Montreal Metro – Usability part 2

Last year I wrote about the insufficient affordances in the design of the emergency breaks in Montreal’s Metro trains. While the trains have been in operation for more than 40 years, it seems providing intuitive user interfaces is still not considered important to the STM (Montreal Transit Corporation) even today. Consider this panel found outside the elevators which were newly installed at some stations:

Elevator button panel

Elevator button panel (via

Intuitively, which button would you press to call the elevator?

The correct answer is that both buttons issue a call but only the black button calls the elevator. The red button however issues an emergency call! With this panel design a lot of frustration is guaranteed.

So after only a few days, this design issue was “fixed” the following way:

"Fixed" elevator panel

"Fixed" elevator panel (via

Let’s see how long it will be before the yellow stickers fall off and the panel has to be completely replaced with a more intuitive design after hours of time and frustration have been wasted for many people.

Thanks to Fagstein for discovering this!


2 thoughts on “Montreal Metro – Usability part 2

  1. I like the little yellow arrows, haha. The old design wasn’t that great; if someone was in a hurry or was color blind, they likely could miss the fact that the top button was red and easily push it by mistake.

    I noticed a similar design flaw in the elevators at the new JMSB building of Concordia: The button to call the security operator is directly below the button to close the doors, and it is easy to push it by mistake instead of the button to close the doors. I believe it is also black, like the other buttons.

    Other elevators usually have this button on top or further below, and visually distinct from the rest of the buttons so it is harder to push them by mistake.

  2. In fact, my university in Germany had the same issue in one elevator. Maybe it is a job creation program for the security industry because all those unintentional calls can’t be handled by existing staff 😉

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