Map-induced journey-planning biases for a simple network: A Docklands Light Railway study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, land use - planning, planning - route design, planning - surveys, operations - performance


Schematic maps, Metro maps, Route diagrams, Journey planning, Planning biases, Usability testing


A usability study was conducted to identify the most effective prototype Docklands Light Railway map for installation on trains. This comprised a series of tasks that required station finding and also planning of routes between pairs of stations, with response time and accuracy as measures of performance. In addition, subjective ratings of map design were collected via questionnaire-based evaluations, and also ranked preferences between designs. A clear best-option was easily identifiable as a result of this research. The existing design was associated with the most journey planning errors, and two of the prototypes were associated with inefficient journey choices. The latter finding suggested that respondents were using unsophisticated planning strategies that were put at a disadvantage by certain route depictions. This has wider implications for suggestions that schematic maps should maintain topographical relationships in order to facilitate appropriate journey choices, with the danger that the inevitable increased complexity of line trajectories for such designs would simultaneously reduce the ability of passengers to identify the most appropriate routes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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