Submission — Follow Up on Portland’s New Light Rail Maps
Submitted by Taylosaurus, who says:
I saw the last post about Portland’s new TriMet maps and the stations and I knew I’d seen a map without that weird disappearing Red Line/streetcar thing so I made sure to take a picture on my way home. This map is on the ticket vending machines. I’m not sure if it’s on all of them but it’s at least on the ones at the Rose Quarter and at SE Powell Blvd. The maps you posted are on the lighted signs on the Transit Mall and the I-205 section of the Green Line.
So basically, it looks like it might be an issue of production rather than the design of the map. Not sure if that warrants given it an extra 1/2 star or not, but I thought you ought to know.
Transit Maps says:
Yes, I just got confirmation via a comment from one of TriMet’s designers this morning that this is a printing error on the backlit signs. Apparently, the ink for the “missing” ghosted-back lines didn’t hold at all. I’m kind of amazed that it didn’t hold for the Red Line, as it’s still quite a solid colour in the photo above, but there you go. As these will be revised/reprinted when the Orange Line opens (in about a year!), we won’t have to put up with this error for too long, at least.
NEW Official Map: TriMet MAX Light Rail, Portland, Oregon
So I saw this at the MAX stop near my work yesterday, and managed to get some photos of it today. For now, the TriMet website still has the previous map, and it seems like these maps may currently be only posted along the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall downtown (any other sightings elsewhere, PDXers?)
So, what’s new?
First off is the obvious (and quite radical) change from 45-degree angles to 30/60-degrees… which can’t help but put me in mind of my own map of Portland’s rail transit, which did the same thing way back in 2011, and revised in September 2012. This map hasn’t taken the concept quite as far as my map, however, as the downtown lines still form a neat horizontal/vertical cross, rather than conforming the the 30/60 degree angles (which actually reflects the real street grid a little better).
The two streetcar lines (North-South and Central) are finally both being shown according to their official colour-coding (lime green and cyan, respectively), although no stops are named. This is actually a pretty good compromise – it’s better than the sad, unlabelled squiggle of previous maps, and it doesn’t mess with the scale of the map as much as it does on my version, where downtown has to be enlarged even more in relation to the rest of the system. The streetcar seems to stop every two blocks anyway, so you’re never that far away from the next one!
Future extensions are shown: the Orange Line to Milwaukie and the completion of the streetcar loop over the new Tillikum Crossing transit bridge. There’s some nice work on the Orange Line to get the station dots to line up properly and exactly over the dashed route line: I always appreciate attention to detail like this. The map still doesn’t tell us exactly how the Orange Line will tie in to the rest of the system: it’s just tacked onto the ends of the Yellow Line at PSU. I’ve heard rumours that southbound trains may change from Yellow to Orange at Union Station, while northbound trains will change from Orange to Yellow at SW College. I’m guessing that some Green Line trains may also change their designation, otherwise there’s really no reason why the Orange Line shouldn’t just be an extension of the existing Yellow Line in my eyes.
I also like the way that the Blue Line drops down southwards with the Green Line east of Gateway before turning again out to Gresham: accurate to real life and nicely done. I’m not so thrilled with the dinky little turns that the Green and Yellow Lines make between Union Station and the Steel Bridge. I also think it would be neater for the Green Line to cross under the Blue and Red Lines here, so that it doesn’t have to make that big right-angled turn across all the other lines out at Gateway. See my map for how this looks.
Some oddities: the Central streetcar line just completely disappears as it passes behind the MAX station labels east of the Willamette (se the right of the second picture above). Similarly, when the Red and Blue lines cross the Yellow and Green Lines downtown, the Blue Line is ghosted back so the “PORTLAND TRANSIT MALL” text can be read, but the Red Line disappears, as do the streetcar tracks when they cross the mall. Consistency is the key here: either approach has merits, but pick one and stick with it!
Finally, one of my pet peeves: stations named after sporting arenas with naming rights. It’s been PGE Park, JELD-WEN Field and now Providence Park, all in the seven years that I’ve been living here. Wouldn’t we just be better off calling the MAX Station “Stadium” and be done with it?
Our rating: Definitely an improvement on previous maps, with a sleeker, more modern feel and much better integration of the Portland Streetcar. Parts of it look eerily familiar to me, but it is also a logical progression from previous TriMet in-car maps like this one. Three stars.
EDIT: A comment from one of TriMet’s designers confirms that the “missing” route lines under the Transit Mall are printing errors on the backlit signs only.
Official Map: Transfort Bus Map, Fort Collins, Colorado
Submitted by zmapper, who says:
This is the official bus system map for Fort Collins, Colorado. Of interest is the new north-south MAX BRT route, shown in lime green.
What appears to be a straightforward, vanilla transit map has some substantial flaws. The map doesn’t note that the 30-series and 90-series routes only operate when the state university and public schools are in session, respectively, or that the Green and Gold routes only operate Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 pm to 2:30 am, when the rest of the system has stopped operating. Additionally, the alignment of Route 12 between Mason and Stamford poses a challenge for the map designer; eastbound, the route turns left on College, loops counter-clockwise on Foothills, Swallow and Mason before resuming an easterly path; westbound, the route turns right on Mason and loops clockwise on Swallow and Stamford before doubling back on itself along Horsetooth. The map makes an attempt to display where Route 12 operates, but doesn’t clearly show how.
Transit Maps says:
You know, this map really doesn’t look too bad at all: nice clean linework, sensible colour choices (especially the nice muted tones for the background compared to the route lines), and simple little icons. I probably would have liked to see more emphasis on the MAX route – I mean, what’s the point of a shiny new BRT service if you can’t show it off to people properly?
I also think that double-headed arrows showing that buses travel in both directions along a route is redundant: bi-directional travel is always inherently implied in a transit map unless a single-headed arrow explicitly depicts one-way traffic.
Where this map really falls down is the lack of a coherent legend. This map is downloadable in this exact form from the Transfort website, with no extra explanatory text at all, and it’s probably not unreasonable to think that it is also posted in bus stops around the city. So why doesn’t it tell me what the heck MAX, FLEX, GREEN, GOLD and HORN actually are? As zmapper points out, the Green and Gold lines only run at night on Fridays and Saturdays, which you might think would be a Really Important Thing to tell people. Instead, the perfunctory legend shows some sort of dotted line to indicate “multiple routes”, but this type of line doesn’t actually occur anywhere on the map.
Yes, the information about all the routes is available on the Web, but not everyone has access to that at all times, and some minor edits to the map could make things so much clearer for all users, especially visitors to Fort Collins.
Our rating: Looks good, but let down by some major information deficiencies. Two stars.
Source: Official Transfort website
P.S. Enough with the transit systems called MAX: this is at least the sixth one I can think of!
Unofficial Map: Portland MAX Light Rail — Super Mario 3 Style
Here’s the latest “Mario Map” from the incredibly prolific Dave Delisle (seriously, how much cool stuff can one guy pump out?). This one is of my home town of Portland, Oregon, and Dave actually enlisted my help in checking the accuracy of the route layouts and the spelling of the station names. Considering the ridiculous length of some of the station names in the system and the limitations of the 8-bit art style, Dave’s done a great job at fitting everything together in a very plausible and attractive manner.
Of course, in true Portlandia style, Dave has literally “put a bird on it” — there’s also a non-birdified version over on his website if you don’t get the joke. Also of note is Dave’s playful take on the TriMet logo, and the fact that our princess seems to be stuck out at Expo Center, the poor thing.
(Source: Dave’s website — posters are for sale!)
UPDATE: Portland MAX In-Car Map
Just as I post about the in-car maps on Portland, Oregon’s MAX trains, I notice that TriMet has just released a new version (pardon the bad cell phone photo; I was getting off the train as I snapped it!).
The new map has two important changes from the previous one: JELD-WEN Field is correctly named (instead of the old PGE Park - showing exactly why commercial names on transit maps are a Bad Idea), and the South PSU stations are shown as opening later this year.
Although the map initially looks quite similar, there have been a lot of little tweaks and amendments. The route lines now have a thin gap between them, whereas they butted up to each other before. Stations are now denoted by a small white circle contained wholly within the route line, which works better than the big black-edged dots that made every station look like a transit station; although now perhaps there’s not enough emphasis on important stations.
I really miss the line that joins the Rose Quarter TC and Interstate/Rose Quarter stations - that one-block walking transfer is a hugely important part of the MAX system, and needs to be shown.
Not a big fan of the way that the Green Line has to cross over the Red and Blue to head south after Gateway, but the only other alternative is to cross the Green Line under the Red and Blue as the lines leave downtown (as I did on my Unified Rail Map of Portland), which may not be so practical on a map like this.
Overall, I think this map is a step in the right direction from the previous one, but it’s still not fantastic.
In-Car Light Rail Map, Portland, Oregon
I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of these in-car maps from my town of Portland. While they serve a purpose and fit in a very awkward vertical space, they’re neither elegant or match the design of the full light rail map. I particularly dislike the station symbol, which makes every stop - regardless of importance - look like an interchange station.