Official Map: The Wave Bus Network, Nantucket, MA
Here’s a nice little bus network map sent my way by long time Twitter follower, Gordon Werner. Designed by Smartmaps, Inc., it shows the seasonal shuttle bus service on Nantucket Island, known as “The Wave”. Almost predictably, “Ride the Wave!” is their slogan. Is the surf even that good in Nantucket?
Have we been there? No - only to the next island over, Martha’s Vineyard.
What we like: Nicely executed, attractive looking bus route map that neatly doubles as a guide to the major sights and attractions of the island. As the majority of users of the bus service would be visitors to the island, this is a welcome addition (the summer population of Nantucket increases five-fold, from 10,000 to 50,000 people!). Lovely nautical-themed border around the map, although I feel that it could perhaps have been divided into half-mile increments for scale, rather than being purely decorative. Simply lovely little compass rose. Shows bike routes as well.
What we don’t like: The “Wave” logo itself is probably the weakest part of the whole map, and its modern design stands a little at odds with the olde-world nautical theme of the rest of the map. On a map of this small a scale, it would be nice - and useful - to have every stop marked, rather than just two or three in the main downtown area.
Our rating: Solidly designed, useful and attractive. And it’s hard to dislike a map which has the Windswept Cranberry Bog as a destination. Four stars.
Historical Map: Boston Sights
Boston seems to rival only Washington, DC for old system maps being left in place at stations and on trains. This photo was taken in August of this year, but the map dates from between 2004 to 2008 (the extension of the Silver Line to City Point is the giveaway). I’d probably lean towards the earlier end of that range, due to the “Silver Line Waterfront” designation.
One thing to note is how much cleaner this map looks than the current one: helped a lot by no geography at all, no key bus routes, and interchanges with commuter rail being marked with a neat purple square rather than the entire line.
That’s not to say that the map isn’t without its little quirks, though - the large initial capital letters on the station labels are pretty ugly and the triple asterisk as a footmark notation at Bowdoin station is faintly ridiculous. And the Silver Line still joins onto the loop around Logan Airport the wrong way…
Boston Subway Map Design Modification
Eh, who needs new maps anyway?
If it’s four stops to South Station from here, was this photo taken at Kendall, Savin Hill or North Quincy? The photo is from 2010, so I also wonder if a more permanent addition to the map has been made since then.
UPDATE: As many people have pointed out, this is obviously inbound at Kendall, as no stations are listed above it on the map. Not sure how I missed that…
Unofficial Map: Boston Subway Time-Scale Map
Peter Dunn from Stonebrown Design sent this map to me this morning for my thoughts, and it’s definitely worth looking at. You may recall that Peter is also responsible for this neat “subway map” of the Appalachian Trail, previously featured on Transit Maps.
Visually, this map reminds me of this unofficial map of Amsterdam’s Metro - mainly because of the unusual radial design and the treatment of bodies of water. However, this map arguably puts that radial design to better use: to represent time from the central “hub” of Boston, allowing a quick and easy visual comparison of journey times.
Have we been there? Yes. However, Lechmere to Government Center took considerably longer than eight minutes when I was using the Green Line.
What we like: The treatment of the four downtown stations - Park, Government Center, State and Downtown Crossing - is beautifully done: it fits the “hub” theme well and looks good doing it.
Map emulates the look of the real Boston map nicely, even though the format is quite different.
Love the statement in the legend: “All times are approximate; your results may vary. Especially on the Green Line.”
What we don’t like: As the map moves further away from the central hub, the time contours start deforming in order to fit things in. This is a pity, because the map works best (and looks better) where the contour lines form proper concentric rings. Compare how the station labels on the Red Line out to Alewife curve neatly with the time contours, while the station labels on the “B” branch of the Green Line don’t really match up with the contours at all.
The contours themselves could perhaps use a few more of their own labels for minutes: you have to scan a long way round from the southern Orange Line to find one!
Our rating: Leaving aside accuracy of the data used to create this map (some of these times do seem a little on the optimistic side, but if that’s what the timetable says…), this is still a very impressive piece of work, and an interesting alternative view of a familiar rapid transit system. I feel the map could look even nicer if the time contours formed concentric rings all the way out - time is a constant, after all! Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Stonebrown Design)
Here’s a question from an anonymous follower, who asks:
“Is it good or bad to depict lines under construction on subway maps?”
In my opinion, if the line is actually under construction, then it’s definitely a good thing to show it. It gets users acquainted with the new line before it opens and generates interest. How you show it is up to you - dashed lines are the usual way, although advances in printing mean that transparent or translucent lines are also being used.
If a line is currently being planned, then I don’t think it should be shown on the map - things could change during the planning process and this could confuse people.
However, a good map designer will always work at future-proofing his map, so that new lines can be added in the future without having to reconfigure what already exists. This is one of the reasons why the Washington, DC Metro map has lasted so long - it was planned from the beginning to show the current track layout. It was only once the Dulles extension began construction that the map needed a review, as that extension was not part of the original plan.
From my own experience, when I did my own redesign of the Boston “T” map earlier this year, I purposefully aligned the northern end of the Green Line at Lechmere with the Lowell commuter rail line to take into account the planned Green Line extension, which shares the same right of way as the Lowell line (see picture above). The current official map doesn’t do this and will need to be redrawn when (and if) the Green Line extension opens.
Historical Map: Proposed Extensions of Rapid Transit into Suburban Boston, 1945
Here’s another amazing historical planning map, this time from Boston in 1945. Visually, it looks quite similar to this map, but shows an amazing array of planned extensions to the existing system.
Some of them were built soon after this map was drawn up:the Revere (Blue Line) extension to Wonderland was essentially complete by 1952, although this map shows the line heading even further north. Others took much, much longer: the (Red Line) to Quincy and Braintree wasn’t operational until 1980.
Other lines ended up substantially different to what is shown here: the proposed line east of Harvard takes a circuitous route through East Watertown before ending in Arlington Heights, while others were never built at all, like the extension of the old Everett/Forest Hills elevated line to Dedham.
Interestingly, it looks like there were plans to convert the current Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line into rapid transit: the map shows proposed track emerging from the subway and passing through Trinity Place station (the original name for Back Bay) before heading out towards Auburndale.
Seriously, there are so many interesting things about this map that I can’t list them all here: go take a look at it BIG here.
What we like: Incredible look at ambitious post-war plans for the Boston rapid transit system, especially to compare what got built and what didn’t. The detail is amazing, with each station, bridge, overpass and tunnel being individually and accurately drawn.
What we don’t like: Absolutely nothing. I could look at this for days.
Our rating: 5 stars, duh!
(Source: Otto Vondrak/Flickr)
Historical Map: Boston MBTA Red Line Strip Map, pre-1980.
Has to be from before 1980, as that’s the year that Braintree station opened. Certainly has a nice 1970s feel to it. I love how someone has added in the more recent stations with a pen, even (somewhat) attempting to maintain the aesthetics of the map.
Mario vs. Mario
So every man and his dog is sending me links to the new Toronto TTC/Mario World mash-up map by Dave Delisle (prints for sale here). It’s definitely well executed, but I couldn’t help but think I’d seen something similar before…
A couple of minutes of Googling later: a similarly-themed (although aesthetically a little different) map of the Boston MBTA done last year by Adam Summerville (prints here).
(EDIT: I’d just like to make it clear that I do not think that Dave’s map is in any way derivative of Adam’s - the aesthetics are quite different in both maps. I just thought it would be interesting to compare how two artists approach a similar concept.)
Both maps are excellently done, although I slightly prefer the Boston map for its more varied terrain. Which one do you like?
Boston Commuter Rail Map, Mid-1980s
Great old map of Boston’s extensive commuter rail network. I really like the way the subway lines are included to give scale to the whole network, and I especially like the square that the main interchange stations on the subway lines make - an understated design choice that gives a nice central focal point to the map.
I suspect that the odd colours of the Orange and Red Lines are due to aging ink discolouration rather than being that colour originally.
Boston “T” Map Redesign - Anyone Interested in Prints?
So I just made a one-off poster of my Boston “T” redesign as a giveaway for the HOW Design Conference that is being held in Boston this June (see the connection there?). Originally, I wasn’t thinking of offering these maps for general sale, but when the poster came back from the printer, I was pretty much blown away by how awesome it looked. So much so, I may just have changed my mind…
So, here’s the question: Who’s interested in prints? They would be 36”x24”, printed on gorgeous 250gsm Red River Aurora Fine Art White 100% cotton rag paper, priced at $39 + shipping (the same as my Interstate and US Route maps).
Secondary question: if you had to pick only one of the four variants - current services including key bus routes, current services excluding buses, future services including buses, future services excluding buses - which would you choose? (Check out all four by clicking here.)
I’m probably only going to print one variant, and probably in a limited edition, so choose wisely, okay?