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This is a lot like the creative process for the modern tube map was created by Harry Beck.



I tried this for Calgary, and made a (crude) map using the tool at transit.mtroyal.ca. At first I considered "frequent" to be at most 20 minutes mid-day (between peak times) and evenings. The problem is there are only four bus routes, plus the two LRT routes, that meet those criteria, and one of the routes was a shuttle that does a 5-block loop!

In order to make the map interesting I redefined "frequent" as 20-minutes mid-day and 30 minutes evenings. I used data from http://www.calgary.ca/docgallery/bu/engineering_services/emaps/transit_map.pdf which does not include the new (but non-frequent) #302 BRT route yet.

Here's the city-wide map: http://yfrog.com/5mfreqroutes2j And downtown: http://yfrog.com/fvfreqroutes2downtownj

The first thing I notice is that while Calgary has pockets of grid streets, the city pattern overall is not a grid - there are river or creek valleys and large or linear parks in the way, and areas where the streets are aligned to railways or old highways like the 1A (Crowchild Trail). There are few non-expressway roads that cross the city. Some roads that do are served by a different routes in different directions, or in pieces (17th Ave SW: #2, #6, #7; 14h St SW: #6, #7).

The frequent routes are the LRT/BRT lines (downtown-oriented), seven downtown routes (actually six, because the #4/#5 are the same loop in opposite directions), one crosstown route, two suburban loops, and the aforementioned Chinook Centre shuttle. The BRT lines are largely on streets also served by other frequent bus lines (301: routes #2/#3; 305: route #1).

The areas with street grids (north-central, inner southwest, Bowness, Forest Lawn) seem to be well-served by frequent routes. The university is also well-served. Except for the two loops in the NE, newer (post-70s?) areas are not well-served, unless they are at the end of a downtown-oriented route. Generally, the far NE has more transit dependence, more immigrants and lower incomes.

Except for Forest Lawn, the SE is completely missing from this map. Much of the SE is industrial parks, and newer communities, but Ogden is an older, lower-income area, so I expected to see the #24 bus on there.


@23skidoo: If only a few routes in a city are anywhere close to frequent, I don't see the point in weakening the definition of "frequent" to the point of meaninglessness in order to encompass more. 20 minutes midday and 30 minutes evenings is pathetic - at that level most riders will already need to use and plan around a timetable, so it's only marginally better than even less frequent service. It looks to me like the only routes I could rely on in Calgary without a timetable are the LRT lines, so the C-Train map is already the best frequent service map for Calgary's system.

Eric O

This map is great! I love the appropriately quiet technique of demarcating the business districts. For those of us who don't know Cincinnati that well, and would love to know where we can travel with ease and explore on foot, having this map in hand would be a gift. ...For that reason, getting a rich interactive version of this on the web for mobile devices might be a business savvy decision to encourage greater travel among tourists in Cinci (maybe tell Nathan to explore some ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs or find someone who knows Flash well).


Brilliant! I love the 10-min travel time dots!


@23skidoo -- thanks for generating that for Calgary, I was interested in doing that myself! I would be curious what an am/pm peak frequency map might look like, but with a maximum headway of 10 minutes. (Most routes have no worse than a 15 minute headway during peak time, so relaxing that to 15 minutes wouldn't tell us much more than the normal system map.)

@Anon256 -- I think you're right, or very close to it, the Calgary LRT routes are the only routes you can rely on without a timetable. Some of the "BRT" routes might qualify, but I don't have experience with those.

I think that even 15 minutes is pushing the definition of "frequent". At 15 minutes headway, I time my home/work departure to hit the schedule. It would likely have to be 10 minutes before I would stop caring about the schedule.

I would put 15 minutes in a grey zone where it might be "good enough" for casual use of unusual routes, but for daily use of the same route, I still want to optimize that.


Frequent network mapping does a lot to tell you about the network you're looking at.

Cincy appears to clearly have sufficient buses to run every route very frequently if only it encouraged transfers in a few cases where there are low-frequency direct routes, and gave up on low-frequency routes providing excessive coverage in certain areas.

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