Official Map: Transfort Bus Map, Fort Collins, Colorado

Submitted by zmapper, who says:

This is the official bus system map for Fort Collins, Colorado. Of interest is the new north-south MAX BRT route, shown in lime green. 

What appears to be a straightforward, vanilla transit map has some substantial flaws. The map doesn’t note that the 30-series and 90-series routes only operate when the state university and public schools are in session, respectively, or that the Green and Gold routes only operate Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 pm to 2:30 am, when the rest of the system has stopped operating. Additionally, the alignment of Route 12 between Mason and Stamford poses a challenge for the map designer; eastbound, the route turns left on College, loops counter-clockwise on Foothills, Swallow and Mason before resuming an easterly path; westbound, the route turns right on Mason and loops clockwise on Swallow and Stamford before doubling back on itself along Horsetooth. The map makes an attempt to display where Route 12 operates, but doesn’t clearly show how.

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Transit Maps says:

You know, this map really doesn’t look too bad at all: nice clean linework, sensible colour choices (especially the nice muted tones for the background compared to the route lines), and simple little icons. I probably would have liked to see more emphasis on the MAX route – I mean, what’s the point of a shiny new BRT service if you can’t show it off to people properly?

I also think that double-headed arrows showing that buses travel in both directions along a route is redundant: bi-directional travel is always inherently implied in a transit map unless a single-headed arrow explicitly depicts one-way traffic.

Where this map really falls down is the lack of a coherent legend. This map is downloadable in this exact form from the Transfort website, with no extra explanatory text at all, and it’s probably not unreasonable to think that it is also posted in bus stops around the city. So why doesn’t it tell me what the heck MAX, FLEX, GREEN, GOLD and HORN actually are? As zmapper points out, the Green and Gold lines only run at night on Fridays and Saturdays, which you might think would be a Really Important Thing to tell people. Instead, the perfunctory legend shows some sort of dotted line to indicate “multiple routes”, but this type of line doesn’t actually occur anywhere on the map. 

Yes, the information about all the routes is available on the Web, but not everyone has access to that at all times, and some minor edits to the map could make things so much clearer for all users, especially visitors to Fort Collins.

Our rating: Looks good, but let down by some major information deficiencies. Two stars.

2 Stars

Source: Official Transfort website

P.S. Enough with the transit systems called MAX: this is at least the sixth one I can think of!

Unofficial Map: Portland MAX Light Rail — Super Mario 3 Style

Here’s the latest “Mario Map” from the incredibly prolific Dave Delisle (seriously, how much cool stuff can one guy pump out?). This one is of my home town of Portland, Oregon, and Dave actually enlisted my help in checking the accuracy of the route layouts and the spelling of the station names. Considering the ridiculous length of some of the station names in the system and the limitations of the 8-bit art style, Dave’s done a great job at fitting everything together in a very plausible and attractive manner.

Of course, in true Portlandia style, Dave has literally “put a bird on it” — there’s also a non-birdified version over on his website if you don’t get the joke. Also of note is Dave’s playful take on the TriMet logo, and the fact that our princess seems to be stuck out at Expo Center, the poor thing.

(Source: Dave’s website — posters are for sale!)

UPDATE: Portland MAX In-Car Map

Just as I post about the in-car maps on Portland, Oregon’s MAX trains, I notice that TriMet has just released a new version (pardon the bad cell phone photo; I was getting off the train as I snapped it!).

The new map has two important changes from the previous one: JELD-WEN Field is correctly named (instead of the old PGE Park - showing exactly why commercial names on transit maps are a Bad Idea), and the South PSU stations are shown as opening later this year.

Although the map initially looks quite similar, there have been a lot of little tweaks and amendments. The route lines now have a thin gap between them, whereas they butted up to each other before. Stations are now denoted by a small white circle contained wholly within the route line, which works better than the big black-edged dots that made every station look like a transit station; although now perhaps there’s not enough emphasis on important stations.

I really miss the line that joins the Rose Quarter TC and Interstate/Rose Quarter stations - that one-block walking transfer is a hugely important part of the MAX system, and needs to be shown.

Not a big fan of the way that the Green Line has to cross over the Red and Blue to head south after Gateway, but the only other alternative is to cross the Green Line under the Red and Blue as the lines leave downtown (as I did on my Unified Rail Map of Portland), which may not be so practical on a map like this.

Overall, I think this map is a step in the right direction from the previous one, but it’s still not fantastic.

  1. Camera: iPhone 4
  2. Aperture: f/2.8
  3. Exposure: 1/120th
  4. Focal Length: 3mm

In-Car Light Rail Map, Portland, Oregon

I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of these in-car maps from my town of Portland. While they serve a purpose and fit in a very awkward vertical space, they’re neither elegant or match the design of the full light rail map. I particularly dislike the station symbol, which makes every stop - regardless of importance - look like an interchange station.

(Source: localmn/Flickr)