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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2010, 9:49 PM
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A Re-envisioned Denver Transit Map

Many months ago, I started an attempt to rethink the RTD map post FastTracks. This weekend, I was finally able to get it into a form where I thought it was worth sharing on the SSP board. I’d like to distribute this to a larger audience eventually, so I’d love to get your thoughts, feedback, and constructive criticism.

Without further ado:





A few notes and things to consider:

I’m likely missing or misrepresenting something
It seems like there are constantly new routes, changing stops, and other Fastracks switch-ups that I’m not involved enough to know about. Your help weeding these things out and making corrections would be much appreciated!


Light Rail, Commuter Rail, BRT and Free Buses
RTD seems poised to make a distinction between Commuter Rail and Light Rail, which I think is a shame. The overwhelming majority of people absolutely do not care what kind of train they are riding, and creating this distinction only creates confusion.

Not only have I removed these distinctions, but I have also purposefully blurred the line between the trains and the two free bus lines — the 16th Street Mall Ride and the new Downtown Circulator — which tie the entire system together for many commuters. Admittedly, this is a fairly provocative choice, but it seemed to me that it was one worth making to make the diagram of the system complete.


City versus suburbs
For better or worse, Denver’s transit system is a hub-and-spoke model, with everything leading downtown. The Achilles heel of every Denver transit map I have seen to date is that the downtown portion of the map is far too small to be useful as, you know, a transit map. The portion of the map covering the suburban areas — easily 80% of the total space — is still too small to be a useful road map or indicator of where stations actually are. As a result, the current RTD maps are failing on both accounts: not being great maps of the downtown core, and not being great maps of the suburbs either.

In my map, I have significantly enlarged Downtown Denver showing all of the relevant connections and even key attractions like Coors Field or the Museum and Cultural District. As a result, the lines leading out into the suburbs have been completely abstracted, apart from each line generally being correct in terms of where it lies in relationship to the city. In my view, this isn't a big loss since the focus is on the primary functionality: getting people from Point A to Point B effectively, ensuring that key connections downtown are illustrated.


A proliferation of lines
Compared to larger cities, the pre-Fastracks transit system in Denver is very simple. However, RTD already has established five lines (C, D, E, F, G) which in other cities would only be represented as two or three lines because the bulk of the stops on each line are the same. For example, the current F and H lines are for all intents and purposes identical, apart from minor variations at each end of the line. I have removed these distinctions, instead relying on the “X Line toward Y Station” model common throughout the world in situations like ours.


Things I know I am missing:
Car parking at each station
Bike parking at each station
Handicap accessibility information
Fare zones
Probably a lot of other stuff

Thanks in advance for your help and guidance to make this better!

— Ryan

Edit:
For reference, here is the current RTD map post-Fastracks from the website:



And here is the current RTD map pre-Fastracks:


Last edited by denverryan; Nov 28, 2010 at 11:14 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 12:56 AM
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OMG, awesome.

I totally agree with you that the big problem with every previous Denver map has been that downtown appeared too small. They're all too geographic and not diagrammatic enough. Your solution is great.

A few thoughts:
  • You ought to go ahead and include parking and the fare zones. Make it as complete as possible.
  • I think your line name markers should be placed as close as possible to the end of each line (so "Golden" is next to Jeffco Gov't Center station, etc). That makes it even more clear, in case someone needs a grayscale version.
  • I think a few of your line names should be rethought:
    • "Golden" should be renamed "Lakewood" since there's a possibility the Avada line could one day be extended to Golden.
    • "Mineral" should just be "Southwest" since Mineral won't be the last station for much longer.
    • "Arapahoe" should be either "Southeast" or "Tech Center" since, well, I just don't identify "Arapahoe" as a meaningful place.
    • "Flatirons" should be "Longmont" since both Boulder corridor lines will stop at Flatiron Crossing.
    • ... Or simplify and either name each line after its last station, or give it a color ("Red Line", etc).
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 1:09 AM
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Love it! That's a really nice and awesome map!
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 2:49 AM
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Ryan, I haven't posted here in a couple of years, at least, but Dan let me know about your map and I wanted to make a couple of comments.

I could quibble with details of the execution BUT -- conceptually, this is bold stuff. I love the way you've handled the downtown "blow-up" -- this could serve as a model for maps in lots of cities with similarly focused radial configurations. I also think you're headed in the right direction in terms of blurring the lines between modes. *No one cares* about one vehicle vs. another, only the quality of service.

This is really an eye-opener in terms of what RTD *could* be doing. Their current map, frankly, is a joke. Not only that -- this is a better than a lot of agency maps in other cities. Someone should be hiring you.
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  #5  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:03 AM
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Okay, for J Church to come out of a 2+ years absence just to give his opinion must mean this map is really something. So why can't I see it?!?! Damn you Chinese firewall!!!
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:17 AM
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I just glanced at it but how would you include HSR when it gets built?
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:25 AM
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Ryan, excellent map! I've been working on one of my own which has a lot in common with yours. My map is basically finished and I even recently shared it with J Church (welcome back!!).

I've been sort of waiting for a certain new blog to be launched as a companion to a certain other blog before I reveal it. I guess I don't have to wait anymore.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:27 AM
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Beautiful work. Before I get into detailed comments, is it safe to assume you plan to pitch this to RTD at some point? I do not want to mention this post to friends at RTD (or show them myself) if you are planning to perfect this and then make a formal pitch (which I think you could and should).

I agree with Cirrus on some of the line names. And I would add to that that RTD is fairly married to the existing monikers used before/during Fastracks development, so except where they are nonsense, I'd stick with them. Besides, you're bound to annoy some nearby jurisdiction if you name them that way... So, that said -
Your "Golden" = "West" Line
Arvada = Gold
Flatirons = Longmont (that works)
Aurora is good, Boulder works too, Northside = North, but no biggie.
I'd call Arapahoe "Southeast" or even Tech Center or Lone Tree (worst option). Calling it Arapahoe is an obvious slight to Douglas County.

I don't particularly like it - I like your way, with or without any changes - but love it or hate it, I think RTD is going to stick with letters...

I would take a look at the latest RTD/Fastracks Service Plan (in the reports to DRCOG, easy to find online, or let me know). I know it'll clutter things up and I greatly greatly appreciate how you've simplified things. I love it. BUT...it's deceptive on the southern end. Specifically, your map makes me think I could have a one seat ride from Nine Mile to Union Station (not in the plan I don't think). Also from the Southwest through to 30th/Downing (I'd have to verify that, but it wasn't in the last service plan I looked at). Your orange line that currently ends at Nine Mile is supposed to extend to Florida (to 18th only), I believe. On that, I'd pull the downtown loop around (orange, possibly also red) to show the connection between 18th/California and 18th/Stout. The trains already switch their placards to southbound after the Convention Center, and it's become fairly standard to board on the California side and ride the loop. I don't see that changing.

As far as ongoing changes to Fastracks, of course your map assumes full buildout, which is still a vote away. But I would continue that assumption for now. No decisions have been made (final decision) that I know of on where to cut if that doesn't pan out and "permanent" cuts have to be found.

Is the station still at 38th/Inca? I though it had been moved to 41st/Fox?

A couple of naming conventions... entirely a matter of preference. But on the Gold Line, I think the "60ths" at Federal and Sheridan are unnecessary. That said, on the SW I would add C-470 to Lucent (good for the Highlands Ranch folk), and on the Airport line I would add "40th" to Airport. That's a major park-n-ride, and RTD will want it easily found. (I would add little PnR symbols to the stations that will have them (most), but Cirrus already addressed that). Last one, on the North Line, I would add "SH 7" to the 162nd Ave station - again, folks need that station to be easy to find by car. Globeville station might add "Coliseum" (and the Stock Show, as long as it's there).

I'd leave the fare zones off for now, knowing they have to be added eventually. But there is just no way on God's green earth that RTD is going to be able to retain the awful terrible zones we have now once all of this comes online.

Last thought, on the Boulder line (BRT), at the end, after the split (which you show very nicely), I'd pull it directly west, and then a jog northwest (like you have it) to the end of line in Downtown Boulder. In between, you have to add some reference to the University of Colorado at Boulder. Too many riders on that line not to tell folks boarding in Denver which line is the best way to get to CU!

Oh, I like the note under DIA. But maybe drop the "About," and just leave it at "40 Minutes to Union Station"... no transit agency wants to admit on its print map that it isn't always on time

All in all, fantastic!

Welcome home, JChurch.
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:27 AM
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Eyeore, as HSR is a fantasy proposal at this time without any solid layout or stations you could shove it in anyway you want to.

Ryan, that's an awesome map and I agree with Cirrus about putting in the fare zones. But, I think that the current lines should remain. Yes, you've got overrun on the SW and SE corridors but the other corridors will have one line and I like the simplistic description of the "A" train.

I see the following lines at build out:

DIA: A
West Corridor: B
SW to DT: C
SW to DUS: D
SE to DUS: E
SE to DT: F
I-225 Line: G
I-225 Line to DT: H
Gold Line: I
BRT to Boulder: J
Northeast Line: K
North Line: L

I do think that the C and D lines could be modified if the D won't be going to 30th & Downing anymore. Then have a C line DT and a C line DUS while the D line would be the streetcar line. And if you go that route go ahead and drop the F and go with a E line DT and a E line DUS.
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Last edited by wong21fr; Nov 29, 2010 at 3:38 AM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 3:32 AM
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Ryan, it's nice to see you on here again. This is a pretty bold map! I love the direction that you went with. The only thing that I have a problem with are the names of the lines, which Cirrus covered pretty well. Union Station could also use a cartoonish icon or something on top of the white rectangle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Church View Post
This is really an eye-opener in terms of what RTD *could* be doing. Their current map, frankly, is a joke. Not only that -- this is a better than a lot of agency maps in other cities. Someone should be hiring you.
Ryan, I don't know if you're still working at the old place, but you really ought to apply with RTD, DDP, the city, or something like that.
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Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 4:22 AM
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I'll just chime in along with everyone else here and say that map is simply awesome! Clear, concise, and very, VERY good-looking! Bold, intuitive, and just great!

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 5:26 AM
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RTD should have a contest for a new transit map and invite public submissions. Could get a nice new map for free.
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 6:48 AM
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Since intercity rail (HSR or traditional) would presumably only have a handful of stops within the service area you could very easily show it on any map. You wouldn't show the lines at all; you'd just show an HSR icon next to the stations where HSR stopped.

Just like how you'd show a park and ride, basically.
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Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 7:00 AM
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Like any European map. Think of the London tube map with the little National Rail symbol next to stations, or any German map with the little "DB" where inter-city rail connects... Little CDOT logos maybe

Do you think post-Fastracks, if done right, Denver can get more than a little afterthought blurb at the back of the Transit Maps of the World book (version 2)? Surely we all have that book by now...
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Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 11:19 PM
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Knocked it out of the park.


One thing I would do is state the transit time from all the terminal stations to Union Stn/Downtown.
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Old Posted Nov 29, 2010, 11:48 PM
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Good, but the color scheme is kinda gay.

But seriously, good map. I think the Greyhound Station may be gone by the time the system fleshes out.
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  #17  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2010, 6:30 PM
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Thanks everybody for the kind words and feedback. The suggestions about naming, etc. are all super-helpful.

I'm pushing to get this map into a more finished state, do some in-car maps showing individual lines as well, mock up some station signage photoshopped onto real stations or renderings, etc. I'm planning to build a website showing all the pieces of this put together and explained — kind of like a visual/verbal essay. Once that is done, I think I'd be ready to try to pitch the idea to RTD, at least to get them thinking about alternatives to their current design plans.

I'll post another round of designs on this thread for more feedback and guidance. Thank you all so much for your help and encouragement on this — this has lived on my computer unseen and unfinished for a year so I'm glad it wasn't completely off-base.

(Also, I'm gainfully employed as a designer at the moment, but thank you anyway! )
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Old Posted Dec 3, 2010, 7:04 PM
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It's brilliant... experts can quibble with the names and where the labels are and those quibbles make perfect sense but from a dumb public guy point of view like mine I could look at that and know exactly what's going on with things.

It's simplicity, utility and brilliance is going to be it's biggest setback too though. You'll probably bruise some bureaucratic egos by solving a problem so elegantly and (seemingly) effortlessly that they have done nothing but butchered since we first had more than one light rail line. I think you should propose this as an actual paid service to RTD too. Free work (even when it's orders of magnitude better than what an agency can come up with) is looked at as worthless or even somehow construed as illegal by government agencies (unless there is a fundamental difference between RTD and UCLA).

Anyway though.. brilliant..
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Old Posted Dec 4, 2010, 3:30 AM
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What if it were interactive, so when you click on an individual line, it zooms into a map of just that specific line? Then you would have more room to include more detailed individual station details (parking, frequency/train schedule, bus transfer schedule, fair zones, ect...). This would allow you to keep the main map simple, not cluttered.
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Old Posted Dec 4, 2010, 6:30 AM
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So very true, gio.
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