(I’m hoping to blog about the Myki Mobile trial in the next few days, so hold those thoughts)
Some time in the last few days, a subtle addition appeared on the platform screens at Flinders Street Station: a countdown to departure. This has been on other displays around the network for decades, but some clever maths was needed to get this working here, as suburban services originate here.
So to provide an accurate time for an outbound service, they have to know whether the inbound service that forms it is on time.
Then on Tuesday night, a far more obvious makeover: colour!
On the concourse and in the connecting subways, the sequence of the lines is now more logical – by group rather than platform – with the colours from the network map used to help find your line.
The sequencing is by group, then by departure time. I do wonder if this may cause issues when some infrequent lines may not display because the allotted space is all taken by more frequent services. Also note Alamein is missing below – the general advice outside peak hours is to take Belgrave/Lilydale to Camberwell and change there. (This is not very clear on the network map – it’s in a footnote only.)
At the escalators from the concourse to the platforms, these screens show the next departure on each platform
On the platforms they have the landscape version. Note the inconsistency in how skipped stations are shown. That seems odd.
One thorny issue: if all Sunbury/Watergardens skip South Kensington, then is South Kensington really even on that line? And should those trains be summarised as a Limited Express? (Some trains on the line are actual expresses, skipping stations between Sunshine and Footscray, so this is important to passengers.)
Also on the platforms are displays showing which platform to use for the next train to the other inner-city stations. This includes an animation of the City Loop, whose operations regularly confuse just about everyone.
Curiously this screen declared the next arrival (presumably V/Line) was 102 minutes away… despite a V/Line train already being present.
You might expect some teething issues. There have been some reports that the new software doesn’t cope well with cancelled services.
New #FlindersSt displays & departure countdowns quickly get confused with the usual #GreenLine delays at #FlindersSt— Craig (@craig_halsall) January 30, 2019
7:26pm #Cheltenham ultimately cancelled with 7:36pm #FrankstonLine leaving ontime off platform 8 with sporadic announcements to advise@metrotrains @aussiewongm pic.twitter.com/5fOjOik2pO
But overall these changes seem like a big improvement, and no doubt they’ll keep tweaking the design and fixing issues.
I should note that my photos from the small camera I had with me at the time may not do the new colours justice; go see them for yourself before judging the readability. Apparently they did do quite a bit of usability testing beforehand.
Hopefully we’ll see more of this – in particular more use of the line colours – and indeed more screens – spread across the network from here.
What will also help legibility around the train network is more consistent stopping patterns and Loop operation, in line with the train network map.
- Herald Sun: Are the new screens at Flinders St Station confusing or helpful? (Paywall)
- Peter Stevens (PTV): Designing a network map
- Alexandra Almond (Meld Studios, designers): Improving wayfinding at Melbourne’s busiest train station