Significant work to the railway tracks was going to require buses replacing trains and bus routes being employed that didn't match the train routes. Those changes included the addition of services linking stations that hadn't previously been linked by the train network. That change could allow some passengers to plan more effective routes. Station staff needed to explain the route changes to commuters as well as help them with the temporary timetable.
Find patterns in the data to work out what the changes were and come up with a way to help station staff explain the changes.
The changes to times were in spreadsheets full of data. There were patterns, lots of them, too many of them to be easily explained. So we drew what we were reading. And looked for patterns in the pictures. We found them.
The result was three diagrams that showed the three different bus routes that were being used. Those bus routes were in action at different times of the day – daytime, evenings and weekends. This was information that was not obvious looking at the data.
By looking at the data alone, all you see is frequency and patterns in the frequency. Data alone can't explain that waiting for a later bus will result in a more direct route with less stops – unless you are really good at reading data, and most of us aren't.
Now we had a result that SHOWED everyone what was going on. We designed it to match the existing visual language being employed in the transport network so that passengers would understand the information by virtue of the colours and symbols employed. This style of schematic is now regularly used to explain buses replacing trains. A reliable sign of having created the right visual tool is when the outcome is picked up by other agencies and used as a regular communication tool.
The end result is a set of simple looking diagrams that belies the amount of data and development behind it. But that's the way it should be. They help passengers make the right decisions for themselves when there are changes to the train network.
And it worked.