Official and Future Maps: EmX BRT System, Eugene, Oregon
One of the best things about this blog is finding people out there who - like me - aren’t always satisfied with the status quo and want to improve on the transit maps that are out there.
Take these maps of the EmX* bus rapid transit system in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. The first one is the current system map issued by the Lane Transit District. While it’s functional enough, it’s certainly not very exciting. I always believe that a good transit map should be enticing and attractive to draw people towards it as a transportation option. In effect, the map is an advertisement for the service - if it looks modern and well-designed, the system benefits by association.
The second map is of a potential EmX system in 50 years’ time, made by Dave Amos, based off information found on LTD’s website. You can read more about the development of the map on Dave’s Tumblr here. Leaving the accuracy of the map aside, as I can’t really comment on that without a lot of further research (and Dave himself admits the map is somewhat speculative), let’s concentrate on the aesthetics.
Dave’s map seems to draw a lot of design cues from the London Underground map, which is good in that it instantly takes on a clean, well-designed look… and a little bad in that it drains the map of its own unique identity a bit. It would be nice to see a map that channels a bit of the character of the city it represents, but this is still a very attractive piece of design. HF&J’s Whitney is a nicely understated, yet modern sans serif font and works well here. The main hubs of Eugene and Springfield are emphasised well, and the inclusion of the important University of Oregon and Lane Community College campuses is welcome.
That’s not to say the map is perfect: the need to show the eastern extent of Springfield’s city boundary creates a lot of empty space, which in turn reduces the size of the routes themselves. I think the names of the streets that the routes follow could be rotated to follow the direction of the streets, like in a street directory, rather than remaining horizontal all the time. The 18th & Willamette station label could be split into two lines to prevent it being confused with the nearby Jefferson station.
There’s also a couple of operational concepts that aren’t shown on the map which might be worth considering. Some sections of the routes operate along one-way couplets, which might be worth showing for clarity and ease of use (For example, an eastbound stop might be one block over from the westbound stop - a handy thing for a traveller to know!). I also know that, currently, buses operate both clockwise and counter-clockwise around the Gateway loop. This is indicated on the current map, but not on Dave’s.
* Side Note: “EmX” is meant to be pronounced as “Em-Ex”, short for “Emerald Express”. But try as I might, I still just keep saying “E-Em-Ex”…