There's a secret map, lurking on the streets of Merseyside. It appears fleetingly, hiding at selected bus stops, cowering on the back of a few shelters, quivering behind Travel Centres. It's hidden from view in amongst Saveaway ads and that really gross poster about DNA spit tests. It doesn't appear on the Merseytravel website unless you really know where to look.
And it's great.
That's the worst part. It's a great, useful, multi-modal diagram which shows the interactions between Merseyside's different public transport forms: bus, train, ferry. It covers the whole of Merseytravel's area of influence. It's simple and easy to understand. And for some, unfathomable reason, it's hidden away.
This particular example is featured on the top of page 6 of the "Welcome to Merseyside" leaflet provided in Travel Centres for tourists, though it's a little out of date: below is a more modern one from outside the Paradise Street Interchange, which also has an index. It's not featured on any other leaflet, that I can find (even though it would be as valuable for residents as visitors), and it only seems to be on certain bus stops. An unscientific poll of the dozen or so stops closest to my home didn't produce a single example (though I did find out that Kayleigh loves Stu, and doesn't care who knows it). I don't remember seeing it at any railway stations.
It's a great map for a few reasons. Highlighting the Merseyrail and City Lines gives the map a structure, and emphasises the importance of the rail links to the city. They're also the easiest way to get around. Note that the Wirral Line is presented as a loop in Liverpool, by the way. The purple line for the Airport Link is a key feature, and combines with the Loop to emphasise the city centre itself (the newer map goes even further and shows the new shuttle bus from Liverpool South Parkway).
Considering the amount of detail presented here, it's surprisingly clear and well thought out. What's important here is letting the tourist know that there is a bus for them. It also shows how well connected the Merseyrail network is to the bus network, though there is a bit of poetic licence - showing Liverpool Central and the Paradise Street Interchange as three interlinked circles when they're actually a good ten minutes away from one another is a bit naughty.
In some ways, this is more accurate, geographically, than the proper Merseyrail map. The Mersey is correctly shown running at a diagonal between the Wirral and Otterspool, and the Northern Line is one straight run all the way to Southport. And I like the nice triangle of the Mersey Ferry.
Complaints? Not showing the full extent of the rail services seems like a mistake; perhaps not the Borderlands Line or Kirkby to Wigan, but including Chester, Ellesmere Port and Ormskirk would show the full extent of the Merseyrail services (especially as Chester is a major destination in itself). I'd have perhaps included zone boundaries, if they could be accommodated tidily, as this map is aimed at people who are using Saveaways. And a separate colour (brown?) showing the Night Bus network would be a good addition.
But my biggest complaint is that this map is hidden away. It should be on display at every bus stop and every railway station, much like Tim Demuth's London Connections map is displayed alongside the London Underground diagram in Tube stations. Remember, famous, important Liverpool districts like Anfield, Knotty Ash and Woolton don't appear on the Merseyrail map at all. I'd like be able to stand outside, say, Moreton station, and be able to roughly work out a route to Gateacre (Wirral Line to Lime Street, City Line to Huyton, then a bus). It'd be a valuable service.
So: 9/10 for the map, Merseytravel. 2/10 for the implementation.