Comment of the Week: The Frequent Network Mapping Campaign

From Jeff Wegerson of Prairie State Blue, on the current burst of reader-designed Frequent Network maps on this blog, which began with this post.

It’s almost like Jarrett is running a contest here that not only doesn’t have a prize, it doesn’t have any well defined rules. And that is probably fine at this stage. It’s as if we are in a brainstorming session and told not to be negative to ideas because we want them to keep coming. Something like that.

Someone once said that the essence of leadership is to appear to have intended whatever good thing has just happened.  So I appreciate Jeff’s assurance that I’m keeping up the illusion of being in charge here.

7 Responses to Comment of the Week: The Frequent Network Mapping Campaign

  1. Zoltán September 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Don’t be silly, the benign but mysterious gods of transit are ultimately in charge.

  2. Jeff Wegerson September 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Last night I dreamt that I was sent out on my first day on the job as a bus driver. There was no one from the agency on board to guide me or train me. I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I think I was counting on the passengers to help me out. Then I found myself on a ramp onto an expressway that was clearly not supposed to be part of the route. When I got to the end of the ramp it had changed from a vehicle ramp to a pedestrian ramp and the bus was taking up all the space and I couldn’t turn.
    Luckily I then woke up.
    I actually had a similar experience like that on a Greyhound bus out of downtown L.A. to a distant suburb east. The driver kept making mistakes and kept having to be helped out by the regular passengers.

  3. Zef Wagner September 6, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    You know, we can make great transit maps all we want, but transit agencies might not use them. However, there is nothing to stop the folks here from making smartphone apps! I use google transit pretty often, but it only tells me how to get from A to B, it doesn’t show me all the possibilities. I would love to have an app that gives me several options–frequent network, night-time service, peak-only, etc. The most popular transit app in Seattle is called OneBusAway, and it doesn’t come from the transit agency. It was written by a University of Washington student and is free in the app store and shows real-time arrival for every bus stop. What I’m saying is, the smart folks here shouldn’t just mess around with map-making–take it out into the world, even if transit agencies don’t have the will or resources to buy into these ideas.

  4. Wad September 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    @Jeff Wegerson wrote:
    “Last night I dreamt that I was sent out on my first day on the job as a bus driver. There was no one from the agency on board to guide me or train me. I had no idea where I was supposed to go.”
    This was a nightmare we actually had in L.A.! This was standard operating procedure for one of Metro’s contractors. That’s one of the ways costs were so low.
    On the first day a contracted bus service added weekend service, several people went to try out the new line. The bus driver, new to the route, forgot to make a turn and passed riders by. This bus ran hourly! An hour later, a dozen irate passengers told the next driver what had happened. The driver wasn’t surprised, since he had to come in on his day off to learn the route, and only by reading a route map.
    The contractor didn’t have the management staff to allow for one-on-one training.

  5. Eric September 8, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    It’s a great pleasure to follow this great round of transit map examples and discussions. I’m following with great interest. It seems that there may be a few trends in the making. One tendency I’m beginning to observe is that for frequency maps it is nice to render the route alignments using colorful, bright, fat and semi-transparent lines, so that they can be quickly overlayed on aerials, GoogleEarth images, and so on, in a way that allows them to appear distinctly.
    Maybe a map rendering convention as sorts is distilling on the blogosphere. Hopefully this forum will keep testing it out, refining conventions and gathering alternate examples.
    We should also probably anticipate that frequency maps can also be rendered dynamically on the web. I’m eager to see how dynamic graphical features can be used (hopefully, tastefully).

  6. Joseph E September 9, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    I made a map of “high-frequency” transit service in Long Beach, California:….4,0.209084&z=12
    It turns out there are several areas with buses every 10 or 12 minutes or less, throughout the day, and the central part of the city is pretty well covered by 15-minute buses (as I remembered).
    I showed differences in frequency by line width and opacity; color is just used to distinguish different lines.
    There are a couple of lines that used to be more frequent which I also included, for completeness, but as thin, gray lines. Even 15 minute bus service is a stretch for a frequent network (who wants to wait 15 minutes for the next bus, if you’ve just missed one?), but a 10 or 12 minute map would be too scanty.
    Compare to the only officially available LB Transit map, which is a mess:
    And the routes on the Los Angeles Metro “12-minute” map, which misses a few areas of better-than 12-minute service (due to interlining):
    There is a actually a good LB Transit system map, with different colors for each line, posted at Blue Line stations and major bus stops, but it’s not on the website. Does anyone have a copy?
    Wad, want to make a more honest frequent service map for Metro, or for all of LA county (as opposed to the misleading 12-minute map, above)?

  7. Joseph E September 9, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    Sorry, here is a working link to the Long Beach Frequent Network map:,-118.164482&spn=0.069617,0.104542&z=13