Transport Action BC

2011, October 11

Using OpenStreetMap to show location of Transport stories

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: — Matthew @ 5:28 pm

I have been using OpenStreetMap recently a lot. Similar to other web maps such as Google Maps, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, and others, there are key differences. For one OpenStreetMap (OSM)  is editable by anyone, all it takes is a user name and password to start editing. It has been described as the Wikipedia of maps. It is also possible to fix mistakes in the map right away, while the big online maps are updated a lot less frequently. OSM has a lot more bike paths, pedestrian paths, bus stops, train stations that the big guys don’t have.

An advantage to non-profits like Transport Action, is that OSM maps can be published, copied and printed without restriction.

OpenStreetMap rendering of the Mission Bridge area

Fig 1. OpenStreetMap rendering of the Mission Bridge area

Figure 1 shows the West Coast Express station in Mission and the two VIA Rail stops in the vicinity, which I suspect aren’t widely known about. The Abbotsford stop (it can’t be called a station since it is just a platform) serves trains bound for Vancouver only, the Mission Harbour stop serves eastbound trains only.

OpenStreetMap image of the same area rendered by OsmaRenderer

Fig 2. OpenStreetMap image of the same area rendered by Osmarender

Figure 2 is the same area, same data rendered in a different manner. Note that this image doesn’t have the names of the train stops and stations. Other renderers exist for specialised uses such as the Cyclemap renderer that highlights cycling paths. A whole list of renderers is discussed on the OSM Wiki page.

OpenStreetMap image of the Coquitlam Central Station area.

Figure 3. OpenStreetMap image of the Coquitlam Central Station area.

Figure 3 shows the level of detail that is present in some areas. Details include the tunnel under the tracks, the wheelchair ramp, and the various paths to the bus loop and parking lots. The database for OpenStreetMap is useful in routing software like GPS navigation, but has details for trails that other online maps don’t have.

Expect to see many more maps created in OpenStreetMap on these pages in the future.

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