The Lyon Metro map (March 2012, 4 stars) on the platform at Croix-Paquet station — reputedly the steepest Metro station in the world, with a 17 percent grade! Although nominally part of Lyon’s Metro system, the “C” Line is really a refurbished rack-and-pinion funicular, with the earliest trains running as far back as 1891.
Submission: Global Subway Spectrum
Submitted by Nick Rougeux, who says:
I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and have really enjoyed your posts on transit maps — both familiar and completely new to me. I’ve recently become interested in different ways of looking at maps from a data standpoint. I’ve attached a screenshot of a project I just released that I thought you or your readers may enjoy. It’s not a map or diagram but it’s a data visualization based on the colors used in all the official rapid transit diagrams from around the world and where they are on a global spectrum of colors.
Transit Maps says:
Quite simply, this is phenomenal work. Seeing how route colours are used by transit maps around the world is absolutely fascinating, and the number of ways that Nick presents the data is astounding. As a designer, I can see that this could be an invaluable tool for creating a colour palette for maps, although I wish that the charts included the RGB or Hex values for each colour for easy reference. I could easily lose track of time exploring this!
(Source: Nick’s Global Subway Spectrum website)
Official Future Map: Los Angeles Metro Rail
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency released a “under construction” map yesterday, showing all the lines that are planned for the near future: Expo Line Phase 2, Gold Line Foothill Extension, the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension and the ambitious downtown Regional Connector.
Overall, the map fits quite well into the existing LA Metro design aesthetic, although the crowded downtown area is now starting to make the station labelling look a little cramped and messy. It also presents a much larger problem — pointed out to me by Sam Huddy — in that its depiction of the Regional Connector is seriously flawed.
As seen in the second picture above, the Connector will cross the Red and Purple Lines after the 7th Street/Metro Center station and have a stop at 2nd Place/Hope — on the west side of the existing Red/Purple tracks. However, the new map chooses to place the 2nd Place/Hope station on the east side of those tracks, and has the entire Connector parallel to them, instead of showing the crossings.
A lot of this comes down to the limited space available in this part of the map, and the Silver Line is already taking up the available space on the west side of the Red/Purple Lines. However, while this is a diagrammatic map, it’s still hugely important that stations are placed in the correct positions relative to each other. Really, the central part of the map should have been completely redesigned to accommodate the Connector in its correct position, rather than simply tacking it on to the existing map.
Once the Connector is completed, it seems likely that service patterns on Metro rail will change, with the Gold, Blue and Expo lines drastically reconfigured — so there’s a chance this somewhat lazy error will get fixed then.
(Source: LA Metro website — “Under Construction Map” link)
Historical Map: Indicateur d’Itinéraires, Paris, c. 2003
An old-school interactive Metro map in Paris. Simply press one of the 360 or so buttons underneath the map, and a path lights up from your current location to your chosen destination. Who needs a fancy touch screen kiosk? I particularly like the way that the furtherest reaches of the RER lines are compressed into diagrammatic form to allow the centre of Paris to be shown as large as possible.
This particular example is still in use, despite it being around ten years out of date: the extension of Ligne 14 from Madeleine to St. Lazare (which opened in December 2003) is shown as being under construction.
(Source: Hervé Platteaux/Flickr)
Update: More Process Work Behind the New Moscow Metro Map
As we reported late last month, the new Art Lebedev Studios Moscow Metro map is now in use around the system and on trains.
One thing that the studio has been fantastic at right from the start is documenting the creative process, and they’re not finished yet. Over on their website is a wealth of behind the scenes information that shows how much work has been put into these beautiful maps.
The map had to be adapted to fit six types of train carriages, each with different requirements, so the design team made field trips armed with printouts to ensure that everything fitted perfectly. Multiple iterations of the wheelchair-accessible symbol were created, to ensure that it had the same visual weight as the parking symbol that often appears next to it. Allowances for prescribed advertising space was made. The “Rules of the Ride”, prescribed by law, were made attractive and easier to read and separated from the map itself to make the usable space for the actual map larger. Icons were tweaked, revised, and discarded. Even once the design was finalised, there was still multiple rounds of proofing and corrections before the map went live.
Seriously, if you’re at all interested in the design and production of transit maps, you must read this case study. It’s currently in Russian, but Google Chrome/Translate does a pretty good job of at least giving you a good idea of what the plentiful pictures are showing.
First bonus: the map is available as a vector Adobe Illustrator file for download (EPS, 9.8MB) — free for use by individuals or businesses as long as Lebedev Studios are credited.
Second bonus: At the bottom of the process page is a scrubbable 41-image version of the map that animates the entire history of the Moscow Metro from 1935, all drawn in the style of the new map. Beautiful work!
Official Map: Everything Old is New Again for the Madrid Metro
Over the weekend, Madrid rolled out a new map for its comprehensive Metro and light rail system. After six long and controversial years, the previous map (March 2012, 2.5 stars) — with everything reduced to severe 90-degree angles and very little spatial relationship to the real world — has been consigned to the dustbin.
In its place, a new map that looks strangely familiar. The design of the map has returned in-house and Metro’s designers have obviously looked to the more traditional maps of the past for inspiration: the layout in the central part of Madrid is almost identical to the 1981 map, even taking into account new route lines.
The map also features the Metro’s new controversy: the renaming of Sol station as “Vodafone Sol”, with the telephone company’s logo and distinctive red featured prominently on the map at that location (right in the middle!). Apparently, the cost of producing new maps and brochures is funded by this measure, so we can’t really complain too much, I guess…
Personally, I like this map much better than the previous one, although it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The treatment of terminus stations is clumsy and inconsistent, and the banded fare zones are too hard on the eye — much as they are on the current London Underground map. One thing I do miss from the previous map is the indication of how long (in minutes) transfers between platforms at the bigger interchange stations could take.
Our rating: A (welcome) blast from the past! Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Metro de Madrid website)
Official Map: Prague Metro 2013 Flood Map
As you may already know, Prague is currently bracing itself for its heaviest flooding in recent memory. In preparation, the city has shut down large portions of its subterranean Metro system and has added temporary tram and bus services to compensate. This map, obviously produced in a hurry, outlines those service changes with a minimum of fuss. It also shows which tram lines have been cancelled until further notice. With events like this, informing the public of service changes as quickly and effectively as possible is paramount, as recent events like Hurricane Sandy show.
(Source: Official DPP website)
Historical Maps: Evolution of the Stockholm Metro Map, c.1958-1971
Here’s a fantastic photo showing three versions of the map for the Stockholms tunnelbana, probably taken at the Stockholm Transit Museum. By comparing the three maps and the looking at the stations shown on each of them, I’ve roughly dated each as follows.
The top map is from between November 19, 1958 (when the Farsta station opened), and November 14,1959, when Rågsved station (shown on the middle map, but not on the top one) opened.
The middle map is from around late 1964- early 1965, as it shows Fruangen and Ornsberg stations (1964), but only shows Ostermalmstorg (1965) as being under construction.
The final map is from between 1967 and 1971, as it’s after Ropsten and Vårberg have opened, but before the extension to Farsta Strand has been built. Interestingly, this extension is shown as being “under construction” on the middle map, but makes no appearance at all on the final map.
What’s truly fascinating about this trio of maps is the rapid transition from geographical map, through a more stylised map (note that it retains some semblance of a coastline where the tracks cross water), to a severe rectilinear diagram in just 13 years or so. Each map is also quite beautiful in their own way.
Route numbers on the second and third maps allow service patterns and short run lines to be shown very effectively. I think the treatment on the final map is one of the best I have ever seen: it’s clear to see exactly which stations Line 13 runs between, for example.
Compare to the current Stockholm transit map (Nov. 2011, 3.5 stars)
Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, England, c. 2000
Showing the then-proposed extension to Sunderland, which opened in 2002.
Interestingly, the 60-degree angled section running through Newcastle is flipped the other way compared to the current map (Nov. 2011, 3.5 stars). I’d say the change was mainly made to accommodate the Calvert typeface used on the modern day map: it’s far more attractive than the Futura Condensed on display here, but a lot wider. Without the flip, the labels for South Gosforth and Four Lane Ends stations on the current version would almost certainly clash.
Update: Washington, DC Metro Map Final Draft Version
Yes, I post a lot about the DC Metro Map, but it’s not often we get to see the process of developing a transit map as publicly as this, or in such immense detail. I find it fascinating to see the decisions that are made, the different iterations the map goes through, and what is kept and what gets discarded.
Pretty much the only thing up for discussion on this final draft is the shape of the station indicators when there are three route lines present: “whiskers” or “capsule”. I’ve deftly added a “whisker” indicator into the detail part of the map above for easy comparison.
To my mind, the elongated capsule shape is more successful, and is a logical extension of the normal circle shape used to indicate a station. I’d like to see the capsule extend out a little further into the Blue and Orange lines: it barely grazes them at the moment, and isn’t consistent with the amount of overlap you can see when a circle station overlaps two lines, like at Pentagon City — half the circle is on blue, half is on yellow. Similarly, when the symbol is over three lines, half the circle should be on orange and half on blue, joined by the straight edges of the capsule over the Silver Line.
Speaking of the Silver Line, the decision to move it between the Blue and Orange lines is to be applauded. Previous drafts had it sitting above the Orange Line, which necessitated a very clumsy crossover between the Stadium-Armory and Benning Road stations. Having the crossover at East Falls Church instead is visually simpler and cleaner.
Apparently the route lines are now also “24% thinner” than before: looks like Lance Wyman is very grudgingly giving in to the fact that the playfully thick lines of the original map are no longer suitable for this modern version.
Also, there’s parkland shown along the Anacostia River… that’s a first!
Another step in the right direction, I think. Slowly and surely, this map is getting there…
(Source: Plan It Metro website)