bus maps for developing-world cities

Need to get around Dhaka, Bangladesh by transit?  It's possible, but you have to know what the buses do.  As in many developing-world cities, transit information is almost nonexistent — to the point that when a startup decided to draw a transit map of Dhaka, the only way to figure out what each bus route did was to ride or follow it!

More on their project here.  Making developing-world transit more legible is a really obvious category of "low hanging fruit".  

7 Responses to bus maps for developing-world cities

  1. Morganwick January 23, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Proof that “the bus system map doesn’t highlight the frequent network” is yet another case of #firstworldproblems. #ohsnap

  2. tacony palmyra January 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Americans don’t even need a passport to experience developing-world style transit: there aren’t any official bus maps in Puerto Rico, despite the fact that the “Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas” website seems to indicate that there once was or will be a “Mapa Interacto” that actually shows you where the routes go. You have to ask the locals, and there’s little certainty among anybody as to the route numbers or hours of operation. The buses may come here, usually, and may go there until around then. They could come every 5 minutes or every 2 hours. It’s anyone’s guess.
    And even closer to home, NJ Transit doesn’t publish area bus maps. Of course the route information is available and each bus route has a schematic map along with its schedule, but the agency doesn’t publish maps of the bus routes all together so you can see what goes where. I’ve heard people say it’d be too complicated to put an entire state’s routes on a map but the MTA manages to publish excellent borough bus maps so I’m not sure I buy that logic.

  3. Matthew January 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Haha, I was going to point out the example of San Juan, which actually has a semi-decent bus system, and a modern elevated rapid transit line. But you can’t get much info online at all.
    You can go to the bus depot and look on the wall for the map and hope that it’s not too faded.
    This guy actually went through the trouble of trying to reassemble a bus map for San Juan from such maps and experience. I relied on it for my trip there.

  4. Henry January 26, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    If you think that’s a mess, Hong Kong’s transit system has about a dozen or two private operators who haven’t even mapped their own services, and it’s pretty “developed” by any definition of the word. As far as I know there are no online maps, so that’s another big minus.

  5. fchen January 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Imagine mapping bus lines in Chinese cities; I couldn’t even find a map on the Internet.
    In China, when you go to a bus stop, you will not see a bus map, but a diagram showing all the stops of each line that stops the current bus stop you are in: http://home.wangjianshuo.com/archives/2005/11/24/screen-bus.stop.plate.PNG
    For the spatially challenged, this can be confusing. But, I imagine this is what people are used to if this has been done in every city.

  6. cph February 12, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    I’m still looking for a good transit map of Johannesburg and Cape Town,
    Or how about Tijuana, Mexico?

  7. Edward Cullen February 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    Having experienced the traffic congestion of Dhaka first hand, I say good luck to them! The cities streets and people need all of the help they can get. I wonder if different buses travel different routes on different days? The photographs of actual buses might then be a source of confusion.
    I spent time in Khulna as well as Dhaka; its a fairly large city, but rural, and poor. As a result, there were many streets, but few cars – lots of people walking, and many bike rickshaws. The effect was wonderful and haunting – rush hour, in a big intersection surrounded by multi-story buildings, was a crush of bike rickshaws – it was largely silent, except for hundreds of bicycle bells ringing all at once (and the occasional shout) – beautiful…..

Leave a Reply