Deciphering the city's key bus routes

Deciphering the city's key bus routes

Spot a bus

The Delhi Metro connects most part of the city, but some areas are better connected through public buses. However, owing to lack of knowledge about these bus routes and their frequency, many people are forced to opt for alternate modes of transport, or rely on others’ knowledge.

To ease such commuting woes, cartographer and architect Sudipto Ghosh and designer Shimonti Sinha have come out with a solution in the form of the ‘Citywise Delhi Bus Map’, a cognitive bus map of the city’s key 100 bus routes.

The duo tells Metrolife that the idea for such an intuitive map was born during a fun exercise. “We were making a map of Shahjahanabad as a fun exercise in the office. We decided to put in all the bus stops only to realise that the only way to find out where the bus shelters were and what buses came to this area was to check Google. That’s when we decided to do a dedicated map for buses,” they say.

It took them nearly a year to design and refine the map, which features only those Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus routes which are frequent. “Any buses less frequent than 15 minutes were left out of the map,” says Ghosh. The colour-coded map, where similar colours have been kept away from each other, also includes the various Metro stations, Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus routes and city landmarks.

Adding, Sinha says that the map shows the roads of the city simplified to a diagram of 45 and 90 degrees. “When we imagine roads leading from one part of the city to another, we imagine them as simple diagrams of straight lines. If you had to make a map for a friend on how to get to a place, you would also make a simplified version, quite like the maps drawn at the back of wedding invites. These are called cognitive maps, since this is how we remember and imagine a certain physical space. Such maps are important because even though they are not physically accurate, they convey desired information effectively and quickly,” she says.

However, while working on the map, the duo discovered an interesting fact about the DTC route numbering, which they have also shared on their Facebook page.

In a post Ghosh say, “While designing the bus route map, we realised the ingenuity of the route planners (we suspect it was S K Sharma, the IAS officer who headed DTC in the ’80s). If you consider Delhi as a clock then a route such as 501, which goes from Saket to Mori Gate, follows the hands of a clock, i.e, the bus goes from five to one. The consistency of this numbering system has been lost over time, but at least the first number of the three digit bus route originates where it is supposed to.”

But the team also had its share of challenges, and the most difficult part, they say, was to lay down the 100 routes — each with a different colour — and then sorting the lines of a map, bringing them on top or behind other lines so that it appears like a neat circuit of lines. “It was almost like un-jumbling a bowl of spaghetti,” quips Ghosh.

However, to the dismay of many commuters, the map is not available for the public to access, and talks are still on with the Delhi Tourism to bring it out at a nominal cost of Rs 10 by next month.

“We wanted DTC to adopt the map and also have these up on bus shelters. Unfortunately, DTC did not show the interest we had expected, and they also mentioned that they did not own the bus shelters. We do hope that they would come around and
promote this map. It also serves as a great planning tool for them since they can at once see which areas have good connectivity and which do not; which junctions are heavily loaded and which areas need more routes,” says Sinha.

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