Back to our occasional series about infrastructure. This one is about a part of infrastructure that, oddly, often tends to be invisible: Signage.
Designing effective signs is important. After all, if there is a need for the sign in the first place -- for safety, convenience, or efficiency -- why not post one that solves the problem? But, we often see the opposite, a sign that actually makes things worse. It is at that moment that a sign becomes invisible.
In a previous post, I presented the dangers of sign congestion in a hospital. In another, I presented an example of one from the Postal Service that provides guidance that is unhelpful because it requires a person to detect the difference between 12 ounces and 13 ounces in a letter s/he is about to mail.
Here's one that demonstrates simple clutter and a bureaucratic point of view. It is posted on the "Fare Array Hut," a small structure at many MBTA transit stops that is not designated as a "Fare Array Hut." So, to start with, you might look at the sign and say, "Where's the Fare Array Hut?"
Then, you wonder, "Do I have to validate my card in the manner set forth?" The answer is no. It does make it easier to enter the train in one of the back doors, but you can also validate upon entering through the front door.
And then, you see things on the poster that simply have no relevance for you, like "Ensure all revenue is properly collected and recorded."
By the way, it turns out I am not the first person to notice this problem. After writing this post, curiously searching Google for the term "Fare Array Hut," I came upon this post by another blogger, who nicely describes the situation.