Announcing the ‘Amman Bus Map Design’ voluntary project

20/3/2006

Berlin Transport Map

First of all let me thank my fellow Jordanian blogger Nasim Tamimi for his unbelievably informative comment on my post about busses in Amman. Read Nasimjo’s comment here.

The bus ride, the comments I got and my experiences with using the Berlin public transport system has inspired me to announce the following voluntary project, sponsored by SYNTAX:

Designing a world-class bus map for Amman This project aims at creating a world-class bus/transport map for the entire city of Amman. The map should show all bus lines, bus stops and stations. It should provide information about the frequency of the lines, bus fares and any other information important to the users of the transportation system. But the key point is a BILINGUAL MAP.

The ‘client’ for this project will not be any authority or company but the USERS.

It will be a voluntary projects for young designers/technologists. My company, SYNTAX will supervise and sponsor this project. We will also enlist expert opinions from Germany on this as we have contacts with people who worked on both the Berlin and Frankfurt public transport systems.

The final work will be made available in print and online as a Creative Commons (or similar license), acknowledging the names of participants.

The overall objective is to encourage the use and culture of public transportation and make the user experience more friendly and understandable. It is also a useful exercise for young designers in Jordan, as urban growth explodes in the coming years.

The team size will be kept as small as possible. Volunteers will be needed to gather information on the ground (routes, stops, line numbers etc), acquire existing information on schedules, documentation, diagrammatic designs, visual design and layout. Other volunteers can be involved in creating an electronic version for the web.

Interested? Comment here or email me at ahmad.humeid[at]gmail.com with a statement on your experience and why you are interested in this project.

39 Comments

  1. Roba says:

    Hey Ahmad, count me in. Especially with the design bits.

  2. nar says:

    I think this is a great idea. I lived in Hamburg-Germany for several years and used the bus and subway system extensively. I remember the following nice features:
    - Every bus station had a roof and seating, as well as a map where the busses go and when they will be at what station. They were never than 5 minutes late. Each stop also had a name sign clearly visible from iside the bus so riders know where they are on the route.
    - Buses were clean and quiet and the ride was soft. Handicap access was provided. In the middle of the bus, doubledoors opened to a standing area where bikes, strawlers etc. can be transported.
    - In the buses were red buttons that light up an indicator in front of the driver to stop the bus.
    - The dirver would sell you a ticket upen enterance, but you did not have to buy one. Most people have monthly passes, and some ride “black” (without having such a pass or buying a ticket for the ride) and they would get caught by undercover “police” and would have to pay about 60 (Marks/Euros) in fines.
    - The bus system was reliable and covered almost all the city. You never needed to walk more than 500 meters between a stop and your final destination or starting point.

    PS the pic you shouw is of a subway and is not a geographical map. I think what Amman needs is something like this:
    http://spanien-reiseagentur.de/buskarte%20Barcelona.jpg

    nar

  3. Amer says:

    1st of all, I won’t do it under SYNTAX name and brand, heh! Why would I and why would anybody else?

    2nd, you’re not doing this project for “sawad 3yoon” Jordan and Jordanians… right Abu Humeid?

    I’m just wondering; heck! Why would anybody do all the effort and your company will take the bride (SPONSORED BY SYNTAX), god! This is soo rude!!

    And yeah you’re going to acknowledge the names of the participants (I know, I know) but… UNDER SYNTAX brand (HUGE LOGO WILL BE THERE) and poor participants will have their names in fine print comparing to the logo! lool this really cracked me… hahaha

    After all Ahmad Humeid – in all of a sudden – is doing this – just – to encourage people to use the public transportation NOT that (la sama7 Allah) he want some publicity for “his company” SYNTAX and some fame for his self as the “SUPERVISOR” and his company as the “SPONSOR”…!!! Yet another thing to show-off by! Ahmad, get a life dude…

    As you always say “MSHAN ALLAH RESPECT OUR INTELEGENCE”

    Will this comment be published? Dunno, maybe! ;)

    And ahh, I’m not interested, thanks!!

    Ahmad Amer

  4. Humeid says:

    Mr. Amer,

    I am afraid you have written a quite rude and misguided comment. If this project sees the light, please judge me (and the team that is forming) by our actions. An no, there will not be a huge SYNTAX logo on it :)

    I am proposing this, essentially open source, project because it is a cool challenge and because Amman needs and deserves a decent transport map. If we do a good job, the team, including SYNTAX, will also gain some positive publicity. Nothing wrong with that.

    Again judge us by the work and not by some preconceived idea.

    Thanks

  5. Humeid says:

    Nar,

    Thanks for the suggestions and for sharing the Barcelona map. Amman already has some geographical maps. But most transport maps (be they for subways, tramways or busses, represent the transporation grid in an abstract form (ie without the geography).

    Of course, big geographic features like a river should be represented.

    For Amman, we need to figure out the best approach. How much of the geography should be shown? The most important thing the map should answer is something like: how can I take a bus from Abdoun circle to Wehdat. Or: Can I take a bus from Jabal AL Akhdar to Abu Nseir.

    It ‘s one heck of a challenge I tell you!

    I am encouraged by the response so far from people.

    Thanks..

  6. Amer says:

    I know it and You know it… so let’s keep it to people to decide on your intensions.

    The words “sponsor/sponsored by/sponsoring” are always used for commercial and never a voluntary. Just a side note! If you want to sponsor this, that’s ok, nothing wrong with that! Pay people for their efforts and work and take the sponsoring fame as you like, still; you have to acknowledge their efforts anyways…

    I didn’t say that publicity will be a bad thing for those who will contribute in this, but it will be very bad if your company and only you who will get an “effective” publicity in terms of business…

    I’m not conceiving anything here, I’m just an eye opener… people deserve to understand your game before it’s done, what any comments will do after accomplishing the whole project?

    I just want you and of course other people to count how many times the word SYNTAX were written above in your first entry… and ooh yeah Amer is misguided, this is voluntary thing but the company brand slipped there, and it has nothing to do with it! I believe you…!!

    Sorry if my note hurt you and you considered it “rude”, my friend; the truth always hurts! Use to it… ;)

    Ahmad Amer

  7. Humeid says:

    Amer,

    The word sponsor is not always commercial. Plus, unless you can read minds, I don’t think you know how we will ‘sponsor’ this project.

    Thanks for your input and I hope you’ll like the outcome of our little game.

  8. Batir Wardam says:

    This is a fantastic idea Ahmed and I think it is great for an IT company to engage iin such a public-servive feature. You will hve the ultimate right to promote SYNTAX in the process since this is a public benefit project. This is what is called Corporate Social Responsibility and it is a very well implemented system across the world.

  9. Amer says:

    A sponsor word isn’t always commercial (make business ya3ni)? Are you sure about that?

    It’s always is, why then they insist on including it in whatever a given company or organization or even charity sponsor something?

    Business is not always direct, not always a personal money profit… you get my point, or should I explain more!?

    And by the way I don’t read minds nor I’m a psychic, but I can predict things and can also read between the lines and analyze (I’m not showing-off, I’m sorting facts to make my friend Ahmad Humeid understand my point), if you don’t know that things can be predicted and then analyzed by all kind of ways, I wonder how you survived in business for this time, you must be a lucky dude or you have people that take care of your business… or your business is about to go down…!! Dunno, you tell me.

    By the way, don’t take this personal Abu Humeid; I noticed that your attitude is taking a defensive mode, so relax… lol

    Ahmad Amer

  10. Nidal says:

    Ahmad.
    A great initiative hats off, unfortunately I have neither the time, talent nor the artistic talent necessary for this, however I will share my two cents worth just in case its of any use to anyone who will pick this challenge up.

    I have been lucky enough to try quiet a few public transportation systems around the world, and would have to say map wise nothing comes close to the London underground map for usability, particularly when you take into account the city size and how quickly you can get the hang of it.

    And interestingly enough it actually came second to Concord in a recent vote about the greatest ever British design. (I actually think it should have come top as I believe it has affected the lives of far more people than Concord!)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/cultureshow/designquest/vote/

    As regarding design, my humble opinions are as follows:
    -Language: Rather than bilingual, the map should be available in multiple languages, bilingual design tends to be far too much of a compromise for the vast majority of users, this of course also applies for an online version where a simple language switch is much better than one which is over burdened with multiple languages.

    -A transport map dose not need to be totally loyal to geographical symmetry

    -It dose not need to be exhaustive of absolutely all stops and even lines (usability and perfection are not always harmonious) following the London example you may have documented main stops and others which are just indicated.

    - As for additional information (timings etc.) this is best kept auxiliary, either to the side of the main map or as an accompaniment, this would probably be more critical for Amman as this is unlikely to be straight forward.

    Also just to please our good friend Amer, consider this free consultancy
    ® Strictly no rights reserved.

    I would love to be of further use, but unfortunately geography probably restricts what I can be of use for, but If having someone play devil’s advocate turns out to be of use, then I will be more than glad to chip in, God only knows I keep looking for such a map every summer 

    Good luck

  11. Amer says:

    Batir,

    Ahmad (SYNTAX) is not funding this project, he announced himself as the supervisor and SYNTAX as the sponsor… don’t know why myself!

    Still, he is asking volunteers to do most of the job! Please read carefully before commenting the next time, would you!?

    If he was funding this from his own money aiming for publicity, no one will argue with him, it’s his right… and that will be called “Corporate Social Responsibility”, yeah!

    But the case here is different, unless you can’t see or you can’t read.

    Ahmad Amer

  12. vistaman says:

    Ahmed,

    This is an amazing idea and it is very much needed. I have no idea how ppl in Jordan can live without it. I can’t imagine the transportation system here in the US without.

    Without needing to read your mind or analyze your motives, this is a great initiative from you, and I encourage you 100% to proceed.

  13. nasimjo says:

    BiSCA is in…..
    Amer, you still have awaaaaaaaaaay to go to learn :P please go to http://www.gnu.org

  14. Amer says:

    nasimjo,

    loooool@you hahaha

  15. Hamam Tahat says:

    dear ahmad….

    i want to tell u that Great Nations were developed by Great Mens…

    and this work is the start so go go go go and dont let some old fashioned barins just stop u …

    GOD bless u all…………

  16. ziad says:

    hi all,,,

    i agree with mr. amer in some points that this work should be done in cooporation without any kind of supervision ..and without anybody taking sponsoring unless he/she is paying the bills of this projects .. and here i maen everything involved from designer and information collecters…etc. they should get paid from the sponsor… other wise it should have been anounced as a cooporative effort and no one of the people who will involved will get 1% more than the another …just my two cents

    ps. i agree with mr. ahmad and others that this project is good and should be done, its no big deal though but the result will be something good and usful i presume…0

    salam all

  17. Sabbagh says:

    Hi Ahmad,

    I’m interested in participating in this project as a graphic designer.

    I’m interested because I think it’s a very important to have such system in Amman, and for the fun and the experience I can gain from of this project.

    Thanks,
    Ahmad Sabbagh

  18. salman abo nea'meh says:

    al salamo alikum,

    people of jordan (most of them) hate maps; they just do.

    they don’t even how to deal with the map.

    i don’t know why they hate map in fact, maps are useful.

    so this will benifit forgeiners (tourists etc) but those tend to use private transportation provided by their agents.

    so what’s the point? (the main question)

    don’t tell me so that the tourists will say “Amman is a civilized city with a bus map!”, they won’t! even if so, there opinion will be changed as soon as some #$#@$@ curse them or haress them (you know how)

    i would like to help if you answer my question, tell then I’m not interested

    i’m specialized in designing map, i use illustrator…

    sincerly,
    salamn

  19. Wael says:

    Mr. Amr reminded me of an article i wrote about the kind of people we face in life

    http://sha3teely.blogspot.com/2006/03/blog-post_15.html

  20. Kasho says:

    Dear Ahmad, I like the Idea but there are too many ifs and whiles, BUT I would like to contribute for the benefit of all. and because I myself suffered from the lack of easy to use transportation guide in Amman (And any other Jordanian City). I Live in Abunseir and I used to work in Sweifieh. I always thought that despite the lack of information, transportations was convenient for me. The problem is that if I wanted to go to any other place in Amman that I’ve never been to, I would spend a good deal of time in wondering and asking how to go there, and in the end forced to take a taxi.

    Now I work in Japan and I remember very well how terrified I was when I first visited Tokyo, but After 2 days I was able to go from point to the other without even knowing how to read Japanese. All because they have Maps and details about every possible way of transportation. So I really know how would it feel if we have a fully detailed guide to Amman’s Bus and even Service lines.

    I would like also to comment about the points that Amer mentioned. I guess you are right about the Sponsoring thing . But I am still willing to contribute because if we the people (with or without sponsoring) do something for ourselves it would never happen by itself. I can’t dare to dream to achieve something like those European systems, but we can achieve the basis of it.

    As I mentioned before I Live in Japan right now but I would like to help in this, and make our mass transportation system a cool ride and nice experience 8) but first this project should be announced in a public forum or community to say that it is a true OpenSource project and gather contribution.

    Mohammad Khashashneh

  21. moh'd shurman says:

    well i think saliman abu neameh has a valid point

    amman map is available since long time, who really use it?

    streets were named but who use street name to give directions?

    instead, right… left… near to that or that is the way mostly used by 99.9% of jordan citizens

    this will be yet another map that will be thrown away and never used… what a waste.

    best of luck anyway…

  22. vistaman says:

    The next step would be after completing this project is to utilize this data and make a web based trip planner. I don’t know I am dreaming or not, but it would be nice if you put your starting point is Jabal Amman 2nd circle, and ending poing is Shmaisani and boom you have a complete trip planned for you.

    Here is an example:
    http://www.soundtransit.org/

  23. yanone says:

    dammit. i would L-O-V-E to join you with this somehow. unfortunately i won’t find the time any time soon. but one can’t always do everything.
    please make it a maximum success. i would have taken public transport in amman if a map like that had existed. taxi was cheap, but for a student like me there’s always a reason to save that extra bit of money. plus i consider it fun and important to ride a country’s public transport as a foreigner.
    but if you need a special geometrical version of an arabic font to go with your latin or something, i might be your man (as you know anyway).

  24. nasimjo says:

    vistaman, its not a dream,, its a small AI algorithm ;)

    Moh’d Shurman, If u have noticed, there wont be any street names or real geograpghical map entities in the desired map, just public terminology for the place through which the lines will be passing and intersecting with other lines.

  25. Wael says:

    Yes there is a map and I saw.. But the graphical representation of the map and the information are poorly done… also there is a lot of ads covering very important places on the map… its not just streets and a names.. the map should represent a full travel and navigation experience in a very clear and legible way..

  26. Great idea Ahmed, I hope I could sponsor the electronic version under Point studios and I assure you it will be accessible, usable, fast, user friendly and ofcourse standards compliant.

    Best of luck :)

  27. nasimjo says:

    Coool @ Point Studios ;)

  28. >> … and the bus signs installed during 2005, the sign in the picture is one situated in a WRITE PLACE ;) at Xpress, Mecca Street, unlike some other ones .. >>

  29. Steve says:

    Dear Salamn Abo Nea’meh:

    In reference to your comment posted March 22nd: “most people in Jordan hate maps”, perhaps it is that they don’t undertstand or find value in a map or that it can offer you new opportunities to venture outside of your own neighboorhood and expose you to new people, new experiences, etc for you and your family.

    Perhaps a good public transport map will encourage people to go out more for recreation, to look for better deals on family essentials, find a new job with less hassle, etc. This will create opportunities for small businesses and jobs away from the expensive established urban areas. New concentrations of people, creativity, and commerce will create little urban “pockets” where ideas and value are exchanged.

    I am from Boston where there is a plan to extend one of the subway lines into a neighboring urban “pocket”. Myself and a friend disagreed on the impact: He is from the suburbs and believes that a new subway line will reduce real estate prices in the area it travels through. I lived in the urban area and believed that the opposite is true: new public transport will let new people into an area that is otherwise not easily accessible. Look at European cities and how dynamic the urban areas are that have good and understandable public transport – for locals AND newcomers!

    I propose this: Once your open source map is ready for prime time, launch it WITH sponsorship. Meaning, get the city, a big consumer brand and others to sponsor printing of the maps on a wide scale. You might get a radio station, mobile company, or newspaper to promote a “weekend adventure” or “scavenger hunt” where people have to ride the buses using the map to find things, clues, whatever all over Amman over a few days or something. It could even be SMS based where you send a txt msg to a number when you find each clue. The db of messages can keep track and identify the winner. Potential for high promotional value for public transport, the shops in and around urban pockets, tech firms, and sponsors alike.

    Re: Moh’d Shurman’s comments, I disagree. This is different. Having a map of pre-defined stations will actually HELP people navigate the city. If each little bus connection has a name, you will have little “Abdali’s” all over the place to guide people to your office, shop, your home, whatever. True, no one uses street names, there are too many of them and more always coming. Forget them. Use the bus connections/stops for directions just like “Abdali”.

    Reading this, I was reminded of this project: http://retrovirus.com/incr/2005/07/gmbta/ Maybe Google would be interested in getting involved with sponsorship as a pilot for the region?

    Anyway I stumbled accross your post at the end of May so if you have advanced your project since march and wish to brainstorm this further, lemme know….I am at the Young Entrepreneurs Association until the end of July: ssena (at) yea.com.jo or 464-4451 x15

    Best,

    Steve

  30. Yugi says:

    It’s interesting to know that Irbid has such a map from a few years, i think Amman has something similar, try to ask the Municipality or the PTRC..
    The map of Irbid is on the Irbid Directory page of this site: http://www.irbid.gov.jo

  31. So, after a year and a half, what happened with the project? :D

  32. dina says:

    bus maps are different form tube map
    have a look at london bus map where street names, bus numbers and route is a must

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/travel/images/pdf/centlond.pdf

  33. Yours says:

    Good afternoon!
    Dear friends I ask you to help to me to find carrier by buses on a route Amman – Jidda. If to you not difficultly send on mine bgia@mail.ru their address, phone and the main thing the electronic address.
    I shall be very grateful to you.
    Yours faithfully Jury!

  34. Hani Obaid says:

    Did this project ever materialize ?

  35. PlaneMad says:

    Oh wow, I’m trying to work on something similiar for the city of Chennai, India. If you are still working on this project, do let me know as i am very interested to know the sort of progress you guys have made, and maybe learn a thing or to about the design appproach.

    This is a sample of the rail+bus map for Chennai.

    http://img88.imageshack.us/img88/3695/chennaischematicsampleee0.png

  36. Foreigner living in Amman says:

    It doesn’t matter whose logo will be on the map! Shame on Amman municipality which is not able till now – we live in 2010! – to make a map! Look around you! All civilized countries have a convenient transport system. Bravo for the idea and ignore those Amers who want to stay forever ‘poor stupid Arabs’ arguing about non-relevant things.

  37. sitt_elhosn says:

    Just the thing we need here, living for most of my life in Germany and now for few years in Amman has showed me how important it is here to implement some coordination and organization to the bus routes. Only being dependent on the car while driving to and from work while taking the bus comes more cost effective.
    Yet I didnt drive with the city bus, took only the buses to Irbid which are good organized from the queen alia station. Sometimes I wonder where the citybus 156 leads that i see mostly passing our neighborhood Abu Nseir. One time I will go on a trip…and keep you updated,if you are still interested of course.

  38. Mohamed Elkhateeb says:

    Hey Everyone,

    Any updates on the project??

    I would love to help in. I originally live in Cairo but I’m half Jordanian too.

    This would be a cool idea to implement in Amman and Cairo.

  39. Hey there, If i may propose an alternative approach, i’ve been a mapmaker here since 2011 (basically most of amman’s maps are mostly contributed by me)…

    If you have the data you can contribute it to google’s database, Then you can rest your head off server costs and you’ll be confident that good updates/direction heuristics will always be up-to-date

    Go here:
    http://maps.google.com/help/maps/mapcontent/transit/

    Check it out, And if there’s anything i can do bewinxed@gmail.com

    I’ve thought about this once, You could use android phones and plot the whole transit lines along the map, Then organize the map data KMLs into a unified map, Then the only thing left will be the direction system which would be google’s, Open, Available to mostly everyone :)

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