Friday, August 20th, 2010

Replay: Fantasy Transit Maps

There’s a sort of genre of urbanist creativity out there of fantasy transit maps. These are maps of transit systems that don’t exist and usually aren’t even proposed yet, but rather just express some dream of the creator, often quite epic in scope.

What I find interesting is how much better these often are than actual transit maps or proposals. I noted before how the Cincinnati streetcar people basically don’t even have a decent map of the line [now fixed]. Contrast that with this example that Columbus Underground points us at. If you click the image, you’ll get a high resolution PDF.

Now that’s a pretty slick map. It is, for locals at least, recognizably Columbus. The crisp, modern design, 45 degree angles, and relatively equidistant stations recall the famous London map and others from cities around the world. The idea being to show how Columbus could position itself among these global cities by creating a transit system. You can even buy it as a poster! A nice possible marketing tool.

This map was created by designer Michael Tyznik and is part of his online design portfolio.

People who are pushing actual transit system improvements could learn a lot from these fantasy maps. Coming up with high quality collateral that demonstrates what the end state looks like is important. And if you can make short term progress and update the map to show reality being made, even better. Transit advocates should take note.

Here is a collection of Columbus fantasy transit maps.

And additional fantasy maps some people linked to in the comments of the original post.


New Orleans:

Cincinnati (printed on a T-shirt):

St. Louis:

This article originally appeared on December 2, 2009.

Topics: Transportation
Cities: Columbus (Ohio)

6 Responses to “Replay: Fantasy Transit Maps”

  1. Alon Levy says:

    Fantasy maps aside, which rapid transit corridors would make the most sense for Columbus?

  2. Ryan says:

    As a Columbus native I think this map is actually really well thought through. For the most part it really reflects the way people move through the city, especially all of the north corridors. I do think that a light rail line between Dublin and Easton would make more sense than one or two streetcars as there is so much movement between these major suburban nodes. I know it’s a fantasy map, but I would also question the distance of the main rail hub in the Arena District to the heart of Downtown and the Capitol. I know Columbusites – would they walk that far or be willing to change modes to get to work? Just a thought…

  3. The maps are really cool. But there is way too much fantasy thinking in the urban planning community already.

  4. John says:

    I think there are at least two different answers to your question. From a ridership perspective, something serving the north side would probably be best, since that seems to be the favored quarter economically.

    COTA previously pursued a LRT line parallel to I-71 on the north side of town, but couldn’t get the local funding match and later lost the FTA’s “recommended” status. That line – if completely on the freight line – also kind of misses the center of economic activity on High Street. They have looked at options in the past that run up High Street from downtown to about 17th Ave, then east to the NS/CSX freight rail line, and north out to the Franklin-Delaware county line.

    From a what is politically feasible perspective, the Panhandle Line that runs east from downtown, south of CMH, and out to Newark is owned by the state, so there may be opportunities there. There’s also an abandoned right-of-way called the Mt. Vernon Secondary that runs parallel to Cleveland Avenue to the northeast that I think has some potential. Maybe it could also be possible to add some regional commuter rail service to the inter-city 3C rail corridor if it gets built?

    Frankly though, I think COTA could do well by improving it’s busiest bus corridors with a BRT-lite system similar to KC’s MAX. Build some nicer stations with off-board fare payment, implement a smart card system, signal priority, and reserved bus lanes in select locations. That would work well on the #1, #2, #10, and maybe the #16.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    John, just from looking at Google Maps, it looks as if the main east-west corridor on the north side is Morse/Bethel. Am I right?

    The abandoned line near Cleveland looks good, but would have to have service veer a little bit to hit the major malls on Morse.

  6. John says:

    Morse and Bethel are indeed major east-west streets, but they are not linked over the Olentangy River (that proposal has failed multiple times in the past decades). For that reason, I would say that SR-161 (Dublin-Granville Road) is probably a “the main east-west corridor on the north side.”

    Nevertheless, Morse does have a major mall and employment center called Easton that is a little east of the abandoned rail line. The other mall to which I thin you are referring is Northland, which is west of the rail line and has been an abandoned greyfield for about a decade. The city has redevelopment plans and has invested in Morse Road itself, but the area is still economically depressed.

    The dispersed non-linear nature of destinations in Columbus may lend themselves to more of an open BRT system. Here is my proposal for a “Northeast Busway” on the old Mt. Vernon Secondary.

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