Delightful three-dimensional representation of daily passenger numbers on Frankfurt’s streetcar lines in the early 20th century. Each strip of wood represents 4,000 passengers: the higher the wood, the more passengers on that section of line!
The figure is from Willard C. Brinton’s Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts, first published in 1914 and widely regarded as the first book on data visualization best practices. You can read the book on archive.org
It’s not easy to show passenger numbers on a transit network. But in 1914 all you need to do is use wood, as above, or strips of metal!
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.
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.
Historical Map: Frankfurt S- and U-Bahn Map, 1982
Here’s a great map that shows the rapid transit of Frankfurt am Main in Germany at an interesting point in its development.
The Citytunnel that carried lines S1 through S6 under the central part of the city had opened just four years prior to this, and the bridge over the Main that carried the new S14 and S15 lines was constructed in 1980. The year after this map was produced, the Citytunnel was extended from Hauptwache to Konstablerwache, transforming it from a small station that only served the U4 and U5 lines to the second-busiest station in the network.
Also of interest is the strong divide visible in the network north and south of the Main river. Only one coloured S-Bahn route (the S15) makes it south of the river, and then only just. The rest of the routes that service the south are all shown in black, and all depart from the mainline platforms at the Hauptbahnhof. In effect, they’re really regional trains, despite their “S” numbering, and actually appear to be indicated as such in modern maps of the network.
The map itself is a great example of nice, clean, 1980s German transit map design, apart from the oddly large and out-of-place asterisk used to mark short-turn stations.
Our rating: Good-looking map of a system that was expanding rapidly at the time. Three-and-a-half stars!
Source: Dennis Brumm/Flickr
Official Map: Transit of Magdeburg, Germany
Submitted by keks63, who says:
I really enjoy your blog, so I thought I would submit the transit map of my nearest German city.
The network features 9 tram lines (1 to 10, they did not make a line 7 for some reason), and several bus and ferry lines. The city has about 200,000 inhabitants, and the tram serves all the important areas, you do not need a car to live in Magdeburg, which is very nice. I find this map quite good to use, however there is some confusion going on around “Alter Markt” and “Allee-Center” stations. But all in all, I think it’s a good transit map for a medium-sized German city.
Transit Maps says:
This is almost the archetypal German transit map: clean and clinical design that conveys a lot of information without any fuss. The trams are given the highest priority, followed by the bus lines and then the S-bahn, which has its station names highlighted in the distinctive green used almost universally across Germany for such services.
While I don’t necessarily find the Alter Markt/Allee-Center area difficult to understand, the way the routes seem to overlap randomly as they cross here is a little odd. There’s also one glaring mistake: the icons cover the station name at Jerichower Platz on the east side of the map where tram lines 5 and 6 join.
Our rating: About as German as a transit map can be. Three-and-a-half stars.
Source: Official MVB website
Submission - Official Map: Stadtbus Gmünd, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany
Let’s continue our recent look at small- to medium-sized German bus networks with this network map from Schwäbisch Gmünd in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, submitted by Bert.
I find this map interesting, because it really shouldn’t work as well as it does. While simplified, there doesn’t seem to be any real logic or unifying design principles behind the angles used for the route lines: they just seem to be drawn to make the routes fit together. Despite that, the map is pretty easy to follow and use. Part of that comes from the fact that there’s only ten different routes to show – it’s always easier to make a comprehensible map for a simple system – but some thought seems to have been put into making the labels as legible as possible and the route lines as easy to follow as they can be. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a bajillion times better than the awful effort from Marburg, and probably even as successful as the map from Göttingen.
Our rating: Somehow better than the sum of its parts. Three stars.
Source: Stadtbus Gmünd website
Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Göttingen, Germany
Submitted by Hubert at the same time as the awful Marburg map. Of this map, Hubert says:
Check out the intertwined lines in the city center! I find this approach very interesting and useful and I would really like to hear your thoughts about this.
Transit Maps says:
The intertwined (or “candy-striped”) lines in the city centre are definitely the most interesting thing about this map. The rest of it is a competent, if unexciting, diagram of bus services. Executed better than the horror of the Marburg map, but nothing too brilliant to be seen. The light green colour of the suburb name labels should serve as a lesson to the Marburg map makers, though!
Then we get to the middle of town, and the designers start to combine lines that follow the same one-way routes through town to save some space. I’m not normally a big advocate of this approach, because it can make routes more difficult to trace from end to end, but it really works well here.
Why? Because the designers have grouped similar colours together for each “bundle” of routes. So you have a “blue” grouped route, and “green”, “pink/purple” and “brown”, which means tracing the routes through the city is actually pretty easy. Note also that the angle of the striping is not quite at 45 degrees, which means you get to see all the colours used when the route line is at 45 degrees. Nicely done!
Our rating: A pretty standard bus diagram until you get to the city centre, which is really quite excellent. Combined, the map turns out to be just a little better than average. Three stars.
Submission – Official Map: Bus Network of Marburg, Germany
Submitted by Hubert, who says:
You really should review more ugly, messed up maps as they serve as deterrent examples. This eyesore of a map is what made me aware of the fact that transit map design is not as easy as it seems.
I once sat in line 7 and it took me twenty minutes to figure out whether the bus served the Elisabethkirche Station in my direction of travel. This is literally the worst transit map I’ve ever seen.
Transit Maps says:
It’s pretty hard to disagree with Hubert’s assessment of this map, which is a confusing, seething mass of route lines running at all sorts of random angles. Working out where some routes go in the central part of town is almost impossible, especially out of Elisabethkirche (as Hubert mentions), where some lines appear to head in both directions when they reach a T-junction just below that stop.
The labelling of suburbs/surrounding towns is poor: text badly aligned to heavy-handed grey boxes, which are jammed in wherever they’ll fit. The location of these labels also leads me to realise that the whole map is rotated so that east is at the bottom of the map (Cappel and Gisselberg are to the south of Marburg, not to the west). Being generous, this could align with a local’s view of the city, as it’s arranged along the banks of the north-south running River Lahn (not shown on the map), but would adding a north pointer for clarity really have been that hard?
For me, the map isn’t quite as bad as this one from Meiningen (although it bears a lot of similarities), but it’s pretty darn close. Ugly, technically deficient and almost entirely useless.
Sidenote: Lines 1 through 20 (with some gaps), then Line 383? What’s that about?
Our rating: Still bad enough for no stars, even if it is just a teensy bit better than Meiningen’s dismal effort.
Source: Stadtwerk Marburg website
Submission - Unofficial Maps: Redesigned Metro Maps of the World
Submitted by Jug Cerovic, who says:
I completed a set of new schematic metro maps of 12 cities using a common standard. I have tried to make easy to read, memorize and use maps but at the same time pleasant looking. Crowded centers are enlarged and specific features such as ring lines highlighted.
You can see all the maps here.
Transit Maps says:
You all know that I love an ambitious transit mapping project, and this is up there with the most ambitious I’ve seen. Jug has taken twelve of the most iconic metro maps out there — New York, Mexico City, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, London, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo — and redesigned them all using a standardised design style, font (looks like DIN) and square format.
Despite the common language, the maps still manage to look unique to their city: no easy feat! Jug has managed to impart a very stylish feel to the maps by the use of large, sweeping curves instead of tight angles. There’s some nice information hierarchy too, with Metro/Subway/U-Bahn lines getting full, bright colours while commuter rail/S-Bahn lines are rendered in muted pastel colours.
I would say that some of the maps are more successful than others (Moscow falls a bit flat for me, while New York is incredibly dense and crowded), but this is still an outstanding example of strong unifying design principles applied well across a wide variety of different transit maps.
You should definitely head over to the project website to view and compare all twelve maps; there’s also prints for sale!
Reflected Berlin U- and S-Bahn map. I like this photo a lot.
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