Metrorail stations contain very informative bus maps showing the routes around a particular station. We recently looked at those at asked what additional bus map information you would find useful online. Metro decided to take our suggestion and post the station bus information maps online on each station’s webpage. They haven’t posted all of the information that you can get in stations, but there’s a lot there.

For example, here’s the map from Dupont Circle (PDF):

One of the most useful part of the map is the table of bus frequencies. It shows which buses just aren’t operating late at night on the weekends. It also helps sort out the buses that travel once per hour (you should probably consult a schedule or trip planner and show up early) compared to the ones that travel every 10 minutes (just show up). This is great for people that are unfamiliar with the bus system but live or work near a Metro station. The station may have great service by bus as well as rail, but it’s not always clear from the large system map what lines are available at what times, or which lines travel frequently enough to be convenient.

The Dupont map also shows, in yellow, the routes of buses that carry travelers from the station. So far, many other stations’ maps don’t contain the yellow lines, and instead just display a general downtown bus map. In the future, it would be great if Metro were able to post the same maps for other stations, which they already have in stations. But the other stations’ maps do contain the tables, diagrams showing the locations of bus stops near the station, and more.

Metro’s starting to develop the kinds of information technology that help people learn to use the bus system to its full potential. We have the full system maps to give the overall picture, the station maps to help people that frequent a station take a bus instead of driving to the station, the online trip planner to help plan trips, and NextBus to make waiting for the bus more productive and less unpredictable. Pretty soon, we’ll have flash passes available on Smartrip, automatic reloading of fare media, and online Smartrip management, which will let riders put fare payment on autopilot if they so choose.

What other information should be online? I’m angling for a “12-minute” style map. If I had more time and better data-manipulation capability to deal with the 20 megabytes of text files in the Google Transit Specification data, I would be looking to make custom “stem and leaf” bus schedules.

Tagged: buses, maps, wmata

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia.