Behind BART’s crowding level icons

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

About a month ago, we set out to design BART‘s new icons representing crowding on trains.

The constraints were tight: icons could be no more than 16 x 22 pixels in order to fit’s current trip planner, and ideally the icons would be easily understood without a legend.

Initially, there were four levels of crowding to iconify: low, medium, high, and very high. I thought it would be better to have three levels:  light, moderate and heavy, and aggregate the data on the backend instead.

Ultimately, I decided that using a window frame and passenger heads would be best. Thinking it through as a BART rider, low crowding to me means “I can probably sit down” whereas high crowding means “I’ll probably have to stand up”. I tried representing standing people in the icon, but in the end it wasn’t as clear as using one, two, and three heads. For fun, here were our original concepts:

BART crowding icon designs

These are two of the final icons, which will be used on the web and mobile BART sites.


BART icons show crowding levels on trains

What do you think? Could BART’s train crowding be better represented by other icons?

On the web:


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