Metrobus System Map Redesign

September 19th, 2012

Ask anyone in the transit industry, from any country or any city, and they’ll be quick to tell you that WMATA’s bus system is one of the most complex in the world.  So many lines, so many routes, so many variations, so many streets, so many buses!  It really all speaks to the great lengths that Metro takes to ensure premium bus service is provided to its many customers spanning a vast service area. As you might expect, if such a system has been coined complex by transit industry “experts,” then surely the system would be thought complex by the average bus customer.  Therein lies the challenge:how do you take this complex, complicated, extensive bus network and relay it to customers in a clear, simple, yet fairly detailed manner?  Well, there’s not just one answer to that question.  But, one of the main tools Metro uses to inform bus customers of their travel options is the Metrobus System Route Map.

The current pair of System Route Maps, DC/MD (PDFs) and DC/VA (PDF), display the travel patterns for each Metrobus route in each jurisdiction (MD, DC, VA). In short, they answer the question, “How can I get there on the bus?”  These geographically detailed maps chart out the complex routes Metrobus travels, leading customers from the origin to the destination of their trip, calling out street names, shared routes, schools and points of interest along the way.

Subset of the previous DC Metrobus map showing northeast DC

While these maps have served their purpose over the years in acclimating customers to Metro’s bus network, there is room for improvement.  For instance, while the current system maps display all the bus service for Metro, there is no consideration given to frequency of service, i.e. how often a bus runs.  This could cause problems in that while the map might show that a bus route services a particular area, it does not relay information that the bus might only service that area during the a.m. rush or on the weekend.  In addition, while the maps are geographically detailed, this detail comes at a high price; cluttering the map with many lines in many directions that make it difficult for customers to follow along and actually trace the pattern of the route they need.

These and other deficiencies in the current system map have been the impetus for WMATA looking into different ways to illustrate our bus service.  In November of 2010, Metro’s Office of Long Range Planning released a draft “Metrobus High-Frequency Corridors Map” on this site, to gather feedback on how we might better explain our complicated bus system to users.  The feedback received was incorporated into additional planning work on a Metrobus map design.

Following extensive design work, Metro is pleased to announce revised draft system maps that more clearly depict bus routes and delineate frequency of service, all part of our ever evolving efforts to provide richer and clearer travel information to our customers.  Click the links below to view samples of the new maps. Feel free to give us your feedback, and note that these maps will be revised based on feedback from customers.


Subset of new draft DC Metrobus map showing northeast DC.


Below, you will find some key features of the system map redesign:


The new bus system map takes a cue from the famous rail system map:geography takes a back seat to clear depiction of routes.  In this map, we have opened up space in congested areas.Conversely, we have collapsed vast areas with little service.

Though the space is skewed, locations retain their proper relative position.  For example, while Fairfax City does not observe any scale, it still sits west of Annandale, east of Centreville, north of Burke and south of Vienna.

Old and new map showing Fairfax City, illustrating geographic accuracy and scale replaced by more readable simplicity.

Even without a scale, we have carefully positioned elements so as to “suggest” distance.  Again, in denser areas, items sit closer to one another.  In sparser areas, a more airy layout hints at greater distances.


The map does not attempt to depict every intricacy of every route.  We have not shown fine-grain routing details such as one-way turning loops, short-turn (“cut”) trips and individual off-ramps.  Instead, we aim to highlight which routes serve which areas.  That is the single-most important morsel of information to communicate to customers.  Once they know it, they can use additional resources (timetables, the WMATA Trip Planner, etc) to plan a trip.

Old and new map showing Greenbelt.Note all the twists and turns captured on the old map have been smoothed out on the new one, providing clarity.

In terms of building ridership, this overview function is extremely powerful.  While many customers now use online resources to custom-plan a trip, it is important to communicate the extent of the whole network.  An approachable, less technical overview map achieves that goal.  “Wow!  Look at all the places I can take Metrobus!”


Major routes jump out.  They are thicker, straighter and more vivid.  As the Metrobus system is built on complex groupings of routes, we have emphasized the frequent trunk portion of each corridor that is served by multiple routes.  Where applicable, less frequent thin lines come together to form a more frequent thick line.

The image above shows the old and new treatment of Fort Totten, illustrating how the new bus route hierarchy allows major routes to be more visually prominent.

At a glance, customers can expect a higher level of service wherever thick red lines appear.  Right away, a customer can tell that more extensive service is available on Columbia Pike in Arlington as opposed to Westmoreland St.  We have explained the distinctions in the legend; better yet, we have applied intuitive designs so a customer can interpret the map without being an “expert”.


Especially in Virginia, dozens of routes descend on a few locations – the Pentagon itself is one of the largest bus hubs in the entire country.

A large share of routes on the map are peak-only and/or express services.  It is important to show these routes, but it is equally important not to “oversell” them.  Yes, there is bus service on Sydenstricker Rd in Orange Hunt – but that route doesn’t run frequently.  It does not deserve the same status as routes on Glebe Rd in Arlington.

The previous map traced each route along its entire distance even where the bus does not stop.The new map provides simplicity by indicating the point after which the bus runs "express."

Where commuter routes travel long distances uninterrupted, we have placed notes to mark their “non-stop from here” points.  This eliminates the need to place dozens of additional route badges in already lively areas of the map.  The result is a clear, organized depiction of services.


An effective map allows a user to trace one continuous line – from start to end – without chasing the line onto a remote inset.  While insets can clarify routing in certain areas, they can overwhelm an unaccustomed user.

The inset in the old map on the left makes it difficult to trace a route through Silver Spring.On the right, the less geographic map removes the need for insets and makes following routes much easier.

As an overview, the system map does not allow true street-level detail in densely served areas.  Still, the map clearly shows which routes go there at all – informing customers which timetables they’ll need to consult for further information.


A “major route” means something different on a suburban map than it does on the District map.  While we intend to communicate service levels through the use of route colors, we are also aiming for a proportionate distribution of route types in each jurisdiction.  A route that runs every 30 minutes mid-day may be classified as “major” in the suburbs, where that service level would be classified as “secondary” in the city.

The old map shaded routes by jurisdiction.The new map provides a flexible route classification that allows for jurisdiction-specific definitions of "major route", etc.


We hope to gather additional feedback from Metrobus riders as we continue to refine these new and innovative bus map concepts.  We hope to have these new system maps available by the December service change.   Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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Categories: Planning Studies Tags: ,
  1. Marty
    September 19th, 2012 at 10:17 | #1

    Your top two image captions are mostly incorrect:
    “Subset of the previous DC Metrobus map showing southeast DC”
    Most of the area show in the map is NE.

  2. Michael
    September 19th, 2012 at 10:38 | #2

    Thanks, Marty. Will fix!

  3. Michael
    September 19th, 2012 at 11:08 | #3

    How do people feel about the treatment of the 42 vs 43 at/around Dupont Circle? The 43 goes under and the 42 goes around, but this map doesn’t attempt to illustrate that difference. Is that needed?

  4. September 19th, 2012 at 11:17 | #4

    Is there still a need for the 42 to go around the circle? It’s much, much slower and you could probably fold the two services together.

  5. Steve
    September 19th, 2012 at 12:00 | #5

    Wow, this is a major redesign and a welcome change. Kudos to WMATA for all the work that went into these new maps. With a few tweaks that I’m sure commenters will provide these will really help people better understand the bus system, and hopefully it will increase ridership!

  6. mike aiello
    September 19th, 2012 at 12:26 | #6

    I can’t tell where bus lines begin or end, the #s just stop showing up. Also, the MetroExtra lines dont stand out enough and are too dark. I almost didnt see them as they look black.

    So much better overall. I understand now that there is method to the madness. Before I thought it was pretty random.

  7. Tim
    September 19th, 2012 at 13:09 | #7

    This is a welcome change and I look forward to seeing these maps published soon.

    One thing that immediately stood out to me is that “Lincoln Park” label is quite a bit north of where the park is located. It is shown as north of the D6 on D/C St NE when its actually bisected by the 97 bus running on E Capitol NE. I know that you aren’t going for geographic perfection, but that’s a very misleading place for the “Lincoln Park” label. I think it could fit between the D6 and 97 lines or even “Lincoln” above the 97 line and “Park” below it.

  8. CDL
    September 19th, 2012 at 13:30 | #8

    Overall, I like it and find the colored and line thickness distinctions for high-frequency, major routes vs. less frequent, minor routes easier to understand than the busy current map. Now I can actually follow where a route goes to find out at a glance if I need to take it. With that said, a bit of constructive criticism.

    Was any thought given to adding white dots/hashes where bus stops are located and whether to add more light grey non-route streets for context? With these elements, the bus route map would become more pedestrian-friendly in terms of planning how to get to/from bus routes since bus riders are pedestrians before and after taking the bus.

    More contrast is needed between the map background and inset areas of downtown DC.

    The MARC, VRE and Amtrak station names could be labeled without too much trouble and placed below a Metro station name where served.

    There may be confusion with the Metro logos when they’re located far away from each hub circle. The two are essentially redundant. Can you simply replace the hub circles with the Metro logo (on the line/hub) and include the line colors below the “M” in the logo?

  9. William
    September 19th, 2012 at 14:14 | #9

    The 42 going *around* the Circle serves the core areas around the Circle itself. It stops at the south side near the 19th Strett Metro entrance, at Q Street near the other metro entrance and the transfer to a couple of buses that serve Glover Park/Upper Georgetown, and it stops at R Street serving the near north end of the Dupont neighborhood with that cluster of restaurants, apts, and services.

    The 43 breezes past all those things for people who are mainly trying to commute from Farragut Square (Golden Triangle) to Adams Morgan/Mount Pleasant.

    So I don’t think they can be folded together.

    @Michael Perkins

  10. September 19th, 2012 at 14:59 | #10

    Excellent work! It’s a welcome improvement!

    Some notes: The old installations ‘Bolling Air Force Base’ and ‘Naval Annex’ have been merged into one entity, ‘Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling’ or JBAB.

    I would recommend adding major locations that aren’t accessible (i.e. within 0.5 miles) of Metrorail. For instance, the Naval Research Lab.

    St. Elizabeth’s isn’t really a hospital. Perhaps add Specialty Hospital of Washington-Hadley to the map? “Embassy Row” isn’t really a point, it’s a huge stretch of Massachusetts Ave NW. Overall,

    Also: there should be some way to emphasize that you can’t, for the most part, board the Metro Commuter services along most of their route. I would prefer to leave them off entirely, and make a separate map that shows where they board and alight. The exact route that these buses take is almost irrelevant to anyone except the drivers, and heaven forbid someone thing they can walk over to S. Capitol Street near JBAB and get on the P18.

    Have you thought about little dots or other markers to indicate the actual stops? I understand not wanting clutter but it could probably be done elegantly. (Thinking along the lines of Tufte’s sparklines.)

  11. John
    September 19th, 2012 at 14:59 | #11

    Looks generally good with one “big” suggestion and one technical edit. Even as someone who has lived here a while, never mind tourists or new residents, I use the Beltway and other major roads as a way to orientate myself. It’s on the Metrorail maps for that reason no doubt. The draft map includes a few of the major roads like the Beltway, I66, etc which is good but it’s very hard to see the white lines on a blue background. A different color than white on light blue would be better contrast so that people can see them better.

    One technical edit – ART#52 going north from East Falls Church goes east on Williamsburg Blvd west of Sycamore Street, and then east on Little Falls and Yorktown east of Sycamore. The map shows Route 52 on Yorktown Blvd. west of Sycamore which isn’t the case.

    The draft map only shows Williamsburg Blvd for Route 53. The 3 street names are really long for such a small area of the map so no easy solution, but I would suggest moving the line for 52 branch off more to the left so that the 53 line can be more vertical from EFC to allow “Yorktown Blvd” to be to the right of the spot where 52 and 53 cross, not to the left where it is now and is therefore identifying the wrong street. Another reason to branch off more to the left is that the 24T and ART 52 are not that far apart in Arlington for a little bit in that area.

    You may also be able to change the angle of the Williamsburg Blvd map line for Route 53 to match the Williamsburg Blvd map line for 52 so you only need to list this long street name once.

  12. TeganAnn
    September 19th, 2012 at 16:29 | #12

    Nice over all but I would add lettering or something to the metro stops, you are forgetting the 10% of the population who are colorblind. Your metro interchanges don’t display what line. If anyone in your office has an iPhone download CB Camera or the like & you will see what I mean.

  13. Soren
    September 19th, 2012 at 20:21 | #13

    The new maps look great and are much easier to read. But, somebody needs to proofread the names a bit more. Mount Rainier is misspelled on the DC and PG maps, as is The Courtyards (on Shuttle-UM route 105 in College Park) on the PG map.

  14. C
    September 19th, 2012 at 21:32 | #14

    This is a major improvement. As pointed out on the GGW blog (URL below), the map should incorporate frequent non-Metro bus lines like the Circulator in a comparable way to major Metro lines. Every day the 30 buses are standing-room-only (if that–often they just pass the stop by) and if I want to get to 18th St. I need to change to a Connector. The other day I discovered the 38B also would work.

    I’m not sure that I like changing the Metro lines to black instead of the line color, though.

  15. James Tedrick
    September 19th, 2012 at 22:19 | #15

    Overall, this is a really good design concept. I’m guessing that LA’s map was a major influence (though the lower density of features in this map serves this better- LA’s just reinforces that there’s a grid of routes every half mile)?

    Most of the suggestions I have would be to strengthen the visual hierarchy, making it easier for people to gauge service or delineate areas on the map:

    -Shade or strengthen the border color the downtown area on the DC map to identify where it begins (wasn’t particularly clear at the west end, for instance. I only picked it up after 5 minutes of viewing.

    -Branches that have limited service (13F&G in VA & the 81’s Greenbelt segment come to mind) probably need some modification so that the part of the branch that is only served in off times to be clear- either a dashed line or shading to match the faded route label would make sense.

    -On the DC map, routes extending off the map with an arrow should have some explanatory text, with at least the final destination. You do this on the Montgomery & Prince George’s maps. Examples:
    5A: to Dulles Airport
    86: Calverton via Hyattsville & Baltimore Ave.
    83: Cherry Hill Park via Baltimore Ave. & Hollywood (or N. College Park).

    -I realize that this is a WMATA map, but it would if you could work with the other local bus systems to identify their major routes with thicker lines- looking at Montgomery County, the lack of visual hierarchy means you don’t get a good feel for levels of bus service. Also, the level of service for the Circulator routes is such that they nearly equivalent to a major metro bus route in DC- this map some underemphasizes that.

    A couple of other suggestions:
    -Have a set, published update schedule, one that is ideally linked to major route changes, so the map stays current. One question that could contribute to this is how sustainable is the design of this map? How hard is it going to be to implement the changes that are proposed for the Ocotber public meeting request, or the presumptive changes that will happen for Silver Line implementation?

    -While this map is very nice, it would be helpful to release other representations of bus route information. DC Atlas has been hosting a copy of bus routes as a GIS service (I’m assuming with WMATA permission, since they agree that you have the copyright), but it’s somewhat out of date and is not structured to provide some of the important distinctions this map makes. Providing this information in a centerline matched GIS data or service per individual line (as opposed to common service groupings) will make it easy for users/advocates to create maps for their own local areas. (Yes, I am a GIS nerd).

  16. CDL
    September 20th, 2012 at 09:55 | #16

    One idea for a web/mobile map function is to be able to choose a specific route and have it show up on a map as the only (or most visible) line. It might work with trip planning where the desired route “pops out” of the map. Obviously, this wouldn’t work with a paper map, but it might make the online route planning more useful.

  17. inlogan
    September 20th, 2012 at 11:27 | #17

    North of Tysons Corner, the 401/402 actually make a left off of International Drive and follow the 427 along Greensboro Drive towards Westpark Transit Station. Your map has them follownig International the entire way.

  18. Rich
    September 20th, 2012 at 11:31 | #18

    I’m a huge fan. Well done. Love the curves, so I can trace which way a route is turning. The thick routes are very helpful. The small insets are also an improvement.

    It was quite a task to trace a route on the old map. Often, I wasn’t even sure if I was reading it correctly. We need this new map.

  19. Emily
    September 20th, 2012 at 12:14 | #19

    The map shows that the 96 & X3 buses go to the Tenleytown station… which they don’t do, unless they have been rerouted and I didn’t know about it. And if so, metro needs to do a better job of updating people on rerouting of buses.

  20. Gull
    September 20th, 2012 at 14:24 | #20

    much easier on the eyes!

    I do have some criticism however.

    I agree with a few of the comments above that there should be some attempt to create a regional bus map, that also provides frequency weight to the ‘other agency’ bus systems. Many people in Montgomery County use the Metro bus as a major route to get up the main corridors, then transfer to the Ride-On system to get into their neighborhood, and knowing which Ride-On routes are frequent vs infrequent would be a great service.

    I am also torn about the level to which geography was generalized. I think the maps are now much easier to read, but can become misleading. In the least, I’d like a stronger attempt to align where the subway stations and lines run compared to these bus routes. In the Silver Spring area, I see bus routes crossing the rail line in places that do not happen, partly because the rail line was overly generalized. Maybe the M symbol can be color coded and placed on top of the rail line where the stations are to save space, instead of a color dot for the station, then the M as a second label next to the station name.

    I in general wonder if it would not be a bit better to keep more true to geography in more sparse suburban areas, where we all know there are no straight lines, or at least add more landmarks such as thick green strips to show the linear nature to the parks network for Paint Branch, Sligo, Rock Creek and Seneca Creeks in Montgomery Co.

  21. Jeremy
    September 20th, 2012 at 14:47 | #21

    This map works really well for someone who already knows exactly where the bus routes are. But for anybody who wants to catch a bus for the first time, not being able to pinpoint the exact locations of the routes makes this a challenge to use. A lot of people who ride the bus have to walk, sometimes a long way, often down streets that they are unfamiliar with – without knowing exaclty where the bus routes go, this process of finding a bus stop for the first time (the primary reason that I use the bus route map) becomes much harder. I think that excessive detail is actually beneficial on bus maps for this reason, it gives you a better understanding also of where to get off in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

    CROSS-STREETS are the most important part of bus maps. Unlike train maps, you need to easily locate where you are and where you’re going. When, for example, your doctor says “get off the bus at Main Street” you want to know that main street comes after 1 Street but before 2 street.

    I complain about Metro a lot, and I complain about the metrorail map…a lot. But I love the detail of the existing bus map. Don’t try to make it easier for us by dumbing it down. Riders can understand complicated maps if they need to, but they can’t get information that isn’t provided. Stay detaied – please. The color coding and line thickness – those are genuinely great ideas, though.

  22. Silver Spring bus rider
    September 20th, 2012 at 14:55 | #22

    I really like the redesign a lot! The different line sizes for different frequencies of service is really helpful, and I like that it uses more colors for the lines. On the old map it was hard to trace where a line goes for a certain route. And I have a hard time telling where it stops or keeps going.

    On MD the new map I suggest moving the MARC station indicators closer to their actual location so people know they are easily walkable from the various bus lines that run to them. It now looks like they are far from the bus lines.

    Also, I like the green patches indicating parkland. The park & bike trail for Sligo Creek Parkway do extend all the way up to Wheaton Regional Park, even though the road for cars doesn’t. I suggest extending the green patch.

  23. September 20th, 2012 at 15:04 | #23

    [slightly modified from my comment over on GGW]

    wow- there is a lot to like about this.

    My biggest criticism is that other agencies — which also use SmartTrip and are of little difference to most customers which agency they’re riding — are all still equally weighted. I’d love a greater effort partnering w/ other agencies for a more universal transit map.

    A smaller issue, to me, is that at the moment it skips out on some finer details. Like where, exactly, do the 63 and 64 diverge from 11th Street? In some cases — such as at merge/divergence points — it might help to show a bit more detail.

    But overall this is a great step in the right direction!

  24. September 20th, 2012 at 15:47 | #24

    These maps look great! Using your established icons, please include on the MoCo Map:

    – Takoma Park Community Center at 7500 Maple Avenue (intersection with Philadelphia Ave/MD 410)

    Please include on both the MoCo and PG Maps:

    – Takoma Park Recreation Center at 7315 New Hampshire Avenue

    Please do contact me with any questions.

  25. Jody
    September 20th, 2012 at 17:12 | #25

    I’ve looked at the Virginia map and like the redesign. Thank you for including the Fairfax Connector routes; your redesigned map is easier than theirs for figuring out the routes. As for prior comments about adding lettering (at Metro stops) and other items, please don’t do it. I see the reasons that others have cited for adding landmarks/words, but in my opinion that would just add clutter to the map and negate one of the purposes of the redesign. No one map is going to have everything to make everybody happy in any case.

  26. Laura
    September 20th, 2012 at 18:05 | #26

    I like the redesign and would love to see more info (or a range of times) that each of the frequency line types represent (i.e. red frequent lines come every 5-15 minutes, next line – comes every 16-25 minutes, etc.).

    I also like all of the suggestions in the Greater Greater Washington article by David Alpert ( ). In particular, I would like to point out one suggestion that is really important to take note of and include from a riders perspective:

    “Buses from other agencies besides WMATA don’t get thick lines, even if they offer frequent service. The Circulator gets a thin orange line on the DC map, but its 10-plus-minute headways make it as frequent as many major Metrobus routes. It shouldn’t lose out on prominent billing on the map just because a different agency operates it. Same for the King Street trolley.”

  27. Laura
    September 20th, 2012 at 18:08 | #27

    Please also note that there are two spellings of Maryland – one in larger font and one in smaller white font – that should be coordinated.

  28. Laura
    September 20th, 2012 at 18:11 | #28

    In re: Jeremy – I agree that a detailed map has it’s purposes and provides more information. Can WMATA keep both an updated “current detailed” version and the new “sleeker, hierarchy” version?

  29. Ken Con
    September 20th, 2012 at 19:52 | #29

    I think Metro made a good start in redoing the map, but as someone who majored in geography and computer cartography, these new draft maps are missing alot of elements that make a good map design.

    1. Metrorail lines: I found a few weird artifacts on these maps:

    a) Rosslyn Station where the Blue and Orange split makes it look like a T intersection instead of a Y split like with Pentagon. They could’ve make the line look a little more proper with having it look like they split there.
    b) The weird bends near Franconia-Springfield. In reality, this is more of a straight line after the curve after Van Dorn Street. There was also this weird bend between Braddock Road and King Street to which this could have been in a straight line. Remember, bends in diagrammatic maps represent 45 degree angles or more.

    2. Lack of political boundaries: At least with the current maps, you had a sense of the counties in MD and VA and the independent cities like Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax as well as some of the neighborhood names. This map totally lacks that and its possible to still include this even on diagrammatic maps.

    3. Lack of a street system for bus routes: I’ve noticed there was a lack of any major streets that buses traveled on especially the suburban services where the lines have no kind of sense of location in relation to a major street or roadway. They included a few but when you go further out into the suburbs, there is no point of reference or anything. These should be included as well to give people a sense of location.

    4. Lack of terminal names: For a lot of routes, there is no mention of what their terminals are supposed to be outside of Metro Stations. These were always included in previous maps and these were left out in this one. You have routes that look like they terminal at cul-de-sacs from how the lines are represented. Maybe having some sort of text to show what the termini are would help.

    5. Lack of directional arrows: I’ve noticed on routes that operate one way on streets, they left out directional arrows that were in previous maps. Case in point: 16 line around Culmore and a few other routes. Adding these little arrows can show which direction a route travels along.

    6. MetroExtra routes: The MetroExtra routes don’t seem to stand out on these maps as they did before. They look insignificant compared to the other core service routes and are missing the stops that were provided on the current maps. These routes should have a thicker line to make them stand out a little bit better. Also, REX should be in a purple color to differentiate it from the other MetroExtra routes since it’s a special branded bus for Fairfax County.

    6b. Airport routes: I think these routes should have had a different type of color to differentiate them from the other services. The 5A and B30 get lumped in with the other routes, but these serve a different purpose other than being just a secondary route classifcation.

    7. Other transit systems: The colors used for the other systems such as DASH, Fairfax Connector, PG The Bus, RideOn, etc could be different. ART was the only one that had the color similar to the color they use for their system. The pink color used for DASH is too much on the eyes and doesn’t quite fit well for those routes. Maybe a different color close to the blue would work. The same goes for Ride On. Those routes are shown as green as well. If they did a green closer to the new logo, it might have worked a bit better.

    8. Routes that travel into/from the District don’t have any explanation as to where they terminate or which areas they serve outside of the District. The arrows just makes the route look like its going somewhere out in space.

    9. Where is the downtown inset map? It was nowhere to be found on the DC map and that needs to be included in there.

  30. Katherine
    September 21st, 2012 at 10:31 | #30

    I agree with point #3 about the need for street context in the maps! It is very difficult, even if traveling within one’s own community, to plan a route and determine where the bus stops are and where to debark without being able to see the street system. A transparent or low-contrast overlay of the street grid would make the map much more useful.

  31. Katherine
    September 21st, 2012 at 10:45 | #31

    Street Context please!! Especially in the suburbs where bus riders rely on making bus connections, it’s vital to be able to see exactly which streets the buses travel and where relevent cross streets are for making connections and knowing where to get on and off the bus.

    Unlike Metro trains, where street context is not very relevent except at hubs and stations, bus riders must navigate unsafe, un-walkable roads, shelter-free bus stops, and infrequent service–clear and legible maps that show you where you are in relation to the bus service is critical!

  32. September 21st, 2012 at 10:46 | #32

    These are a vast improvement over what came before. There are still a couple things that deserve changing/clarifying, though:

    1. Define what “frequent service” is (and really, this should mean every 10 minutes or less) and clearly spell that out on the map. Define subsequent tiers of service frequency (e.g., every 10-20 minutes is one thing, 20-35 is another) and put those definitions on the map as well.

    2. As has been mentioned several times, more prominently featuring the Circulator with its acceptable 10 minute headways should absolutely be done, as it should for any system or service with 10 minute headways or less.

    3. Are there plans to create more localized “spider maps” that would feature a given immediate area? Either for use at shelter-style bus stops and/or at Metrorail stations.

    4. Also, there should absolutely be a corresponding map for late-night service. It would certainly be much simpler, but is definitely a must. If I could actually look at one, I would be much more willing to go out to the less rail-accessible areas for longer. Think the MTA late-night subway map (

    All-in-all, though, great work! This will be of great help to current and especially potential bus riders. Now all you have to do is run enough buses to reduce the current levels of overcrowding…

  33. jane
    September 21st, 2012 at 10:51 | #33

    Overall, this is a good idea, but as a bus rider it is hard to see where you are going without cross streets. Upper NW seems like a ghost town without any service – it is all walkable, but you do not get a sense of which bu route to go on without at least the major streets marked. For regular riders, this is fine, but when you try to schedule the weekend bus riding (when metro is single tracking), this would be almost impossible to use. I can not even imagine what it would be like for tourists if they want to use the bus service. There should be a way to have layers to turn on and off the streets that were available before.
    Contgrats on the move, it is a welcome change. With some tweeks, it should be great

  34. Michael
    September 21st, 2012 at 11:00 | #34

    I updated the PDFs of the map to fix the font error indicated in one of the comments on GGW.

  35. JJ
    September 21st, 2012 at 12:18 | #35

    I think it’s a big improvement, but the inset box indicators on the DC map need to be a darker grey or shade the entire square. If I didn’t know they’d have an inset in that part of town, I’d think the 30 buses are the only thing connecting through

  36. Scott H
    September 21st, 2012 at 15:13 | #36

    I don’t understand how the “overview” can replace the actual street-level detail. I need to know what the cross-streets are, and where the stops are (why can I get this at Google Maps but not from WMATA?) The lack of the DC inset map makes it impossible to analyze whether these maps will be useful. The big picture is fine, but once I know that, I need to know the details. WMATA should be the expert on its own routes, yet usually I find Google Maps and their directions for bus and train much more helpful than Metro’s maps and Trip Planner. These revisions, stripping away all the street detail, would only make that problem worse.

  37. D Anika Alex
    September 21st, 2012 at 16:11 | #37

    It looks a little confusing

  38. Marlon Hall (MJofLakeland1)
    September 22nd, 2012 at 02:51 | #38

    I like the new maps!! It is easier to see the frequent corridors and connecting area bus service without overlooking a non-Metro route to another connecting area service marked the same color. This is similar to MTA Maryland’s system map that pinpoints major-transfer points and the routing design is straight-forward of a corridor and not trying to be accurately realistic, showing all bus lines’ whole routing.

    Missing parts:
    *Route terminus labels a locations (Make a key box in corner of map with label numbered)
    *Major connecting streets not served by a bus route
    *Bring back border outline with routes crossing counties or states (Eliminate arrows at end of routes)
    *MetroExtra routes need “white dots” locating stops
    *Mark and color neighborhood parks
    *Peak-hour routes labeled with “hash-marks” on it’s individual routing (When not sharing route with frequent service) on map

    Revise the route schedule maps to appear more like WMATA than some other transit service. Route be closely similar to system map, but keep same features as current schedule maps and branch routes are colored differently (Virginia’s Route 16)

  39. Marlon Hall (MJofLakeland1)
    September 22nd, 2012 at 02:59 | #39

    @Ken Con Have you seen MTA Maryland’s system map? WMATA is close but need more improvement. Labeling and more neighborhood friendly for new commuters.

  40. Marlon Hall (MJofLakeland1)
    September 22nd, 2012 at 03:28 | #40

    @WMATA Rage You right about a late-night service map, which there should have been one before if improving upon map changes

  41. Marlon Hall (MJofLakeland1)
    September 22nd, 2012 at 03:43 | #41

    @Michael Perkins I agree with you, I don’t get the difference with 42 and 43 since one seems two minutes faster, but might as well merge them and make a shuttle service and extend it to/from Dupont Circle and “Green Line” train at Columbia Heights or combine them with the “Route 60 and/or Route 62” (Route 43 with 62 & Route 42 with Route 60).

  42. Barry
    September 22nd, 2012 at 07:27 | #42

    Overall, these maps seem esay to read, but I’d like to see a bit more contrast. I have to use the bus because I don’t see well, so things like higher contrast and pdf’s that flipppable to white on black, make all the difference to me.
    And as some one noted earlier, a few more intersection’s would make it more pedestrian friendly.

  43. September 22nd, 2012 at 16:59 | #43

    Wow! Routes disappear on the new map. If the idea is to NOT know where bus stops might be then you have master it!

  44. Sergey
    September 22nd, 2012 at 21:48 | #44

    It is time to have DC Circulator routes numbered before publishing new maps. It was okay when they originally started with only two routes, but not anymore.

  45. September 22nd, 2012 at 22:50 | #45

    I like the redesign, and I think that people who are claiming that it doesn’t have enough detail for first-time users are missing the point. This is supposed to be an overview and to show frequency of service. It should not be used to plan out a complete journal from start to finish; that is what services like Trip Planner are for.

    But I do think the map still focuses too heavily on Metrorail service. When I look at the map of DC, the black lines are still the most prominent, and they really aren’t necessary. The question I believe most riders ask is, “Which bus gets me to ____ Metro station?” Showing the Metrorail lines themselves is unnecessary and clutters what is supposed to be a bus map.

    The black Metrorail lines also needlessly take prominence where bus routes and underground tunnels overlap. For example, it looks like the 70s line bends (which it does not) and appears as if the buses miss both Shaw and Mt. Vernon Square stations. Same thing happens with buses on Connecticut Avenue, which appear to run on some other street parallel to the actual road. That needs to be fixed pronot.

  46. Bob
    September 23rd, 2012 at 06:24 | #46

    Not good. New maps take license with geography and scale and are difficult to overlay on a legitimate map. While I realize geography is not of great interest to many Americans, I find the old maps much more useful due to their detail and accuracy. I vote to keep the existing maps.

  47. GorhamG
    September 23rd, 2012 at 08:00 | #47

    I know this will be slightly off topic … I do not ride the transit other than occasionally Metro Rail. To get the cars off the road, more of us need to move to transit. To get us to move to transit it must improve or be comparable to SOV in transit times, transit must compete in cost, comfort and convenience.

    Regarding these maps …
    1) Make these maps usable in a phone app or tablet that can filter based on user selections and scale of the map
    2) Make these maps usable in Google Maps or a GPS. How can I get from point A to point B at this time, or say at 5pm later today, or at any given time, with transit.

    Other ideas …
    3) Wherever possible put dynamically updated bus status signs at the stops. When is the next bus getting here? Is it an express or local?
    4) Give buses an advantage over SOV with bus lanes, intersection bypass lanes
    5) Make the buses comfort comparable to a SOV – at least equal to Metro Rail.
    6) Make the bus cost comparable to a SOV
    7) Make bus stops more than a steel post in the ground next to a puddle.
    8) Let the system reach out to more remote areas (in VA FFX Co, PWC CO, Loudoun Co) with high frequency stops but at a very limited number of stops
    9) Offer varying frequency of stops on the same route based on demands. One might be a local, the next will be an express.
    10) Tightly integrate with other bus systems that embrace the same improvements listed here.

    I think I just described a world class Bus Rapid Transit System.

    Is this expensive? Yes. How expensive are congested roads in time lost, maintenance, and endlessly adding in adding new roads? In adding more lanes to existing roads? Right of way access costs? Utility relocation? By staying the course we are on now, the end result will be all roads widened to the width of Dulles runways just to maintain – not improve – the level of service we “enjoy” now.

  48. Darrenn E. Canton
    September 23rd, 2012 at 19:28 | #48

    -Taking liberties with geography in the name of simplicity is different when Metrorail doesn’t have to deal with traffic like the bus system does.

    -I’ll repeat the concern about not listing the terminus points for certain routes. Riders could become confused when looking at routes at bus hubs like Fort Totten, Silver Spring, and Anacostia.

    -I wish non-Metro services also had frequency indication.

    -Giving a route “core” status only when it runs along a major roadway seems confusing.

    -I do agree that some routes definitely get lost, especially peak-hour service lines.

  49. Craig
    September 23rd, 2012 at 23:37 | #49

    I think the “major” classification, if possible, should also be applied to non-Metrobus routes (i.e. RideOn, Fairfax Connector, etc.) in routes/corridors where such applies as well. As a general rule, regardless of location, such should be for routes that run at least every 15 minutes most of the day (every 30 minutes is acceptable late evenings, plus during non-core times on weekends). No difference should be made between city and suburb since that would discourage planners from moving ahead in the suburbs to encourage more frequent service and would confuse people.

    As for the all-day/limited shading, maybe have three sets there:

    * Full shading as shown should be only those routes that run 7 days a week, at least every 60 minutes until 10 pm weekdays and 7 pm weekends. Of course, they could extend later than that (and ideally should in many cases).
    * Light shading should be “limited” routes – running more than rush hour, but only 5 or 6 days a week or intermittent 7 days.
    * Unshaded should be rush hour only.

    Finally, inset maps for Loudoun and Prince William Counties, and perhaps other areas, should be added. That will especially be true come 2017 or so when Metrorail reaches Loudoun County.

  50. Jen
    September 24th, 2012 at 09:29 | #50

    According to the NoVa bus map, it looks like no bus routes leave from the Pentagon City metro station. There are several 16 buses that have Pentagon City as a terminus.

    I agree with previous commentors about the need for navigational markers such as cross streets. I would also like to see indicators for the terminus point of each line.

    You need to show the DC part of the bus routes that come in from NoVa. On the DC map, I can see that , for example, the 5A and 16F come into DC on 395, but the map doesn’t show where these routes go from there.

    I am confused by all the DC routes that seem to end in arrows. Is there supposed to be another map or inset that shows the full routes for these buses?

  51. September 24th, 2012 at 10:57 | #51


    30 minute headways are not acceptable at any time, particularly in the District itself. This is a transit system we’re talking about, not a commuter rail.

  52. CityBeautiful21
    September 24th, 2012 at 12:08 | #52

    It seems like you are trying to avoid offending jurisdictions who offer lower levels of transit service by rating their 30-minute frequency as “major” as 15-minute or 10-minute frequency in the District.

    Who’s the map for? If it’s for elected officials, then maybe this is okay and will help them feel better about their decisions. But if it’s for passengers, especially those who don’t own cars, then this lack of distinction is actually a disservice. The type of trip planning you do when you know that the bus only comes every 30 minutes is very different than if it comes every 7 minutes.

    Passengers don’t make trip planning decisions to use transit based on the route’s relative LOS hierarchy within places that are arbitrary jurisdictions (i.e. political boundaries) in relationship to their trip. They look for travel times, choice of departure, and service span.

    Any attempt to avoid having a firm standard for what “frequent” means undercuts the entire purpose of making such a map.

  53. gopher
    September 24th, 2012 at 15:36 | #53

    There needs to be a notch such as the NYC official Subway maps at every physical bus stop, along with the cross streets each bus stop is between. The notch should clearly be placed on the side of the intersection the actual stop is nearest to. The notches should be on either side of the line. For sheltered stops, a small bus shelter icon should be there, to indicate if you are early enough you can be out of the rain. At smaller map scales (farther out) only show the stops with shelters, but indicate that additional stops are visible at larger scales. I’m a cartographer.

  54. Hanan
    September 24th, 2012 at 17:57 | #54

    Just on a first glance, I’m wondering where the 93 bus has gone. I’d also like to see important buses like the 5A going to Dulles pointed out more clearly at Rosslyn and L’Enfant.

  55. Hanan
    September 24th, 2012 at 17:58 | #55

    Does the G2 really stop at Wisconsin now and not run all the way to Georgetown’s campus as the draft map indicates?

  56. Hanan
    September 24th, 2012 at 18:01 | #56

    Have you explored the London city bus map system? It’s wonderful and easy to use. It relies on a stylized map such as this for the large picture, but then at bus stops, there is an insert for the immediate location that is to scale, includes street names, major landmarks, tube entrances, and a key to all of the other buses that are in the immediate area. It’s something DC can aspire to for sure because our current bus station maps are next to worthless in my opinion.

  57. Bryan
    September 24th, 2012 at 22:13 | #57

    First of all, these are fantastic leaps forward over the existing maps, for exactly the purposes that you describe in the article. Immediately upon opening the draft files, I was able to start identifying key bus routes that *are actually useful to me* because it was so much easier to associate frequency + destinations/basic areas/directions served by the main lines. And the maps in the suburban areas are tremendously helpful for cutting through the dozens of lines to show me the ones that will be most useful to me–makes it much easier for me to understand which areas I can depend on bus service to get me to. So major kudos for these potential improvements.

    However, the cartographic and map-making side of me has a few issues to raise:

    First, your customers don’t care which *agency* runs a bus service; your customers care about *frequency and reliability* of bus service. So, ditch the “Metrobus Major Route” and “Metrobus Secondary Route” business and just try (if you can) to integrate everything into one simple legend that’s “Major Routes” and “Secondary Routes” etc., regardless of the agency running the service. Especially if those other services (like DC Circulator) use SmarTrip…

    Second, I think the transfer Metrorail station circles need to be larger, to be able to see the color “wedges” in them, plus they should be slightly higher in the visual hierarchy anyway, as they are major organizing elements of the rail services.

    Third, I think you should consider how better to show the bus-rail transfer points. I’m thinking of perhaps an oblong rounded rectangle that would encircle the key bus lines that run by/to a Metrorail station. As just one example, the Eastern Market metro station is positioned such that a user would likely realize that the 90 series buses are easy transfers, but might miss that the 30 series buses are equally easy–some method to try to “loop” those services into the “Eastern Market metrorail-bus transfer area” might be fruitful.

    Fourth, I’d recommend considering if there’s some way to make the bus terminal points stronger, especially when a terminus is a Metrorail station. In some instances (W4 at Anacostia, K6 at Fort Totten) I only recognize that a bus line as terminated when I realize that I can’t find a label for it anymore on the other side of the metro stop. Also, it’s not immediately clear to me in other locations where a bus line just ends (42 in Mt. Pleasant, E2/E3/D4/D3 in Ivy City) that those lines are terminating there (are they?) or whether they just stop being drawn because the bus line no longer meets the standard for inclusion on this high-frequency overview map.

    But, again, thanks a ton for putting forth the effort to make these maps. My use of DC-area public transit will become more efficient and more worthwhile with the knowledge that I can gain from these. Thanks.

  58. September 25th, 2012 at 10:57 | #58


    Your point about the sliding definition of “frequent” is a good one, but I think you’re undervaluing the way that nearby routes interact with -each other-. If I’m a customer somewhere in PG County, I’m not interested in comparing the P12 to the S2 for academic purposes. I -am- interested in seeing how the routes closest to me are useful — compared to one another.

    You’re right, 30-minute base frequency on the P12 isn’t all that great, but it’s substantially better than the H12 and the D14 and other routes around there. So, in that sense, the flexible definition of “frequent” is working wonders.

    A respectfully different perspective :)

  59. PM
    September 25th, 2012 at 16:55 | #59

    Two problems with the Metrorail lines on the new maps:
    1. They need to be in the line of the color they represent not black line with color dots.
    2. Rush+ service needs to be shown with dashed lines…for example Blue line stations from Benning Road to Largo Town Center show Orange segments in the dots and Green line stations from Fort Totten to Greenbelt show Yellow line segment in the dots. It is misleading because it looks like Orange line trains serve Blue line stations and Yellow lines serve Green lines at all times when the additional Orange & Yellow line services are associated with Rush+ only.
    I don’t like the ‘Better Bus’ program. I think the bus stops need to be changed back or modified differently, specifically F6 to Silver Spring (modified to follow via J4 route) and R3 back to Fort Totten and Greenbelt. In addition, some of the eliminated bus routes need to be restored. In your attempt to make the buses better, you made them worse by reducing and eliminating service.

    Overall, I prefer the existing maps and former bus service prior to the June 17 changes, although the new maps have potential.

  60. TimK
    September 26th, 2012 at 09:58 | #60

    @Scott H

    You (and several other people) are missing the point of this map, which is to enable you to identify the bus routes that will get you where you need to go. Once you’ve identified those routes, you can look at the specific timetables and route maps for them for the street-level detail.

    The issue with the old map is precisely that it tried to do both these things, which necessarily turned it into an unreadable mess.

  61. Trish
    September 26th, 2012 at 14:18 | #61

    My comments are regarding the Virginia map.

    Overall, I like the new map, but as someone who travels by foot in addition to the bus, I would MUCH prefer that a map that is to scale than one that is not. Knowing real distances is extremely helpful because when you’re hoofing it between lines that don’t intersect and you have a limited time to make a connection, having only an “idea” of how far apart they are doesn’t cut it. And scale helps me know better whether a certain route is going to get me within walking distance of my destination.

    There are also little, yet important details that are missing, such as that the 25A, 25B, and 28G actually pull into the driveway at Skyline Plaza. Or where the 23A and 23C turn onto Old Dominion from N. Glebe Rd., it looks like Glebe simply turns into Old Dominion, rather than this being at an intersection. Some indication of roads other than just those parts of the roads exactly where the route follows runs is necessary. Perhaps some light lines to show that Glebe keeps going north there and Old Dominion keeps going east?

    Also, a suggestion: What would be super-de-duper helpful is different maps for weekdays and weekends, so one could know in one glance whether one can use such-and-such a combination of routes to get somewhere, rather than have to look up multiple routes only to find out that the place I want to go on Saturday morning is really only serviced by bus on weekday evenings. As both the current map and the new draft map are, there’s no visual difference between a limited-service route that runs only during rush hour and one that runs only on Sundays, so you have to consult individual route timetables. Or perhaps there’s someway to indicate this within a single map, perhaps with different styles of lines? For example, Sunday-only route like the 16P could get a dotted line and a rush-only route like the 28G could get a dashed line?

  62. Valerie
    September 26th, 2012 at 15:09 | #62

    Who is the intended audience for this map? Who is meant to be the main beneficiary of the map redesign? People with no knowledge of the WMATA bus system?

    It says on the map, “For detailed information on each route, please refer to individual schedules.” I find the individual maps to be the most confusing maps because of the lack of cross streets. Are there any plans to update the individual route maps?

  63. Emily
    September 27th, 2012 at 13:19 | #63

    While these may be an improvement, I’m more interested in metro improving the station stop maps. Take a cue from the transit system in London. I visited for five days and it was easier to figure out than DC. In addition to larger system map, it shows you a map of where you are, the cross streets in the area, and what other buses are close to you and where they are going. It was a lot more intuitive.

  64. Ritch
    September 28th, 2012 at 13:18 | #64

    I like how the line weights are used to distinguish primary ersus secondary services lines. I also like how the color contrasts are used to differentiate between service providers and to make the routes stand out better. I do have concerns about the lack of a uniform scale and the loss of much of the reference locations. It woudl be hard to imagine how you could use this map to figure out the route to a place you have not been before. There is no way to determine just how close the route comes to a particular address or the approximate length of the trip. If you can add more detail it may be possible to coordinate this map with a more realistic/detailed map (like Google Maps).

  65. Matt B.
    September 28th, 2012 at 13:26 | #65

    I like this bus system overview’s new design: It makes it easy to find the bus lines that run near a landmark or neighborhood. I also like the “express” and major bus line distinctions.

    Three recommendations:
    -Put the Circulator bus lines on the DC map. I don’t know what the WMATA-Circulator politics are, but the Circulator shows up when you plan a trip on site and I’d really like to be able to compare the bus line systems.
    -Are these going to be posted at all of the bus shelters? I would highly recommend that.
    -I’d like to echo the suggestions for cross-referencing the bus lines, AKA where the lines meet. For folks that need to transfer buses in metro rail-less areas (Georgetown, Olney, Fairfax, etc.) this will make transfers easier.

  66. David Ellis
    September 29th, 2012 at 01:15 | #66

    I really like the new system map that I looked at last week and yeah I believe that it should work out hopefully for the best as long as regional connections are really important when it comes to using bus or rail or commuter rail service in Maryland, DC and Virginia….overall in addition to the new Metrobus/Metrorail regional system map for both DC/Virginia and Maryland/DC… suggestion is that I would like to see a redesign of all of the bus, train schedules for Metrobus and Metrorail but let alone the MTA Maryland has already redesigned the MARC Commuter rail schedule most recently somehow……

  67. Andrew Keener
    September 29th, 2012 at 19:15 | #67

    I like the old ones better as I’m a VA resident and I find the old ones easier for me to read.

  68. staypuftman
    September 30th, 2012 at 21:37 | #68

    This is like a 10000% improvement over what we have now. I honestly cannot make sense of the current maps and I’ve been in the area for six years now.

    I immediately found myself exploring more of the map and seeing which trunk routes connect places I need to go (really wish the hypothetical purple line was at least a bus at this point!).

    Great work, cant wait to see this rolled out.

  69. Beth
    October 1st, 2012 at 13:11 | #69

    Thanks for working to improve the bus maps.
    Here are some comments:
    1. Level of Detail. Several comments have noted the tension between showing detail (e.g., street intersections) and simplicity of use. Those advocating for a simple system map argue that users can simply go to the maps for individual routes to get more details. Many of the individual route maps, however, are frequently lacking sufficient detail to determine the location of the route. If the system map is going to omit street intersections, then the individual route maps will need to be revised to add those details.
    2. Downtown DC. The map of downtown DC appears to have very low availability of routes. All of the routes to the north appear to terminate earlier than they do. If this is done for simplicity, please provide an inset map to show the locations. Otherwise, users will have to look up the individual route maps for each of the many downtown routes.
    3. Info at Bus Stops. Please provide more information on routing at the bus stops. I would recommend adding the more detailed route maps requested in my first comment. Please also consider overlaying the route maps that service a particular stop into one map that shows the full service available from that stop. I understand that this is more of a long-term proposition, but it would make the stops far more user-friendly.

    Thank you!

  70. Katy
    October 1st, 2012 at 22:30 | #70

    I mostly ride the Metro, but I always notice that I walk past bus stops on my way to the Metro. I’ve paused at the stops before to see if the bus would save me time, but I can never read the map in a short amount of time. I’ve gone home to look up the bus before, or I’ve looked at the map around the area, and unless I look up the specific bus, I can’t figure it out. I think the buses would save me time, but the current map is really too hectic and overwhelming.
    All I look for is a general idea of where the buses are heading so I can see if it’s near my destination, especially if I pause at a stop I walk by frequently. This new map will allow me to finally understand and fully be able to use the bus system! Thank you so much, and I can’t wait until it comes out!

  71. Skip
    October 1st, 2012 at 23:07 | #71

    Two comments.
    First, the metrorail routes are known and designated by their route colors. The use of black lines for each of them, with only little circle/wedges to identify them makes them less clear to identify. Bring the colors back in.
    Second, having all streets shown and labeled is extremely helpful when planning which buses to take, as is depicting the streets to scale. Not all trips begin and end on major thoroughfares or streets with buses that run along them. Most trips begin by walking to a bus stop from one of these other streets, and then walking from a bus stop to one of these other streets. For example, if my destination were the 800 block of Allison St., there is nothing on the map to show me where Allison St. is and I would not know which buses to consider taking. Even knowing where Allison St. is, and seeing 5th and 14th Streets on the map still leaves me uncertain which bus to take as I can only approximate the location of the intersection of 8th and Allison on the map. About the lack of scale, the scalelessness of the suburban areas is not helpful. I could potentially alight from the bus and find that my final destination is 2 miles from the bus stop. I read where you say that this map is an overview and that the other services offered, such as trip planner, should be consulted, but if that is the case, then what purpose does this vague map serve?
    I like the hierarchies of routes, but overall the map is too high level. And it expects the rider to have an existing, thorough knowledge of the streets, so that he or she can fill in the gaps on the map.
    Please add more detail and provide scale depictions of streets.

  72. Iolaire McFadden
    October 2nd, 2012 at 17:30 | #72

    Will this clearly designate snow emergency routes and will the drivers honor those routes? If not its rather pointless since you still will not know what random street each driver chooses to detour to.

  73. Riordan
    October 2nd, 2012 at 23:38 | #73

    I’m a big fan of these changes. As a relatively new resident of DC, I’ve found the bus maps too complex and inaccessible, and I’ve never really felt like I’ve had a grasp of the system. These new maps seem to go a long way in offering a good overview of the system and an idea of which buses in a particular area are frequent enough to not have to rely on schedules and too much route planning beforehand.

  74. Jason Lee
    October 3rd, 2012 at 20:43 | #74

    I frequently visit the Washington region and ride both Metrorail and the bus system. While the rail system is super easy to navigate, the bus system is just the opposite. Consequently, outsiders and/or occasional bus riders give up on the system due to its complexity.

    Part of this has nothing to do with maps – routes are not intuitively numbered (e.g., E2, 42, 1A). Renumbering and consolidating multiple route variations would go a long way towards making the system coherent.

    As for the map, coloring the route and varying the line thickness by frequency/hours of operation is a great idea. This gives some assurance about waiting times and levels of service without having to find a paper timetable (often unavailable or out-of-date) or download it from the computer or smart phone.

    The schematic design, however, is extremely confusing. Schematic designs may be OK on rail where there are fixed, easily identifiable stations. For buses, however, they are disorienting and do not permit someone unfamiliar with the area to know where the bus stops, which will lead to frustration and/or missed buses. This is of particular concern when buses run on one-way streets (which look like two way streets on the proposed map), or when there are a lot of turns. Moreover, it is very difficult to tell scale on the map – people who have just missed their bus cannot even make an informed decision on whether or not to walk or take a taxi to their destination. Nor can someone estimate the time it might actually take to ride a bus from point A to point B. Finally, requiring someone to study an individual route timetable to find bus directions (providing they can find a printed timetable or navigate directions on a space-limited smart phone screen) could result in the loss of “choice” riders.

    Given this, please consider retaining the geographical backdrop of the existing map but using the colors/thickness of lines as you have proposed.

  75. Edrie Irvine
    October 5th, 2012 at 11:45 | #75

    My first impression is that the new version’s lack of detail is going to be more confusing, not less. The people who use these maps are ones who may not be familiar with an area, so the detail provided in the current versions is critical to determine where one can find a bus stop, where a bus route actually ends, etc. Also, the individual route maps already lack significant details.

    I recently moved, and the detailed map we currently have has been invaluable to me. The new draft leaves out so much information that I would never have been able to figure out where the closest bus stop is, which bus route would work best for me, etc. I refer to the current maps at least 3-4 times a week as I become accustomed to my new location and need to figure out how to get to different places most efficiently.

    I strongly urge you to reconsider this “modernization” approach to mapping. I recommend that you change the current detailed maps to reflect the color schemes used in the draft maps for frequency, etc. You will accomplish your goal of reflecting core vs less frequent service while retaining the geographic details critical to your customers.

  76. Sean
    October 6th, 2012 at 16:34 | #76

    A strong effort overall, but the distinction between primary and secondary routes seems somewhat arbitrary. I’d imagine “secondary” routes will get less ridership over time despite many having high frequency. My favorites in this regard would be the 96/97. At the very least I would depict such routes as a thin red “branch” of the 90/92.

    Also, while more attractive, nuances of routing sometimes do matter in terms of telling folks where to catch the bus. For example, if you try to catch the southbound 96 at New Jersey and H, you’d be out of luck, it runs down North Capitol. There’s potential for a lot of confusion in that kind of detail, so you may have to sacrifice elegance in places.

  77. Anne
    October 8th, 2012 at 11:08 | #77

    I can’t tell where D42 goes after it heads down Connecticut Ave. If I didn’t know already that it goes toward Chinatown and then turns and passes a Gallery Place metro entrance, I wouldn’t be able to tell that from the map. They are simplified, but I also don’t see the continuation of some routes from PG County into the District. They’re certainly clearer graphics, but D42 just appears to end north of Farragut Square.

  78. Peter K
    October 12th, 2012 at 15:49 | #78

    I’d like to see more information on the 13F/13G buses on the DC map, possibly in the “outside of metrorail service hours” box. It’s especially important in my opinion to make it easy for out-of-town visitors to figure out how the heck to get to National Airport if their flight leaves early in the morning on a weekend before Metro starts up.

  79. Scott Anderson
    October 12th, 2012 at 21:47 | #79

    That’s pretty cool. Another thing that would be really useful is to somehow indicate which routes are available on weekends, because a lot of them aren’t.

    I completely agree with dispensing with geographical accuracy. When I ride I care about how to get where I need to get, not what all is in the middle.

  80. October 15th, 2012 at 15:44 | #80

    Easier to read: yes, it’s easier to find generally what buses go where you need to go. To satisfy the need for more exact geographic info, suggest overlaying the actual route network on Google Maps, with stops indicated.

  81. Bill McCloskey
    October 16th, 2012 at 19:54 | #81

    The map shows the inbound N2/4/6 bus terminating before K St. It terminates at I St. The map does not identify which N bus slipts off of Massachusetts Ave to go to Archives (N3) nor does it show it going to Archives, it just kind of trails off once it leaves Mass. Ave.

  82. October 17th, 2012 at 10:13 | #82

    I like the new maps, which make strategic planning much easier. Two main suggestions and two minor ones for the DC map (since that’s where I live and commute): no doubt to avoid clutter, you stop tracing a number of major bus routes as they enter the 50 (or more) square block downtown area…not so good. Either trace the whole bus route on the main map, or–perhaps better–use the major available blank space covering Virginia in the southwest corner of the map for a downtown DC “inset” tracing the bus routes there in detail. If room remains it that Virginia corner (perhaps by shrinking a bit the box explaining the DC quadrant system), use it for one more (tourist-friendly) inset: of the Mall, marking out the major museums there and how they relate to the bus routes. Two lesser suggestions: 1) IF space still remains somewhere on the map or in the legend, print a reference to the Metro website’s URL and the planning tool there which offers optimal suggestions as to how riders can get from one specific address to another. That would add a fine-grained “tactical” option to this very good strategic map. 2) Where it’s clear that bus routes running into VA or MD continue beyond the limits of the map, don’t just point arrows towards the “unknown,” but state in print the final end point of that route in VA or MD, so that readers know whether it’s worth pursuing the matter further on the VA or MD maps.

    All that said, and with the major caveat regarding coverage of the downtown area, I think the new maps are a major improvement. Congratulations.

  83. Raphael
    October 21st, 2012 at 09:02 | #83

    I saw some connecting line between Farragut west & north metro stations, but your legend does not explain what it is? Is this something that is being proposed, under construction, or available at this time. I am new to the area and find your current maps are very confusing & hope that you roll out these maps ASAP because they are much more user friendly.

  84. jikoto
    October 22nd, 2012 at 21:02 | #84

    Generally speaking it is a good effort. In design, we review and critic until you have what you need. Because of the complex structure/routes of Metro, it will be difficult but not impossible to incorporate all the routes and stations. Let me suggest how to make this map less confusing:
    a. Use emphasis to show routes, buses, trains and stations. You may use bold types, color fonts, thickness like is been used now and legends of various sizes and color.
    b. Definitely, not all the stations, routes, buses or trains carry the same inportance. To this effect, incorporate the above to emphasize or disemphasize some objects that are apt to confuse readership/ridership.
    Finally, for a complex diagram like this the use of very bright colors will help. Thanks.

  85. December 5th, 2012 at 22:32 | #85

    This is 10,000,000 times better. You should be very proud of this redesign!!!

  86. September 26th, 2013 at 09:32 | #86

    These looks really terrific. It’s now a year later and I’m curious about the status of these plans for deploying and continuing to update?

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