Enquirer Maps

March 17th, 2014

Cincinnati Enquirer March 4th

A special section of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Transit Plans for the post-streetcar city. I was asked for some input as this piece was being put together. Rather than trying to rehash my main point, I’ll copy some of the correspondence.

The question:

Hi Nate,
I write editorials for the Enquirer and I’ve been writing a lot lately about the need to improve the region’s public transportation system. Here are two recent Forum articles: cin.ci/1buY23O and http://cin.ci/1aIaJYB . On March 2 I’d like to run some maps of proposed transit improvements to the region. I’ll include the 2002 Metro Moves plan, the Oasis Line commuter rail, Metro’s BRT routes, and maps by Martin Menninger and Michael Burrill. I have your transit frequency map on my desk and I’ve read your blog, and I was wondering if you have any maps we could include. The idea really is just to get people visualizing and talking about what might be next. We’ll also let them vote, in a totally non-scientific way, about what they’d like to see in the future. If you do have something that you think would work could you send it to me? Or if there are maps other people have done I would like to include them. Thanks for any help you can give.

My response:

That’s a tough question…the problem with maps of transit improvements, isolated from the rest of the system, is that they tend to look like they’re doing a lot more than they are or would be, and that they get people thinking about transit as a set of stand-alone capital projects rather than as an incrementally improving system.
In my opinion, this fallacy (if we can call it that) is why rail projects in particular have been so popular in America in the last couple of decades.

So I guess I don’t know of any maps that would work because I don’t favour that approach, but I would strongly suggest some schedules of existing routes with proposed possibilities like “this runs every half hour now, but what if a bus came every 7 minutes?” Or perhaps some images of other material improvements that could be rolled out incrementally and anywhere, like signal priority transponders, transit lanes, real-time-arrival signage, tap-and-go farecards, etc.

I would argue such incremental changes offer more hope than anything that can be mapped.

Hope that’s not totally unhelpful,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *