Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

I’m gratified to see that the newish Sound Transit system map, which has been at Link stations and major transit centers for a while now, is now being distributed in publications like the schedule book.  It’s a graphically very appealing map that, I believe, owes something to a few of Oran’s earlier efforts.

Interestingly, the station version includes the SLUT and the Monorail, while the booklet version does not.

Not every ST Express bus stop is included on the map, which says something about how many there are.  Without getting into the weeds of evaluating individual stops, it would be nice if our “express” bus system eventually got the stop count down to a point where presenting them all on a map like this was feasible.

22 Replies to “New Sound Transit Map”

    1. Does a twist or a turn matter to someone riding, if they know where they want to end up? Nope.

    2. I don’t care about the map’s honesty, but it would be nice to show that Mt Baker Station is actually walking distance from Lake Washington. It’s a tradeoff in how complex the maps looks of course.

      Incidentally, I see Google Maps now finds “Mt Baker Station, Seattle, WA” but not the transit center yet. Bing Maps doesn’t… anyone have contacts to fix this? While you’re at it, where are the transit and walking directions on Bing?

    3. Don’t be silly. Do people really think Mercer Island is a rectangle and the Puget Sound coastline is actually that smooth and everything only runs at 45˚ angles from reading that schematic map? No.

      If you look at the Central Link map in the schedule book it shows Link’s true alignment. The Link specific maps in stations show the bends. There’s no need to duplicate that in the System Map.

    4. The only thing that would be nice is if things shown on the map crossed each other near where they really do – i.e., one could infer that Link stays west of I-5 and that Sounder has some sort of Beacon Hill tunnel of its own. Oh, and blue for non-water things… But otherwise it’s great – a huge improvement ofver the old ST maps.

      1. Matt, that’s actually my one criticism of this map. Oran’s original design did this, but ST’s does not. It doesn’t bug me THAT much, though. Again, look at the Tube.

    5. There’s no need for any of this conversation. This is standard on rail maps. It keeps things simple because YOU’RE ON A TRACK and all you need is station identification to know where you are and are going.

      This simplicity of graphics is also tremendously helpful when incorporating other lines.

      1. +1 to this comment.

        When we build Ballard and West Seattle, it will be key to keep things simple.

      2. I’ve never gotten the appeal of the London-style map, though. You need a real map, not an abstract one, to know where the station IS. I wonder how many tourists to London are completely confused because they get a tube map that just shows a bunch of lines and stations without showing where those stations are, especially with the rather abstract names London tube stations have. I like the map New York’s subway system has. They prove you don’t need to abstract things to have a workable map.

      3. The key is when you stop identifying destinations by street corner, but instead by station. When you visit London, you don’t try to learn the street network, you learn what station the attraction is a few blocks from.

      4. The genius of the London Tube map is that it allows the central area with the high station density to be easily read along with the more sparsely situated suburban stations on a single map. You don’t need to put in an inset map which can be confusing and hard to connect with the larger map.

        If Sound Transit used the old map, the Seattle Link stations would be crammed together in that tiny space and be unreadable. This becomes more important as the system expands (+ to TroyJMorris and Ben).

        In London’s case, the Tube map’s abstraction is useful because their medieval street network is much more confusing to navigate. For New York, people are used to navigating by the grid.

        The Tube map isn’t perfect but it is a good solution to solving the complexity problem. Some quirks are that people may end up taking the Tube when they could’ve walked between the stations in less time.

      5. “Some quirks are that people may end up taking the Tube when they could’ve walked between the stations in less time.”

        Yeah, Embankment and Charing Cross, if I recall correctly, are right next to each other but the map makes them look further apart. No reason to take the Tube between those stations.

  1. The SLUT and the Monorail aren’t shown in the booklet version likely because they aren’t Sound Transit services. Which leads me to wonder whether RapidRide lines and the First Hill streetcar connector will be included in the station version of the maps. Vancouver, B.C. does this and also includes select regular bus lines with frequent service to regional destinations.

  2. It’s a nice graphical representation of the system, giving it resemblence to other, larger or more established systems in other cities. But it fails as a “map.”

    I have an event Friday night in a neighborhood in the vicinity of LINK. I thought I might like to take LINK there and leave the car in the driveway, er, Tukwila lot. I don’t yet know every cross-street for every station in the line. And I couldn’t find anything that would inform me of that on ST’s LINK page. All I found was a coarse-grained representational graphic like the one in this post, with stations named for their neighborhoods, and no indication of where they exactly were in those neighbordhoods. Leaving me with no idea of how much of a walk I might have to make, from which station in the valley, to this event.

    Now I am a pro-transit, modern-city sort of guy, so I took the few extra clicks it took to find a google map that “just some guy” posted on his blog with the LINK overlay. Answered my own questions because I cared.

    But why hasn’t ST prepared a more detailed map with cross streets identified for each station, maybe even overlain on the satellite photo so that potential riders can discern their walk distances from the various stations to their destinations? Given the reasons I’ve heard as to why some folks haven’t yet ventured over to LINK in the valley, seems like it would boost ridership if anyone’s asking.

      1. David and Morgan – it’s assumed that you already know where your destination is and what station you need to get off at. Maps at the stations themselves have larger local ones to help you know where the streets are.

        This is a simple map meant to show how to get from Point A to Point B on a regional level.

  3. Maybe it’s important to think of this as a diagram, not a map. It shows how to get around once you are on the transit system. Visitors to London don’t just get a Tube map, they get a tourist map as well that shows where their hotel is an everything.

  4. I don’t really like this map a whole lot since it doesn’t show the route numbers. Someone that doesn’t know the area might assume that one could take a single bus from DuPont to Everett. It looks like everything connects to everything at first glance.

    I haven’t seen every system map out there, but so far my favorite has to be from LA MTA. They’ve got 3 types of system maps. The first has all their lines plus routes from other agencies (and is surprisingly only a 1MB pdf file). Another has 12 minute or more frequent routes only. And the third has a geographic as opposed to schematic map of rapid/light rail/commuter rail routes. Something for everyone!

    On a side note I think it’s funny that route 595 jumps into the ocean after Tacoma.

    1. Actually, the version in the booklet (print and PDF) and at stations do have the route numbers.

      They should add “HERE BE DRAGONS” in that part of the Sound where Kitsap’s supposed to be.

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