As testing for the First Hill Streetcar has proceeded, the final station touches have been added, including frosted glass and station amenities such as maps and rider information. Yet in a triumph of form over function, the well-designed maps omit just about every important piece of transit information that a rider might want to know. Their modal isolation – showing only two disconnected streetcar lines miles apart – bears no relation to the reasons riders would consult the map. Very few people will stand at Broadway & Marion and ask, “Is there another streetcar in this city somewhere?” as opposed to “Where can I travel to from here, and how long will it take me?”
For a project whose putative intent was to connect neighborhoods to Link, amazingly Link is nowhere to be seen on the map. Despite 6 frequent transit connections along the line’s length – at Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Union, Pine, and at Capitol Hill Station – none of these are shown. In the above example, there is a legend item for “Metro Bus” with a single stop shown at Broadway and Madison, both inaccurately representing its location (which is a block east) and failing to say which route stops there, how often, and where it might take you. Such partial information is worse than outright omission, implying that the services shown are the only ones that exist.
If SDOT doesn’t see the line as part of a network of connections, that speaks volumes about both the utility of the project and the isolation in which it has been considered. This is another example of the need for systematic integration between our agencies when it comes to mapping, design, and wayfinding standards. I love the design, but the content is what matters, and can anyone say that these maps tell you what you need to know to get around First Hill?