Historical Map: Alilaguna Gold Line, Venice, 2006
We’ve featured Venice’s public transportation ferry map previously (February 2012, 2.5 stars), but here’s an interesting photo of a map by Alilaguna, a privately-run ferry and water taxi service.
This map, dating back to 2006, shows only the Alilaguna Linea Oro (Gold Line), running from the airport to St. Mark’s Square. Interestingly, this express route no longer exists, leaving passengers to lake the slower, local Linea Blu to the heart of Venice instead.
The map has some interesting Vignelli-esque aesthetics, with the lagoon islands reduced to simplified, blocky shapes (as well as beige water!). The execution works well for Venice itself; less so towards the edges of the map. There’s too much fussy detail over on the left side of the map near Malcontenta, and the way the mainland is strangely truncated makes Mestre and the airport look like they’re also located on islands. Global warming, perhaps?
Production-wise, it’s obvious that this map has been created by simply deleting the other Alilaguna lines from a master map, which leads to the three “station” markers shown being extremely long for no apparent reason. The indeterminate angle the route line takes from the airport down towards Murano is also a little odd-looking, given the strong 45-degree design aesthetic of the map.
Our rating: Nice concept, huge potential to be visually striking — but a shame about the uneven execution. Two-and-a-half-stars.
Official Map: CTrain, Calgary, Canada
Lots of people have requested this map, but I’ve held off for a while as some extensions to the system and amendments to the map itself have been made. Calgary Transit actually released a preliminary version of this map last year and asked for public input on it via an on-line survey, which is good to see. However, it’s not the most thrilling map, and there’s still one quirk with it that could cause some confusion.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Clean, minimal, easy-to-follow design. No extraneous bells and whistles to get in the way of a relatively simple system.
What we don’t like: I really don’t see the need to alternate the station labels between the left and right hand side of the route lines when they run vertically. The names would be much easier to quickly read if they just ran underneath each other to the right of the route line, much like a bulleted list. It looks particularly odd on the southern part of the Red Line, where Victoria Park/Stampede and Elton/Stampede are both to the right, and then the rest alternate.
The quirk I mention above regards the handling of the stations along 7th Avenue in the “Downtown Area” of the map. City Hall is the only station in the section where both lines run that serves both directions of travel — the rest of the stations alternate directions. The 1st, 4th and 7th Street stops serve all westbound trains, and the 8th, 6th, 3rd and Centre Steet stops serve all eastbound trains.
The designers have tried to show this by use of a directional arrow near each station. However, by placing these arrows within the coloured route lines, it could be interpreted that only Blue Line trains travel west and only Red Line trains travel east along this corridor. This ambiguity could have been averted by placing the arrows within the station dots or next to the station names themselves, where it would be almost impossible to misinterpret their intention.
However, the approach used here is still markedly better than the one used on the preliminary sample map, which placed the dots for all westbound trains in the Blue Line, and all eastbound dots in the Red Line! Now that would have been confusing!
Our rating: Workmanlike and honest, if a little dull. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Calgary Transit website)
Official Map: Streetcar Network, New Orleans
Brought to my attention by Transit Maps follower, Alex Marshall, this is the latest New Orleans streetcar map, updated after the opening of the new Loyola Avenue line in January of this year.
Have we been there? No. One day!
What we like: Informationally, it does the job, I guess. It shows the routes and connections to other services in a neat, easily understandable way. It’s just so… dull.
What we don’t like: The very best transit maps have a sense of place about them, and one could argue that New Orleans is like no other place on earth. The sheer amount of history represented by the historic streetcars and the unique culture of the city itself should be represented in this map, yet are completely absent. Instead, we’re given a bland, generic map that could be from just about anywhere.
Quickly looking at a geographical map of the network gives me so many ideas, I may just have to whip something up myself. The smooth curve of the St. Charles Line wrapped in the meandering shape of the Mississippi River could be so beautiful if handled well…
Also of note: apparently, the only two points of interest on the entire streetcar network are the Convention Center and NORTA’s own building. I never knew New Orleans could be so exciting.
Our rating: A hugely wasted opportunity to create something as memorable as the Big Easy itself. Competent but extremely dull. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official NORTA website)
Unofficial Map: “Orbital” London Underground Map by Jonny Fisher
Here’s an interesting new look at the London Underground from architect/designer/writer Jonny Fisher. It’s always fun when someone reinterprets something as well known as this: every designer approaches the same problem differently. For me, this map isn’t wholly successful, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.
Have we been there? Yes.
What we like: A bold attempt at a redesign of possibly the most well-known transit map of all. The “orbital” theme actually makes a lot of sense: London already has a Circle Line, and the Overground does form a looser larger circle around that. As a map designer myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into making this look as coherent and attractive as it does.
What we don’t like: Station labels set in all lower case text… ugh!
Inclusion of far-distant Thameslink stations like Brighton, Peterborough and Kings Lynn (97 miles from London and — from my understanding — no certainty to be a part of the final Thameslink Programme) is faintly ridiculous and leads to some awful crowding of station names in the north eastern quadrant of the map. Inclusion of the Tramlink services in southern London may have been more warranted, and would have helped with the “orbital” theme of the map.
Lack of differentiation betwen the different types of service shown, even in the legend, which opts for a pretty “rainbow” of route lines instead. The colours may be in order, but the types of services are all mixed up. As the Underground operates at far greater frequencies that the mainline and rail services, this is an important distinction to make.
Some of the bigger interchange stations are now inordinately large: it looks as if you have to traverse across large parts of London to change from the Circle Line to the Victoria Line at Kings Cross/St. Pancras, for example.
I miss the Thames.
Our rating: Interesting new look at something familiar, if flawed. Two-and-a-half stars.
Official Map: LPP Bus Network, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Here’s an interesting diagrammatic bus-only map from Ljubljana, the capital and largest city of Slovenia in Central Europe. Completely diagrammatic bus maps are a fairly rare breed, as users often want to be able to see exactly where the routes go along roads. Because of this, geographical maps and slightly simplified geographical maps tend to be the most popular forms of bus map. In this case, the small number of routes, the small size of Ljubljana itself and the defining geography of the rivers through the city help this map work relatively well.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Very abstract route map for a bus-only network: for the most part it works well, mainly because of the way that the two rivers (the Sava to the north, and the Ljubljanica to the south) help to define the extent of the city.Routes are fairly easy to follow, with termini being called out well. Unusually but effectively, weekday, weekend and night services are all featured on the one map, with colour-coding and route numbering grouping the similar routes together.
Nice typography for the station labels - Erik Spiekermann’s FF Info Display type family is used effectively here, although we’ll get to less successful typography in the next section…
The combined bus stop/direction of travel icon is something I haven’t seen used a lot, and it actually works fairly well, albeit less so where the route line is dashed when everything gets a little busy.
What we don’t like: While FF Info Display is a very nicely-chosen typeface, that can’t be said about some other choices. The stolid, angular Bank Gothic used to denote parts of the city is totally at odds with the soft, humanist touches of FF Info, especially in the map title to the top right of the map (where there’s also a typo in the word “public”, although fortunately not the Really Bad One).
Even worse is the obvious later addition of text at the bottom right, set in Microsoft Tahoma! Quite clearly, changes were made to the map by people without access to the original fonts and the map suffers greatly because of it.
The light blue fill of the Sava River to the north has been accidentally moved to the left relative to its dark blue outline, giving the effect of a thick border on one side and a thin/non-existent border on the other.
Our rating: A solid, if not spectacular, diagrammatic bus route map, let down by some poor typographical choices and some lazy revisions. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official LPP website - PDF)
Official Map: Full Service Metro and Tram Map, Prague
The second map in our short series of current transit maps in Prague. Whereas yesterday’s map was perhaps a little light in information, this one goes in completely the other direction and shows absolutely everything. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but this is definitely a map for detailed analysis of transit in Prague, rather than a quick reference guide.
What we like: Comprehensive and detailed overview of rail transit in Prague. Good mode differentiation between Metro and trams by use of stroke thickness.
What we don’t like: The multicoloured names at the interchange stations on the Metro! For example, the Red and Yellow lines meet at Florenc station, so the “Flo” is red, and the “enc” is yellow… it looks hideous.
Not sure about the use of a dashed stroke in the centre of tram routes to denote frequent “backbone” service - a dashed line normally indicates less, not more. On that note, the 50 percent dashed stroke for rush hour services on the 4 and 16 tram lines isn’t particularly visible.
The map’s legend is a bit disjointed, being placed in four different places around the map to fit between gaps in the route lines.
Some absolutely terrible English translation… “In this parts of lines is tram line 4 operated only at workdays morning rush hours…” Say what?
Our rating: Comprehensive, if a little visually cluttered. Suffers a bit from information overload. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Goldilocks “just right!” map. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official DPP website)
Official Map: MAXX Commuter Rail, Auckland, New Zealand
Time to get away from North America and Europe and head further afield… about as far afield as you can go, actually! Here’s the system map for Auckland, New Zealand’s commuter rail system. This map, available from the MAXX website, seems to be based off the map they place above doors in the actual train carriages. This explains the horizontal format which skews the Southern Line out to the right of the map instead of towards the bottom, where it heads in real life.
Have we been there? Yes, way back in 1993… I didn’t catch any trains.
What we like: Clear, simple and easy to understand. Nice differentiation between normal stations and interchanges.
What we don’t like: The labels angled to 30 degrees seems almost entirely unnecessary, as they could fit horizontally with minimal effort. It looks particularly odd at Manukau station, where a 45-degree curve meets the 30-degree type.
Strangely, station names are set in two different sizes: all stations on the Western Line are 18-point, but stations past Penrose on the Eastern, Southern and Onehunga Line are set in 16-point. I can’t see any reason why this is necessary at all, and seems like an error made by the designer to me.
Finally, and this is no actual fault of the map itself… I know it’s an historical name (being named after the British Navy ship that surveyed Auckland Harbour in the 1840s), but “Britomart” just makes it sound like Auckland’s main railway station is located under a cheap convenience store.
Our rating: Competent, but not exactly exciting. Average in just about every way, including my score: two-and-a-half-stars.
(Source: Official MAXX website)
Unofficial Map: Circular Map of Oslo’s T-Bane System
We’ve already covered the official Oslo T-Bane map, so it’s interesting to have a look at a completely different take on it; one that takes the “Circle Line” concept to its logical extreme. This piece is the work of Francisco Dans, a design student in London.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Interesting experiment using arcs and circles, while still maintaining some level of relative placement.
What we don’t like: Adobe Illustrator is pretty unforgiving when it comes to tangential lines, and there’s a few wonky curves and joins in this map, mainly on the pink “5” line. The widening of the interchange stations in the city centre to accomodate the visual conceit of the arcs makes it look like a heck of a walk from one line to another. The line work and type size is probably a little too spindly for use in a real world application.
Our rating: An interesting experiment that looks fun and breezy. Two-and-a-half-stars.
(Source: Francisco’s Minefield Junction website)
Official Map: Rail and Tram Network, Budapest, Hungary
Budapest boasts the second oldest underground metro line in the world: its Line 1 (Yellow Line) dates from 1896 and was added the the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002. Only the London Underground predates it. Wikipedia also claims (without attribution, unfortunately) that Budapest’s comprehensive tram service has the busiest “traditional city tram line” in the world where tram lines 4 and 6 combine, with the world’s longest passenger trams (54-metre long Siemens Combino units) running at 60 to 90 second intervals at peak time. Impressive stuff, but does the system map measure up? Yes and no.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Comprehensive overview of services provided. The “interchange zone” boxes around complex modal interchanges work really well. Budapest’s Metro logo is a favourite of mine.
What we don’t like: Strangely muted and pastel-heavy colour palette reduces contrast between the multitude of lines. I feel like there’s a definite Paris Metro map vibe to this map, but the colour choices aren’t as appropriate.
Mode differentiation is poor - the Metro, suburban rail and passenger rail all use the same line weight for their route lines, as do trams and “selected bus routes”. Yet tram line 60, a cog-wheel tram (cool!), gets its own distinct route line style, with boxes for stations instead of dots. I feel this style could have been better used to differentiate between buses and trams.
Our rating: Comprehensive, but hard work to actually use. 2.5 stars.
(Source: Official BKV website)
Historical Map: Sydney Rail Transport System, c. 1970-1976
Here’s another interesting planning map from Sydney, Australia, showing a vision for the future that never quite got there.
If you look to the far centre right of the map, you can see the planned Eastern Suburbs line… including a never-built extension from the (now current) end of the line at Bondi Junction to Kingsford. There’s also an extra station at Woollahra in the section that did finally get built.
It’s these details that allow me to date the map fairly accurately: it’s post-1970, as the distances are in kilometres, not miles, but before 1976, which is when the extension to Kingsford was scrapped.
Have we been there? A little early for my time in Sydney (we moved there from Armidale in 1979).
What we like: A fascinating glimpse of what might have been. Although I’m not sure it’s intended, the thickness of the route lines throughout the system seem to act as an indicator of service frequency - something that is being seen more on modern transit maps. The old NSW Rail “arrow of indecision” is a pretty awesome 1970s logo.
What we don’t like: Pretty rough and ready, with distances being pasted on wherever they would fit. Not really for general consumption.
Our rating: Of historical interest for the vision of the Eastern Suburbs line alone, but doesn’t look great. Two-and-a-half stars.