what is plantmap?

Frustrated with the lack of an ambitious, unified regional plan for rail rapid transit in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cedar Makhijani and I have set out to put existing plans and our own ideas in context with each other, and publish them in the form of transit diagrams. Unlike my previous crayonning endeavours, plantmap aims to strike a balance of optimism and realism with a phased approach to the system's development. Only phase 1 is complete as of late 2022, but we hope to get to work on phase 2 shortly.

click to view full plantmap phase 1

the big picture

A metropolis the size of the Bay Area, in terms of area and population alike, calls for a comprehensive network of fast, frequent, and high-capacity rail lines. We identified two modes best suited for the task: grade-separated metro and main line regional rail. Express, trunk, and neighbourhood bus routes shall flesh out a transit system optimised for connections, allowing for simple trips between any pair of points in the region, not just city-to-suburb.

Phase 1 represents projects that we think could come to fruition in the next couple of decades, if things go right.


For the sake of familiarity, we opted to name the metro and regional rail systems after the region's largest current operator of each mode (BART and Caltrain, respectively). We don't know what role today's agencies will play in the transit network of tomorrow.

Individual services are identified alphanumerically, with auxiliary line names providing geographic context. Alphanumerals are the most concise and accessible way to identify transit lines. We didn't use letters F, J, K, L, N, and T to avoid confusion with Muni rail lines, though streetcar and LRT services are likely best numbered to reflect their role as local transit.

Lastly, "plantmap" itself is just a play on our names, Cedar and Fern.

map design

While designing plantmap phase 1, I inadvertently developed my current style of transit map. Thick, bright route lines, 30-degree angle increments, and a dark background hearken back to the original BART system map. I used Bang Wong's colourblind-accessible colour palette, which I found via this handy tool by David Nichols. The typeface is Fira Sans, a simplified and free-to-use adaptation of FF Meta, itself among the most legible sans serifs by design. The diagram was made using the (also free-to-use) vector graphics program Inkscape.

stay tuned for more detailed information about the plantmap transit network