Proposed Map: Moscow Tram Network by nOne Digital & Branding Agency
Sent my way for comments by the agency, here’s a very slick proposal for a new map for Moscow’s tram network. As a westerner, I was only very dimly aware that Moscow even has a tram network (the Metro grabs the spotlight), but it’s actually the fourth most extensive such network in the world, with 181km of combined route length. The three larger networks are Berlin (190km), St. Petersburg (220km), and Melbourne, Australia (254km).
At first glance, the map looks a little spindly and hard to read, but the proposal makes it pretty clear that the full system map is meant to be printed BIG (see the second picture above), and will be supplemented by smaller, regional maps. The system is made up of two unconnected sub-networks, so this seems to make good sense.
With a staggering 48 routes to show, coming up with a colour palette that works is certainly a challenging task, but I think nOne has done a good job. They’ve basically run sequentially through the whole spectrum, but have cleverly modified the brightness of colours to provide the necessary contrast between adjacent routes. It does lead to some areas of the map taking on a more or less uniform colour — the second detail above is very pink/purple, for example — but the whole map passes the colour-blindness test surprisingly well, mainly because of that good contrast between adjacent routes.
Technically, the map is excellent, with smoothly drawn curves and consistently applied labels. There’s quite a few tight/unusual curves in the map, but they’re all handled very deftly, and the route lines flow really nicely from end to end. The treatment of terminus stops is lovely, with nice, big, easy to see route numbers and the direction of travel from that terminus indicated.
Interchanges with Metro stations are shown with both a bigger dot and the station’s name reversed out of the appropriate Metro Line colour. It might have been nice to also include the number of the Metro Line within the coloured box, just for that extra level of accessibility. Or would that cause confusion between Metro line numbers and tram line numbers? The decisions that designers have to make!
The Metro lines themselves are shown as a thinner line (lower down the information hierarchy), but I wonder if the map might be visually cleaner without them entirely: there’s a lot going on in this map! On such a schematic diagram, it might be enough to indicate where the tram routes interchange with the Metro without having to actually show the Metro’s path. Still, I can’t fault the technical execution!
Mention also of the proposed network logo, which is an even more stylised representation of the system combined with a bit of “heart” to make a distinctively colourful icon.
Our rating: More evidence that some of the best transit map design is coming out of Russia at the moment. Confident, technically excellent work that’s part of a larger, all-encompassing, rebranding proposal. Will be interested to see if this gets implemented. Four stars!
Unofficial Map: Los Angeles Metro for the “Analogue Guide: Los Angeles”
Submitted by Stefan, who says:
I thought I’d share the Los Angeles Metro map that we designed for the Analogue Guide Los Angeles.
We always include “alternative” transit maps in our guide books, such Eddie Jabbour’s KickMap or Mark Noad’s Tubemap. In Los Angeles, given the sheer lack of maps, we designed one in-house.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on it!
Transit Maps says:
Thanks for sharing, Stefan! This is quite a neat piece of work that would seem to suit your needs very well. The design definitely fits in with the clean, minimalist look of the guide book itself! I’m never too certain about using Futura Condensed on a transit map myself, but it seems to be doing a good job here.
While concentrating on the central/downtown part of the city is probably perfect for what you cover in the guide, I’d personally still like to see some indication of the final destinations of each line: either as arrows pointing off the edge of the map, or incorporated into the legend at the top left. I also would have identified the lines by name in the legend, as LA has that weird mix of colour-named and destination-named lines (Expo and — soon — Crenshaw).
However, I do like the way you’ve incorporated the dates for the future openings of the various lines: it helps bring context to what is still an evolving and developing system.
Really minor typo: it’s “Light Rail”, not “Lightrail”.
Overall, I really like this map: it places the system on top of just enough geographical clues (the street grid, coastline,river and neighbourhood names) to allow for easy orientation — which is what a guide book should be all about, right?
Photo: A Washington DC Metro strip map that’s just bound to cause confusion…
Here’s an example of an overly designed strip map that’s gone horribly wrong. This photo was taken by Bryan Rodda, who notes that the sign makes it appear that Foggy Bottom-GWU is the name of the main interchange station between the Silver, Blue and Orange Lines in the center of the photo.
Anyone who knows the DC Metro system will know that the station in question is actually Rosslyn, but the map makes this horribly ambiguous. The problem stems from the fact that all the station names are offset from their markers up and along a 45-degree axis. It seems a reasonable thing to do in theory, but what it has actually done is position most of the labels almost directly above the next station marker to the right, where it can reasonably be confused as belonging to that marker.
Good design should not create confusion or make things unnecessarily ambiguous for the end user — it should always simplify and clarify: something this map absolutely fails to do.
(Source: Bryan Rodda/Twitter)
Submission - Historical Map: Informational Leaflet, Metro de Santiago, 1975
When moon-monolith sent me the new Santiago Metro map that I featured yesterday, he also sent me this fascinating old map from 1975: the year that the Metro first opened.
The map itself probably redefines the term “basic” when it comes to transit maps, with some very coarse route lines and type-written station names. However, I’m more interested in the map as a very early look at the current system.
At first glance, it looks like the map shows two extensive lines — Lines 1 (Red) and 2 (Yellow) — with planned future routes for Lines 3, 4 and 5. However, in 1975, all that was open was a small stretch of Line 1 between San Pablo and La Moneda stations. You can just make out this section on the map, as it’s ringed with a thicker black outline — although the map makers erroneously identify the eastern end as Neptuno station, not San Pablo (which seems to be missing a station marker anyway).
So what the map really shows is the existing system, with fairly well-developed plans for the rest of Line 1 and Line 2. Then things get a little nebulous with the other planned lines. As we can see on the current map, Lines 4 and 5 follow different routes to those shown here, while (a completely different) Line 3 is still under planning to this day!
Also, due to the very early stages of planning shown on this map, many stations have completely different names to the current system, or were never actually built.
This map is certainly not going to win any awards for its looks, but it’s definitely a fascinating historical document of the early days of Santiago’s Metro.
(Source: Tercera Cultura article on “Ghosts of the Santiago Metro" - Spanish)
Historical Map: Old Paris Metro Map Uncovered at Les Halles Station
A fantastic photo from Jean-Luc Raymond on Instagram of an old Metro map that’s just been revealed behind multiple layers of billboard advertising at Les Halles station. Definitely looks like it used to have a street grid layer which has faded away with age.
I’m not entirely sure of the vintage, although I’d say it can’t be from before 1979, as that’s when the RER C opened. It’s the thicker yellow line across the top of the photo with stations at Quai d’Orsay and St. Michel. The map’s typographical treatment — with names for interchange stations set in all caps Futura Bold — would also seem to point to that general era. Any further ideas on dating this?
Submission - Historical Map: Los Angeles Metro, 1997
From reader Chris Bastian comes this awesome old photo of an early Los Angeles Metro map, dated precisely to the 14th of November 1997, thanks to our old friend the date stamp.
The map is incredibly primitive compared to today’s polished effort, with unevenly spaced stations, labels at all sorts of angles, clumsy integration of Metrolink services, and lots of big, ugly call-out boxes.
However, we can see that by 1997, the Blue and Green Lines as we currently know them were complete, although a few station names have changed over the years: thankfully all the redundant I-105s have been removed from most of the Green Line station names. At this stage, there’s no Purple Line (a designation that only started appearing in 2006), and the Red Line continues out to Wilshire/Western. Despite the dotted line extended hopefully west from there, Wilshire/Western is still the end of the line (although that is finally about to change). The future alignment of the modern day Red Line is also shown heading north from Wilshire/Vermont. Proposed extensions from Union Station to the east and north are shown as continuations of the Red and Blue Lines, rather than Gold.
Our rating: Fascinating to see the early development of today’s system, but it’s certainly not a patch on the modern map! Three stars — and that’s mainly for the historical value.
Fantasy Map: North American Metro Map by Mark Knoke
Obviously inspired by — and clearly credited as such — the brilliant xkcd “Subways of North America” map, here’s a quite staggeringly detailed map of pretty much every rail-based rapid transit system in North America, including future expansions and upcoming new systems like Honolulu’s HART elevated light rail. Like the xkcd map, all the systems link up at their termini to form one giant Metro map that spans the entire continent.
True, the map isn’t the most visually attractive piece — it’s very basic in its construction and has labels going just about everywhere, but the sheer level of effort required simply has to be appreciated. By my count, there are forty-seven (yes, 47!) separate systems represented on this map, from the New York subway to the Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico and all points in between. Each and every station is labelled. For the most part, the systems adhere to their standard map layout, although obviously some tweaks have had to be made to make them join up.
While I haven’t checked every detail, I have noticed that the Tacoma Link light rail in Tacoma, Washington is missing. It’s part of Sound Transit’s network, although physically separate from the main Central Link line that runs from SeaTac Airport to downtown. The inclusion of the the much-maligned Detroit People Mover is interesting (is it really proper “rapid transit”?), and begs the question why the very similar Miami Metromover system isn’t also shown.
(Source: Mark Knoke/Flickr)
Official Map: Brussels Integrated Transit Map
According to my correspondents, Brussels has recently switched from a geographical transit map to this new diagrammatic map. As you can see by comparing the two images of the centre of the city above, a lot of streamlining and simplification has taken place. The first thing that strikes me is the way that many bus routes have either been removed or have been condensed or “collapsed” into a single route line with a common label, simplifying the map immensely. The place where this is really obvious is at Gare du Nord/Noordstation, which now only has six route numbers listed next to it, compared to thirty-six on the previous map!
Major interchanges are now denoted by an enclosing ring, suggesting that all stops at that interchange — be they bus, tram or Metro — are in close proximity to each other. The Paris Metro map uses a very similar device at interchanges between modes.
However, while the map is a huge improvement over the crowded mess of the previous geographical map, it’s certainly not perfect.
The labelling — which admittedly has to overcome the requirement of being bilingual — is a bit haphazard in its application, with some labels for one station overlapping that of another in parts. Major station labels waste a lot of space when there’s only one or two route numbers listed under the station’s name.
Each and every route line is outlined in black, regardless of its colour, which gives a very heavy, cumbersome feel to the map. Normally, only very light coloured routes (yellow or light blues, for example) need this treatment, so I’m not sure why it was deemed necessary here. Also, while the difference in line thickness between trams and buses seems obvious in the legend, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart on the actual map when multiple routes are butting up to each other (Hint: stops on bus routes are ever so slightly wider than the route line — way too subtle for easy mode differentiation!)
The icons for points of interest are all so very generic and bland.
Finally, the colours used on the map seem very simplistic and cartoon-like, stopping the map from having a harmonious, unified feel. Both the green used for parkland and the blue used for water are way too strong and vivid: they compete with the route lines for attention, becoming a distraction.
Our rating: Better than what came before, but still not great. Despite all the reworking, it’s still very cluttered and confusing. The new Ile-de-France Regional Rail map sets the standard for this type of map, and this falls well short. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official STIB website)
Dubai Integrated Transport Network
System Map Design Proposal
A few months ago, Matt Forrest (Carticulate Maps) asked me to redesign Dubai’s system map as part of a larger proposal Matt was working on at the time. Here is what we did:
Seriously beautiful work here from Kyril Negoda, who made this great future map of transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul (May 2013, 5 stars). It’s a great example of how a well-designed transit map can simplify and clarify important information while still retaining enough geographical context to orient users.
I definitely recommend clicking through to Kyril’s Tumblr to read more about the process and rationale behind this lovely map, as well as comparisons between it and the clumsy, cluttered official map.
Submission: Official Map - Metro de Medellin, Columbia
Submitted by Daniel Echeverri, who says:
Medellin (Colombia) transit map. Downloaded from the official website of Metro de Medellin. It shows Metro Lines, Articulated Buses lines (Metroplus) and Aerial Tram lines (Metro Cable)
Transit Maps says:
Medellin’s transit system is fascinating because it’s one of the first places in the world to implement aerial gondolas as part of a mass transit system. Other cities may have gondolas and aerial trams, but they’re almost always deployed as tourist attraction, like London’s Emirates Air Line. Medellin’s CableMetro reaches up to areas clinging to the sides of the steep valley that the city lies in that are unreachable by traditional forms of transit, linking seamlessly to the main Metro lines at the bottom of the cables.
However, the map’s not anywhere as interesting as the system. It looks like it draws its inspiration from the Los Angeles Metro map — it has a very similar aesthetic and also uses DIN as its primary font — but it’s nowhere near as well executed as that map, having a whole host of technical issues.
There’s an inexplicable kink in the “K” MetroCable line, while the “L” line just heads off at its own unique angle. Similarly, the “1” bus route has an awful kink as it heads north out of the Industriales interchange station that could easily have been avoided with a little though (making the river slightly wider, perhaps?).
The “1” and “2” bus lines are drawn terribly, with odd gaps between them when they run parallel to each other, and as they go around corners together. Line 2 has “stops” — as opposed to “stations” — indicated by hash marks along part of its route: they’re both way too big and extremely ugly. In contrast, the circular station markers are so small as to almost be invisible. The marker for San Pedro station has a red outline to indicate that it’s currently closed: this is almost impossible to make out.
Finally, the lines under construction are very poorly drawn, with the dashed lines doubling over each other as the routes go around corners. It’s difficult to tell where the Tranvia Ayacucho (a new streetcar/tram service) ends and the two new MetroCable lines begin, and there’s a whole new set of kinks and weird angles here as well.
Our rating: A fascinating transit system, let down by an extremely average and technically deficient map. Could be so much more. One-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Metro de Medillin website)