Bus Route Detours & Online Mapping Tools
In our last blog we mentioned some of the unexpected challenges that came with developing our interactive, online food & transportation map. We had planned to share the final results in this blog, but we can’t quite do that because we’re still working through solutions.
Our mapping tool will be showing bus routes that don’t just extend through the City of Elizabeth, but go beyond the City’s boundaries throughout Union County, Essex County, and Middlesex County. (This decision was made so that people could plan their schedules accordingly, if they wanted to visit a food provider on their way to/from a destination that may be in a neighboring city/county.)
In effect, this means 93 different bus routes will be intersecting on our mapping tool, which is too many for PolicyMap, our mapping tool developer, to color code individually. It also means that if we tried to make each bus route clickable, so that a person could click on a bus route and see data on the bus stops, it would quickly make the screen too busy for users. (“Overwhelming” was actually the exact word our contact at PolicyMap used.)
So what does that mean for us? At this point it seems like we may have a solution, though we have to test it more. PolicyMap found a way to process the bus route data so that you can click on a specific area/neighborhood and get a table of all the bus routes that go through that area/neighborhood. That table would have a link to www.njtransit.com at the bottom, with a message directing users to click on the link for more transit access information.
This is currently being developed, so we’re waiting to see what this will look like from a user-end. But from our understanding it seems like this will keep the necessary bus route data in the mapping tool, just not necessarily in the way we originally planned. The same way a detour gets you to your final destination, just not in the way you expect. Which is honestly a very fitting analogy (and situation) for this project.
About the Grantee
The Gateway Family YMCA (TGFY) is a community-based organization rooted in Christian principles and committed to building healthy lives through programs that strengthen minds, bodies and spirits for people of all ages, religions and cultures. The leader of the Shaping Elizabeth coalition, TGFY is committed towards supporting the health, nutrition and physical activity of all Elizabeth residents.