Public and Transportation Facilities >> Tokyo Metro Subway System


In April 2004, Tokyo Metro (formerly Teito Rapid Transit Authority) was privatized with an emphasis on “passengers' viewpoints” and “self-sustaining operation.” In order to improve facilities for passengers, and revamp its passenger guidance system, Tokyo Metro appointed R.E.I. as its designer.

R.E.I. produced design criteria for a passenger guidance system from the viewpoints of three types of passengers: (1) conventional passengers, senior passengers, and disabled passengers, (2) tourists from foreign countries, and other parts of the country, and (3) those who seek an aesthetically pleasing urban environment in Tokyo.

Process of producing a sign system

A sign system for the former Eidan Subway was shaped in 1975. There have been major social changes since then: (1) aging passengers, (2) international urbanization in Tokyo, and (3) the complexity of urban traffic, and advanced service for passengers.

Problems cannot be solved simply by enlarging signs or increasing the number of signs because of spatial restriction in the existing stations. R.E.I. conducted an investigation and an analysis on passengers' essential, important needs. Based on them, R.E.I. reorganized the content of signage drastically, conducted a study on the size of letters/characters, and coloration, and reviewed regulations.

1. Survey on passengers' needs
Monitoring surveys were conducted among aged passengers and disabled passengers. Questionnaires were issued to passengers in order to find out their impression about the subway. Questionnaires were also issued to foreign travelers. Their difficulty in understanding the subway system was analyzed.
2. Investigations and experiments on performance
R.E.I. conducted investigations and experiments in a laboratory and at the stations in order to find out appropriate typefaces, colors and contrasts in consideration of aging passengers with weakened eyesight, passengers with reduced vision as well as passengers' sense of color.
3. Regulations of signage layouts
It is important to always provide a guidance system under the same rule. In order to set up a system that makes passengers feel secure, and guides them properly, designers must fully understand the stations and passengers.
4. Production and compilation of standard drawings
R.E.I. produced and compiled standard drawings specifying the dimensions of signs, the locational relations of signs, terms, letters/characters, and colors. Based on the standard drawings, design will be finalized and signage will be maintained.
metro5.jpg metro6.jpg


[Questionnaire about station numbers]


[Compared performance of typefaces]


[Legend of routes used for a fare chart considerate of visually-impaired persons]
Each color was outlined, and gradation was given to unidentifiable colors. The name of each color was also added.