Back in April of this year, a new map was drawn up and released for comment from Public Transport Victoria. Daniel Bowen wrote "PTV are trialling a new train network map. They’re seeking feedback on it, and you’ll see it at some stations now".
Since April a new revision was released and included some refinements as Daniel Bowen has documented.
I broadly agree with the positive commentary that has been broadcast throughout the blogosphere and social media. The existing maps which adorn the insides of trains and on train platforms require a certain level of knowledge in how the train system operates and the new concept maps go a long way toward rectifying that situation.
For example the not-so-frequent user could be forgiven for thinking that trains ran direct from Upfield to Sunbury and that trains from Williamstown terminated at Footscray (this potential for confusion is even more profound if you study the maps which are located on the side walls, opposite the platforms at any of the three underground stations).
Enter the new maps, as linked above. The routes are grouped and arranged in a more realistic way in how the rail lines actually operate; for instance the Frankston and Werribee lines are joined and the dotted lines show how the Frankston line at times runs through the City Loop.
The rail lines are better aligned with their geography and the inclusion of V/Line services - and the all important Myki boundary for regional services - starts to provide a better sense of the service tiers available throughout not just the metropolitan area, but the whole state.
In my view it was pretty much a rubber stamp; yes, absolutely, roll it out! That was until I stumbled across the following map by SkyscraperCity user Planks & Sticks who has, again in my view, added a little stroke of genius to the new concept map, by adding key Smartbus & high frequency cross-town bus routes.
Rather than emphasise our public transport network, we - and I say we because I too am guilty as charged - tend to talk about different modes in use for public transport rather than the sum of all its parts. It would be quite overwhelming to put a map in every train, tram and bus which visualises every different route in the entire Metropolitan area (although, I am a fan of Railmap's long-running and frequently updated tram+train map), however these simple additions of key routes ought to be considered.
First and foremost, the routes depicted are the primary cross-town and major links between the arterial rail network and key patronage generators, such as shopping centres which are also present on the map. Just glancing at this map tells anyone that they can get to Northland Shopping Centre by utilising an Upfield or South Morang train and then the bus direct to the door of the northern hub.
Secondly, although the bus routes are clearly marked as a different tier of service, the links which these bus routes create depict a far more comprehensive network than without them. Any Melburnian heralding from or who regularly visits the vast mass which is South East Melbourne knows there are large suburban spaces between the rail lines as depicted in both the existing and new concept PTV maps; the simple act of adding the key bus routes helps to portray the sense that public transport has the ability to bridge geographic reality.
Likewise, is it time to add a condensed version of the heavy rail network to tram maps to show interchange opportunities thus resulting in the same "big picture" effect as adding key bus routes to the rail maps?
Lead image credit: Marcus Wong.