Written by Bob Nicholas
I have to admit that when I enrolled in an interactive mapping class, I didn’t know what an interactive map was. I don’t have one of those phones and I am fairly new at using computers. About half way through the first class, I realized that I had seen an interactive map on a phone belonging to a Sellwood Middle School student who rides the bus with me. It is named the TriMet Interactive Map.
The first thing that strikes me about this map is that is instantly familiar. Its content looks like the route maps posted at downtown bus and train stops, as well on the vehicles themselves. This seems to be the standard among transit companies. I have seen those same maps in Chicago, Los Angeles and Eugene. The base map also looks quite familiar. I imagine that the person who made this map was using some of the same tools that we do.
The TriMet Interactive Map is designed for those who have no experience riding TriMet and carry a smart phone with them. The intent here is for riders to use this map to plan their trips. It is extremely easy. Start typing an address into the “To” or “From” window and a drop-down menu appears. You can usually find your address before you can finish typing it. Once the addresses are entered and the times are entered, you hit “Plan Your Trip” and riding instructions appear in the panel and a map of the trip is shown on the map. The “TriMet Routes” button at the bottom of the panel makes a list of all routes appear. When a specific route is clicked, it appears in the map. The “Location Search” Button brings up an address window When it is filled in, the map goes to that spot and it will ask if you want to plan a trip to there or if you want to plan a trip from there. Just like a web browser can have multiple windows open on different tabs, the panel will store different trips on different tabs. I loaded it up with eight trips and it was still willing to accept more. It is conceivable that one could plan their entire week here and have it saved.
Here is a map that pops up when the trip planner is used. The directions Tells riders exactly how far it is necessary to walk. For those concerned about hills, there is an elevation chart so pedestrians know what they will be up against.
The TriMet Interactive Map has a sliding zoom bar, a pan button and a row of widgets across the top. One widget shows where the “Biketown” bike share racks are, one displays the major transit centers. There is one for park and ride lots and one shows where one can buy bus tickets or a hop card. There is a widget to clear the map and start over, but the coolest thing about this map is this right here.
When that button is pressed, the bus you are waiting for will appear on the map. That is what the kid in Sellwood showed me. That right there is enough to make me think about getting one of those phones.