Schematic maps for public transportation networks are essential tools for orientation and navigation in cities. Unfortunately, these maps are usually proprietary resources that pose strong limits on what you are allowed to do with them. The owners of the material often charge a fee for displaying the content on websites, apps or printed material and they don't allow you to change anything on the map itself. This alone prevents creative use of these maps. Furthermore, you only get a PDF document – this makes interactive content hard to create. We're here to change that by providing open source tools and file formats for creating free schematic metro maps.
In many cities and regions, there are no maps available at all! As this article about a mapping project in Managua, Nicaragua points out, the situation is pretty chaotic in some regions. When the local transportation organizations do not provide a map, it is pretty useful if the users of the transit network can collaborate on creating a map on their own.
Free maps are important. Although maps are available for hundreds of transit networks, it does make a difference if the maps are free. People can get creative and start producing unexpected material. We've seen these things happen in various Open Source and Open Data projects in the past.
Creating maps is hard. It shouldn't be though. One should not need to be a professional graphics designer in order to create a custom version of a transit map. Nor should it require non-free software.
Interactive maps allow new applications and increase their value to the users. From what we've seen, there are not many interactive applications for transit maps yet. We believe there's potential for new types of interfaces and ways to interact with maps. Traditional file formats for images and documents don't offer much support for such interaction.