Seattle redesigned its transit maps to help riders find out about bus and train frequency.

Speaking last month at an Ignite Seattle talk, mayor Mike McGinn stressed that the city needed to find ways to better use and present data to help the everyday lives of its citizens.

A recent redesign of Seattle’s King County Metro transit maps is a perfect example of that. Nearly two years ago, public transit planning consultant Jarrett Walker made the case that cities needed to adopt “frequency maps,” or maps that do a better job of showing how often transit lines run, how far they go and when they are in service.

Seattle’s maps now do that. Similar to how thicker lines on a Google Map will distinguish important highways from residential streets, the new transit maps make it easy to differentiate from routes that run all day versus routes that run on the “Frequent Network,” versus routes only running during peak-hours.

Compare that to what the map looked like two years ago (via Walker’s blog post):

The old Seattle transit map.

As Walker notes, this old map makes it seem like every route is equally important in terms of frequency and span of service. The new maps seems to fix that problem, and Walker calls the changes “beautiful.”

The redesign effort was led by the King County Metro Marketing and Service Information group, who assembled a team from Metro’s Service Planning group and King County’s GIS group to bring the project to completion. The maps were built on success from Metro’s “Big Little” map of the Central Eastside Transit Service that was produced in September 2011.

“That map differentiated routes by frequency of service and were easier and more informative than past maps, and our customers loved them,” said spokesman Jeff Switzer.

Metro invites efforts by others to develop maps and has recently launched a neat Map Developer’s Center. Here are some of the cool apps that people have developed using the county’s wealth of data.

UPDATE, 1:30 P.M.: This story was updated with information from King County 

Previously on GeekWire: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn: We are the city of the future

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  • rob hammond

    That’s pretty neat but, if they were using real-time data they could include route changes caused by construction.

  • anonymous

    The title of this article is deceptive. The redesign was not focussed on increasing frequency, otherwise they would not have wholesale canceled portions of existing routes leaving entire neighborhoods without bus service outside peak hours. There were routes (#21) that no longer have service. This should not be passed off as an increase in frequency.

    • Taylor Soper

      I don’t think the redesign was about increasing frequency, but rather highlighting which routes are more frequent.

      Thanks for reading.

      • anonymous

        The website update is an attempt to emphasize the increase in frequency in order to downplay the reduced service.

  • anonymous

    Far easier to read the old style. I get that you have less info, but the clutter on the new one is challenging; so many colors, so many widths – by the time you understood the map, you lost a few buses already :)

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