Here’s a small project that was inspired by a message to my Transit Maps blog about the currently existing map for the McKinney Avenue heritage trolley line in Dallas, Texas. As you can see in the gallery below, it could use a little help. However, rather than review and criticise a map produced for a non-profit organisation (most likely by a volunteer or staff in their spare time), I thought that I would create a new, accurate, more user-friendly map instead. While produced as a design exercise for my own benefit, I’m hopeful that the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) might consider adopting it as their official map.
My version of the map retains all the information that was present on the previous one, but I’ve placed everything much more precisely onto a more geographically accurate (although somewhat simplified) base map. I’ve also added a little bit of extra information in the form of contact details (website and phone number) and the general hours of operation. The map was carefully formatted and designed to fit onto a US Letter page with half-inch margins: perfect for printing out at home and bringing along with you for the ride! Great care was taken to keep type legible and clear at this output size — a cause that was helped by the huge x-height of the typeface used (Good Headline Pro Condensed).
Stop names are generally labelled as the road the route line is on, referenced to the nearest cross street. There are a few exceptions made when there’s no nearby cross street, or there’s an important landmark close to the stop, like the Dallas Art Museum or the Magnolia Theater. I located all 38 existing stops by “riding” along the route in Google Street View and pinpointing their exact location (which wasn’t always the same as the map view would have had me believe). One final stop – at Cityplace West and McKinney Avenue – proved quite elusive, until an actual MATA operator pointed me in the right direction.
Physically, the map shows an area that’s only 1.5 miles wide by 2 miles deep, so I’ve tried hard to convey the sense of a small, local neighbourhood. A quarter-mile grid overlays the entire map for a quick sense of this intimate scale. DART transit stops – while still shown on the map – have been pushed lower down in the information hierarchy, as I feel their usefulness for local connections is limited in the context of this map. Their presence is only there to remind us that this part of Dallas is connected with the greater metropolis. Instead, I’ve placed a greater emphasis on parkland and the Katy Trail, a popular multi-use (bike/pedestrian) path that links Downtown and Uptown. The trail seems to be a huge part of the urban fabric of this part of Dallas, and its inclusion furthers the theme of local community in the map.
I’ve also made two further versions of the map (shown in the gallery above) that encompass the next two phases of the streetcar line: (1) a spur line down Olive Street that will eventually join up with the original route to form (2) a loop through the Arts District. The locations for the stations on these future maps were guesstimated from the original MATA map, so may be subject to change. The Olive Street spur is under construction right now, and may be opening very soon (although an actual date is difficult to pin down).
If you like the map, please feel free to download a PDF via the button at the bottom of the page. If you find it useful, please let me know. If any future updates to the maps are made, they’ll be posted here. Comments, as always, are welcome.
UPDATE – January 2015: MATA have adopted my map as their official route map on their website! (PDF link)Download Current Service Map (PDF: 220kB)