Well, I never said why I liked those maps. It wasn't for their usability that's for sure.
It took quite some time, but public transport maps seem to have found some balance. Pretty much all maps except subway maps take geography into account in one way or another. The default transit line map over here are completely geographical ones like this , with a bunch of transit agencies opting for fully designed line maps like this gorgeous and usable Utrecht map. It incorporates a lot of the geographical features of the city and is very readable considering the various things it aims to show (frequencies, 4 types of bus lines, limited services, all stops and transfers, rivers, urban areas, and even train services).
Rail, in the US at least, refuses to be a part of multimodal transportation.
Can that be attributed to their poor reliability? Probably not entirely; what little experience I have with (North) American public transport makes me wonder whether the potential of proper multimodal transit is valued enough. I didn't see a lot of bus/subway hubs in NYC, for example.
And when I wanted to visit family in Edmonton from Calgary I had to
- walk to the bus
- take the bus to the campus
- walk 10 minutes across campus in the freezing cold to the campus tram stop
- take the tram to the city center
- take another tram to some desolate businesspark
- walk another fifteen minutes to the bus terminal
- get on a Greyhound bus that took me to another desolate businesspark in Edmonton (stopping in 4 minor towns for around 15 minutes per stop)
- get picked up by family and drive 35 minutes back the same road I came by bus
The whole ordeal took like 6, maybe 7 hours? The second time I got a Car2Go to the Greyhound terminal, shaving an hour off the trip. The third time I got a rental and drove all the way in less than three hours.
It's safe to say buses on your side of the Atlantic have an...image problem. You've mentioned that it's for the poor before, but I do wonder now if this lack of multimodality might be one of the root causes. I believe I heard the statistic somewhere that 80% of all train rides are multimodal PT over here (counting tram, buses, subways and bicycles as the other modes). So most of the popular and profitable bus lines are actually feeder lines to and from train stations. Could it be that the lack of bus multimodality is part of the reason why buses in the U.S. have such low ridership? If it's only local lines, it can't achieve a critical mass where it starts to make some money instead of only costing money. Once you have some popular lines, you can start a virtous cycle of improving the quality and quantity of transit, which leads to better ridership, which leads to more investments in quality/quantity, etc.