Here’s a little project I’ve been working on for a few hours a week – mostly during lunch breaks – for the past few months. Every now and then I see a comment on a Columbus Underground message from a potential transit rider who is confused by the existing COTA system map. I have agreed with this sentiment in the past. Since I like making maps and I like promoting transit in Columbus, I tried to improve it. I had two main goals:
- Represent service frequency by line style and call attention to the frequent service routes.
- Add clarity to route alignments, especially one-way segments and routes that branch.
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I started with COTA’s PDF system map. I used Inkscape to open the PDF, which turned it into a scalable vector graphic file that could be edited. I haven’t been able to successfully turn it back into a PDF yet, so it’s just a PNG for now.
I wanted to keep the map as close to the existing map as possible while accomplishing my two goals from above. Major changes included different line styles, colors, and a bunch of arrows to show one-way routes and to clarify places where routes turn.
- Frequent service routes are shown in the thickest lines, with an additional narrow dark center line. The #1 is green, #2 is red, and #10 is orange.
- Standard service routes are shown in solid lines similar to the size of the lines on the existing map.
- Limited service routes (all expresses, some locals, and portions of some crosstowns) are shown as dashed lines. These typically run rush hour only, although there are some exceptions, like a portion of the #9 that runs on Sunday only, the #52 OSU-Airport express, and the #98 Zoo bus.
- Frequent service routes – The #1 is green, #2 is red, and #10 is orange. These colors are continued beyond the point where frequent service ends to make it clear that it’s the same route. The line style indicates that the service is less frequent.
- Local routes, Crosstown routes, and the #74 Link route are unchanged from COTA’s map. Update: 1/25/2011 – I changed the color of the local routes to a less dull blue to try to get them to stand out a little better.
- Express routes are now a maroon color to avoid confusion with the #2, which I wanted to be red.
A couple of notes:
First, this is unofficial. I have no affiliation with COTA. They didn’t ask me to work on this and didn’t know I was working on this. I have based the map on their map and the service shown on their website, but there are probably errors somewhere and it could become out-of-date in the future. You should probably check COTA’s site for the most up-to-date schedules and maps to be safe.
Second, this is a draft. I’m not totally happy with the entire thing yet and there are a couple of spots that still need drastic improvements, but it’s far enough along that I’d like to share it and get some feedback.
Areas I still want to improve include:
- #19 in Upper Arlington – The route may be too complicated to show clearly on a map.
- Downtown – Maps in areas with a high density of routes are always challenging. I haven’t tried to mess with this yet.
- Street names – I’d also like to replace all the labels so the font styles match. I’ve done some for various reasons (in Arial Narrow), but they’re not the same as the default COTA font.
Anyway, I hope you find this useful. Enjoy.