AppalCART, the public bus service in Boone, North Carolina is used by thousands of people every day, but the route maps and schedules suffered low legibility and devastatingly confusing hierarchy, making navigation unnecessarily difficult.
The maps for individual routes were difficult to use, especially when viewed on mobile devices.
A system map was found in many bus stop shelters, but while it addressed some of the legibility concerns the other maps had, it was remarkably useless because it didn't show any stops.
Talking to bus users was an important part of the process. I heard from users that a particularly frustrating experience was the following scenario: when waiting at a stop, a bus from another route approaches. The obvious question is, “Can I take this bus?” Unfortunately, the only way to answer that question was to pull up AppalCART’s website, find the PDF for that route, and check to see if it stopped at the desired destination. By that time the bus would already be gone.
The first part of my solution was to rethink the system map, stripping away unnecessary satellite imagery and simplifying the route geometry, yet retaining route turns and spatial relationships between stops to enable users to know where they currently are. Perhaps more importantly, the system map indicates which routes each stop is serviced by, letting users know at a glance if an approaching bus should be boarded.
The schedules for the individual routes were moved from a table to a visual organization system that list the times beside the stop, eliminating the error-prone and cumbersome back-and-forth between the route and the table.
The final products are an 11"x17" poster of the system map to be placed in route stop shelters, and a printed booklet containing all route maps. In addition, I compiled the system map and individual routes into a two-page PDF available for download. For convenient mobile usage, the individual routes were placed on one page and organized so that users can easily zoom in to the map they need to look at.