How to Read Bus Maps


Bus lines can seem confusing at first. What route goes where? What times do they come by each stop on the route? Fortunately, this is where bus maps come in. A bus map provides an outline of all the stops along a route, along with a timetable showing when it will stop at each location. Bus maps may look intimidating at first, but they are actually very easy to read.

  • Read the route name on the bus map to get an idea of the bus's destinations. Most routes will have straightforward, descriptive names such as "Greenfield High School to Meadow Park" or "Valhalla Drive, Summit Square, IBM and Target" that gives some idea of the path of the bus.

  • Look at the overall route of the bus map to understand the streets the bus will take. Bus maps are usually simplified road maps that have the names of the streets the route follows clearly marked. The names of the various stops and landmarks will also be clearly marked for easy reading.

  • Understand how the bus map labels its stops. For example, some bus maps label their stops and routes with large letters. If a bus map labels its stops with letters, the names of the stops will be printed on the bus map's accompanying time schedule.

  • Check to see if different routes use the same segments of road. Different routes on the same road are represented by different colors in order to make reading the different routes easier. This is an extremely important aspect of bus map reading if you need to transfer bus routes to get to your intended destination.

  • Locate the time schedule that goes with the bus map. The time schedule is almost always located on the same page or double-page spread that contains the bus map. The time schedule is designed to be read in conjunction with the bus map, providing the reader with a sense of how long the bus will take to get from stop to stop.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bus maps can be found in several places. The most obvious place to look is the bus depot, although maps can occasionally also be found at bus stops, in local libraries or on a particular bus line's website.
  • Don't read the bus map with the expectation that it will be drawn to scale. Bus maps are only intended to give the reader a sense of the route the bus will take, and as such leave out minor intersections and any side roads that are not part of the bus route.

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