Metro direction sign baffles rider

Metro rider Leda Davis captured this image of an errant station sign at Pentagon City.
Metro rider Leda Davis captured this image of an errant station sign at Pentagon City.

“Am I misreading this, or did Metro goof?” Leda Davis of Fairfax asked after taking this photo of a new sign installed in the Pentagon City station.

It’s the latter.

“This sign and others like it need to be redone,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

How many seconds did it take you to spot the thing that caught the attention of Davis?

L’Enfant Plaza is the transfer station, not Federal Center SW.

Astute observers have spotted similar geographically challenged signs over the past few months. Metro workers are installing about 7,500 new signs to prepare for the opening of the Silver Line, but they sometimes trip up over the older parts of Metrorail. See a sign at Metro Center that added new stops for the Blue Line.

Stessel said the sign changes to accommodate the Silver Line are the largest such effort in decades, and “there are bound to be a few needing revision.”

With or without the fix, Davis isn’t so sure about the direction Metro signs are taking. “Either way, I find the new signs more difficult to follow.”

That’s a fair critique. Once you get done staring at the Federal Center SW transfer station, look at the entire photo and imagine yourself on the platform at Pentagon City, a Blue Line, Yellow Line and Rush Plus Yellow Line station, trying to figure out what’s ahead. This platform sign should be among the simpler ones in the system, showing where the trains arriving on this platform go to.

But keep looking. Besides changing the transfer station and being too complex overall, what else do you see that’s amiss?

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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