Official Map: TRAX and FrontRunner Rail Map, Salt Lake City, Utah
By all accounts, the Utah Transit Authority’s rail system is a modern and successful one. However, this is something you’d never guess from their system map, which is one of the most cobbled-together, unprofessionally done maps I’ve ever seen.
Have we been there? Yes, but I’ve never caught the train there.
What we like: The required information is there to be found if you can bear to look at the map long enough.
What we don’t like: Put simply, this is terrible, terrible work.
The downtown area is ridiculously cramped (the Planetarium and Arena station dots actually overlap slightly!), leading to some ugly and difficult to follow labelling of stations, especially between the Gallivan Plaza and 900 East stations. Things could be improved somewhat by setting the station addresses in a smaller, lighter font to at least alleviate some confusion.
The lines that point from the labels to the stations have no consistency at all: some are longer than the station name, others are shorter, leading to a very messy look.
The map also seems to think that its users are utterly incapable of understanding what a “transfer station” is, as it includes giant, redundant call out boxes that point at five separate stations explaining the concept.
The call out boxes for the stations that allow transfers to different modes are large and intrusive and could be much better handled with icons that represent each mode.
The inset map of the track layout at Fashion Place West station is somewhat useful (although I think signage at the station itself would suffice, as it’s not a particularly complex arrangement), but looks like a generic piece of clip art.
The presence of ESRI fonts in the PDF of this map leads me to believe that this map is based off GIS data, which has only been slightly tweaked to create the final map. Both for aesthetics and information hierarchy, I think the map could have greatly benefited from being redrawn from scratch to allow better spacing of elements. Other parts of the map, especially the call out boxes, need to be rethought completely.
Our rating: Awful. 1 star (and that’s probably being generous).
(Source: Official UTA website)