Metro Signs

During a visit to the Washington D.C. area, I took the Orange Line of the Metro into the city.  It suddenly dawned on me,  how confused a non-English speaker could be, when faced with these transportation signs.  I immediately thought of the automated ticket machines in Paris, for non-French speakers, as a comparison.  We tend to take it for granted that things are easy, so I tried to put myself in someone else’s shoes – as a type of role reversal.  Have you encountered this type of situation?

metro map automation IMG_0003 entrance

bench seat

16 thoughts on “Metro Signs

  1. I have trouble understanding them in ANY language!

  2. The ticket machine looks like you would need highly developed IT skills, never mind it being in a foreign language

  3. I also have trouble understanding machines!

  4. Ray Luke says:

    The machines on the Marseille metro were very user friendly. More so than the London underground. The latter being in my native tongue.

  5. Melanie says:

    My hometown! You’re right, the machines are so confusing. I took metro to work every day for nearly two decades and I still struggled with the machines last time I was back.

    Cute DC Metro memory–years ago I was in the same car as a family with a little girl. She was telling her patents what each “prohibited” sign was forbidding. She got no smoking, no animals, no radio, but when she got to the drawing for no food and drink, she interpreted it gleefully as “No vacuuming!” She’s right, it does kind of look like a vacuum cleaner.

    Hope you had a great visit to DC!

  6. frenchfry36 says:

    And you feel like such an idiot when you can’t work out what to do! Like everything – it’s easy when you know how.

  7. Oui, c’est vrai! Thanks for commenting.

  8. cteachr says:

    Yes, we just came back from Quebec. Of course everything is in French only. However, I did notice an English button on the parking meters. So I suppose they are mindful of tourists’ needs.

  9. As you most likely know, there is a language law in Quebec dictating French as the primary language and English secondary for shop signs with strict guidelines on letter size and placement. Good they consider tourists too, though, with the parking meters, so thanks for sharing and commenting.

  10. Oh, wow. Your post brought back a memory — Hubby and I took the train from Paris to Versailles on one of our trips. On the way back that afternoon, a conductor (at least, he was affiliated with the train company on some level) wanted to see our tickets. When Hubby produced them, we were told that we hadn’t punched them in the way we were supposed to before boarding the train. At least the guy was nice about it!

  11. This happens a lot – either people don’t realize or forget (even locals) – nice to hear that the controller was nice (some aren’t!)

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