You might recall I did a recent poll on three public transport questions. I posted about the first two here.
The third was about frequent network maps. Here’s the thinking:
Frequent public transport services are an order of magnitude more useful to people than infrequent ones. Nobody likes to live their life by a timetable, and frequent services allow you to turn up at the stop/station and go within a few minutes. They make connections easier because you don’t have to rely on timetable co-ordination (which is difficult to provide, and risky to rely on).
In short, a network of frequent services helps public transport provide the kind of freedom that the car provides.
And having a map of these services helps people see where they can go easily in a city, without first having to look at a timetable.
Just as people look at maps of freeways and arterial roads to see which way they can easily drive to things, many Melburnians already use tram and train maps to see what’s easy to get to by PT… because, as a rule, trams and trains offer reasonable services, while buses don’t.
Reality is a bit more nuanced than that. Having a map of all frequent services would be a good way of seeing which trips are easy by PT, and would be of particular help for those who have the choice to drive, but will decide not to drive if the alternative is quick and easy.
PTV publishes no such map, and last I heard, were reluctant to do so. Apparently they did some research and concluded it wasn’t worth it. This makes it difficult to find such information other than via looking for specific routes and using the trip planner. To draw a web analogy, you can search but not browse.
My little survey made it clear that most respondents would like to see a frequent service map.
Campbell Wright has designed such a map. It first appeared on the Human Transit blog late last year. His original version showed everything running at least every 15 minutes in the weekday interpeak period — but left off everything else — which unfortunately included most of Melbourne’s train lines.
This revised version includes services running every 20 minutes, but in grey. It leaves off less frequent services. The various routes are shown by frequency, with the thicker lines being more frequent. Oh, and it’s to scale.
As you can see from this excerpt of the middle-southern suburbs (my area) there is a grid of frequent routes reaching most suburbs, but some big gaps between the routes. If you want to travel north-south anywhere between the Frankston line and Warrigal Road, you’ll be stuck with 30-60 minute buses.
The full map covers all of metropolitan Melbourne — a great effort from Campbell. Check it out — Click here to view it larger
Campbell is keen to get comments.
I think my only niggle with the design is that I’d probably have included all Metro train services… their speed and capacity (even when they only run every 30 to 40 minutes on the outer sections) makes them perhaps worthy of a thin grey line at least.
I’m also torn on the scale. At present it does clearly show the big gaps in the frequent network, but making it to scale has also meant to cover the entire metropolitan area takes up a lot of space, limiting its practicality.
But I love the idea, and it’s a great effort. This map is really a great effort to highlight where in Melbourne you can get without too much trouble without a car.
There’s been almost zero promotion of Melbourne’s most frequent PT… it’s about time it started. PTV really need to stop pretending that people will just magically find out about upgrades and start using them. A widely distributed frequent service map could help a lot.