Submission – Unofficial Map: RFTA Winter Bus Service in Aspen, Colorado by Joseph Van Harn

Submitted by Joseph, who says:

I recently completed an unofficial map of Roaring Fork Transportation Authority winter bus service in Aspen, Colorado (80 x 40 cm, Affinity Designer). I decided to take on this project in response to the official maps’ collective failure to portray the system’s Upvalley services. RFTA’s system map lacks detail south of Brush Creek and directs the viewer to a nonexistent “Aspen inset,” and the City of Aspen’s bus map shows no cohesion with RFTA’s map, let alone route legibility.

Much of what I know about transit map design is from reading this blog, so I established five objectives before undertaking the project:

  1. Show visual cohesion with RFTA’s official maps;
  2. Depict the winter routes’ complex service patterns;
  3. Display connections to other transit services, trails, and key gondola portals;
  4. Reference secondary information (e.g. fares and connecting services) with restraint;
  5. Focus on the Aspen/Snowmass/Highlands service area and refer to the official map for downvalley services.

In creating this map, I learned a lot about setting angled lines on a biaxial grid, label placement, and information hierarchy. In the end, I’m rather pleased with the outcome, and I look forward to your feedback.

Transit Maps says:

This is really, really nice work, Joseph! You’ve done a good job of not just mimicking the official RFTA style, but perhaps even improving upon it a bit – all your labels are set horizontally, for example. The route lines are laid out clearly and neatly, and the one-direction-only stops are quickly identifiable. I particularly like the inclusion of ski area gondolas as “routes” on the map: a nice touch for a winter services map in Aspen!

The four purple Snowmass routes are perhaps the hardest to work out, and I think an “SMI” bullet at Brush Creek would definitely help people understand that it’s just a short shuttle route between Snowmass and Brush Creek. I also think that unless the colours used are taken from official sources, you might explore using brighter colours for the City of Aspen services and more pastelly colours for the Regional services, just to be able to tell them apart a bit more easily at first glance. Thematic colour can be a powerful tool on a map like this!

Another thing to try might be a slightly more organic look for the rivers running through the valley: they look a bit too much like subsidiary route lines at the moment and could be better differentiated if possible.

Our last word: Really quite wonderful. Great work, Joseph!


Submission – Unofficial Map: RFTA Winter Bus Service in Aspen, Colorado by Joseph Van Harn