Map contest winners, part 4: Bus lines on the rail map
The entries in our map contest were all great and unique. But one map stood out for a particular feature: showing bus lines.
That map, Map N, by David Alpert, attempted to include major bus lines on the rail map, in the spirit of maps like Boston's MBTA. David's map took 2nd place in the people's choice part of the contest, with 208 first-place votes, and received honorable mention from the jury.
As David pointed out yesterday, both of us kept secret our participation in the contest. All maps were posted without identifying information, and even the jury did not know we were contestants to avoid any bias.
Map N's inclusion of bus lines is an interesting tack. Buses provide important connections within the region. With Metro trains and parking facilities filling up, the agency has been trying to increase bus ridership. Finding a way to integrate bus lines into the map is an excellent way to do that.
Here's what David had to say about his map:
The Metro map has become the icon of the region. It's how tourists learn about where major attractions are and how residents visualize where neighborhoods are relative to their homes and offices.The jury liked the idea, but they were concerned about the execution. They felt that the bus lines were hard to read, and were curious as to how some lines were chosen and others were not (since we didn't give them any information beyond the maps themselves).
The Metro map puts places like Eastern Market, Wheaton and Crystal City "on the map" for many who wouldn't otherwise know about them. But what about the other places that don't have Metro, like Georgetown, H Street, Potomac Yard or the University of Maryland?
Drawing on Boston's map, which now includes "key bus routes" that run at high frequency 7 days a week, I created a map that shows major bus routes. The routes depicted are those that run most often, using the "15 minute bus map" that Metro's planning department created, plus a few local bus routes and other key connecting routes from the Priority Corridor Network.
The lines are fainter in order to avoid detracting from the Metrorail map, but they illuminate for riders where other non-Metro major sites are located, how to get there from Metro stations, or which routes connect other Metro stations at the outer edge of the region to each other.
Hopefully, including such information on the map will help people become much more cognizant of the existence of buses and less intimidated to give them a try.
They also felt that adding bus lines to the map would mean WMATA would need to reprint the map every time a bus change occurred. They felt that this map concept could be a good fit for a neighborhood connections map at individual stations. Another possibility might be to post maps like this online and place it on mobile apps.
An idea that David's map and mine (Map L) shared were subtitles for the longer station names. We both thought of this independently as a way to deal with station name sprawl. This could allow the agency to functionally shorten names without stepping into the political minefield that station naming has become.
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