Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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An Everlasting Design

Dynamic Mapping Duo Keeps SEPTA's Region on Track

Regardless of how you view it, in print, online or on your mobile device, the map is one of the most important features of a transit schedule. At SEPTA, the dynamic duo of John Rigby and Marianne McQuaid are in charge of ensuring that our riders get "the most comprehensive schedule maps in the world."

The maps were not always this exact. The old map production processes, inherited from SEPTA's predecessor limited what could be displayed, added or changed. "When we first started, maps got made by hand using electro-strip tape placed on Mylar." explained Rigby. The old system made things slower in more ways than one. "Back then, each map had to be hand delivered to the shops for printing," he recalled. The tried-but-true system of creating SEPTA's maps lasted until 1996 when the duo finally completed the process of moving the analog production process to digital. Now, maps are created to be more robust and include community contextual information like landmarks and shopping centers. And the names and locations can be updated regularly as the region rapidly changes. "It's saved a lot of time. What used to take days can now get done in hours." said Rigby.

McQuaid and Rigby have been paired as a team for nearly 20 years as Schedule Support Specialists, working each day on map updates, designs, and improvements. "It's a constant work in progress," said McQuaid about the process of keeping over 150 individual route maps up to date. As many as three times a year the team is required to ensure that each map is readied for publication. But before they go to print, each one is personally checked to ensure that it incorporates an ever changing roster of landmark updates and location name changes. "We're always adding new streets or changing maps to reflect re-routes that SEPTA makes to better serve the public," adds McQuaid.

Displaying cross streets, connecting transit, neighborhood names and landmarks is more than just a never-ending job to the team. "I think of myself as the voice of the riding public," said McQuaid. With the new map styling, "riders can see the route not only goes from Point A to Point B, but also shows the other locations like shopping centers along the way." Their efforts ensure that riders can rely on SEPTA for trips beyond just work or appointments. Fun and leisure can be found with a glance at a map.

The duo devotes much of their time to keeping the individual schedules current, but there is also a custom series of maps that the department produces. The largest is the wall-sized "Official SEPTA Transit and Street Map." Published as city and suburban editions, they show the exact location of each bus route, rail line, and train stations. "These maps are complex, but important," said Rigby. "They are so comprehensive that they are not just for transit, they also are road maps." The base of the maps dates back to the 1940's and receive constant updates to reflect our changing region. The team uses a multitude of sources including satellite data, planning information and even feedback from street supervisors in each update. The city version of the map shows the entire city and surrounding suburbs from Upper Darby to Lower Moreland. The suburban version covers the entire region from Newark, Delaware to Trenton, New Jersey.

Individual schedule maps and are always free and available at customer service locations and online. The wall-sized transit maps are available for sale online and at the Transit Store located at 1234 Market Street. A free version is also available for viewing and download at . While many people are choosing digital mapping options, "I don't know if the hand printed versions will ever go away," says McQuaid. "The elderly, the occasional riders, and others still prefer printed information."

No matter how riders choose to get their maps, the duo of Rigby and McQuaid will continue ensure that SEPTA's maps are accurate. "We try very hard to make sure our product is superior. It bothers us if we miss something!" said Rigby.

Vintage Maps

Click on the links below to view the vintage maps from 1940 to 1976.