Happy birthday, bus spider maps

It is now exactly one year since any of the bus spider maps in the Data Bucket were updated.

The maps available online seem to be incomplete anyway (only half a dozen for the entire borough of Wandsworth, for example).

Are they being phased out, or is just that the uodating on line (and, in a different fashion, the Data Bucket) has gone to pit?

Dimond Geezer, who has always had a keen eye on these said in November at https://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2020/11/disappearing-spider-maps.html

  • It’s now four years since TfL were due to print some new bus maps but decided not to.
  • Last year TfL started switching to new-style spider maps which focus on shorter journeys and no longer show the full length of each route.
  • The new-style maps were only used when local routes changed, as many have recently, so a mix of old and new coexists across London.
  • Bow Church still has an old-style spider map, for example, whereas Oxford Circus has a new style map because its routes changed last year.

and notes “The bus spider map page on the TfL website started hemorrhaging pdfs some time last year.”"

… further clarification provided recently by TfL to a stakeholder meeting in west London … We’ve recently reviewed the number of maps we issue to ensure resources are being prioritised to the right places.

Following the large number of recent changes to the bus network, Transport for London (TfL) has almost completed updating all of the information at stops and shelters. This includes posting an estimated 6,000 updated bus spider maps at stops across London. TfL will make sure that all out of date maps are updated or removed by the end of the financial year and is looking at ways in which this can be completed more quickly in future.

TfL has also been updating the design of its bus spider maps to make them easier to use and more accessible. Some spider maps have been discontinued as recent research with customers shows that they are used by less than 1 per cent of bus users. In future, TfL will focus on providing maps at those shelters that serve multiple routes or serve destinations that are more likely to be unfamiliar to customers, for example hospitals. All bus stops and shelters will still display route maps and timetables, and TfL will be promoting the other travel tools that are available such as TravelBots.

Thanks. Of course TfL can introduce or withdraw maps as it sees fit but the various channels of dissemination need to be in line and users kept abreast of the approach adopted.

Two points from the Mayor’s Question Time response. First, do they mean 1 per cent of all London bus users or of all users of London buses at the stops displaying the map in question? And how is online usage taken into account? Secondly, what are the “route maps” that all bus stops and shelters will still display? Surely not the list of places served at the top of the timetable?

Whenever initiatives to make things easier to use come along, I wonder whether any post-implementation review takes place. It is all very well a focus group saying “we’d used them more if you did X” but do people use them more? Or do we end up with a vicious circle - they don’t but never mind, a further simplification will do the trick, won’t it? In the process, those who did use them lose information they found useful. Think timetables, maps…


I’m not sure quite how TfL come up with their stats about usage. Perhaps they’ve been using CCTV near some selected bus stops and collected detailed timings of users interacting with bus stop information? Perhaps they have been a-b testing them?

I suspect that the problem with the “1%” figure here is that when you look at itL

  • Many people have been using bus route XX for years, possibly decades and don’t need to look at spider diagram;
  • Another cohort use the XX bus from time to time and just need a momentary reminder that it’s the XX from stop SS
  • Quite a few people don’t really know (or care, at least) about the geographical relationship between stop SS, and at most need to make sure they are getting the XX to their destination
  • Another pile of people use Google Maps and/or the TfL website to work out to get the XX from the SS stop and have no need of a Spider map
  • There’s more people who just don’t think Visually and are quite happy with a bus timetable but a diagram is as good as a timetable in Greek ordinals.

So, the question you have left is … the 1% of people who ARE using the Spider maps, which includes me, you and DG are quite capable of switching to Google Maps and/or the TfL website, which is a considerable cost saving for TfL.

I can see their point here - these Spider Maps need highly competent graphic designers, who are quite expensive given they can do App UI or GCI Animation these days for $$$$.

Look at the fighting between the London Assembly and TfL’s graphic designers about what goes on the tube map. The logic that says yes, yes, yes to Reading and no, no, no the Thameslink is one that has lost the high ground. :roll_eyes:

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Yes, last time I looked the set in the TfL Data Bucket was out-of-date and incomplete. The set available through the TfL website appeared to be more up-to-date but was also incomplete. Naturally the two sets were not consistent in their incompleteness.,

My understanding was that the TfL Bucket is supposed to be what is available for download but clearly in this case it is not so.

It might be that incompleteness arises from a deliberate policy of not replacing (perhaps when they go out-of-date) - see Brian’s post above - but it is all very vague. I would appreciate a clear statement of what is happening, plus an explanation of why Data Bicket and website are out of sync.