Muni’s Yellow Pole Markings at Transit Stops Will Be Replaced By Real Signs

Chestnut and Laguna Streets, where a popular transfer stop for tourists is marked only with yellow and black paint on a pole. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Chestnut and Laguna Streets, where a popular transfer stop for tourists is marked only with yellow and black paint on a pole. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The days of Muni stops marked with no visual cue except a utility pole with yellow paint and black stenciled letters are coming to an end.

As part of the Muni Forward upgrades launching this weekend, the SFMTA will raise the standard for signage at every stop. At the very least, every stop will include a “flag” sign that lists the complete name of Muni routes that serve it, as well as their terminal stops and major destinations along the way.

“We’re really tuned into signage throughout the system,” Muni Forward manager Julie Kirschbaum told Streetsblog. “Even stops that don’t have shelters will have a flag.”

It’s a good step toward a more legible, easy-to-navigate Muni, especially for a system that’s relied on so heavily by tourists.

Even some pretty significant Muni stops lack basic visual cues. Take, for example, the inbound stop for the 30-Stockton at Laguna and Chestnut Streets in the Marina (pictured above). You might not guess from looking at it, but it’s the main transfer point for tourists headed downtown from the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting from the 28-19th Avenue. Many times I’ve taken that trip, only to watch the busload of map-toting passengers disembark and walk toward the nearest stop that has a shelter — going in the wrong direction. (I usually point them in the right direction, toward the empty-looking corner.)

The SFMTA has already started to roll out a batch of wayfinding upgrades to help orient Muni riders, including a new, more legible Muni map (though the maps are not always oriented correctly themselves).

Coming soon to every Muni stop. Image: SFMTA
  • Dark Soul

    18-46th Avenue

  • helloandyhihi


    Why doesn’t Muni have stronger design standards created by a leading SF firm (like New York and LA)?

  • shamelessly

    I’m not sure why the words “Rapid,” “Metro,” and “Historic” are included at the tops of these signs. They seem to describe the first line listed in each sign, but they’re redundant and it’s not immediately obvious that they don’t apply to the other listings on the sign.
    Hopefully Muni’s also putting some money toward wayfinding in the Market St. underground. I’d love to know at a glance when I walk down the stairs which side is inbound and which is outbound.

  • Dark Soul

    Most of money is focus on improving new signs…shelters…and route names to improve rider experience.

  • Andy Chow

    This is long overdue. Something like this should be considered a standard, and not something new. Most transit agencies have full signage and most riders expect to see that.

    I don’t know if they’re addressing this as well. There are some bus stops that only do not have flags or shelter, but does not have yellow band on pole. They only have a yellow marking on the pavement like this one and

    With this kind of marking the stops are hard to locate. One time I had to stop a 76 (which is now 76X) somewhere along the road because the stop was so hard to find.

  • gb52

    While signage is great, there is a cost associated with everything we do. Material cost, someone to write the work order, process it, design it, etc. It’s a LOT of time and money. I think it should be mandated for key stops, transfers, but not necessarily everywhere. These get vandalized, they require maintenance, and unlike shelters, I think these come out of muni’s general fund. If anything, this better not happen before muni forward stop consolidations occur. Otherwise there is going to be a lot of rework.

  • I knew there would be at least one idiot to comment that marking bud stops is an excessive waste.

    Street signs cost money too, they get vandalized, and the city is wasting millions when the street name is already stamped into every corner. Maybe there’s some value in making important roads, but overall the city could save a lot of money by eliminating street signs.

    Maps cost money to print and replace…

  • It’s only been recently SFMTA leadership has even started taking design seriously, but even if it had before spending a couple million on branding would make headlines for being wasteful and likely criticized as damage control for an agency which can’t get it’s act together.

    Julie Kirschbaum has been advocating for wayfinding signage for ten years.

    LA Metro and the NYC MTA serve a bigger and more populous area with a bigger tax base and a bigger budgets where the investment in good design is a much smaller part of the budget.

    LA Metro did it in a very interesting way when the various department where merged to create it. Here’s a short film which shows how they did it:

  • David D.

    Sorry, but no. Muni is probably the only non-rural transit agency in the country that doesn’t have bus stop flags. It’s about darned time they put them up! The yellow paint is a joke, and one can’t seriously expect people to use transit if they can’t figure out where to board it.

  • jonobate

    I’m not disagreeing with your point, but it’s not necessary to call someone an idiot just because you don’t agree with them.

  • The Muni “worm” logo was designed by the great Walter Landor. It has never been bested.

    Back in the dot-com era they actually considered replacing it with something whipped together by a design student who wrote “Muni” with a trendy fractured font (trendy for a month, until Adobe published a new catalog of even newer fonts) with wings on it.

  • You’re right, I apologize @gb52:disqus. I wrote in haste and did not spend enough time thinking my own comment through.

  • helloandyhihi

    You’re right, the Muni logo is a classic. Last year a local designer proposed a cool update (the classic logo remains better):

  • Jame

    I wasted so much time trying to figure out where the bus stop was, when I worked near Jackson Square. I looked on Google maps, and say there should be a stop outside my office. I saw no flag, and I was confused. I asked a colleague and he said, stops are marked by yellow poles or curbs.

    Stupidest childhood decision ever. No one could figure that out at all. Why wold anyone expect that at all?

  • Dark Soul

    The 29-Sunset got too much stop way close to each other and on the same block…

  • davistrain

    Hideous? It’s a transit stop sign, not a building or art work. Muni has more important things to worry about than aesthetic considerations like this. I wonder if this commenter works for a design firm.

  • calwatch

    I would start to brand some of the buses as “SFMTA” and reserve Muni for the rail system, which seems to be general usage there (the bus is more often referred to as the bus). “Muni” should be a brand for higher quality service like rapids or rail.

  • L_Mariachi

    They’re color-coded. The color on the Rapid/Metro/Historic designations matches the color of the line it applies to, while blue is just regular buses. You’re right though that the design could be better. It’s pretty type-intensive too; I can easily picture confused tourists peering back and forth between these signs and their maps, trying to make sense of them.

    Route designations having street names in them is daft enough in the first place— “This says 37 Corbett, but we’re on Market and Noe… Does it mean that the destination is Corbett? That Corbett is the main part of its route?” No, that’s just some street along the side of Twin Peaks that you probably don’t care about that the route happens to follow for a minute. The majority of the route has nothing to do with Corbett at all.

  • L_Mariachi

    Design is a lot more than “just aesthetics.” To a designer, unnecessary clutter and lack of clarity are just as hideous as an unattractive logo or color scheme, if not more so.

  • L_Mariachi

    This is the classic logo:

  • Dexter Wong

    Actually, by the 1970s Muni had Bus Stop signs at a number of stops that indicated which line(s) used this stop, but they weren’t at every bus stop. In the 1960s, there were big yellow signs along Market St. which gave in detail which lines stopped there and any weekend cutbacks, but with time they wore out. The old yellow bands and yellow curb markers were at most stops, but others had a white or yellow paint rectangle on the street that marked the stop and had “BUS (above) STOP (below)” inside the rectangle.

  • Dark Soul

    Lets make new about the new signs

  • It sure is satisfying sometimes though :P.

  • SFMTA hired that design – Derek Kim – to work on the rapid branding. If you look at the samples, the chevrons being added to the Metro/Rapid shelters should look familiar.


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