A comprehensive public transport map for Greater Melbourne and Geelong.
View the Night Network Map here.
Download a PDF copy of the map here.
This is a comprehensive map showing all public transport routes in Greater Melbourne and Geelong including buses, trains and trams.
It is by far the largest and hardest map project that I've ever done.
All up, it took me 14 months and hundreds of hours to put together this project in the first place. I am also keeping this up to date regularly.
While PTV does publish local maps for particular areas showing all public transport modes, there is no publicly available equivalent to cover the whole city.
Given that trips are not exclusive to any single mode, I thought that coming up with a map to fill this gap might be useful.
There are also several issues with the PTV local area maps that make them annoying to use for many purposes. These include:
As I always say, this is by no means arguing that the PTV maps are useless or that my map is perfect. Both styles of map have advantages and disadvantages. Each is more useful for particular journeys and passengers than others. All that I aim to do with this project is introduce another option for people to use if they wish.
This was a long and sometimes painful exercise. The sheer scale of the project meant that any task that might take a couple of hours on a smaller map ended up taking days or weeks to complete on this one.
Before I began, I spent a while thinking about how to organise the map and establish some design rules. In the end, there were quite a few that I tried to stick to as much as possible. But the most important rule for a map like this is to create a clear visual hierarchy.
What this means that is that a user can glance at a map from afar and at least vaguely see where the most important features of the map are located and how they relate to the rest of the elements.
In the case of this map, this consists of major interchanges and railway lines. These are the busiest and often the best-serviced parts of the public transport network, so it's important to highlight them above, say, the route 609 bus (which the PTV map visually treats equally with the Ringwood Line). This is done with line thickness, directness and colour palette.
The first parts of the map that I drew were the railways and CBD so that the rest of the map was built around these key anchors. Then it was areas with grid-like tram and bus routes. These were actually some of the hardest areas to design.
With meandering routes, there is a lot more flexibility to 'iron out' random curves or kinks and make them connect to the rest of the network more logically. A straight route, like the route 246 bus, is virtually impossible to take away from its straight north-south direction.
This freedom from strict geography means a lot of space can be saved and efficiences created. It also allows 'nudges' to be built into the design that aren't possible or are much hard with a geographic map. For example, the bus routes at Laverton Station are slightly offset to suggest to the viewer that they are not through routes.
Finally, there were some areas that took me weeks to design on their own, just because they were so confusing. Endeavour Hills, Middle Brighton, Highpoint and South Morang just about did my head in.
Given that routes change all the time, this map will require updates. However, I don't have the time to do this as it happens. There will probably be a time lag of at least a couple of weeks.
For the website itself, there is a roadmap for future improvements. Some of these include:
I should emphasise that this is a plan only, and I can't guarantee that all of these will be implemented soon, if at all. I want to take a break from this project for a while, as I have other maps to work on in the meantime. There may also be technological constraints that I'm not yet aware of.
If you do have any suggestions for other features or could help me get these implemented, please feel free to get in touch.
Thank you to Peter Parker who reviewed an early version of the map and helped me fix errors.
Also a huge thank you to everyone else who let me know about mistakes and suggestions for improvements. In no particular order (and apologies if I missed anyone):
Yes! While the map is copyright, it is freely available for anyone to use.
However, if you wish to modify, sell or otherwise do anything with this map other than use it at face value, please contact me first.
I work with a combination of Affinity Designer and QGIS. Early in my design process, I also use old-fashioned whiteboards, paper and pencils.
This map uses Leaflet to render the slippy map.
Because this is a schematic map, the geography of some routes is more distorted than others in the design. For example, in reality, the 606 bus runs in a pretty direct east-west route. But on this map it is shown as bending slightly in ways that don't exactly replicate its geographical route.
This was done to accomodate connecting routes in a way that is easier to read. Other routes, like the 506, are shown pretty much exactly as they are 'on the ground'.
Even if staying 100% true to the geography of a route was possible, it was not be desireable. One of the main purposes of this map is to simplify small diversions and meandering curves to emphasise connections and interchanges rather than exact geographical accuracy. This is where most of the design work has gone.
I have used the definition described in the other tabs to determine what constitutes a 'major' or 'minor' interchange. While it is somewhat arbitrary, there has to be a point where a line is drawn. It is important to distinguish between the two to maintain the visual hierarchy of the map - one of the main features of this project.
Only routes that terminate or originate at specific locations have been included. Services that stop at an interchange but continue through are not included on these boxes. This was done to reduce visual clutter and make it easier to follow routes from their origin and destination.
Early in my design process, I was planning to rename duplicate termini to alternative place names, especially where a railway station already exists.
However, I changed this while doing Stage 2 of the map design (placing terminus routes and names) to showing on the map what is displayed on vehicles and timetables. This is just to avoid confusion.
Including three categories of bus route was something that I thought about for a long time.
I decided to separate the three because of a change in the map that happened midway through its design. The map began as a frequency map - thicker lines would mean higher frequency of services. However, as I continued adding the hundreds of routes, it gradually dawned on me that this would take much longer than I expected.
As a result, I had to think about how to differentiate between buses that come only a few times per day and the high-frequenty buses that carry millions of people every year. As a compromise solution, I opted to include the three categories of bus route that you can now see on this map.
A Smartbus route (orange) are those designated as such by PTV.
A 'trunk' route (brown) on this map is a combination of two or more routes that combine to form a higher frequency along a common corridor. For simplicity, I've kept this designation for routes for which PTV publishes a combined timetable (e.g. the 200/207).
A 'local' route (pink) on this map is all other routes. A light pink colour is used to denote routes that operate only part-time or to show part-time route deviations.
I have opted to include only major off-road trails that are signposted and designated. I will also only include routes that serve a connecting function.
The main reason for these design choices is to avoid making the map too busy. There is already a lot of information being displayed and adding every single bicycle route would make the map very difficult to read.
It is also only a secondary purpose of the map. The primary objective is to show public transport routes of Melbourne in one place. Major bike routes compliment this purpose.
Yes! As of Version 1.3, there is now a separate map to show the Night Network train, tram and bus routes that operate on Fridays, Saturdays and selected public holidays between 1am and 6am.
You can see and download the map here.
Thank you! The preferred method of letting me know is to create a new issue on the Github page.
Otherwise, you can contact me here.
If you have any suggestions, corrections or comments, please let me know here.