Future Toronto Transit Map features

Now that my Toronto transit map contains many of the features I envisioned when creating its predecessor, it’s time to think of new features I would like to add. What follows are whatever features I can think of. Most of these are pretty zany, involving tedious work, but who said a feature request list had to be realistic?

Of these features, the first five seem to me to be a good combination of usefulness and feasibility. The other three require either large amounts of time and/or the usage of a GPS receiver.

Which features would you like to see?

  1. Kurt

    November 25, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    This site is excellent. By far i would say the option you should implement is “Surface routes, subway and train lines on their own layer along with the option to select which layers are displayed.” Right now it is difficult to see the street names and get your bearings when zoomed in, would be easier if you could strip away some of the clutter.

    Is there a way for you to modify the lines used to display the different TTC lines, they are unnecessarily thick when zoomed in, often blocking a street or multiple streets completely.

  2. Ian Stevens

    November 26, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Kurt, I have added a transit-only view with the ability to switch to the Google views. This was easier than re-rendering the map as that is a fairly lengthy process, but one which I will do in the future.

  3. Montreal Map

    November 27, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Hi again! Here are my comments on what would be useful for me as a user on any city map:

    - a map must be searchable: I wanna search by ZIP code, by address or by business name (like “pizza”) and see my results on the map regarding the transit system. It’s very typical problem: I have an address, I need to get there, and often by public transportation. :)

    - each important location must be linkable from the outside, if I want to send it to somebody instead of explaining “look there, read there, station name is blah-blah”… Something like this on my map: http://mtlmap.com/index.php?mapcategory=metro&locationid=05 – it shows a station in question right away.

    - different layers for different type of info: let user decide what to see and what not.

    - of course, actual (not geocoded ;) ) station position is very important and all its exits (if any), especially for newcomers/tourists!

    - Link generation is always good either for geo locations, or for search results, or for, say a user defined marker(s) on the map. Big problem of all these maps today is that users cannot link to them properly except by lat/lng coordinates. Consider such a feature: user clicks on the map creating his custom markers, adds comments to each of them,and even can create a path our of them. And all this can be sent as a link to somebody to explain how to get somewhere…. :)

    - Any info about buses is always useful: I always forget timeline of the buses on my bus stop, AND sometime they chage it too! (well, in MTL it happends once in 6 months)

    In general I like your map and this transit overlay image is damn good! I’ll try something similar on my map once I’ll understand how it works. Maybe will start with something simple, like displaying city’s boroughs… :)

  4. Ian Stevens

    November 30, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for your suggestions, MM. Yes, the map is searchable by address but also by postal code. That’s provided by the geocode lookup in Google’s API. As for searching by keyword, Google doesn’t currently offer this through their API and I doubt I will try and implement it in the future unless they do.

    Yes, the links to map content are important and I have that feature pretty much implemented … just have to figure out where on the page to put it.

    As for the layers, I’ve since added the option to remove the transit info. Adding the ability to display different modes of transport will probably slow down the map as it would mean several layers of tiles, each necessitating its own HTTP request. Splitting the layers into surface routes, subway, train or TTC, GO, and suburban transit systems would require 3-4 times the requests. The map is slow to load as it is. I’ll save this one until I move to a faster ISP.

    Station entrance locations are a nice feature, but the TTC doesn’t provide their addresses and so I would have to geolocate them myself with a GPS receiver. That’s a task I don’t have the time for. Bus info is not easily parsed from TTC’s website nor is it easily linked. Frankly, the TTC website is crap. They don’t even have a page for each of the subway stations, unlike the Montreal transit map.

    Thanks for the map links. I’ve never seen any of those before.

  5. Montreal Map

    November 30, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Ian!

    yes, Google API does allow Local search which can be used for both address and business search.

    about station entrances:
    1. some of entries which you know, you can point yourself just looking on satellite map, right? :)
    2. for the rest you can involve website visitors! :) Alone with displaying a station, give a link to a simple tool where people can add a geo location for entrances themselves! Slowly but surely they will fill the missing stuff :) Something like this:

    About the layers – yes, you are right: it must be a single layer always… But you can have several sets of layers rendered for different combination of info displayed. Which might require more manual efforts at your side :) Well, I think this “layering” thing is not of that high priority actually :) The info itself is valuable. How it’s displayed – it’s another issue.

    Bus stops is a dream indeed, but I think nobody in healthy mind will do them manually. Only if those transportation guys will provide some kind of list with either addresses or with geo coordinates. Using public effort in this case (kind of geo wiki) might be not that effective/useful…

  6. Eric S. Smith

    December 14, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    It’d be awesome to be able to light up a given surface route, to have the bus or streetcar route that you’re interested in glow in a different colour, showing exactly where it goes at a glance. Be a pain to isolate each route, but that’d raise this map well beyond its paper-bound Ride Guide origins: light up all routes connecting to a subway stop, or just see where a single bus route goes without having to search for its number among all of the red lines.

  7. Ian Stevens

    December 14, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    That would be a nice feature, Eric. Unfortunately, it would be difficult with the current implementation. The surface lines, of which there are about 200, and their labels would be time-consuming to isolate in Illustrator. I suppose the layers for the selected lines could be loaded on demand. If I ever get around to reformatting the layers in any way, perhaps I’ll look into this.

  8. Greg

    December 18, 2006 at 12:28 am

    Great job, Ian. You implemented a bunch of features that I knew I didn’t have the chops to consider for my own TTC map.

    Perhaps with the buzz you’re getting from Torontoist, etc., you might enlist a few interested people to scout the entrance locations from the stations they frequent (or some they don’t). I’d certainly be willing to sign up for a few. Exact GPS coordinates shouldn’t be too crucial, what with the satellite view and relative positioning info available for people who print the relevant area of the map (say) and then mark the spot they’re standing on while visiting the place.

  9. ecila

    December 21, 2006 at 12:21 am

    I think it would be great if you expanded the map to include York Region and beyond Toronto so people can plan routes in and out of the city as well. :)

  10. Gil

    December 24, 2006 at 1:23 am

    I love your map and thanks for all the time and effort you’ve put in!

    The Toronto.com website uses Google Maps to display several features which are sought out on their website (restaurants, hotels, bars&clubs, attractions, cinemas, shopping, sports&recreation, subway station and Green P parking lots. If you could get some sort of partnership with them going you could display these in relation to your transit routes map. Other attractions such as hospitals and post-secondary institutions could also be included.

    When clicking on GO stations if you could possibly link them to their schedule from Go Transit’s website.

    If you do get around to showing routes from the 905 agencies (you had mentioned that the scaling gets weird the further out from downtown you go) I would use the information directly from the various agencies rather than from the TTC which has some inaccuracies.

  11. Victoria

    December 14, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you SO much for your time and effort! You’ve made things way easier for me to understand being new to the city. If the TTC wasn’t in it’s ‘dire financial state’ I would urge them to use your maps on their site (which I have found to be rather confusing)and of couce PAY you for your quality work.

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