Great Big Transit Map: Barcelona Edition
Simply enormous map at the Estació de Barcelona-Sants, showing both the Metro and commuter rail networks. It’s made up of twenty-eight square screens, each of which looks pretty big in their own right!
Submission: New Washington, DC Metro Strip Map at Pentagon City
Submitted by Peter Dovak, who says:
Spotted a new schematic installed at Pentagon City Metro station in Washington this week. I’m not sure if this is experimental or what, but I’ve never seen such detailed line info at a station here before. Not a huge fan of the execution, though, the labels are awful skewed!
Transit Maps says:
In the limited space allowed here, angled station labels are pretty much the only workable option. It’s actually not dissimilar to the established framework used for line maps on the New York Subway (and many other cities), although they usually only show the one route, not four. The white pointer lines passing through the Orange Line to join station dots to names are not ideal, but are again a product of the space limitations.
Even though you can only catch Yellow and Blue Line trains from this platform, the map also shows the Green and Orange Lines. In principle, this is fair enough — the lines share physical track and stations for much of what is shown on this map, although this is what also leads to such a complex and convoluted looking map.
However, I personally believe that a strip map like this should only show stations that can be reached directly with trains that serve the station the sign is at: in this case, that’s just Blue and Yellow Line trains. Transfers to other lines could be shown as the Red Line is here: with a small coloured dot. While I believe it is possible to transfer to the Orange and Green lines at any of the stations they share with the Blue or Yellow Lines, it’s really preferable to do so only at the major interchange stations, and the placement of transfer dots should reflect this.
Introducing the level of complexity that this strip map has leads people to expect that it shows everything they need to navigate their way around the system (in effect, competing with the actual system map). However, the information shown here is incomplete: there’s absolutely no reference on this map to the Green Line’s leg from L’Enfant Plaza to Southern Avenue, nor the Orange Line’s leg from Rosslyn to Vienna. According to this map, they simply don’t exist. Yet the branch of the Orange Line to New Carrollton (which doesn’t share any track with the Blue Line) is shown in full detail.
Finally, if this approach is continued into the future, then the whole map is just going to have to be redone when the Silver Line is opened, further increasing the complexity.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Metro and Suburban Rail, Milan
Submitted by Dmitry Goloub, who says:
It all started when in Moscow was initiated a public tender for creation of a new, modern metro map. I was really excited and made an imaginary metro map for Florence (IRL there’s no metro).
But then I thought that I can do something really useful. A map for a real transport system that would be helpful, beautiful and clean.
I have completely redesigned the Milan Metro Map. I have added the latest updates with line M5, a grid with alphabetic list of stations, airports, I have created a new set of pictograms and packed them into a symbol font. I have created a completely new style that does not copy any other transport map in the world.
This map now has its own character, just like the city. The emphasis is put on the M lines however you can clearly understand how to use both M and S lines, how to get from point A to point B. The current official map just shows the S stations, it does not show to which line a station belongs.
I have excluded the regular railways (RFI) because they’re not a metropolitan transport.
Full project information and a PDF is here, free for download.
Transit Maps says:
Wow. This is absolutely beautiful work,and quite superior to the somewhat stuffy official map (March 2012, 3.5 stars).
Dimitry hits the nail on the head when he says this map now has a character that’s unique to the city, and its a look that feels appropriate for fashion-conscious, forward-looking Milan. Everything here is created especially for this map: the lovely custom icons, the square-yet-round station markers, and the stunning ribbon-like effect used for the suburban rail lines, which has a lovely rhythmical flow to it. Even the slight checkerboarding pattern used for the grid (alternating squares are tinted a little darker) — which could look clumsy if not handled well — is handled deftly and subtly.
Our rating: Hand-crafted excellence that suits its target city perfectly. 5 stars.
P.S. Seriously, are Russians the best transit map designers at the moment or what? This beautiful piece, Michael Kvrivishvili’s contest-winning MBTA map and Lebedev Studio’s Moscow Metro redesign. All such beautiful work and something for other designers to aspire to.
Detail, Transit Map of Milan, Italy
A detail of a city-wide map showing the approximate limits of the historical centre of Milan. I’m guessing that this is located in or near the Duomo Metro station, based on the way that the map is worn away at that point — as I’ve mentioned before, many users will actually point to their starting location on a map as they trace their intended route.
Tge thick green/yellow/red lines are the Metro, blue lines are the tram and brown/maroon lines would be buses. Numbers in circles show route termini; numbers in squares allow you to follow a route from point to point.
The area shown here is actually easily walkable without the use of public transport, unless you’re in a hurry, I guess!
Future Map: Paris Métro, RER and Tram Expansion Plans to 2030
Once hemmed in by old city walls, then by the Boulevard Périphérique, the Paris Métro has rarely ventured outside the city proper into the suburbs. That is about to change with the ambitious “Le Grand Paris” plans shown here. Extensions of the existing Métro Lines 11 and 14 will take them far out into the Île-de-France, while new Lines 15, 16, 17 and 18 will encircle the region with orbital routes. Extensions to the RER E and a comprehensive network of regional trams will complement the system. All this is planned to be completed in just 17 years’ time, by 2030.
Historical Map: Washington, DC Metro Map, 1981
Enough of all this talk about the new DC Metro map; here’s another old one for you — and this one’s a bit of an oddity. An inspection of the southern leg of the Green Line shows that the terminus was then planned to be at Rosecroft, not Branch Avenue. The preceding station shown, St. Barnabas Road, was also never constructed
The photos of the map were sent to me by Mark Greenwald, who says that these maps were on trains for less than a year — presumably because of the numerous legal issues surrounding the eventual routing of the Green Line, which you can read more about on Wikipedia.
Another oddity — Union Station is still labelled as “Union Station - Visitor Center” long after the ill-fated National Visitor Center closed its doors in 1978.
P.S. This is Transit Maps' 700th post — that's a lotta maps!
Moscow Metro Line Maps
A good example of how something that’s probably perfectly clear to locals can be totally confusing to foreign visitors. The first obstacle is obviously the Cyrillic text, which automatically makes things very tricky for non-natives. Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time translating and cross-referencing the text here with a Moscow Metro map, and I think I’ve got it worked out — but this isn’t exactly a luxury that you would have when you’re down in a busy station, trying to work out where to go next.
Basically, this assembly shows transfers to other lines that are available along the Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya (Number 3) line: the dark blue colour of this line runs across the top, and three station names are visible: Kurskaya (Курская) — where you can transfer to the 5 and 10; Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Пло́щадь Револю́ции) — with a transfer to the 2; and Arbatskaya (Арба́тская) — which has interchanges with the 1, 4 and 9. Interestingly, you can also transfer to Line 1 at Ploshchad Revolyutsii, but this is not shown here. I’m guessing that this photo was taken at Kurskaya station, just from the four golden letters — ская — that can be seen at the top left of the picture.
Each line map underneath these station names helpfully tells you the name of the station that you transfer to (it’s not unusual for interchange stations in Moscow to have different names for each line). Less helpfully, it then presents a list of every station on that line from beginning to end, except for the one you are transferring at: which means you can’t see where on the the line that station is.
For example, on the Line 10 list shown at the left, the transfer station you would be using — Chkalovskaya (Чка́ловская) — should be in the fifth position, but is instead completely absent from the list. Needless to say, this isn’t great informational design, especially if you’re used to those reassuring “You Are Here" markers that you see in many other transit systems around the world.
Obviously, these line maps aren’t the only guidance a traveller would have in the Metro — a really good map and an idea of where you wanted to go would be necessities — but they could definitely be a lot better.
Unofficial Map: Montreal Métro in the style of the London Tube Map
Here’s a fun little piece sent my way by Montreal-based designer Corey Landel: the Métro de Montréal redesigned in the style of the iconic London Underground map.
While it’s definitely a fun little homage, I do feel that Corey could have pushed a little harder to match the designs more closely and demonstrate a better understanding of the “Beckian” principles at play behind the design of the Tube map (in short, absolute simplification of route lines, even spacing of stations and eradication of any angles other than multiples of 45).
Because, if you’re going to create something “in the style of”, why not go the whole way?
A few thoughts, based on the concept that the idea is to get this map as close to the style of the Underground Map as possible:
Gill Sans as used here is an acceptable alternative to Johnston Sans, but there are also pretty decent free versions of Johnston to be found on the Internet. Worth it for the distinctive diamond-shaped tittles alone.
The zig-zagging route at each end of the Green Line on Corey’s map would never be present on the Underground Map. The jog between Verdun and Joilcoeur would be eliminated, while the whole eastern end would follow one straight path, with perhaps one change in direction to a vertical line for the last few stations if space restraints demanded it (as it looks like it might here).
On a similar note, the non-standard angles on the Yellow Line would also be verboten on the Underground Map. There’s really no reason why it just can’t be a straight horizontal line, except to conform to the underlying geography. Which brings me to my next point…
Treatment of rivers: On the Tube Map, the Thames is treated diagrammatically, the same as the route lines. The approach on Corey’s map pretty much mirrors that of the official Montreal map, with stylised/simplified geography underlying a diagrammatic representation of the lines.
The suburban trains shown on this map are analogous to the London Overground, so perhaps they could be treated in a similar way. However, this does create a colour clash with the Orange Line that doesn’t exist on the Tube map. A compromise could be to use the white-stroked line from the Underground map, but a different colour, like the lovely purple the official STM map used to have before the recent redesign.
Other general aesthetic differences include the lack of curves in the route lines as they change direction, the look of the standard station tick (there’s no curved cap on the Tube Map’s symbol) and the thickness of the black keyline around the interchange station symbols.
Pro Tip: The official London Tube Map PDF is not protected in any way and is fully openable and editable in Adobe Illustrator. Any aspiring transit map designer should really download a copy, open it up and see what makes it tick. I know that doing this aided my understanding of transit map design principles immensely.
Official Map: Madrid Metro Tourist Map
A few people have requested this recently-introduced “simplified” Metro map from Spain’s capital, so here goes…
Introduced with much fanfare earlier this month, this new version of the Madrid Metro map is aimed solely at visiting tourists, showing where all the main zones and points of interest are in relation to the comprehensive subway system.
This kind of map is hardly unique — London has had a central city bus map showing points of interest for years now (Feb 2012, 3.5 stars) — and this is not one of the more successful efforts in my eye. The Metro lines themselves are laid out clearly enough, in nice smooth, friendly, looping lines and the stations and main interchanges are easy to enough find. But the rest of the map just seems to be trying way too hard to be casual and inviting, with a weird clash of visual styles and typography.
There are some nice touches here and there — the scratchily-illustrated waves in the lakes are quite lovely — but there’s a lot that just looks slapdash as well. The illustrations for the points of interest look like run-of-the-mill clip art, with no real unique style (compare to the buildings on the London map, which are beautifully and uniformly drawn). The eight “zones of interest” could really use some colour-coding to differentiate them from each other, and the default Adobe Illustrator “scribble” effect used to shade them just looks weak.
The typography veers from trying too hard (the hipster hand-drawn block heading typfeace) to the downright ugly (is that condensed Comic Sans that’s being used to label the points of interest?).
Our rating: It does the job, I guess, but could have been so much more with a little more attention to detail and craftsmanship. Two stars.
Historical Map: Integrated Transit Map of Milan, 1982
Submitted by Kyril Negoda at Mapping Twin Cities.
Milan boasts an comprehensive transportation system, consisting of a Metro, trams and buses. This map shows the ATM system in 1982, when the Metro was only 18 years old and consisted of just two lines. Not shown are the suburban rail services, which are operated by a separate company, although stations with transfers to it and mainline trains are indicated.
The first thing that really jumps out are the rings of tram and bus routes that go around the ancient core of the city, rather than through it — narrow, winding medieval streets preclude much transit from entering that part of the city. It certainly creates a strong visual look for the map, cleverly underpinned by also showing the main parks of the city, giving a strong sense of scale and geography to this otherwise very stylised map.
Have we been there? Yes, but I mainly walked the compact historical core without need for transportation.
What we like: Visually pleasing and oh-so-Italian in its design sensibilities. Takes a lot of information and displays it effectively and with some considerable style.
What we don’t like: Differentiating stop/station ticks from the actual routes themselves can be tricky in some of the denser areas of the system. The black lines for intermodal stations can similarly be a little difficult to decipher, especially when they cross many route lines or are close together.
Our rating: A fine example of early 1980s transit map design. It still blows my mind that complex network maps like this were designed and executed without the aid of computers. Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Stagniweb - Italian Railways site — view map large here!)
See also: other Transit Maps posts about Milan.