« using dynamite for lack of paint: alex broner on "cities in motion" | Main | email of the month: grids on the brain »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Justin N

I'm guessing here, but I think that the place where you can infer a different operator solely from the route number in LA is around LAX. The two LAWA shuttles, C and G, are represented and colored just like the Metro circulators.

I think Seattle is a special case when it comes to multi-agency networks. They have strongly integrated regional fare media that are basically the only sort of fare media available, and are accepted on all regional operators. If I tried to use a map like this in, say, the Bay Area, it would really matter that I was waiting for one agency's service rather than another-- and differences between routes can't be inferred from route designations, generally speaking.


Overall, I think the map is great, but I do see one significant deficiency, which is a lack of information about the route's stopping patterns.

For the B-Line, the stops are explicitly stated on the map and where you can get on and off is very clear. However, routes 545 and 566 each have long express sections with no stops at all, yet because they're not "RapidRide" routes, the map provides no information about where these buses actually stop. In fact, for people who don't realize that route 520 is a freeway, the map might even be construed as misleading, in that it conveys the false impression that you can get on or off routes 545 and 566 anywhere along the line, like you can for most other routes.

I do agree that differentiating routes based on the agencies that operate them is not warranted, but differentiating between local and express routes absolutely is warrented - at a minimum, the map should place a white dot everywhere the express buses stop (there aren't that many of them, so it would cause minimal clutter), so you can look at the map and know where you need to get off and on to use them.


I wholeheartedly agree - a great improvement in mapping, and a triumph to set aside agency branding as the primary discriminator. I like it a lot!

That said, it's hard to distinguish why RapidRide and the 550 are different purely from the perspective of service characteristics. The 550 is also frequent and all day with limited stops, on an even more express right of way. Sound Transit doesn't want to consider their services as BRT (so they won't inflame the BRT vs. LRT wars), but really, in terms of service characteristics they get pretty close on that route. So my sense is that despite the agency-neutral intent, Metro is still trying to emphasize their agency-specific RapidRide brand here.

Joseph E

"Can you spot the one place on the LAMetro map where they do that?"

The Rapid lines are shown with a letter next to them, when they are operated by a different transit company, in Culver City and Santa Monica. "R3", "R6" and "R7" are operated by municipal bus companies, not Metro.



This map (legend) makes me cross. '15 minutes or less.' Or less! So it could be every 45 minutes, then, could it? Or every two hours?

And what about 'most portions of the day'? I could go along and draw back in all the commuter lines on that basis.

The point of this map as I see it, is that you should be able to take unplanned trips using the network using just this map. I don't see how you can actually do that with this map, because you don't have any guarantee of frequency on this supposedly-frequent network, and you don't any guarantee as to what time this frequent network remains frequent.

Anyway, I think it probably represents a good attempt to map a bad network - for example, wouldn't it be worth adding or moving around a few extra buses to some frequent lines, such that, say, all blue lines have minimum 30 minute frequency between, say, 7am and 7pm, so that you could then draw a more useful map.




"This map (legend) makes me cross. '15 minutes or less.' Or less! So it could be every 45 minutes, then, could it? Or every two hours?"

No, I'm pretty sure '15 minutes or less' means 15,12,10,7,5...

Tom West

"Every 15 minutes or less" is ambiguous because it could mean "every (15 minutes or less)" or "(every 15 minutes) or less". Personally I would say "every 15 minutes or better".

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

The "15 or less" vs "15 or better" question seems to flummox language-sensitive minds like mine and those of a few commenters, but I've never heard of anyone failing to figure it out.  Much as I love digging into semantics and rhetoric, this one is just a non-problem.  I find "15 or less" easy to read as "0 to 15" esp when that's the only interpretation that makes any sense in context.  (Context is part of signification!)  If you don't, train yourself to not be bothered.  There are bigger battles.

Erik Griswold

Jarrett, Sound Transit buses that operate within King County are operated by King County Metro.

Sound Transit buses that run from Seattle to Snohomich County are run by Community Transit.

Sound Transit buses that run from Seattle (or other points within King County such as the Seattle-Tacmoma International AIrport) are run by Pierce Transit.

One can determine who's bus it is by looking at the coach number: If it ends with a P it is Pierce Transit's, ends with a K it belongs to King County Metro, ends with a C it belongs to Community Transit.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Erik.  Yes, I know all that about the operations.  But the two agencies remain separate agencies with separate planning control, funding, fare structures, and branding.  So it's significant that this distinction is not emphasized on the map, as it's emphasized everywhere else in the passenger experience.  Jarrett

Ted K.

The King Co. map comes across as a barrier breaker. If I lived in that county I would feel comfortable exploring parts of the county that are away from my usual haunts. The samTrans (sic) map below has a whiff of brimstone ("Here be dragons ...") near the county borders.

"Maps" (San Mateo Co. Transit page)

Note : samTrans (sic) is sandwiched between San Francisco's Muni and Santa Clara's VTA. Several other agencies (BART, Caltrain, AC Transit, etc.) are also represented.

Al Dimond

So... what about the 550 and 545 (and the 535/532 and the all-day expresses going south from Bellevue)? It seems wrong to draw them in the same color as any of the other routes on here.

Is there another place that has as many frequent, all-day freeway express buses as Puget Sound? Or even, generally, frequent all-day transit of any sort with such wide stop spacing? The 550, 545, and 511 have multi-mile stop spacing and weekday daytime frequencies of 15 minutes or greater; I think the combined Tacoma-Seattle routes come close to that, too, and they have even wider stop spacing. The ST express service pattern (along with KC routes like the 150, and CT routes like the 201/202) isn't local bus service, isn't BRT, isn't commuter service, it's something different.

I'm not sure it's close to any ideal service pattern... in some cases they're just overgrown commute buses, in some they're what you can build of a regional transit system without a real capital budget. They seem to be their own thing and probably need their own color.

ST has its big system map, but it omits the handful of CT and KC routes whose service pattern is very similar.

Alan Tanaman
On the "15 minutes or less" topic, it should be "every 15 minutes or fewer" if the agency means that it could be every 7 minutes. Otherwise, the "less" can only refer to the frequency itself, meaning "worse".
Alon Levy

No, "less" is perfectly fine here, because 15 minutes is a unit of time and time is non-countable. I would find "fewer" very awkward here unless time had to be an integer number of minutes.


@Al Dimond: Sound Transit introduced Regional Express service as a way to offer something of value to places that rail would take longer to get to - but they purposefully did not brand that service as BRT. My impression then was that ST didn't want to suggest that buses can be a substitute for rail service. But on several routes they provided most of the attributes of BRT (frequency and priority right-of-way) including direct ramps into HOV lanes, but stopped short of station improvements and BRT branding.

Most all of the ST regional express routes connect more than one of the five subareas in the ST district. If the maps are subarea-oriented (like the example shown), the ST routes that meet the service criteria could be shown in a similar format to RapidRide, but in another color, with an arrow pointing off the map and a note indicating the regional destination served outside the map boundary. That would keep the focus on RapidRide, but do a better job of showing the service types and connections consistently.

Al Dimond

I don't think ST routes are really like BRT at all. BRT, like all good rapid transit, connects the destinations along its corridor with a straightforward service pattern. ST Expresses are as notable for what they skip as what they serve (the 545 goes right around the bulk of Capitol Hill and skirts the U District; the 511 skips Northgate and skirts the U District; the Tacoma buses blow right by many intermediate suburbs). Bound to the freeway, they cannot help but provide extremely wide stop spacing, both in the urban core and in the suburbs.

I guess I'm more interested in other cities with similar service patterns and what kind of success they've had. It seems to me that people that work in car-centric suburban office parks in greater Seattle have substantially better transit options than those in other US cities. I've worked in suburban campuses in Chicagoland, the Bay Area, and a couple out in "the 425". Only here has transit been a realistic option.

So... are there other cities with lots of frequent all-day regional bi-directional freeway express runs? Is the ST Express model based on successful services elsewhere (I can imagine something like it in other smaller cities with economically powerful suburbs, especially in places with high gas taxes)? Are any other US cities trying something similar (building out a comprehensive though deeply compromised regional transit system quickly and cheaply)?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

the firm

Jarrett is now in ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...