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This map is certainly not going to win any awards for its looks, but it’s definitely a fascinating historical document of the early days of Santiago’s Metro.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)
Having seen @transitmaps’ post with the Japanese travelcard reminded me to post the MetroMoney card I got in Tbilisi, Georgia. The drawings show different modes of transport available in the city (metro, bus, minibus (marshrutka)) and have absolutely no resemblance to the actual metro network, which consists of two lines.
Figuring out all the labels is not too easy – if you happen to speak Georgian, share them in the comments below. However, I did look at the large letters: Metromani and the top-centre smaller label: Gagarin square – which is not even a metro station. Dear readers, please do not use this card for orientation. I warned you.
Another transit map-themed fare card, this one from Tbilisi, the capital of the Caucasian country of Georgia. However, it’s important to note that — unlike the Japanese Passnet card — this is not a map at all, but stylised illustrations of a Metro train (centre), a bus (top left), and a mini bus (top right).
Weird: The Maryland Transit Administration’s Version of the DC Metro Map
Not only is the map out of date (no Rush+, no indication of the Silver Line at all), but the MTA has simply encased the official DC map in their own branding shell and then covered it in hideous and distracting callout boxes denoting their own commuter bus services. Yes, it performs a service, but — dear God! — is it ever ugly.
There should be a law against this kind of thing.
(Source: Maryland Transit Administration’s transit maps web page)
Official Map: Tehran Metro, Iran
Tehran is not necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to an extensive, modern rapid transit system, but here it is. First opened in 1999, the system now boasts five lines (four rapid transit and one commuter rail), over 140 kilometres of track and carries more than 2 million passengers each day.
The map itself is fairly basic and workmanlike, although not unattractive in a blocky sort of way. It handles its requirement for bilingual labels (Persian and English) well, and the interchange markers are both unique and distinctive.
For such a diagrammatic map, there’s some uneven spacing between stations in places, and I’d probably have placed the labels and ticks for Razi and Rahahan stations on the light blue Line 3 on the left hand side of the line, rather than the right.
The map also understates the length of the green commuter rail line quite a lot — at over 40 kilometres long, it’s almost twice as long as any of the other lines, but is shown as being extremely short here. However, it definitely does allow the map to take on a more compact form.
Our rating: Basic and simple, but still effective enough. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Tehran Metro site)