Big signs have sprouted in Metro subway stations this week telling passengers where the trains go. Like, in one instance, "all trains [go] to downtown Washington."

Up to now, Metro's less-than-helpful standard signs tell both regular riders and tourists that trains, for example, go to a distant colony called New Carrollton or--mysterious even to some locals--a place called Addison Road. If you've dropped into your nation's capital from, say, Bountiful, Utah, you're in trouble.

Well, Metro wants to avoid such trouble for people coming to tomorrow's march for racial and economic justice. In addition to granting a reduced 50-cent fare--cash in the barrel, no farecards--it has posted (unfortunately temporary) signs such as the one pictured above that provide useful and quickly understandable information to passengers. At appropriate stations, such as Farragut West and McPherson Square, it has posted supplemental exit signs pointing passengers in the direction of the Mall. After the march has ended and the signs are taken down, tourists will have to resume asking such directions from passersby.

Metro may finally discover that passengers--both local and, in large numbers, tourists--travel Metro the year around, not just when there's a demonstration. For many, the existing graphics in Metro stations are next to useless, despite the recent award from the American Institute of Architects that surely were based upon esthetics, not information imparted to passengers.

Beverly Silverberg, Metro's public affairs director, said a task force of transit authority staff members is working on the graphics problem. MetroScene will have more to say on this subject. If you have suggestions, please send them along.