I frequently notice bus shelters whose big paper maps are missing. Who is supposed to replace them?

Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

Clear Channel Communications, DDOT’s contractor, builds and installs the District’s bus shelters and then performs weekly cleaning, snow removal and maintenance; this includes map installation and replacement.

With maps, specifically, WMATA handles the cartography because it owns the bus stop location data. Clear Channel is then responsible for printing and installing them — each shelter is supposed to have a map on the inside and, assuming the outside also faces a sidewalk, outside. DDOT’s role is oversight over Clear Channel.

Bus riders can help get maps replaced

When a map is missing from a bus shelter, riders can submit request replacements (as well fixes to things like vandalism and broken glass) by calling 311, using SeeClickFix, or by contacting WMATA; DDOT then forwards reports from 311 or WMATA to Clear Channel, who does the physical work.

DDOT says that it hasn’t received a map-related request over the past year. Perhaps riders don’t realize they’re the first in line to report missing maps. Or maybe they don’t know how to file a report.

After I started collecting information for this post, DDOT informed me that they’re going to add a category to 311’s automated phone and online systems for bus shelter maintenance, and that they’ll work with the Office of Unified Communications to ensure it knows how to route the requests it receives.

Currently, with DDOT encouragement, WMATA is conducting full refresh of all bus shelter maps in the District, meaning it’s updating the content of all maps. The last time WMATA did this was six and a half years ago.

What it comes down to is that people who notice missing maps should file a report, and those reports need to get to the right place. The refresh, along with DDOT making the communication system better, should help.

Maps make bus travel accessible for people who can’t or don’t want to use smart phones. It’s just that they’re useless if they’re not there.

Mitch Wander first arrived in Washington, DC over 30 years ago as a US House of Representatives page while in high school. An avid promoter of DC living, Mitch has lived in wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. He and his wife are proud DC Public School parents. He serves as an officer in the US Army Reserve.