Crowd-Sourced Colours: Vienna turns to the people to decide what colour the new U5 line should be
Submitted by Joshua Davidowitz, who says:
Love your blog and always look forward to the next posting! Anyways, I read that in Vienna, the Wiener Linien are doing a vote of whether the new U5 metro line should be in turquoise or pink.
What do you think?
As for me, I would go for turquoise over pink. The pink I find most confusing where it terminates at Karlsplatz and there is the transfer to the U1. If it was somewhere else on the line network it might work, but here it seems to blend in to the red of the U1. If they wanted pink as a line color, I might switch it to the U6 (brown).
Transit Maps says:
Now this is the kind of crowd-sourcing that I like: allowing the people of Vienna to have a say and feel involved in the process of the building of a new U-Bahn line. That said, each colour has its pros and cons for me. As Joshua says, the pink could potentially cause some confusion at Karlsplatz where it meets the Red U1, but pink has much better visual contrast where the U5 runs alongside the green U4.
Interestingly, both colours have very similar values when previewed in Photoshop using colour-blindness proofing settings, so there’s not much of a difference either way there.
In the end, I’d probably opt for turquoise, simply because it helps keep a balance between warm and cool colours on the map.
What do you think (answers enabled)?
1914 Hoch und Untergrundbahn Map, Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, Berlin
One of 26 panels on the walls of the platforms of this U-Bahn station that show the history of the subway before the First World War.
Submission – Historical Map: Proposed Underground Mass Transit, Jakarta, Indonesia, c. 1993
Submitted by Josh Brandt, who says:
I used to work at a university, and one day while poking through some dumpsters I found a big hardbound book full of architectural drawings and tables and things, a final report on developing a mass transit system for Jakarta.
I don’t know if that sort of thing interests you, but here are some pictures of pages from it.
They planned for 2 lines, NS and EW, and mapped them out in detail— I only have pictures of 2 of the street plans since about 2/3 of the book is made up of drawings of the streets with the proposed rail lines overlaid. They came up with 3 or 4 potential plans, including one full-underground line and a couple of mixed underground and elevated rail lines. They also sketched out a couple of stations.
I haven’t gone through and compared in detail to what they’re building now, but it looks pretty similar at a quick glance…
Transit Maps says:
What an amazing find, Josh! This is a real old-school proposal document, with beautiful hand-drawn architectural renderings and plans. I’ll note here that one of the proposing companies is Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firm that I work for as a senior graphic designer – essentially producing the same type of proposal documents, but with the benefit of modern computer software and technology.
Josh has posted a great set on Flickr of pages from the proposal, but I’ve posted one of my favourites here: a plan view of what looks like the north-eastern quadrant of the two-line system, including landmarks and other proposed works along the way. The linework is simply beautiful, and I wish more proposals had hand-drawn maps in them these days.
By the way, the 1993 date comes solely from the artist’s signature on some of the other drawings, which are dated March 1993. More than 20 years later, construction on the Jakarta MRT has only just started…
Our rating: Super yummy old style architectural renderings and maps make me happy. Four stars!
Submission – Official Map: In-Car Map of Rome Tram Lines
Submission and photo by Chris Bastian.
Does a decent job of showing a large and disjointed network in a limited space, although it’s not exactly stylish. Notable for its interesting “circle” and “half-circle” terminus stations, as well as its use of double-headed arrow station markers to show that trams stop in both directions there.
As the tram network basically circumnavigates the historical centre of Rome, that part is basically compressed so much that it’s barely even present anymore – a factor of the limited space, more than anything else.
The map also cheats a bit, as the “3B” between Stazione Trastevere and Piramide is actually a bus line, not a tram, despite being represented identically on the map.
Our rating: Not bad for an above-the-door map that has to show the whole network, but not really memorable either. Two-and-a-half stars.
The Evolution of My Washington, DC Metro Map
Now that I’ve finally brought my DC Metro map fully up to date, I thought it would be interesting to compare all four versions – the first dating back to February 2010, way before the announcement that Lance Wyman would be redesigning the map to accommodate the Silver Line.
The first version is unique in that it includes commuter rail and Amtrak lines as well as the Metro lines, shown by a thinner light purple line, a la the Boston “T” map’s representation of its commuter rail. I was working on my Amtrak as Subway Map project at the time, so adding this type of detail was important to me. Feedback seemed to indicate that Washingtonians didn’t think that this was really necessary – knowing which stations allowed interchange between services was enough – so it was dropped from future versions.
Normal stations are indicated by a white “pill” shape that spans across the route lines. Originally, these were individual dots – one for each line at a given station – but many people seemed to find this confusing. You’ll see that the symbology for stations is the part of the map that changes the most across the different versions as I sought to find the best solution.
Innovations in this map compared to the official map at the time (and now similarly adopted into the new Silver Line map, coincidentally or not) include letter designations for each line (I use a single letter, the official map appends an “L” for “Line” to each letter) instead of the minuscule “<COLOR> LINE” text that used to run alongside each route; and the introduction of a dogleg in the southern part of the Green Line to place the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations more accurately in relation to the District/Prince George’s County border.
However, the type on this version is considerably smaller than any of my other maps, and the colour used for parkland is a bit too bright and overpowering. Note also that the Silver Line just runs dead straight once it diverges from the Orange Line, something I wasn’t entirely happy with at the time and would remedy in the next version.
Version 2 is my entry for the Greater Greater Washington “Design the Metro Map” contest back in May 2011. Although it won the “People’s Choice Award" and came second in the juried voting, I now think it’s definitely the weakest of the four maps. Quite frankly, I think I was trying to be just a little bit too clever with some of my design choices, and the map suffers because of it.
In a search for a way to visually depict the odd service patterns on the Red Line and the Peak Orange/Yellow Lines, I thought I would add separate route lines for these services so that a trip could be unambiguously traced from end to end. However, the explanation required in the legend was still confusing, and the additional lines on the map meant that all the route lines now became unacceptably thin and spindly. Spelling out the colour designations for each line in full was also not one of my finer ideas – “PEAK ORANGE” takes up a lot of space – and I reverted back to single letters in the next iteration. The station symbol – a white strip that cuts through the route lines – is the weakest solution used, and definitely made relating station labels to their symbols more difficult than it should have been.
On the plus side, the type for labels was now larger and the configuration of the Silver Line with its bend through Tysons Corner was something I was much happier with. I personally also prefer the 45-degree-angle configuration of the Orange/Silver lines from Rosslyn to Ballston over the previous horizontal one, although this still seems to be a bone of contention with some reviewers of my maps. In reality, the routes head in a direction somewhere between the two angles, so there’s no “perfect” solution in an octolinear map like this.
Version 3 is my response to both the draft Lance Wyman map and the other maps submitted to the GGW contest. I abandoned my extra “service pattern” route lines from Version 2 and thickened the route lines back up again, which makes the map graphically stronger. I eagerly embraced the single best idea to come out of the contest – subtitles for stations that had ridiculously long names – which helped a lot with reducing extraneous visual clutter. The single best feature that I introduced with this map was the simple but effective “walking” icon to show the free out-of-system transfer between Farragut West and Farragut North stations: a real “Eureka!” moment for me.
Station symbols are now “ticks” that point towards their labels: a big improvement over the previous devices, but perhaps a little short to be really useful.
Version 4 is the “final” product, based on the final configuration of Phase I of the Silver Line and feedback from Version 3. Station ticks are now much longer to definitively “point” at their label, which works excellently in my opinion. I’ve added parkland along the Anacostia River to match the new official map’s representation and made a bunch of other minor little tweaks and fixes.
Is it perfect? No, but that was never really the point. I always wanted to make a map that was decidedly different to the official one, to show that there are always alternate solutions to the same design problems. Thinner route lines versus thicker ones, ticks versus whiskered circles, horizontal labels versus angled labels, and so on. Each decision a designer makes affects the look and usability of the final product, and I wanted to make something that had its own unique look and feel while still serving the same purpose as the official map. And in that, I think I’ve succeeded.
Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Nuuk, Greenland
Submitted by sperwing, who says:
Legends are pretty important parts of maps. Especially if you do things differently than other maps. It is certainly a unique decision that every bus stop is only for one direction. Defining that direction only by the side of the label however is just poor design. (no arrows!)
Transit Maps says:
This is definitely one of the most unique transit maps I’ve seen, in that it requires you to use both the timetable for a given line and the map to work out where the bus actually goes.
Every bus stop on the map has a number assigned to it, and the timetable then lists those numbers in the order that each route stops at them. In the example shown above, Route 1 starts at stop number 26, then calls at 23, 24, 18, 1, 47, etc. In effect, it’s like a giant game of connect the dots, except the dots aren’t even always in sequential order. Following the route described in the timetable on the map can be a bit confusing, because you’ll often have to skip over a number of stops before the next listed number. The ones you skipped are either used by the bus on its return journey, or aren’t actually served by that line at all.
It seems as though some routes go clockwise, while others go anti-clockwise, so I can see why the designers haven’t used arrows to indicate directions… unless the arrows were properly integrated into each and every station to indicate which direction they served, things could get very messy indeed.
As it is, the system is small enough – Nuuk only has 15,000 inhabitants, and the bus company only employs 24 people – that the unusual methods employed by this map are tolerable enough. It’s a little annoying that you’d have to flip from page to page (the map is on one side of the sheet, the timetables on the other) in actual use, but I feel you’d get the hang of things fairly quickly.
The map itself looks pretty nifty – a nicely stylised diagrammatic map – although I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the circles at certain points along the way. They don’t always seem to line up with the bus stops, but instead seem to just indicate intersections where bus routes diverge. Some of the labelling is a bit strange, and the spacing between some of the route lines is a bit variable, but overall I quite like the way it looks.
Our rating: A nice looking map, but with an incredibly esoteric and quirky route finding system that simply wouldn’t work with a more complex network. Interesting to see something so removed from the normal way of doing things (having just said that arrows are the only way to indicate route directionality). Two-and-a-half stars.
Source: Nuup Bussii website
Infographic: Crocheting in the Subways of Hamburg by Lana Bragina
Now this I love!
Every time that Lana travelled on Hamburg’s S-Bahn or U-Bahn, she would pass the time by crocheting this neat little bangle. The fun part is that she would only use thread that was the colour of the line that she was riding on at the time: green thread for the S1, yellow for U3, etc.
The really extra fun part is that she also made this super nifty infographic that explains the whole thing in a very visual way: the dates that each trip was made on, which stations she rode between and how long (in minutes) that trip took, even little “work in progress” photos of the bracelet after each trip. And then the whole thing is tied into a simple little diagramof “Lana’s Subway” as well. That the whole infographic looks like thick skeins of thread draped across the page is just the icing on the cake. Perfect and wonderful.
Unofficial Map: Washington DC Metro Map with Silver Line, 2014
Just because I don’t like leaving things unfinished, here’s a new version of my Washington DC Metro map with the final configuration of the Phase I Silver Line shown. For reference, here’s my previous version from 2011.
Like the official map, I’ve left the Phase II Silver Line stations unnamed, which is probably a wise choice, seeing all the variants that the Phase I stations went through! Flipping the Silver Line to the southern side of the Orange Line before East Falls Church was something else that the official map got right, and I’ve emulated that here as well. Only a few other minor tweaks: a couple of station name changes and a darkening of the Red Line colour to aid colour-blind users a little more. What do you think?
Edit – Morning, August 6, 2014: Thanks to Peter Dovak for a couple of tweaks: NoMa–Gallaudet U is now named correctly, and Phase II of the Silver Line’s completion date has been pushed out (unsurprisingly) to 2018. I’ve swapped in a new image above, and I’ve updated the version over on Flickr.
Evening, August 6, 2014: Further edits based on feedback today, especially from the comments left on this Greater Greater Washington post about the map. Changes include the addition of parkland along the Anacostia River as shown on the official map, lengthened “ticks” for stations so that they’re not so “nubby”, route letters in circles instead of squares so that they can’t be confused with the parking icon, proper designation of Wiehle-Reston East as the current western terminus of the Silver Line, and a few minor fixes and clean ups here and there.
Source: Cameron Booth/Flickr
Submission - Historical Map: Bus and Trolley-bus Routes in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1968
Submitted by creatures-alive.
A striking transit network map from Soviet Vilnius in the late 1960s. The stark, angular route lines are softened a bit by the wide lazy curves of the city’s rivers, but this is still pretty severe, minimalist, almost abstract design. Also of note is the map’s title and legend, set in five different languages — Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, German and English.
Source: Vilniaus Katalogas website
Behold! The bustling metropolis of our brains!
From the TED-Ed lesson How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins
Animation by Sharon Colman Graham
Brain/Tube Map animated GIF? Reblog.