Schaller Consulting
Customer-Focused Solutions

Home Consulting Projects Publications Transit Web Sites Taxi Research Site Map What's New

Thirty-four Good Practices for Transit Web Site Design

Transit Web Sites
Six Principles for Development of Transit Web Sites
Thirty-four Good Practices for Design of Transit Web Sites
Making the Most of the Internet (APTA paper)
Useful Links for Transit Web Site Development
TCRP Synthesis Report

Transit websites have made great strides toward designs that are welcoming, attractive and easily-navigated. This list highlights some of these good practices. The list is not meant, however, to be exhaustive of the good practices evident on many transit sites nor an attempt to cover every design issue. Instead, the list focuses on key content areas and design elements and provides a few examples.

The links below jump directly to web pages that illustrate each point (except where use of frames makes a direct link impossible).

(This page updated and revised February 2003.)

Home pages

  • Clean visual appearance, easy for users to scan the page and find the links they need.  These home pages are excellent gateways for the extensive information contained within the sites.
Examples:Tri-Met (Portland, OR), New Jersey Transit, San Francisco Municipal Railway, The B (Corpus Christi, TX), Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
  • Home page downloads quickly.  Users are here for information, not entertainment.  They don't want to wait and often won't.  
Examples: Tri-Met (Portland, OR), Chicago Transit Authority, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, Red Rose Transit (Lancaster, PA), and C-Tran (Vancouver, WA).
  • A concise set of global navigation links employing specific and transparent terminology for the most-used service information (e.g., Maps and Schedules, Fares).  Visitors are not overwhelmed by a long list of links, yet do not need to dig deep into the site to find the information they want.
Examples: San Francisco Municipal Railway, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, PACE Bus (Chicago suburbs), Tri-Met (Portland, OR).
  • Navigation elements repeated on each page.  Helps users keep track of where they are on the site.  Users can jump to any part of the site from any other part.
Example: Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica, CA).
  • Schedules available directly from the home page. Schedules (and maps) are the most popular features of transit web pages. This approach makes them quick and easy to reach, although it is important not to make the home page too cluttered.
Examples:C-Tran (Vancouver, WA), Denver RTD.
  • A clickable list of topics pops up when the mouse is pointed at each primary link. Users can skip directly to the information they want.
Examples: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston), Los Angeles County MTA, San Diego MTS.  (Note that this feature does not work in older browsers.)
  • Link for airport service on the home page.  Takes away the guess work for visitors unfamiliar with the local geography or transit service.
Example: Cleveland RTA.  The airport service page contains the information a traveler needs to decide whether to use the airport train and if so, how, including headways and links to schedules.
  • Service alerts on the home page. Highlights information that might be important to users who may not think to search for it.  
Example: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston)


  • A clear listing of routes for which schedules and maps are available, clearly distinguishing weekday vs. weekend services, schedules vs. maps.  
Example: Denver RTD (click on Schedules) grid is simple and seemingly obvious, but easier to use than many others.
  • Schedules on html pages instead of or in addition to PDF files. Some users cannot open PDF files and PDFs are often too big to print on standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper.
Examples:  Tri-Met and SEPTA's schedules can be read on the computer monitor or printed out.  Time points are along the left side, allowing longer descriptions of each stop.  These are also accessible to screen readers for disabled persons. Sonoma County (CA ) Transit offers schedules in both html format (time points along the left side) and in PDF files, as does San Diego MTS.  Santa Clara (CA) VTA's ADA accessible version of their bus schedules is very simple and probably easier to read for everyone. BART (San Francisco Bay Area) schedules are also on html pages, with a separate printable page.
  • On schedules for specific routes, check off boxes for specific time points and view the schedule for those selected time points only. In other words, create your own simplified schedule tailored to your on and off locations.  
Example: Utah Transit Authority.
  • A list of every stop on each route.  
Example: Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica, CA).
  • Lists of neighborhoods, colleges, points of interest and shopping centers and the bus and trolley routes that serve them offer another way for users to orient themselves to transit services.  
Example: San Diego MTS.
  • Schedules that can be downloaded to handheld devices.  
Examples: BART (San Francisco Bay Area) and MBTA (Boston) schedules can be downloaded to Palm Pilots.
  • Notifications of service changes and travel delays, sent by email, pager, cell phone.
Example: New Jersey Transit will send customers updates and advisories regarding their travel via email, and text messages to pagers or cell phones if delays lasting more than 30 minutes occur on their designated trips.


  • Zoomable system maps that provide both an overview of the service area and, through zooming, sufficient detail to see routes and streets.  
Examples: Metro Transit (Minneapolis) , Sonoma County (CA) Transit and San Francisco Municipal Railway. MARTA's (Atlanta) clickable system map takes users to PDF files with an extraordinary level of detail including bus stop locations. The PDF files are of printable size.  
  • Maps in html pages instead of or in addition to PDF files. Some users cannot open PDF files and PDF system maps are nearly always too big to print on standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper.
Examples: Metro Transit (Minneapolis), Sonoma County (CA) Transit, San Francisco Municipal Railway and Tri-Met
  • Routes on the system map are clickable, linking to the schedule and map for that route.  
Examples: Tri-Met, Salem (OR) Area Transit and San Diego MTS
  • Conversely, maps for individual bus routes link to detailed sections of the system map.  
Example: MARTA (Atlanta).
  • Rail stations on the system map are clickable, linking to information about that station.
Example: Click on any station on the MTA (NY) Metro-North Railroad system map to a page with directions to the station, a map of the station location, connecting bus service and information on parking and handicapped access. Similarly, maps for each T line on the MBTA (Boston) site can be clicked to find information about specific stations including the address, photos with a local street map, accessibility, fares from that station and connecting bus routes.
  • A html page for each route, with a map, list of stations on the route and the location, hours of service and bus and subway connections for each station.  
Example:  MTA New York City Transit subway lines.

Trip Planners

  • Routing and schedule information tailored to customers' specific trips.  Trip planners are an ideal solution for helping web site users plan their trips. Customer feedback to web managers demonstrates that many customers want trip planners on transit web sites.
Example: The Chicago area RTA's trip planner provides option to identify start and destination by landmark or specific street address (although it is inconsistent about requiring abbreviations for North and Street), and offers several nicely laid out itineraries, with fares and walking distances and directions. Users can specify if they need wheelchair lifts, how far they are willing to walk, and whether they prefer the quickest route, the one with the least transfers or the one with the least amount of walking.
  • Option of specifying an address, intersection or landmark.  
Examples: Metro Transit (Minneapolis) and San Diego MTS. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Bay Area Trip Planner also offers a walking map to the station or stop.
  • Choose among addresses you have specified during previous visits to the site.  
Example: Utah Transit Authority.

Other Service Information

  • Information tailored to new riders.  
Example: Metro Transit (Minneapolis) explains the very basics such as how to pay the fare. Don't assume new riders ever rode a bus before!
  • Travel advisories with current travel information.  
Example: New Jersey Transit, Tri-Met (Portland, OR).
  • List of escalators and elevators that are out of service.  
Examples: WMATA (Washington DC).
  • Explanation of transit services for visitors and other new customers.
Example: San Francisco Municipal Railway's clear explanation of its services for visitors to the city covers cable cars, historic streetcars, buses and trolley coaches. This page also includes fare information, a list of popular destinations and which lines serve them, who to contact for airport service, and an explanation that Muni is separate from BART.
  • Comprehensive information for people with disabilities on one page.
Example: San Francisco Municipal Railway

Agency Information

  • Well-organized list of job openings, qualifications, and option to submit a job application  electronically.
Example: Chicago Transit Authority jobs listings are clearly categorized by area of the agency.  Applicants can email their resume to the CTA.
  • Download RFPs from the site.  
Examples: Triangle Transit Authority (Research Triangle Park, NC).   The Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority makes all RFPs and bid specifications available for free on its web site. Vendors register on the site and receive e-mail notification of procurements relevant to their business lines.
  • Information on expansion projects.
Example: Santa Clara (CA) VTA provides a map and informative yet concise sections describing expansion projects and giving background information, authorizations and costs.
  • Board agendas, minutes and annual reports.  
Example: DART (Dallas).
  • Capital and operating budgets, board reports and strategic plan.  
Example: SEPTA (Philadelphia).

Home | Consulting | Projects | Publications | Transit Web Sites | Taxi Research | Site Map | What's New