Innovations in multi-modal, schematic transit mapping: an exploratory survey
Carragher, Margaret Finch
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Cities like New York and Chicago have comprehensive heavy rail networks that provide not only high frequency service, but also reach popular destinations and employment centers. Although many other cities strive for similar transit infrastructure, acquiring the financial backing and/or right-of-way to develop these transit systems can take years. To develop transit systems in a more timely and cost-effective manner, cities are using alternative transportation modes such as light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit (BRT), and frequent local buses. As cities become more multi-modal, their system maps become more confusing. Historically, systems have provided separate transit maps for each transit mode they provide. However, integration of these new modes requires integration of system maps. Experts in the field of transit mapping have been calling for frequent transit maps, which highlight routes that provide frequent service or reach important destinations, regardless of mode. Some cities have implemented these multi-modal maps successfully, but to date, there is no documented guidance to assist agencies in creating these maps. Using Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA) in Atlanta as a case study, the research team created multiple maps that include three transit modes throughout the city and tested them through surveys on transit riders and non-riders. Each map adds BRT and local bus routes that meet specific frequency and/or location criteria to the existing rail map. This project examines reactions of transit riders and non-riders to these new multi-modal, schematic maps. Through surveys targeting individuals with different transit ridership habits, this project explores the potential to affect ridership on these alternative modes and enhance system understanding beyond the rail map. The results of these surveys demonstrate the need to simplify system maps, the public desire for frequency mapping, and the potential to increase ridership on alternative modes. These results build on previous work that schematic maps affect rider spatial understanding of the system and route or mode decisions. Including more modes on the map in an efficient and visually pleasing way, results of this project found that both riders and non-riders would take transit more and better understand how all of the modes interact together to form a comprehensive transit network.