Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

A New Branding and Wayfinding Master Plan

Back To Projects
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Improving the Rider Experience with Design

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the seventh-largest U.S. rapid transit system by ridership, serving five counties in the Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area. In the spring of 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, SEPTA recognized that ridership patterns were likely to change long term. The organization's response was to prioritize the development of a Branding and Wayfinding Master Plan. SEPTA had long understood that their branding was fragmented and unclear, while their signage and information was inconsistent and often difficult to understand. The naming, wayfinding system, and messaging needed to be more intuitive, accessible, and inclusive for riders of all abilities.
  • Client

    Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

  • Location

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Sector


  • Discipline

    Branding, Research and Consultation, Wayfinding

  • Collaborators

    Jacobs, Engineering Firm Megan S. Ryerson, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Center for Safe Mobility, Eye Tracking Wayfinding Study Lead

  • Awards

    SEGD Global Design Merit Award

Making the Roadmap

Entro collaborated with SEPTA, its riders, and many other partner organizations to develop the Master Plan. The goal was to create a uniform and simplified convention for route names, develop a visual identity for the networks, implement colour-coded signage and clearer maps to simplify navigation, and rename the entire rapid transit network.

Before and after renderings showing the proposed new signage at a station entrance.
Before and after renderings showing the proposed new signage on a station platform.

Creating a Unified Network

The rapid transit lines were constructed and operated by separate private companies. As a result, the public perceived them as a series of individual lines rather than a unified network. The Master Plan was an opportunity to reframe it as a complete system.


To mark a new beginning, we renamed the system from “Rail Transit Network” to “SEPTA Metro”. We then assigned each line its own identifying colour. We kept the existing colours wherever possible, but made changes to ensure that each colour was easy to differentiate from the rest in every viewing condition.

The line nomenclature was redesigned to match the system’s trunk and branch layout and uses redundancies to improve accessibility. For example, the Broad Street Line can also be identified as the orange line or the B Line. A number at the end of the route name tells riders which specific service pattern the vehicle is running (B1, B2, etc). Using colours, names, letters, and numbers keeps signage legible for people with reading difficulties, non-English speakers, and anyone with colour vision deficiencies.

Network Map

We designed a full map that shows the entire unified SEPTA Metro system. Prior maps used a fully accurate geographic representation of routes, stations, and transfers. For rider clarity and reduced risk of confusion, we opted instead for a stylized rendering. The new map is cleaner and simpler to read, so riders can get the information they need with just a glance, rather than having to sift through details that aren’t relevant to their trip.

Septa future system map and a line map
An entro researcher at a SEPTA station getting feedback on the new designs from a rider.
Researching Rider Needs

We prioritized community outreach throughout the process. The research findings gave us the insights and guidance to make sure we designed an inclusive and accessible transit experience that met SEPTA Metro riders’ diverse needs. Our efforts included: station audits, meetings with stakeholder groups, external agencies, and advocacy groups, an online survey, and a Tobii Pro eye-tracking study led by the University of Pennsylvania. To help us stay on the right track, we held regular meetings with stakeholder groups, external agencies, and advocacy groups. Finally, upon the Master Plan’s completion, we held a 2-month public outreach period to invite feedback from the public at large.

Computers displaying the SEPTA Master Plan Website and interactive system and line maps.
Spreads from the SEPTA Branding and Wayfinding Master Plan document.
Rendering of a new branded pylon sign.

Entro is now working with SEPTA to complete a SEPTA Wayfinding Standards Manual and to implement the signage program across the system.

Find out more about the development and implementation of SEPTA’s Wayfinding Master Plan.

Share project