Recommended Practice

Why Design Matters for Transit


This Recommended Practice promotes the importance of design in the success of a transit project, including transit facilities and transit systems. Key principles of design are summarized, and specific tools to achieve design excellence are described, including design guidelines. Design and the design process are promoted for establishing an agency vision and sense of purpose, guiding the development of a facility and clarifying the agency’s core functions so the design decisions will support (rather than contradict) them. Typical transit facility/system design goals include convenience, cost-effectiveness, safety, security, dynamic placemaking, multimodal balance, economic stimulation, environmental sustainability and a positive identity for the transit line, transit agency, and surrounding community.

Document History
Document Number Version Publication Date Publication Related Information
APTA SUDS-UD-RP-003-11 Rev. 1 03/26/2013 Published Current


aesthetics, design, development, durability, features, function


Design is the necessary process for responding to three critical challenges of a successful development project: aesthetics, function, and durability. A project that appeals to its users, anticipates and accommodates them, and ensures that future users can also benefit from its development has successfully addressed all three concerns. A lack of attention to design at the macro (systemwide) and micro (station/stop) levels put the success of a project at risk. The function must be achieved while being aesthetically pleasing, and ignoring the future ability to maintain and sustain a project is never a cost-effective decision, no matter what the initial cost savings are. In short, good design is a good investment, and having good design guide decisions is one way to ensure that a project will be perceived as both an immediate success and one that gracefully stands the test of time. Successful transit agencies know that people have a choice; these things matter to riders

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