It was a cold winter day and I was standing on the transit platform in the Seattle International District bus tunnel. I had recently started a new job and this was my first attempt at going from work to home by bus. The Challenge: Get from the International District to my home in Ravenna using the King County Metro bus system.
Now, this wasn’t may first time taking a Seattle Metro bus. I knew from my undergraduate days that the 70’s buses were my connection from the downtown bus tunnel to the U-District, but that wouldn’t quite get me home. I decided to take a look at the Metro Bus map.
If you’ve ever tried to look at the Metro bus map it is completely indecipherable. There is no way to know how to get from Point A to Point B by looking at that map. Perhaps I should take the 372X, the 65, or the 75, since those are closest to my destination, but where do the bus lines start? This map organizes King County’s region bus system, which is known as one of the best bus systems in the country.
In frustration, I thought that every person at Metro should be required to ride the bus. The designers of the system should also be users of the system. If the mapmakers at Metro understood how hard it was to understand their map, then they could think of ways to improve the map. The goal should be that the map is easy enough to understand that a tourist could walk to a bus stop and figure out how to get from one place to another.
Make the map simple. Use colors: the red line, the green line, the yellow line, so that people can understand where the transit lines run. Create nodes by Seattle neighborhoods: Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Wallingford, Greenlake. And then connect the nodes with the transit lines. Make it simple.