Transport is a sans serif typeface first designed for road signs in the United Kingdom. It was created between 1957 and 1963 by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert as part of their work as designers for the Department of Transport's Anderson and Worboys committees.
Before its introduction, British road signs used the capitals-only Llewellyn-Smith alphabet that was introduced following the Maybury Report of 1933 and revised in 1955–57. Older signs, known as fingerposts, tended to use a variety of sans serif alphabets as supplied by their manufacturers. For the kinds of roads on which either of these alphabets was likely to be seen, legibility was not a pressing issue, but the planning and building of Britain's first motorway in the 1950s was a catalyst for change.
The Ministry of Transport appointed an Advisory Committee on Traffic Signs for Motorways under the chairmanship of Sir Colin Anderson in 1957 and Jock Kinneir and his assistant Margaret Calvert were appointed as graphic designers to it. All aspects of signing were investigated and tested, initially on the Preston bypass (1958, now part of the M6 motorway), before their introduction on the (London–Yorkshire) M1 motorway a year later. The committee looked at examples from other European countries as well as the USA but Kinneir and Calvert found them somewhat harsh and unsatisfactory. Instead, they developed a more rounded typeface with distinctive tails to 'a', 't', and 'l', and bar-less fractions, all of which helped legibility.
The department, seeing the successful early results of this work then appointed another committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Walter Worboys and again using Kinneir and Calvert as designers, to look at Traffic Signs for All-Purpose Roads. Work for this also resulted in the introduction of the pictogram signs based on those recommended by the 1949 United Nations World Conference on Road and Motor Transport.
Two forms of the typeface exist; Transport Medium and Transport Heavy. Both have the same basic form, but Transport Heavy is boldface, to allow easier readability of black letters on white backgrounds, such as those used on non-primary roads, while Transport Medium is lighter, and is used for white letters on dark backgrounds, such as the green primary-route signs.
The Transport typefaces are the only ones allowed on UK road signs (except for motorway signs, where route numbers appear in their own separate typeface known as Motorway).
Only a limited number of symbols are available in Transport, mainly those commonly used in road signs, such as apostrophes, the pound sign and certain vulgar fractions such as ½ and ⅓. Various diacritics are also available, for use in languages other than English, such as Welsh and Irish.
Other uses around the world
Although developed in the United Kingdom, the typeface has been used in many other countries around the world. In addition to the Crown dependencies, British overseas territories and some limited residual usage in Commonwealth states, the typeface is also used in Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and Portugal, and in much of the Middle East. Denmark uses a variation with added spacing and modified figures. Italy and Spain use bolder variants, called Alfabeto Normale in Italy and Carretera Convencional in Spain (the latter originally only on non-motorway roads, but since 2014 it applies to any new sign both on motorway and non-motorway roads).
In countries where other scripts (such as the Perso-Arabic script) are used, Transport is often used for Latin transliterations. Road signs in the Republic of Ireland use all-caps Transport Heavy for English names; for Irish names, mixed-case Transport Heavy oblique is used with variants for A, a, i, M and N: script a, dotless i, and tall versions of m and n.
In Indonesia, since April 2014, changeable message signs/electronic signs have used Transport.
- Bangladesh – road signs
- Greece – road signs (Greek letters added)
- Hong Kong – road signs
- Iceland – road signs
- Iran – road signs
- Ireland – road signs
- Italy – road signs
- Indonesia – variable message signs
- Malaysia – road signs
- Nepal – road signs
- Oman – road signs
- Portugal – road signs
- Qatar – road signs
- Singapore – road signs (Parking Area only)
- Spain – road signs
- United Arab Emirates – road signs
- United Kingdom – road signs, government website and some government letters
- United States – North Carolina government websites
The original Transport family, with its two weights, has been digitised by URW++.
An updated version of the typeface has been developed by Henrik Kubel of A2/SW/HK and Margaret Calvert during 2012, with the family expanded to include six different weights (Thin, Light, Regular, Medium, Bold, Black) with oblique stylings to complement them. It also has other features including text figures and small capitals.
One of its first public uses has been on the UK's revamped central government website, 'GOV.UK', where it has been selected as the sole font for all text. The specific variant is called "GDS Transport".
Logo of the American cybersecurity and data backup company, Datto, Inc. used New Transport Medium typeface.
An updated though unofficial family based upon Transport was first released by independent foundry K-Type in 2008. The family includes Light, Medium and Heavy weights along with true italics which were added in 2015.
This family is the main UI typeface of Untitled Goose Game made by House House in 2019.
Jörg Hemker designed two typefaces that are inspired from the Transport typeface: FF Nort and FF Nort Headline. Both typefaces support Greek and Cyrillic.
A Scottish sign using the typeface on the Isle of Skye, with placenames given in both Scots Gaelic and English, and distances shown in miles.
The typeface is in use in the Middle East, in this case within the Omani enclave of Madha, within the United Arab Emirates. The Latin alphabet text has been translated from the Arabic, which is also shown.
Use of the Transport font in Kerala, India
The Transport font is used in several ex-British colonies, such as this one in Kagera Region, Tanzania
Transport font road sign in poor state of repair, Kagera Region, Tanzania
Gantry road sign with Transport typeface used in Malaysia
- Motorway (typeface) — Another font used for motorway route numbers on motorways, also designed by Kinneir & Calvert.
- Rail Alphabet — The equivalent font on Britain's railways, also designed by Kinneir & Calvert.
- Johnston (typeface) — The London Underground font, designed by Edward Johnston.
- Public signage typefaces
- Highway Gothic — A font also used widely around the world for traffic signs.
- DIN 1451 — The German equivalent.
- ^ a b Design Museum — Jock Kinneir + Margaret Calvert, URL accessed 16 May 2006
- ^ Calvert, Margaret. "New Transport". A2-Type. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- ^ a b "Transport". MyFonts. URW++. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- ^ See Regulation 13 and Schedule 13 of The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (legislation.gov.uk)
- ^ Roads.org.uk, URL accessed 5 September 2017
- ^ FAQ §3.6 Fonts on signs from Chris's British Road Directory
- ^ Indonesia Transport Minister's Rule No. 13/2014 Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ "NC.gov". www.nc.gov.
- ^ "New Transport". New Transport. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- ^ "A few notes on typography". GOV.UK. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- ^ "Can I use the GOV.UK fonts? – Design in government". designnotes.blog.gov.uk.
- ^ "Transport New". K-Type. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- ^ "FF Nort". MyFonts. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- ^ "FF Nort Headline". MyFonts. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- Department for Transport alphabet drawings
- New Transport – sale, history and .pdf specimen
- Traffic signs working drawings: TSRGD 2016 schedule 17
- World Transportation Organization The world transportation organization (The Non-Profit Advisory Organization)