Produced for the SPUR magazine The Urbanist, two maps of the current and possible future public transport in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Brian Stokle (via).
I’m often a critic of London-style transit maps, even when they’re in London. Unfortunately, I feel the need to do the same here. As with the current BART map, Stokle’s designs don’t pick a set of angles, but instead preserve the rough geography of the Bay Area and then use a series of straight lines which are often parallel to nearby ones, but which bear no relation to others.
Meanwhile, the use of large interchanges makes it far from clear how the Muni streetcar/LRV lines in San Francisco proper interrelate- if you didn’t know how the K, L, and M branch at West Portal, this map isn’t going to tell you. Perhaps that’s OK as a base map for showing expansion, but for an actually usable map, that’s not good.
Speaking of expansion, the use of grey for all existing lines on the future map is a little jarring, but at least I can see why it’s been done that way. On the other hand, giving bus rapid transit schemes such thick lines when the existing Limited routes on the current diagram are almost missable with their thin lines seems odd. I know it’s a relatively cheap way to increase speed and capacity, but do they need that much emphasis? (Outside of SF, it seems that they are depicted more narrowly: look at the 35R from Pleasant Hill to Hacienda at the right of the Future map. Strange.)
That said, there are some elements of the maps that I was going to quibble with, but then decided to praise instead. The outlined boxes for interchanges that “require leaving the station to transfer” actually do a great job of showing how inter-county, inter-agency politics could (can? does?) cripple public transport in the region. Even changing between BART and Muni in the Market Street subway is a minor nightmare.
For all my criticism, I’m glad that there are people trying to fight for decent, joined-up thinking in the field here. I hope that this is a step in the right direction, even if it is flawed.