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A Better Bus Pass for Rochester

June 27th, 2013

I decided I didn't like Rochester's bus passes. So I redesigned them. This time for real.
Can you believe it’s been two years since I tried to redesign Rochester’s bus stop signs? Everyone seemed to agree that a makeover was in order – even the folks at RTS who were nice enough to meet with me. But a year later there had been no serious progress on that front. At which point I turned my attention to something else I thought I could improve on; the fare cards. This time I was able to make some real progress…

This is what the current fare cards look like. They work. Just not as well as they could.
The old bus pass (shown above) fit nicely inside my wallet, and when it’s time to get on the bus it always seemed to work ok. But let’s face it, aesthetically, Rochester (the “image city”) can do better. George Washington is tired and deserves some rest.

Long story short, I looked at examples from various cities…
(NYC external link, Chicago external link, San Francisco external link, and others external link)
I swiped the best of the best. And this is where we arrived…

This is how the finished cards will look.

The essential elements I kept were:
1. the card value
2. directional arrow (so riders know which way to stick it in the fare box)
3. the RTS brand/logo

Oh, and I added a line of instructions for the real-time bus tracking info at the bottom.

But if you ask me, the most crucial element missing from the old cards was Rochester itself. The old cards could easily belong to Anytown USA. So for that extra dash of Rochester, I turned to my good friend Rick U. of RocPX.com external link. Rick’s photos of Rochester’s Four Corners, High Falls at night, and the Eastman Theater, remind transit riders why this is such a great place to live. And out-of-town visitors (who arrive without a car) will know they are in a world-class city – that is, a city that values its transit riding population.

RTS agreed that this design is a better reflection of our town, and the service they provide. The cards are being printed as we speak and will be rolled out very soon.

If we can’t have a better bus stop sign, and we still can’t use our credit cards at the fare box external link, at least we have a respectable looking fare card. Go Rochester! Baby steps.

Let me know what you think (love or hate) in the comments below.

PS – I tried to get rid of the Facebook and Twitter icons, but RTS wasn’t having it. So I conceded on those.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at 7:54 am and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

14 Responses to “A Better Bus Pass for Rochester”

  1. You built a better bus pass and gave us a clear description of plan and process. Thanks for both!

  2. Rob says:

    They look great! Although they do work well, (for an extended period of time when stored in a wallet) I’ve seen at least 300+ people get their card declined at the box (since they’ve installed these new ones) and have to show the driver that it is in fact still valid.

    I think when they’re even slightly creased they stop working. I wish we could have a more sturdy, re-loadable card which you could pay for online directly from your bank account and you could check your balance.. but, as you said, baby steps!

    great work! (and with regard to the social network icons, the pages do have interesting posts and great updates on service, but the two share less than 1500 followers combined, so i’m sure they’d like all the traction they can get)

  3. Lincoln DeCoursey says:

    Wow, congratulations. It’s stunning the way these turned out and that you got through to RTS with this. Hopefully the other denominations will be redesigned in the same way.

  4. Phyllis Schirano says:

    Love the design. What I would like to see is a fare card you can put more money on instead of using paper type bus passes and throwing them away once finished. I still have my pass for the Metro in DC and each time I visit DC I can just add money to my pass.

  5. David says:

    I believe the new fare boxes are a first step to the option of RFID rechargeable permanent cards, similar to the Oyster cards on the London tube.

  6. Rick says:

    Awesome! Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these!

  7. Jim Fraser says:

    Fantastic! A small step perhaps, but one that will open doors to bigger things. Hopefully, a greater openness to collaborating will be among them.

  8. Adam says:

    The new passes look great! I’m curious, any idea if there’s any chance RTS will look back into redesigning their bus stop signs? They’d go a long way in making the system a little more user friendly…

  9. jimmy says:

    I think they are really awesome but the dollar amount should be in bigger print because I think the $ amount is a good deal and people should be reminded by that every time they get it out.

  10. @Adam, I’m told that they will. But we don’t know when. With over 4,000 signs system-wide, it represents a larger investment. They’re also just now beginning a new project to reassess their bus routes and placement of all the stops. So that will need to be completed first. Could be a while.

  11. Jon says:

    Very nice design. I’m with you in that it would look better without the FB and Twitter logos (after all, they’re not something you can click on, and there’s no actual address supplied, so they’re kind of pointless).

    As was mentioned by David, the new fareboxes handle smart cards. The first roll out of the system will be to the RCSD students, from what I understand. Where it goes from there we shall see. I’d love to see smart cards get rolled out to the general public with a system to handle online payments to “recharge” your card.

  12. Rob says:

    A woman got the blue pass this morning and exclaimed, “check this out, that’s cool. these are nice now!”

  13. @Rob, really?! That’s awesome! You just made my day :-)

  14. Quinn says:

    I got a blue one today. They’re excellent in appearance. Much better than the old white ones.

    Now can we please get plastic reloadable smart-cards…


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