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News Release

Nostalgia Meets High-Tech With Retro “Flap Sign” in San Francisco’s Historic Ferry Building

OAKLAND, CA — The San Francisco Ferry Building is set to become the home of a retro-styled “flap sign” displaying information for all of the ferries serving San Francisco. Located in the Great Nave of the Ferry Building, the flap sign will be unveiled in a presentation at the Imperial Tea Court in the San Francisco Ferry Building at 2 p.m. today, February 13, 2013.

At a glance, the new sign will offer thousands of daily ferry passengers departure times for routes to Vallejo, Alameda, Oakland, Larkspur, Sausalito, Tiburon and Angel Island. A busy and centrally located transit hub and retail center, the Ferry Building serves approximately 11,000 visitors and travelers daily.

A part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Hub Signage Program, this distinctive flap sign hearkens back to the glory days of travel. Also known as split-flap displays, flap signs were once common in major railway stations and airports throughout the world. Although historically styled, the new flap sign is embedded with a high-tech processor that will effortlessly display ferry departure times for three ferry systems (Golden Gate Transit, SF Bay Ferry and the Blue & Gold Fleet) using MTC’s 511 traveler information database. The display is designed to honor and harmonize with the classic aesthetics of the San Francisco Ferry Building, known for its Beaux Arts architecture, array of food purveyors and scenic location.

The flap sign installation coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Ferry Building renovation in 2003. “This unique element of MTC’s Regional Hub Signage Program serves ferry passengers and celebrates the renovation of the popular San Francisco Ferry Building 10 years ago. The flap sign is a new tool for travelers and a distinctive addition to a beloved transportation landmark,” said Anne W. Halsted, MTC commissioner and vice chair of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

The flap sign is a joint project of MTC, BCDC, the Port of San Francisco and Equity Office, the Ferry Building’s property management firm. Speakers at the February 13 unveiling will include MTC Commissioner Halsted; Jane Connors, senior property manager, Equity Office; and Monique Moyer, executive director, Port of San Francisco.

“Riders catching a ferry can at a glance determine if they should rush or whether they have time to do some shopping,” said Jay Stagi, project manager for MTC’s Hub Signage Program. “While this flap sign is unique to the Ferry Building, it is part of the new Hub Signage Program which is making navigating around the region easier by installing new transit signage, map displays and real-time transit information at key transit stations,” added Stagi.

About 511 and the Hub Signage Program

The new flap sign is part of MTC's 511 Traveler Information Program. 511 provides up-to-the-minute traffic and transit information via the phone, web, by text and a mobile site and, most recently, through a smartphone app. With over four million requests monthly, 511 is also a valuable information source during emergencies as well as for major events. 

MTC’s Hub Signage Program is improving transit signage and schedule information for bus, rail and ferry travelers. MTC is installing new maps, better signage and electronic displays with real-time transit information in and around Bay Area transit stations to make navigating easier for transit customers and to complement already available transportation information. For photos of the flap sign and associated Hub Signage Program installations, please visit:

MTC is the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area’s transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency.


John Goodwin: (415) 778-5262, (415) 778-5262 Cell

Brenda Kahn: (415) 778-6773, (510) 207-4294 Cell

Jay Stagi: (510) 817-5808, (415) 531-7917 Cell

Kit Powis: (510) 273-3650, (510) 220-0364 

Flipping over the Flap