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If you wish to describe a large city's frequent network on a small map, a separate map may be useful. Outside of these circumstances, doing as Spokane did, and creating a legible map that makes the frequent services stand out, and intermittent service recede into the background, is the best thing to do.

I'd argue that it should be possible and useful, particularly if using colours as well as line widths like Spokane, to highlight two frequency standards, to publicise service at decent frequencies that falls outside of the frequency definition - I'd argue for a standard of every 10 minutes in large cities, and to highlight service running every 20, or 15 and 30 minutes respectively in smaller cities.

What happens to service in the evening and at weekends varies a whole lot, but it should be possible to look at service and work out at what time of the evening service starts to drop off, and define and publicise a frequency standard after those times of what would probably be half of the daytime frequency standard - so, every 20 minutes if your frequent network runs every 10.

Alan Tanaman

Great advice - I wish I'd read this post 8 months ago! All the same, HT has really inspired me, and as a result I have been working to provide frequent network maps for the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (http://telaviv.busmappa.com), where the first big step of a long-overdue reorganisation took place in July 2011.

Unfortunately, the changes have been plagued with local political resistance ("We want a one journey trip") as well as bad implementation of transfer points and a lack of network-wide information.

Although the change was based on a flat-fare with unlimited transfers over 90 minutes, the agency neglected to provide a coherent system-wide map.

The result has been a series of u-turns where a lot of the simplification that took place has now been undone.

So the map, which started off as fairly simple endevour, has now become a pile of spaghetti.

I'm working on an English-language version, which I hope to release in the next couple of weeks. However, if you are wondering what is going on there - I mix the French system of marking routes with coloured lines with the classical/British system of annotating route numbers along streets. The former is used for frequent lines (thick=better than 10 and thin=better than 20 minutes) and the latter is for less frequent lines (black=better than 30, grey=lower frequency).

So far I have avoided the evening post 8pm, because there is simply far too much inconsistency. Some frequent routes don't even run after 9pm, whereas some that are less frequent continue until midnight. This will probably require a separate map.

Alon Levy

Alan, I think the mixture is probably the best way to deal with the (completely unwarranted) complexity of the Tel Aviv bus system. It makes it clearer which routes really are coupled for a long way and which just run on the same street for 2 km. Way better than the official map, which doesn't use any color differentiation and expects you to guess where each line turns.


One of the main problems with frequent service maps is that few routes run frequently in the evenings or public rest days, and if they do run at all then, quite often the operator is different and return/multi-journey tickets are rarely interavailable. At least there are some rail/bus services on Sundays and holidays (other than Xmas) in the UK, in contrast to the city referred to in previous comments, where there is absolutely no public transport of any kind on Friday evenings, Saturdays (before nightfall) or public holidays.

Alon Levy

Yes, in Israel indeed the lack of weekend service is a travesty. But it's a question of religious politics rather than of transit planning.

Moreover, because the lack of weekend service in Tel Aviv is universal, it's possible to draw a frequent network map based on weekday off-peak frequency. Practically any user can be expected to know that there's no weekend service. Really, the only thing that's worth reminding people on such map is when on Friday service ends and when on Saturday night it resumes.


CHK America was proud to work on this project for Spokane Transit and we, too, are pleased with the results. It's nice to see the dialog about the importance of providing easy to understand information for transit customers, especially with more complex systems. We couldn't agree more.

Alan, it sounds like you've got some unique challenges in communicating Tel Aviv's system. Glad to hear you're employing design principles that ultimately make it easier for the rider to gather the information quickly and easily. Please let us know if we can be of assistance. It would be an interesting project on which to collaborate with you.


"Show me the services that are most likely to be useful!"

This is a really excellent way of summing up principles of map design!

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