A new vision for printed publicity

The Trapeze Team | April 28, 2016

While real-time and Smartphones have undoubtedly changed the face of bus service publicity, printed outputs remain absolutely vital – as Aberdeenshire’s Martin Hall recently told us.

Indeed, rather than replacing printed publicity, modern technology is actually making it more useful than ever before, with elements such as QR codes aligning printed outputs with real-time information.

We therefore thought it worth highlighting the potential of printed publicity by showcasing some of the excellent work being done by Trapeze’s NOVUS Publish customers.

Interactive elements

We are seeing increasing numbers of customers making innovative use of interactive elements such as Quick Response (QR) codes, which make it possible to blend real-time information into traditional printed materials.

However, it is of course also important to consider the passenger here: not everyone will own a device capable of accessing interactive elements, so it’s always sensible to consider how much space to allocate to them.

Timetable with QR code
An example of a QR code on a bus timetable

Maps and images

Maps and images are also becoming increasingly common on printed materials where they serve as a guide to passengers to help them work out where they are and where they need to get to. At the same time, it is important to consider how these elements are presented – if they are zoomed in too close then there’s a risk of losing the context of the surrounding geographical area; however, if they are zoomed out to provide a wider view of the area, identifying bus routes easily can become more challenging.

Photo of timetable with maps
Examples of maps used on a printed bus timetable

Colour coding and co-ordination

Many customers use colours to help passengers differentiate between days of the week and different bus services – and also to maintain organisational branding. Effective use of colour can help highlight certain services and make it easier for passengers to identify their stops more quickly, but it’s worth noting that using too many colours can confuse passengers, blurring services and actually making it more difficult for passengers to access the information they need.

Photo of colour coordinated timetable
In this example, the transport provider has used colour co-ordination to match the colours of the timetable with its own organisational brandinng

Use of space

It is always vital to ensure that all available space is being used effectively, though this means different things for different organisations. It’s important to make effective use of space, but does that mean packing as much information as possible onto materials? Some organisations take a ‘less is more’ approach in the belief that a minimalist approach can add clarity to the design.

Simple considerations, such as whether to run with a horizontal or vertical format and layout can have important implications on how much space is available and how clear the information is to the passenger on the street.

Photo of timetable with stop names
In this example, space has been optimised by writing the names of the stops along the route diagram diagonally, rather than horizontally

Flexible layouts

With design features, such as advertising and organisational branding to consider, along with service indices, timetables, maps and interactive elements all competing for space, it’s critical that organisations have a clear understanding of what information they want to prioritise – and how that affects the layout on the printed material; for example, regarding decisions on whether timetables should be placed at the top or the bottom of any page.

Of course, choosing which information takes priority will be a decision that ultimately lies with the publicity designer in your organisation. Yet in order for them to execute their role effectively, they need access to tools, which provide them with the flexibility to do this. NOVUS Publish dynamically chooses the best way to lay out materials in the available space, and even makes decisions as to which elements to leave off, based on your designer’s specific priorities.

So, bringing all these various elements together, let’s take a look at some real-world examples of effective printed publicity designs. Created using our NOVUS Publish system, these designs demonstrate how organisations are producing publicity that is better for passengers and actively encourages confidence in use of public transport.

Publicity around the UK

Departure index and interactive elements

Our first example features a number of interesting elements. Not only are there QR and SMS codes; we can also see the use of a departure index to show which services stop here; the name of the bus operator that runs the service; and where each service is going.

Timetable with colour codes

In this example it is also interesting to see the way that colours have been used to help readers differentiate between days, service and destination. This focus on readability should help passengers more easily find the service information they need to help them make their journeys.

Route diagrams and colour co-ordination

Timetable with route diagrams

In this example we again see interactive elements playing a key role on the printed material, with a large QR code featured at the bottom of the material. Importantly, this design also features route diagrams to provide passengers with information about the key stops along the featured bus routes. As with our previous example, colour again plays a key role, and you can see how vibrant and eye-catching this design is. In this specific case, this design was created with a great deal of public input following extensive public consultation. Here, the colour of a specific bus services matches to the colours featured on the timetable, which should help passengers identify which service they need, and when it will arrive.

Maps and combined routes

Timetable with combined routes

This is a cropped example of a much longer piece of printed bus stop material. The first thing to note may be obvious: the two maps at the top are immediately eye-catching. These features help orient passengers and provide them with geographical context to their location; something that will be particularly useful to tourists or passengers that don’t know the area very well. With two maps featured, each showing different levels of zoom, organisations may wish to consider how much they wish to show on their map (or maps), and therefore how much zoom will be required. It’s also important to consider what information, such as key landmarks or points of interest, are highlighted on the map – and whether it’s best just to highlight nearby bus stops, or also include mention of buildings like museums or hospitals.

The second key feature here is more subtle but just as important: the use of “combined routes”, in which two different routes are combined into a single timetable. Here, the ‘3’ and ‘3G’ services have been combined – saving valuable space on the printed material. It’s important to note that only certain routes can be combined in such a way – and these are generally routes that have the same start and end points, with similar stops in between, and perhaps only a few deviations of bus stops along a route.


Given the inherent complexities involved in updating printed publicity materials, you already know how useful it can be to utilise software solutions that streamline this process.

However, with recent updates to Trapeze’s NOVUS Publish it is now possible to develop more advanced bus stop materials that meet the unique requirements of every transport organisation; bus route; and indeed, every passenger.

Seen a feature that catches your eye? Get in touch today and ask about NOVUS Publish.

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About The Trapeze Team

The Trapeze Team are here to bring you news and information from Trapeze Group (UK) and the public transportation industry.