled, and can be a quick way to get people up or down several levels, but they can only have two stops (top and bottom). Keeping elevators close to stairs and escalators makes signage easier, but elevators around corners or away from the regular route need their own dedicated signs, indicating this is the route for disabled travelers, specifically.
Keep it simple, stupid
The higher level your station, the more exits and platforms you will have to deal with. As the signage god, you will determine the route people take to their destination, so whenever possible, do NOT give them choices. Figure out what the most straight forward route is between two points and force people to use that route. Avoid through traffic on platforms if at all possible.
Closed for renovations
As your station gets bigger, removing or rebuilding certain hallways or areas can be sensible to create more direct routes between new exits and old platforms (or vice versa). Since building stuff takes time, make sure to close any affected exits and platforms so customer satisfaction doesn’t drop.
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