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.
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This particular example is still in use, despite it being around ten years out of date: the extension of Ligne 14 from Madeleine to St. Lazare (which opened in December 2003) is shown as being under construction.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)
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)
Historical Map: “Opening Day” Washington, DC Metro Map, 1976
Directly related to yesterday’s post, here’s an even older map of the Washington, DC Metro — this one is from an informational pamphlet released for the March 29, 1976 opening of the first part of the system, and is clearly dated at he bottom right.
Inexplicably, the Red Line is a dark burgundy colour, while the Orange Line is shown as red, even though they’re both clearly labelled correctly in the legend. How a printing error of this magnitude occurred is beyond me: with four-colour printing, you’d have to add about 40 percent more magenta ink to turn orange into red, and turning red into burgundy requires the addition of a lot of black ink where absolutely none should exist. Totally bizarre!
In another difference from yesterday’s map, you can see that neither Dupont Circle or Gallery Place are open for business yet.
Finally, long time correspondent Matt Johnson — who knows more about the Washington Metro than I ever will — has sent in some interesting information regarding some of the alignments shown on these old maps. I noted yesterday that these old maps don’t have the distinctive kink in the Yellow/Green line near U Street — Matt tells me that’s because at this time there wasn’t planned to be one.
As shown, the plan was for the Green and Yellow Lines to continue directly north from 7th Street into Georgia Avenue (the northern extension of 7th Street) to Kansas Avenue and then on to the current alignment at Fort Totten. Later changes pushed the alignment across to 14th Street and then along New Hampshire Avenue to Fort Totten. And thus, a distinctive visual feature of the modern map was born (and here was I thinking that they put it in to accommodate the ridiculous length of U Street station’s current name!)
Matt also notes that the southern end of the Green Line was changed over time to something of a “hybrid” alignment. Originally, he says, the Green Line was to go to Rosecroft via Congress Heights. By the 1970s, that had changed, and the new plan was to send the line to Branch Avenue via Alabama Avenue, as shown on this map.
However, a lawsuit was brought that WMATA had not held public hearings in the DC area, and as a result a hybrid alignment was chosen. In DC, the line went via Congress Heights (as if it was going to Rosecroft). In Prince George’s the line headed for Branch Avenue. At the District Line, there’s a kink to connect the two different alignments.
Strangely, that kink only appeared on the official map with the recent Rush+ revision, even though it’s always physically been there!
(Source: later in the same Subchat.com thread from yesterday)
Historical Map: Washington, DC Metro Map, 1977
This is a Metro map from March, 1977 — about a year after the system first started carrying passengers. At first glance, it looks very similar to today’s modern map… but then you realise that the only section that’s actually in service is the Red Line between Dupont Circle and Rhode Island Avenue, denoted by black outlines around the station circles, rather than the plain white circles used for future stations.
The uncanny resemblance to today’s map comes about because the whole system shown here — up to and including the opening of the Green Line segment to Branch Avenue in 2001 — was planned for right from the start of the project. If you look closely, there are actually quite a few differences: the Blue and Yellow Lines south of Pentagon are reversed from today’s configuration, and a number of station names have changed from these initial plans. Bigger visual differences include the lack of the kink in the Yellow/Green line around Columbia Heights and a much greater sense of visual clarity: short station names (note that it’s only “U Street” here!) and no secondary information like cross streets, hospitals or timetable/routing callout boxes give the map room to breathe. While not quite the mimimalist classic that Massimo Vignelli’s New York Subway map is, this version of the map is definitely far more deserving of the “iconic” tag than its modern descendants.
Our rating: An unadulterated look at the far superior original concept. Four stars.
(Source: Subchat.com thread about the map: the thread originally dates the map to March 27, 1976, but later revises it to March 17, 1977 because of the stations that are shown as being open — Dupont Circle and Gallery Place stations opened after the rest of the Phase I Red Line stations)