Category Archives: is this allowed

Caveat transfer


I’ve been watching this go on from the sidelines long enough, and though I’m not aware of anything major happening yet, I don’t like the idea of treating well-meaning passengers like suspects.

Background: We’re nearly a month in to TriMet’s sweeping service changes of a flat rate fare and no more zones. Now an adult 2-hour ticket is $2.50, regardless of distance, and an all-day ticket is $5. Essentially, passengers are being encouraged to buy their all-day ticket up front, since if their trip and errands will take more than two hours, they’re no longer saving anything by buying two 2-hour tickets for their travel. You could even fairly say that the all-day is a better deal because you can get a full day’s worth of trips on TriMet for the same cost as 4 hours’ worth of trips. This is all very well and good.

Here’s the problem. Prior to this service change, if you bought an all-day pass on a bus there was a lot of variance on what time that transfer would be cut to, but that wasn’t really a big deal. Sometimes drivers or fare inspectors would just ask passengers with a short transfer to show it again to make sure it was valid for the day. However, since the beginning of September, there are now new standards on how all-days should be punched and cut:

Training bulletin on the new fares

The all-day transfer that you buy on a bus is now literally “all day” – which on the new transfers is 2:30am. But take another look at the bottom bullet:

In other words, if your bus driver tears the entire transfer off of the book instead of using the cutter to tear it at 2:30, it indicates to a fare inspector that you may have stolen that transfer.

And here’s the catch. There are over a thousand bus operators at TriMet right now. Trying to get all of them to do something the same way is akin to herding cats. Even before this change went into effect, what you got when you paid for a transfer on a bus often depended on who was driving. For example, a lot of drivers subscribed to the “Zones are needlessly complicated, everyone on my bus gets an all-zone transfer” idea, many would cut transfers more generously than 1-hour past the end of the line, others were sticklers for the rules to the letter, etc.

Unfortunately for passengers, that inconsistency has carried over to this new policy. A lot of drivers are still handing out their all-day transfers torn directly off the book instead of being cut at 2:30, some are still cutting them short, and they’re often unaware that they’re supposed to be doing anything else. I was talking with a friend of mine who is at bus a couple of weeks ago about all these new changes, and her response was “Oh, I’ve been tearing the entire all-day tickets right off the book. Should I not be doing that?”

And sometimes operators make mistakes. I know another bus operator who was partway through his shift before he realized he mixed his fares up in his transfer cutter, and so the ones he had punched as all-day tickets were being cut at 2 hours, and the ones he punched as 2-hour tickets he was cutting at the 2:30am line. As far as I know, neither of those fares would be considered valid if inspected (the ones punched as all-days were too short, and the ones cut at 2:30 only had 3 punches on the bottom instead of the necessary 4).

But passengers have no way of knowing any of this until they get stopped by someone doing code enforcement or a bus driver who refuses to let them board because their fare is “invalid,” even if they paid for it fair and square. And yes, that is happening, as seen in supervisor reports from earlier this month posted at Al M’s blog (though I have not yet heard of anyone being cited for having an improperly cut transfer):

Oddly enough, as pointed out by a friend of mine who does code enforcement, the old transfers with zones had a statement on the back saying that if the driver disputed the validity of the transfer, the passenger should mail the disputed transfer to TriMet’s customer service along with an explanation of what happened. These new transfers have no such statement on the back and I’m not sure what recourse is available for passengers in that situation.

I don’t know, I don’t like setting passengers up to fail. The ticket machines are a joke, the validators aren’t 100% reliable either (wait until it starts getting cold out! Many of them stop working in cold and wet weather!), and now passengers might be treated with suspicion if they buy a transfer from a driver who didn’t tear it right and – as an added bonus! – we took away the wording on the back of the transfers telling them what to if their fare is disputed? Come on.

I’m really not trying to undermine fare inspectors here… I have several friends who do code enforcement, and I’m not writing this to make their jobs harder or let slip any big secrets that transfers that aren’t cut properly can be questioned as stolen. They also didn’t create this policy, that came from above, and from what I’ve seen the inspectors who are told to carry it out aren’t too fond of it either (or the ongoing TVM issues, and all the other systematic things that are making their jobs harder). Yes, sometimes people do steal transfers off of buses and that’s a problem, but I don’t think treating everyone holding improperly cut all-days with suspicion is the appropriate response, especially when there are a lot of bus drivers who aren’t cutting their transfers correctly. That shouldn’t be the passengers’ problem.

Protect yourself

If you buy a transfer on the bus, make sure it’s valid for you.

  • You are not expected to know the two-letter day code, but make sure only two letters are punched
  • If the H or Y square is punched, make sure that you have appropriate ID to show that you are entitled to a reduced fare (HC card for the Honored Citizens fare, ID showing that you’re under 17 for a Youth fare, etc) This IS a requirement in order to carry that fare – if your fare is checked and you don’t have valid ID, that’s risking a $175 citation
  • If the driver gave you a transfer punched with one of those by mistake, ask for an adult ticket. If you bought an adult ticket, make sure that the A square is punched
  • If you bought an all-day pass, make sure that both “Day” and the appropriate square (typically A for adult fare, but could be H or Y, again with the proper ID) have been punched and that the ticket is torn at 2:30am
  • If your ticket has a perforated edge visible at the top like the one at the top of this post (i.e. STOLEN!!!), you could probably just tear it to the proper 2:30 line yourself instead of asking the driver to do it
  • If you get something that just looks wrong (an all-day cut at a time other than 2:30am, too many or not enough squares punched at the bottom, etc), talk to the driver and ask them to either punch it correctly or issue you another transfer

Be polite if you have to ask the driver to fix your transfer – sure, it could mean the difference of getting a $175 citation if they gave you an invalid one, but it could have been an honest mistake on their part.

And even if you’re offered a good deal, don’t buy transfers secondhand from someone else. It’s fine to purchase tickets from authorized TriMet street vendors – they will be wearing TriMet clothing/apron/jackets at special events and have TriMet ID, and the tickets they sell are valid. But some random person offering TriMet tickets or transfers at a bus stop or MAX platform? You have no way of knowing if it’s valid (the 2-letter code punched in the bottom changes daily, what are you going to do if they sell you yesterday’s ticket for a buck but then you get a $175 citation for not having today’s valid fare?), plus it’s technically against TriMet code. The back of the tickets state that they are not transferable, and so you could be warned, cited, or excluded if an inspector sees the exchange. That goes for you giving a transfer with time on it to someone else too, ESPECIALLY if you hand off your ticket to someone who doesn’t have one during a fare inspection. It might seem like the neighborly thing to do but will end up getting both of you in trouble if you get caught.

How to lose a kid in 10 seconds

Preface before the actual post content: TriMet GM Neil McFarlane recently sent out a memo to TriMet employees regarding discussions about TriMet, both in social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as conversations in public with other employees because “any comment made can become part of a news story.” Neil expressed concerns about misinformation spreading when unofficial sources release any information (e.g. a rider overhearing that service is going to be cut and then blogging about it) and then the media potentially using that as the basis for a story.

I thought it was interesting that no comment was made regarding official TriMet information being wrong, which has been known to happen. Off the top of my head, there was the time that TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch told Oregonian reporter Joseph Rose that the door buttons on the outside of the train are used by passengers to open the doors for themselves when a train arrives at a platform (that’s not really how they work), and the time last year when TriMet was promoting 4th of July events that you could not actually travel to and from by taking TriMet. And someone who wasn’t a rail operator (because anyone who is rail certified would know better) told KGW and other news outlets that the door buttons on the outside of the train are “emergency stop buttons.”

Seriously TriMet, my kingdom for an official release, webpage, something on what those door buttons are and how they work.

I don’t know… just because something is official doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be correct, and just because something is unofficial doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But I will follow the rules and again state (also in my disclaimer at the bottom of every page as well as on my “About” page) that I am not a TriMet spokesman, this blog is not an official TriMet publication, and if you want the official TriMet answer to something, please use the official contact channels. At the same time, I want to continue writing about the trains because I think it’s a good thing when passengers take an interest in the system and how things work, and it’s not like there are any official TriMet blogs handling that. So I make every effort to present factually correct information, whether I’m talking with passengers in person or posting here. Even though it’s all unofficial.

That being said, there was a recent news story I wanted to comment on from my own personal perspective. I’ve held off for a while since I don’t want to violate any TriMet policies, so that’s why I wanted to make it clear now that these are my thoughts and not any sort of official statement.


Quick! Spot the two-year-old in this picture.

A few weekends ago at the Albina/Mississippi platform, a father traveling with his two-year-old in a bike trailer was separated from her when he put her on the train along with his bike, then got off the train to load the trailer, at which point the train left the platform with the child still on board.

The video at KPTV is one of the clearest versions of the platform footage posted online, and while the person boarding with a bike is visible, it’s next to impossible to see a child with him. Following the timer of the video, the doors open at 9 seconds, you can see someone board with a bicycle at about 15 seconds, then there is no movement in or out of the train between 16 and 22 seconds. At 23 seconds a guy (the father) exits the train and goes under the shelter, the doors are closing at 25 seconds, the guy tries to reboard at 26 seconds, but the train leaves the platform. The father insisted that the operator must not have been paying attention, and many people still agree that the father was right and the operator was wrong, even though comments became far less critical of the operator after the platform footage was released.

So, we’re going to go over platform stops to give you a better idea of what it’s like from the perspective of the cab, what your operator is doing up there, and how separations like this could happen.

Coming into a platform, one of the main concerns operators have is “is anyone likely to walk or fall in front of me?” If you’re waiting at a platform to board a train, please do your part to help and wait behind the white tactile strip.

I don’t trust that this guy will stay safely away from the train

Of course, operators can’t stare fixedly at the tactile strip because that runs the risk of missing other safety hazards around the platform, and there are a lot of things operators have to keep an eye on.

Here are two video clips showing the approach into and stops at two different platforms. I don’t have any video of what an operator sees while watching people board, because that’s a difficult angle to get unless you’re operating the train (if you’re riding in the cab window, the view you get in the mirror pretty much looks like this), and since I won’t take pics/video while operating, there’s not much I can do to show you how it looks. But this at least shows a lot of the types of visual information an operator gets on approach.

This first video is westbound into Civic Drive, which was pretty quiet as far as passenger loads go. But I like this as an example because of the crossing gates immediately before the platform. Operators coming into Civic Drive from this direction are going to be scanning the pedestrian crossings on both sides of the street, watching for cars or cyclists that may attempt to get around the lowered gates, and ensuring that the crossing gates/lights are all functioning properly. This is representative of many platforms in ABS territory.

This second video is eastbound into Kings Hill/SW Salmon. More people on this platform than there were at Civic Drive (though not a packed platform by any stretch of the imagination), and we’ll still be checking pedestrian crosswalks into the platform. Since we’re running in pre-empt territory here next to cars, additional hazards to scan for are cars or cyclists from the next lane coming into the rail right of way, and also cars making a left turn on red prior to the platform.

In addition to location-specific things as mentioned above, there are general things to check for at every platform. You’ll see operators scanning platforms looking for anyone waiting to board who will need the bridgeplates deployed. This is something passengers can do for themselves outside the train if the operator doesn’t do it, but it’s faster if the operator does it because then you don’t have to wait for those doors to close and reopen. And operators will also be doing an overall check of each platform – is there anyone on the platform who looks like they need medical (or police) attention, is the track clear, are there any safety hazards like a broken tactile strip, etc. Finally, operators will also be looking at the berthing marker, which is that white horizontal line at the end of each platform that shows where to stop.

Coupler over berthing marker

Then while at the platform, the operator will open the doors while watching the mirrors or camera monitors that people are getting on and off the train. They will also be keeping an eye on the signal (and at many platforms in pre-empt territory, also watching the auto traffic signals to time when to call the pre-empt), checking the time against the paddle to make sure they are not ahead of or behind schedule, and possibly answering passenger questions while the train is stopped or communicating with Control if necessary.

When it’s time to depart, the operator will close the doors (a reasonable rule of thumb is to wait for about 5 seconds of no one boarding or exiting the train before closing the doors), ensure they have a proper signal, ring the bell, and go. The video of this incident showed 6 seconds of no activity, and then a guy darting off, which happens sometimes (the “Oh wait, this is my stop!” maneuver). Why would you reasonably expect him to get back on the train after it’s been sitting there with the doors open for a while?

So even though the men and women operating your trains are in fact devastatingly brilliant, there’s actually not a lot of time left over after doing all of that to spend memorizing every person on the platform and who they are with. It’s sort of like one of those old memory tests from grade school where you’re shown a bunch of random pictures for 30 seconds  and then have to identify which ones have vanished or changed position. In this case, sure, the operator probably saw the father/daughter on the platform while coming in to the stop, but didn’t have the recall to know that the person who got off the train at the last second was the father leaving without his child because of everything else they were concentrating on. And also keep in mind that the trains are about 200 feet long – there are a lot of doors and passengers to scan in the mirror, not just one.

Westbound into Pioneer Square North

Overall, what I’m getting at is that the operator is responsible for the safety of the train as a whole (which includes being prepared to stop if a car or person enters the right of way), but passengers have to show personal responsibility as well. While no one wants to intentionally separate a child from his or her parents, it really is up to the parents to look out for the safety of their children on and around the trains because that’s part of being a parent, and it is not part of an operator’s job description to be a babysitter. I can’t imagine any situation in which I’d put a 2 year old on a train and turn my back on her to exit the train. However, if I were so inclined and someone let me borrow their toddler, I bet you I could very easily put the child on a train and exit without the operator knowing I did it. Since no platform is perfectly clear what with ticket machines, shelters, schedule information, trees, architecture, artwork, and other people present, it’s not hard to not be seen by an operator as a train comes in to a platform, and since the operator’s attention is on a number of different things to keep everyone safe, it’d be easy to get on the train, leave the child and get right back off. This has nothing to do with the quality or training of the operator and everything to do with the actions of the passenger.

Native Norwegian and fellow blogger EMS had written about the differences in cultures where trains are common, drawing from her own experiences growing up in Norway. I don’t have a link available, but I remember she had talked about how in Norway people acted much differently around the trains both on foot and driving because they were an expected part of the landscape, and she saw very different behavior here where trains are comparatively newer. And I think there’s something to that – maybe because rail in Portland is relatively new, maybe because our light rail acts like a streetcar downtown but a commuter rail to the suburbs and because of that streetcarishness, people expect the trains to wait for them or think they can stop on a dime, I don’t know. But in areas where commuting by train is common, these kinds of separations are not – like one commenter over at the Oregonian said:

I grew up in New York City. My family lived in the outer boroughs and owned a car, so we didn’t do too much subway riding, but when we did I remember very clearly the lesson I got EVERY time: If the doors close and Mommy is on the platform and you’re on the train, get off at the next stop and wait for Mommy to take the next train and find you. If the doors close and you’re on the platform, stay there; Mommy will go to the next stop, switch directions, and come back for you.

That speech is a rite of passage for NYC kids. You don’t hear many stories of parent-child separations on the subway, but you’d better believe every kid in the city (and every parent) knows what to do if it happens. And nobody sues the MTA over it.

It’d be nice if that level of common sense existed in Portland.

Personally I think this is a really good idea, and while I don’t know how well that would work with a two-year old, I’d hope that parents of slightly older children will teach them some sort of plan like that in case of separation on the trains.

And a final note about bicycles..

Picture borrowed from Bike Portland - please don’t do this.

This whole issue stemmed from the fact that the father tried to bring a bike trailer onto the train, yet bike trailers are not permitted on TriMet vehicles. The bike hooks on the trains are designed for standard-sized bicycles – not tandems, cargo bikes or bikes with atypically large frames (e.g. Xtracycles), or bicycles with trailers. This is not done as a slight against bicyclists, it’s just an issue of space and safety – the doors and aisles of the train must be kept clear in case evacuation is needed. I understand that the hill between Albina/Mississippi and Overlook is steep and I wouldn’t really want to do it on a bicycle while towing something, but there are very clear rules about the types of bicycles that are permitted on TriMet vehicles.

Open response to an open letter

I recently saw this complaint on Planet Feedback:

Tri-Met Train Engineer Refused to Open Train Doors

Posted Sat February 5, 2011 3:03 pm, by John T. written to Mr. Neil McFarlane, General Manager, Tri-Met

I am writing to inform you of an unpleasant experience on the Yellow Max Line to Expo Center. This is the text of my Tri-Met website email complaint, which I sent on 1/28/2011:
Engineer refused to open the door (Train 123, 1:28 p.m., Thursday,1/27/2011 at SW 6th Ave. & Morrison), even though there was ample time to do so. I crossed the street from Pioneer Square as the Expo Center train was stopped at a red light. When my light changed to green, I immediately crossed the street and quickly walked right in front of the stopped train, so the engineer had to see me. I hurriedly pressed the yellow and blue buttons for the doors to open on the first car. The traffic light was still red (for the train). They did not, so I attempted to open the doors with my fingers. Seeing the doors were tight and unyielding, I immediately removed my hands and stepped back. A second or two after I had stopped trying to open the doors, the engineer said over the external speaker, “You better take your hands off that door or you will be arrested.” Those words prove he had seen me while the train was still stopped. A few seconds later, some stranger walked up to me and said he had pushed the door open buttons too in the second car, and the doors did not open. The train was still stopped as he initially spoke to me. Both myself and the stranger were casually well-dressed and very sober. Generally speaking I like Tri-Met, but this engineer was out of line and needs retraining and/or some other appropriate sanction. I wonder how many other riders he has treated so poorly.

Please investigate the matter and the Rider Complaint procedure thoroughly, which appears to be deficient and in need of revision because of the following: The Tri-Met website did not generate a case number or any email to me with a copy of my issue after I sent it on 1/28/2011. Also, since I did not receive a timely confirmation via email or telephone after 1/28/2011, I sent an email on or about 2/3/2011. On 2/4/2011 I received an email (copy enclosed) stating that my issue was reported on 1/28/2011 to the Yellow Line Manager, and that it is a “private matter” between the manager and the employee. I am not satisfied with this closed system, as there is no real accountability to the public or myself. The public is supposed to trust what occurs behind closed doors, but we are not even informed of the outcome. This does not seem fair.

I was pleased to see the comments to the letter, where several people explained that once a train has its signal, it can’t wait for more people to board. Another commenter said it’s not appropriate to release disciplinary information to the public, which I also agree with. However, as for the original complaint, I know that John T is not unique in being mad that trains don’t wait for him and even though I’ve already written about the yellow door release buttons before, now’s as good a time as any to do it again, as well as explain a little bit about how the mall signals work.

First, a basic refresher on pre-empt signals – these display a yellow horizontal which means “STOP” to a train or a white vertical which means “PROCEED WITH CAUTION”. Because of how the CBD is set up, there are a number of intersections where auto traffic will have a red light (STOP) but a train will have a white vertical – this will be the case in any intersection where a green light could potentially turn a car into the path of a train.

SW 6th & Yamhill – red light for cars, white vertical for an eastbound train, and walk sign for pedestrians

So don’t look at the auto traffic signals to determine if a train is about to move or not, because at most intersections the train isn’t following those signals. The train having a “red light” in this case is irrelevant.

Now moving on to the rest of the complaint, which is essentially “the train didn’t wait for me and reopen the doors.” Well, no – the mall is not a good place for that sort of thing. Sometimes an operator of a north or southbound train will release the doors – that is, turn on the external door buttons so that passengers can push them to open the doors and let themselves on – if they are waiting for an eastbound or westbound train to pass or for the way ahead to be clear, but once they’re ready to call the signal, the doors are closed and it’s time to go. Here’s why:

Pioneer Courthouse, SW 5th & Yamhill facing south

This is a view looking south on 5th Avenue. On the top of the pole in the middle of the picture, you can see the pre-empt signal for southbound Yellow and Green trains to PSU. It’s displaying a yellow horizontal in the picture which is the default aspect until a train calls it. Now look down 5th at each intersection – you can see the auto traffic lights that are red and green on the left side of 5th, and on the right side you can see the pre-empt signals for the trains (all yellow horizontals).

SW 5th & Yamhill, wider view.
The pre-empt signals may be easier to see in this picture

If you ride a train on 5th or 6th, you’ll notice that ideally the train will only stop at platforms, not at the intersections between platforms. This is because those pre-empts cascade – an operator will call the signal at the platform, and then the pre-empts up through the next platform are automatically timed so that when the train gets to each intersection, the pre-empt will be displaying a permissive white vertical to proceed without the operator needing to do anything. In the event that the train has to stop (e.g. a personal auto blocking the right of way, a pedestrian running in front of a train, a car or cyclist running a red light – you know, those things that never happen) each intersection also has a secondary call loop where an operator is able to recall the signal. Under normal operating conditions, the cascading signals between platforms allows for the smoothest and fastest train movement.

South end of the mall by PSU looking north up 6th Ave. Notice the pre-empt signals on the right, the curve in the rails for the train to move to the center lane, and the bus ahead pulling away from its stop

But remember that the mall isn’t just for trains. The alignment runs serpentine with buses so that the trains and buses leapfrog up and down the mall with the rails cutting over to the right every few blocks for a platform, and then back over to the center lane for the blocks that are served by buses. The auto signals on the mall are in sync with the train pre-empts, so buses will be held on a red light to let the train move through and get out of the way when the train has a permissive signal since both buses and trains share the center travel lane and cross paths to service alternating blocks.

View from above of a Yellow Line train on 5th moving into the center travel lane after servicing the Pioneer Courthouse platform in the previous block

SO – getting back to why a train can’t wait “just a few more seconds” for you and reopen the doors… when an operator calls a signal at a platform on the mall, it starts the cascade of pre-empts up to the next platform. This cascade goes through even if the train stays put where it is, which can happen if the operator reopens the doors to let late runners on and then the signal in front of them times out. This delays buses unnecessarily as they are held at red lights waiting for a train that isn’t there. As a result, not only will the train you wanted to get on be delayed, but so will a bunch of buses because you weren’t at the platform when the train’s doors were open. Preventing that from happening, quite frankly, isn’t something an operator needs to be disciplined for.

And finally, I feel the need to defend the operator of that train – I know whose run that is and they’re one of the last people I could think of that would threaten a passenger with an arrest. I’m hard pressed to believe that such a comment was even made by the operator, but I’m not surprised at the accusation. I have seen operators scapegoated for everything that goes wrong for passengers (classic example – a bus running exactly on time and someone on the bus calling their boss “Yeah, the stupid bus was late again so I’m going to be late for work.”  Hey! Not the bus operator’s fault you picked a later bus than you needed. Take responsibility for your own actions.)

Service horses

Not gonna lie – about a month ago when I heard that TriMet would be changing its service animal policy to state that only dogs could be classified as service animals, I wondered about service horses. After all, they’re allowed in the Apple store, so why not a MAX train?

Despite the fact that I don’t think anyone in the Portland area even has a service horse – and if they do, I’ve never spotted them on a bus or train – the news is making it sound like if TriMet allows service horses on board, your afternoon rush hour MAX will be overrun with tiny ponies (which, incidentally, would be awesome.)

A horse as a service animal is rare, but it’s not news - here’s an article from 2003 about a service horse on an airplane. What’s also not news is that under what had been TriMet’s service animal policy, people already could bring miniature horses onboard TriMet buses and trains. All an operator could ask is “Is that a service animal?” (not even getting into the other question permitted by the ADA, which is “What service is the animal trained to provide?”) If the person with the animal says “yes”, there’s not really anything the operator can do unless the animal is out of control. This policy has led to problems, like when a man got on a bus and claimed his Rottweiler mix was a service dog (it wasn’t), and it killed a service dog that was already on the bus. And it also meant people were bringing on their “service ferrets” or “service chickens”, so I imagine if someone had a pet miniature horse and tried to bring it on a bus saying it was a service horse, they could’ve done it.

Picture found online – photographer Jordan Richardson

Personally if I were operating a train and saw someone with a harnessed miniature horse waiting to board at a platform, I’d assume they had some sort of disability and just put out the bridgeplates for them – ditto for a person with a guide dog, a person with a white cane, a person with a wheelchair, etc. I actually think I’d more readily assume that a miniature horse is a service animal than some of the dogs I’ve seen people passing off as service dogs. I don’t know, I guess I don’t see why the idea of a service horse is such a big deal.


Anti-vandalization sign… that’s been vandalized.

Apparently the most frequently vandalized sign on TriMet is the one offering a reward for turning in vandals. I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s the sign above, which somehow made it through QA checking with a typo. It reads:

It is a felony under oregon law to assault a TriMet operator or vandalizes TriMet property

And I’ve noticed, sure enough, on a lot of them someone very carefully has crossed out the final “s” in “vandalizes”, as there is a lack of subject-verb agreement there.

I suppose yes, that’s vandalization in and of itself, but in a way I think it’s just someone engaging in copyediting for the sake of making the sign accurate.