Student designing maps aimed at making it easier to travel across B.C. without a car

An education student at the University of Victoria has channeled his "passion for geography" into something he hopes will help people trying to travel across British Columbia without a car: a public transportation map based on the guides found on the London Underground subway system.

Based on iconic London Underground guides, maps combine routes from BC Ferries, Via Rail and B.C. Transit

Colin Stepney is in his final year of the education program at the University of Victoria. (Colin Stepney)

An education student at the University of Victoria has channeled his "passion for geography" into something he hopes will help people trying to travel across British Columbia without a car: a public transportation map based on the guides found on the London Underground subway system.

Colin Stepney, who grew up in Langley, came up with the idea after Greyhound announced plans to discontinue passenger bus service across Western Canada.

Based on the classic maps for London's subway system, Colin Stepney designed the northern B.C. public transport map over the course of a few days. (Colin Stepney)

"I was wondering, 'What is left for people in more rural areas?'" he said. "There was no central place for someone to look at what was available."

Stepney started collecting route information from BC Ferries, Via Rail and B.C. Bus North, the transit service launched by the province after Greyhound pulled out of northern B.C. earlier this year. He then colour-coded it in a style based on the iconic design used to guide passengers through the subway system in London, England.

Stepney based his map on the guide system available for the London Underground, seen here at the London Transport Museum. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The map isn't to scale, nor does it include route fares or departure times, but Stepney hopes its simple design will make it easier for people to plan trips from community to community.

"Transport in Canada is really difficult," he said. 

"You have to look at different providers to get from point A to point B and even just knowing what providers are available is a bit difficult. So having one concise map, even if it doesn't let you actually book and organize and schedule things, knowing what's available, knowing what connects which communities, I think that's valuable."

Stepney has been getting positive feedback on the design since posting it online, with one person printing off a version to put up in the local library. Others are making requests for similar maps in other parts of the country.

Stepney's other mapping projects include a transportation map of Vancouver Island, a work that is still in progress. (Colin Stepney/Google Maps)

He's doing his best to deliver, and has already been working on a transit map for Vancouver Island, as well as a Canada-wide map displaying every passenger train service in the country.

"I've had a passion for maps for a long time," said Stepney, who hopes to start teaching elementary school next year.

"It's mostly artwork to me ... It just looks cool and it does have some interesting functionality."

Read more from CBC British Columbia.

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

@akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is a radio producer and digital journalist in northern British Columbia, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George.

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