Future Official Map: Pearl River Delta Rapid Transit
Sent my way by David Edmondson of The Greater Marin, this is an incredibly large (the dimensions of the PDF are 145” x 101” or 386cm x 256cm!) and very comprehensive map of the planned Pearl River Delta Rapid Transit system. Currently under construction, the idea behind the system is to have every major urban area in the region to be less than an hour away from Guangzhou (the huge urban area in the blue part of the map) by rail.
The map shows not only these planned regional rail lines, but also the extensive Metro systems that many of the major cities have (or will have in the near future – Macau’s people mover as shown in the detail above is not yet built, for example). Interestingly, the map doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the regional services and the Metros: all are depicted by route lines of equal weight, meaning the map lacks a decent informational hierarchy.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the map is also retina-searing bright. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a transit map where the background uses multiple colours that are all as intense and bright as the route lines themselves. It creates a lot of visual dissonance – that effect where edges almost seem to shimmer or vibrate because the clash of colours is so strong – especially where red or magenta meets blue. On the other hand, we also have blue rivers passing through a blue province, which is also a problem.
I also think that the map can’t really decide if it’s a diagram or a geographical map – it has elements of both: simplified route lines versus incredibly detailed waterways that seem to show every twist and turn, for example. The map probably could have benefitted from some further expansion of the denser areas: there’s plenty of empty space in other parts of the map that could have perhaps been used more effectively. As it is, I’m wondering whether a standard topographical map with the routes overlaid wouldn’t actually have been more informational…
Our rating: A grand scope (which I love), and it’s certainly unique, but it hurts my eyes to look at it. Two stars.
Single Journey Ticket Issuing Machine, Hong Kong
I’m loving how the Hong Kong MTR map (April 2012, 4 stars) has been integrated into the ticket-purchasing process. It’s as easy as selecting the station you’re travelling to on the screen, inserting money, and getting your ticket: Ticketing and route information all in one!
Official Map: Hong Kong Light Rail
When I reviewed the map for the Hong Kong MTR back in April, I noted that the smaller, connecting, light rail system in Hong Kong’s north west wasn’t paid much attention. As seen here, it’s a complex and comprehensive system in its own right and is definitely too detailed to co-exist on one map with the MTR system.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: One of the most stylised and diagrammatic maps I’ve seen yet - and one that shows that such a map can be very effective (Although, if you rotate the map 90 degrees counter clockwise, the map does actually correspond pretty well to the physical layout of the system).
Clever integration of the MTR’s West Rail Line into the map - it is shown, but with the parts of the line that don’t interact with the light rail compressed into a tiny area of the map.
Nicely integrated bilingual labels that don’t detract from the layout of the map.
What we don’t like: I’m not a huge fan of the pastel colours for the Zone backgrounds - it makes the map look a bit rainbow-like to my eyes, although this may just be a difference in cultural perception - to my (admittedly untrained) eye, the colours in general do lend a very Chinese feeling to the map.
Our rating: A very solid diagrammatic map that fits neatly into a small, narrow space. Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official MTR Light Rail website)
Official Map: Hong Kong MTR
Opened in 1979, the Hong Kong MTR (Mass Transit Railway) has a very clean, easy to understand map that visually owes a debt to its previous colonial owners - the UK - via the London Tube map.
Have we been there? No (the airport by itself doesn’t count).
What we like: Clean and elegant, even with the bilingual requirements of the map. Some unusual but lovely colours for some of the routes, especially the teal used for the Airport Express line.
What we don’t like: The light rail network, which comprises some 69 stations, is relegated to a few random-looking lines with only stations that interchange with the MTR shown. I’m not sure what the meaning of the coloured marks inside interchange stations is: some are straight, others are curved, others cross over each other. An indication of platform layout, perhaps… but it all seems a bit unfathomable to me without any indication in the map’s legend.
Our rating: Simple, clean, effective. An excellent map. Four stars.
(Source: MTR website)