How L.A. Metro Is Enticing Riders With Better Design

Michael Lejeune
Creative Director
Metro Design Studio
Los Angeles, California

Michael Lejeune, 45, heads a 20-person in-house design studio tasked with bringing more riders aboard L.A.'s public-transportation system. He led the campaign design for this summer's expansion of Metro Rail's Gold Line, a light-rail line that connects Pasadena with downtown and East L.A.

"Public transportation has never been a cool idea in Los Angeles. We probably have the worst traffic in the country, and people regularly commute two hours or more a day, yet drivers of all stripes steadfastly cling to their cars. Our goal is to make Metro cool.

To compete in one of the most media-saturated cities in the country, we're trying to inject a sense of fun and personality, like the herb-seed packets we'll slip under the ticket windows to frequent riders. For our weekly passes, we designed 52 different colorful and typographically beautiful cards, with a different green tip printed on each. To get people excited about the Gold Line, we designed T-shirts that show the light-rail entwined with the colors of the different Metro lines. It's about getting people to engage with the brand more and then get out of their cars."

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  • Felix Desroches

    It's great to see that LA Metro has taken an agile, design-oriented approach to increasing ridership. I only realized how "hairy" the problem is when my company (EchoUser) worked with BART on improving their rider experience. We took a micro approach, following individual riders as they went about their business, and got overwhelming amounts of useful qualitative and quantitative feedback. Interestingly, the feedback seemed more "authentic" than the massive amounts of survey data that BART typically gathered - while lots of data is often good, it can also be a double-edged sword.

    I wonder how Lejeune's team is going about getting actionable data from real users? Here's a look at the trials and tribulations of our work with BART:

  • Michael Hoffmann

    I appreciate all efforts to make public transportation in LA more appealing. I suggest, however, that there are three substantial things that fall under the category of website overhaul which could be done to make riding the bus not only more appealing, but more practical and user-friendly.

    1. User accounts - the website does not remember who I am, so any time I want to check my favorite bus route for arrival times I have to re-enter my boarding location and destination. This is an unnecessary hassle,

    2. The map feature - the map feature of the website is appallingly bad. Integration with Google maps, Mapquest, or whatever is urgently needed.

    3. Geolocation of buses - I want to know exactly when my bus is coming. I don't want to stand by the side of the street for 20 minutes waiting for the bus when I could go get a cup of coffee instead. I don't know whether I just missed the bus or if it's just about to come. Currently the only solution I have is to wait at the bus stop, but if you were to use GPS technology (which you must already be using internally to know where your buses are in their routes), your riders could be spared this trouble.

    On top of all this, your website needs to be mobile-device friendly. Currently it's a bit clunky from a handheld, but people need to access this information while they're out and about and using the metro system.