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Redesigning the redesign of the Berlin Tram Digital Dashboards

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As a regular Berlin tram passenger (M10!) and in a lover of the public transport of Berlin in general, I loved reading Redesigning the Berlin Tram Digital Dashboards by @nandorocker. Indeed, the displays lack structure (as well as a quality design).

The trams using those displays actually won several design prizes themselfs. Their design is uniquely Berlin, and suit the personality of the city well — and as such they deserve a beautiful display.

The issues and what got solved in the first redesign

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Original BVG design (redone in Sketch.app)

Besides the alignment and visual issues, the flow and connection of elements is quite chaotic. The blue line visualizes the planned route of the tram, the pink line the connection between the “Stop” sign and the upcoming stop it’s connected to.

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The flow in the original BVG design

First redesign

@nandorocker​’s redesign looks way more beautifully structured:

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The tram route has been optimised, but the connection between the “Stop” label and the upcoming stop can be improved:

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Tram vs. MetroTram

I personally don’t like the difference between the tram and MetroTram. Both use the same trains. They feel the same. They mostly differ in their importance, their timetables and availability of 24 h service. This also applies for busses vs. the MetroBus. Instead of a logo per type (tram or bus or subway), the MetroTram and MetroBus logos almost look the same.

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Which logo marks a tram, which a bus?

Only the red Tram and the purple Bus logo should be used in my opinion. The line number can be prefixed with “M”. Therefore I’m using the Tram logo in my designs and would also love to see it used everywhere. It seems this also has been recognized by BVG because the orange icons have been slowly replaced by the red and purple icons.

Now back to the display redesign.

Let’s go one step further

Two major changes:

  • The “Stop” label is connected to the upcoming stop.
  • The upcoming stops and the destinations follow in one direction.
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Final-design-current-2.png (or something like this)

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Changes are coming

While I was designing this, I realized that it’s really based on logic, and could have been the logical result if one had thought about it for a bit. So I might not be the only one. BVG is tesing a surprisingly similar design in the pre-production batch of the upcoming IK subway train series right now. The design still looks like a draft (as well as the whole train in comparison to the amazing Flexity tram design):

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New display system in the IK series (“Icke”) of the Berlin U-Bahn.

One interesting point: They turned the screen into vertical mode which seems to allow more space. In addition people can get much closer as it’s hanging on eye level, which is important if you have bad eye sight. But still there are some confusing details:

  • The arrow is placed between the next stop and the stop after. As we haven’t yet arrived at the next stop, I would expext the arrow as a marker for the current position to be above Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
  • The time is a nice extra. But is it the current time or arrival time at the destination? This needs to be made clear.
  • In the overview maps, the white circles with black border are used to mark transfer stations. Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz as well as Senefelder Platz are not marked as such. On the other side, this would maybe confuse people too much as it could look as a marker for the current station. In the redesigns above also only one design has been used.
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Then again, what is a transfer station? The map above ignores busses and trams. The display in the trams lists other trams and busses available for transfer.

What’s next?

So, is this still article still relevant? Maybe you also get motivated to improve this. Still I see issues. It looks overloaded as soon as transfer information is added, but at the same time there’s more useful information that could be included the same time. And wouldn’t it be nice to have a wonderful transition between the stops?

I’d love to see your ideas in a follow up!

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