Years ago, I rode the light rail commuter train everyday to downtown Salt Lake City, Utah for work. Each rail car contains a dynamic, analog signage system with bright yellow text on a dark background. These signs accommodate one line of text and are used to display the name of the next stop. The yellow letters are made of geometric shapes that fit into a 5x3 grid. Here’s a photo of one of the displays.

Photo of Original Signage Photo of the original signage

As you may have already guessed, this public train system is called TRAX.

As a designer and amateur typeface designer, I was drawn in by the simple geometric shapes that were used to produce the letters. I didn’t have access to professional font creation tools, but that didn’t really matter. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use everyone’s favorite amateur fontography tool Fontstruct.

I set to work constructing the letters from the shapes provided. I committed to follow the original 5x3 grid as one of my primary design constraints. The other constraint came from Fontstruct - I only had basic geometric shapes that fit each square of the grid.

When it came to letters like Q and Z, I wondered if the original system was even capable of producing these letters. I adapted as best I could, and only had to bend the rules in a couple of places.

Then, I forgot about the project for 9 years.

A couple weeks ago, I signed back into Fontstruct for the first time in nearly a decade. My account was still there! And so was my TRAX font!

I put in a couple more weeks worth of effort into the font. I completed all of the glyphs for the Basic Latin character set. I started doing a little kerning. The original signage was definitely monospace, but that’s just not going to cut it for letter pairs like ‘TR’ (like in the name of the font!). So, I’ve got work to do still. But what’s a little kerning work when you’re a font nerd like me?

I’m proud to present the Alpha version of TRAX! You can preview it on Fontstruct by following the link. If you’re interested in getting a copy for testing, please sign up for my email list on my site. I’ll send you a copy of the font at the email address that you use to sign up.

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