Kevin McClain is currently a Project Officer at Easy Transport, the Regional Coordination Office for Community Transport in Northern Sydney. He holds a masters degree in Transport Management from the University of Sydney.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about Frequency Mapping on Human Transit starting with this post. Here in Australia we have seen frequency maps for Melbourne and Brisbane, but other than this map, we haven’t seen one for Sydney. Inspired by the efforts so far, I set out to try and make a frequency map of the services in Northern Sydney, the region where I currently live and work. This effort was also driven by the desire to reduce the number of resources a transport user would need to consult in order to plan a trip. Currently there are seven different system maps for services in the Northern Sydney Area alone: five bus maps (each covering different areas), one rail map and one ferry map. Ultimately I ended up developing two maps: One frequency map of all of the services in Northern Sydney and one map of all frequent services across all of Sydney.
I work for Easy Transport , which provides transport information for seniors and people with disabilities. We also serve as the regional coordination office for Community Transport in the Northern Sydney Region and provide travel training to residents. Our Northern Sydney map was developed to be a tool that could be used by the travel training program and potentially help promote our service.
One of the challenges I have struggled with is the fact that there are a variety of service types in Sydney (buses, trains, ferries, and light rail) and people seem to want to be able to tell the difference between the service types when they look at a public transport map. This makes frequency mapping more difficult. In the Spokane map, all services are provided by bus. There is no need to show service types. Creating a map that shows service types and then shows frequency within each of those service types quickly gets complicated.
For the Northern Sydney map I started by showing bus, train and ferry frequencies at the following levels 1-15 min, 16-30 min and 31-60 minutes. This quickly proved to be too much, therefore the train lines were modified to show only stations that had frequent services (1-15 minutes) and stations that didn’t (Click here to download high resolution PDF.)
One alternative is to show only frequent and infrequent services (1-15 minutes and 16-60 minutes). While this reduces the amount of information available, it also makes the map more legible. (Click here to download high resolution PDF.)
The map of all frequent services across all of Sydney is less complicated. Only the suburban train services and frequent bus services are shown. [JW: Sydney has no frequent all-day ferry services.] Train frequency was again shown on a station by station basis. This version has the same colours for the train lines as are used in the CityRail map. (Click here to download high resolution PDF.)
While this alternative does not have the colours of the train lines. (Click here to download high resolution PDF.)
One of the main points of both maps is to show where the frequent bus services are in Sydney. While train frequency is also important, there has been a recent expansion of frequent bus services across Sydney with the introduction of the Metro bus services (in red on the map of all frequent services). I think that it is important to show how these new services, along with existing frequent bus services, fill in some of the gaps.
Each of the maps show the trade-off between providing more information and a clear map that emphasizes the frequent services. Try planning a trip on one version of the map and then the other. Does the level of information provided affect the routes you chose? Are you able to figure out where the routes are going? Are there areas that are particularly confusing? Which version of each of the maps do you prefer?
These maps are still in draft form and I would welcome comments and suggestions about how the maps might be improved. And yes, there are errors on both of the maps. Corrections or any frequent routes that I might have missed are also welcome. You can send me feedback either by commenting on this post or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.