Official Map: New Toronto Streetcar Network Being Rolled Out
Submitted by Rob, who says:
The TTC have decided to include a streetcar map inside the new streetcars when they start rolling out at the end of this month. What do you think of the map? With out any actual street grid information it doesn’t seem very helpful since it gives you zero context of where each route is in the street system.
Transit Maps says:
I think Rob is being a little unfair when he says that there’s no street grid information on the map: there’s actually quite a lot of reference points, but the map makes it harder to find than it should be. The east-west streets shown on the map – the ones that have streetcar or subway service – pretty much define the major horizontal elements of Toronto’s downtown grid, and the names of the stations on the Bloor-Danforth (or newly-christened “2”) Line help to define the verticals, as they’re mostly named after the north-south streets they intersect.
However, the type used on the map is so abysmally tiny that I feel it’s going to be difficult for anyone to actually be able to find and use this information. The map is 35” wide by 11” tall, and I’m presuming it’ll be mounted above the doors in the vehicles. The type used for station labels on the map is in the range of just 11 to 13 points, which isn’t that much bigger than what you might find used in a standard typeset novel. It’s certainly not legible from any further away than two feet or so, especially in a moving, crowded streetcar! At least the route numbers are nice and big.
Technically, there’s some pretty sloppy work with some of the curves in the route lines, particularly with the dashed Limited Service routes, and the eastern end of the 506 line. I also don’t see why the Bloor-Yonge subway station needs a little pointer from its label to the station: there’s no possible chance of confusing that label as belonging to anything else on the map!
Typographically, I feel that the Helvetica used for the map labels sits very uneasily with the Art Deco “TTC” typeface used at the top of the map: a definite clash of eras and styles there.
It’s also interesting to note that the map’s north pointer aligns with “street north”, rather than true north (Toronto’s street grid is angled about 17 degrees counter-clockwise from north). However, this probably just reflects common directional terminology in Toronto.
Our rating: Seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity for something truly useful, although I’d love some reports from the field to see if it really is as hard to read as my gut instinct tells me it is. At the moment, my instinct gives it two-and-a-half 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.
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
Historical Map: 1980 Spokane Transit System Tourmap
Check out this eye-poppingly bright bus map from Spokane, Washington, brought to my attention by Zachary Ziegler of the Transit 509 blog. Produced by a local design firm, this seems to be the first attempt at any sort of bus map in Spokane. It’s notable for the interesting way that the route lines overprint each other when they cross, which creates an interesting sort of plaid pattern where many routes meet downtown. Adorable little colour-coded buses can be seen traversing the routes, and there are some simple drawings of notable landmarks scattered around the map as well. I’d hazard a guess that the route lines were actually created with some kind of adhesive film cut to shape: you can see the rough joins where some routes change direction. This would have been much quicker than drawing all the route lines by hand (we’re still quite a few years before computers in design here).
Our rating: A swell little bit of 1980s ephemera, but looking fairly dated and clumsy by today’s standards. Lots of clip art (love the girl in the bikini repeated for every swimming pool in town!) and really, really bright colours. Two-and-a-half stars.
Compare to the current Spokane bus map by CHK America (February 2012, 4 stars).
Source: Transit509 website (go here for more info on the map)
Submission: Transportation in the Backwaters of Kerala, India
Submitted by Jim McNeill, who says:
Kerala in southern India is famed for its backwaters, a popular holiday destination for people to cruise in rented houseboats. I was amazed to see a transit map of the area, and not a bad one at that. I was impressed at the attempt to show road, train, boat and air all on the same map. Granted it’s not perfect, the ferry crossings become maze like in the centre and there are some awkward angles in the south, but overall I was impressed.
Transit Maps says:
It’s not the world’s most beautiful transit map, but I’m as impressed as Jim by the map’s intent: one map showing all the transportation options available in the Backwaters of Kerala — a huge area covered by lakes, lagoons, rivers and canals, sometimes compared to the Mississippi Bayous.
One thing the map doesn’t really do is give an idea of the scale of the area shown: it’s around 140km (86 miles) by road from Kollam at the bottom of the map to Kochi near the top. It’s only when you read the notes on the map and see that a ferry trip from Kollam to Allappuzha (not even as far as Kochi) will take seven hours to complete that you start to get an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Some context in the form of the large lakes that the canals join together would be helpful in this regard.
I’d also agree that the maze-like representation of the ferry routes in the middle isn’t very helpful, although it seems that Allappuzha is the main hub and ferries from elsewhere all end up there eventually. Another thing to note is that India has officially-designated National Waterways, much like National Highways — the main water route through this area is National Waterway 3, and is clearly marked as such on the map.
Our rating: Not beautiful, and not really that great for ferry route-finding. But in the end, it’s quite a nice little overview of transportation in the Kerala region as a whole. Two-and-a-half stars.
Official Map: Sydney Light Rail Network, 2014
Sydney’s light rail system is expanding this Thursday March 27, with an extension from the current outermost station at Lilyfield along an old freight rail alignment to Dulwich Hill.
Here’s the map of the “network” (can you call one line a network?) that’s now available on the Transport for NSW website. Stylistically, it’s been brought into line with the maps of the other Transport for NSW services, including that of the main Sydney Trains network.
Interestingly, the light rail line seems to have inherited the red colour that the main Sydney Trains map lost when the old Northern Line was rebranded as part of the Yellow “T1” line: I don’t know whether this is by design or coincidence.
The map is drawn well enough, showing the slightly circuitous route that the line takes through Pyrmont in a nicely stylised manner, but the whole thing just seems so… empty.
In a frankly baffling move, absolutely no indication is given of where the light rail interchanges with the main rail network — at Central (Sydney’s main railway station), Dulwich Hill, and (with a bit of a walk) at Lewisham West. Ferries are also easily accessible at the Pyrmont Bay station, and there are connections to bus services at many of the stations. A light rail line like this doesn’t exist in isolation: it’s a feeder service that creates and allows transit connections — why not show them, especially when there’s so much empty space on the map?
Our rating: Competent enough and in-keeping with the new Sydney transit design style, but needs to show better integration with other transit options to be truly useful. Two-and-a-half stars.
Source: Transport for NSW website
Official Map: Brussels Integrated Transit Map
According to my correspondents, Brussels has recently switched from a geographical transit map to this new diagrammatic map. As you can see by comparing the two images of the centre of the city above, a lot of streamlining and simplification has taken place. The first thing that strikes me is the way that many bus routes have either been removed or have been condensed or “collapsed” into a single route line with a common label, simplifying the map immensely. The place where this is really obvious is at Gare du Nord/Noordstation, which now only has six route numbers listed next to it, compared to thirty-six on the previous map!
Major interchanges are now denoted by an enclosing ring, suggesting that all stops at that interchange — be they bus, tram or Metro — are in close proximity to each other. The Paris Metro map uses a very similar device at interchanges between modes.
However, while the map is a huge improvement over the crowded mess of the previous geographical map, it’s certainly not perfect.
The labelling — which admittedly has to overcome the requirement of being bilingual — is a bit haphazard in its application, with some labels for one station overlapping that of another in parts. Major station labels waste a lot of space when there’s only one or two route numbers listed under the station’s name.
Each and every route line is outlined in black, regardless of its colour, which gives a very heavy, cumbersome feel to the map. Normally, only very light coloured routes (yellow or light blues, for example) need this treatment, so I’m not sure why it was deemed necessary here. Also, while the difference in line thickness between trams and buses seems obvious in the legend, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart on the actual map when multiple routes are butting up to each other (Hint: stops on bus routes are ever so slightly wider than the route line — way too subtle for easy mode differentiation!)
The icons for points of interest are all so very generic and bland.
Finally, the colours used on the map seem very simplistic and cartoon-like, stopping the map from having a harmonious, unified feel. Both the green used for parkland and the blue used for water are way too strong and vivid: they compete with the route lines for attention, becoming a distraction.
Our rating: Better than what came before, but still not great. Despite all the reworking, it’s still very cluttered and confusing. The new Ile-de-France Regional Rail map sets the standard for this type of map, and this falls well short. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official STIB website)
Official Map: Tehran Metro, Iran
Tehran is not necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to an extensive, modern rapid transit system, but here it is. First opened in 1999, the system now boasts five lines (four rapid transit and one commuter rail), over 140 kilometres of track and carries more than 2 million passengers each day.
The map itself is fairly basic and workmanlike, although not unattractive in a blocky sort of way. It handles its requirement for bilingual labels (Persian and English) well, and the interchange markers are both unique and distinctive.
For such a diagrammatic map, there’s some uneven spacing between stations in places, and I’d probably have placed the labels and ticks for Razi and Rahahan stations on the light blue Line 3 on the left hand side of the line, rather than the right.
The map also understates the length of the green commuter rail line quite a lot — at over 40 kilometres long, it’s almost twice as long as any of the other lines, but is shown as being extremely short here. However, it definitely does allow the map to take on a more compact form.
Our rating: Basic and simple, but still effective enough. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Tehran Metro site)
Official Map: Timetable/Service Frequency Map, S-Bahn RheinNeckar, Germany
Here’s an interesting little map from one of Germany’s newest S-Bahn networks (established in 2003): a system map combined with some basic timetable information, which in turn illustrates how the lines interweave traffic to create higher frequency service along the central spine of the network.
The map only shows major or interchange stations: enough to give a sense of timing without overwhelming the map with too much information. As you can see, each route only has one train per hour in each direction, but these combine to create service with four or even five trains an hour in each direction between Schifferstadt and Heidelberg stations.
The map itself is fairly basic, but it does the job it’s designed to do.
One final point of interest: the compression of the routes into this simplified map give no real idea of the incredible length of the S1 line: at 200 kilometres (124 miles) and 51 stations, it’s one of the longest S-Bahn lines in Germany. If you count out the stops using the timetable information above, it would take almost four and a half hours to travel its entire length.
Our rating: a bare bones approach to combining timetable information with a basic system map. Not much to look at, and not a complete replacement for the map of the whole system. Interesting, nonetheless. Two-and-a-half-stars.
(Source: S-Bahn RheinNeckar website)
From the Field — Official Map: Sydney Ferries Network
Greetings from beautiful, sunny Sydney, where I’m currently visiting family — my first time back home for six years. Of course, I can’t help but look around and see transit maps wherever I go, and here’s the one that shows the Harbour City’s extensive and under-rated ferry network.
Most notably, the map shows which wharf each ferry leaves from at Circular Quay, the main hub of the system. The importance of knowing this cannot be understated, so it’s nice to see it shown so clearly.
A little strangely, zone information is shown for the river services (west of Circular Quay), but not for the Harbour. A trip to Manly requires a MyFerry2 ticket, but that is not indicated here.
Aesthetically, the map follows pretty standard transit map rules, although there’s some weird angles on the Manly and Watsons Bay routes that detract from the look somewhat.
Our rating: competent-looking effort missing some important information. Two-and-a-half stars.