To cap a week of pleasant surprises from Metro, the agency unveiled its new system map yesterday – and it’s beautiful, split into five overlapping components for greater clarity. Many readers will geek out on this for hours; I know I will.
I expect people will split over whether geographic accuracy was the right choice, instead of systemic clarity, but I think it was unavoidable.*
What’s great about it?
- Color is liberated from showing the service provider — which no one cares about — to what matters: service quality, indicated by mode and frequency. Blue-green is Link, orange is streetcar, light blue monorail, red RapidRide, black is 15-minute all day headways, blue is all day, DART is brown, and white is peak-only.
- It shows ORCA vending machines!
- The map is simply beautiful to look at, although I miss the light green of the last Eastside map.
What nitpicks are there?
- A good principle of map design is that the most important lines are thickest and most prominent. RapidRide is correctly shown as king of the buses, but that line shouldn’t be thicker than Link, no matter the agency to which it belongs. Sounder is almost invisible, as it should be.
- This isn’t the map’s fault, but Metro’s route network is still too complicated (compare to Portland). Perhaps as Link is built out and RapidRide becomes more BRTish, Metro can make its reduce its network to a series of gridded, intensely served corridors. For the time being, I would like to see a version that, like the last Eastside map, leaves peak routes out entirely.
What are your impressions?
*Within the next week you should see Oran’s latest shot at a schematic map of frequent Seattle transit service.