Wayfinding at Madison and Wabash Multiline

I wanted to explore this station because a Division circle line would probably have to integrate above and below-ground components, this representing how the CTA has approached above-ground projects. The station is located in a high-traffic downtown area. From the street level, four stairs lead up to a ticketing level. Four more sets of stairs lead to the platform level. This separation of ticketing and boarding levels seems consistent with that of below-ground stations.

Signage is abundant and clear. Above each of the four street level stairs are signs with the name of the station and the lines that are included. Since they are Loop lines, the direction doesn’t matter, although an indication of each lines’ end points might make it clearer to first time users that they have found the right stop. In addition to the overhead signs, the lines are indicated on the stairs leading up. This positioning makes sense, as it is at eye level at the point of decision.

Inside the station, a person can look over the railing to orient themselves with respect to the proper corner to which he wants to descend. Line maps are abundant and located at key decision points: before the ticket purchase, before choosing stairs from the ticketing level to the boarding level, and on the boarding platform. On the second level, in front of one of the carousel exits, is a Chicago area map for local places of interest.

Given the number of lines this stop services, one area of improvement would be the inclusion of estimated arrival times for each line. Regulars that have transfer options could then better choose whether to wait for a more direct line. The Halsted stop has such a system in place. In addition, the system could display information on how full each car is, better distributing the passenger load. Finally, offering this information on the street level can provide riders with decision-making information on whether to take the L or a bus.

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