Going outbound

Forest Hill Station, Forest Hill

(Source: sanfranciscer)

Photo: Tactile Muni Metro Map, San Francisco

Maps in underground stations on the Muni light rail network in San Francisco have raised route designation letters and route lines, as well as braille labels for station names. Nice!

I know that it’s entirely happenstance*, but I really appreciate the fact that the M, K, and T lines appear next to each other on the map, making an “MKT” for Market Street.

*Historical aside: Muni streetcar letters were originally assigned alphabetically in the order they came into being, all the way from A to N. Letters then disappeared as many of the old streetcar lines were converted to numerical bus routes, leaving us with the strange assortment of letters we have now. The modern T Line breaks from this naming convention, as it simply refers to the road it mostly runs along, Third Street.

Source: jdaisy/Flickr

Photo: Coast to Coast

Lady with a NYC subway map umbrella looking at a Muni map in San Francisco. Great photo!

(Source: the N Judah Chronicles/Flickr)

Historical Map: San Francisco Muni Transit Routes, 1970

For a long period of time, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, (commonly shortened to just “Muni”) used pretty much exactly the same map in their brochures. It seems that each year, they’d simply make any amendments required — addition of new routes, deletion of old ones, etc. —  and then reprint the brochure/map in a new colour combination.

The earliest example I can find, from 1952, uses a sombre two-color palette of black and red, mostly tinted down to greys and pinks. However, by 1970, the map had evolved into this gloriously garish three-colour purple, yellow and black vision that suits the post-Summer of Love San Francisco perfectly.

The map shows all Muni streetcar, coach and cable car services, but with no visible mode differentiation — express services are shown with a dashed line. However, the map’s actually pretty clean and easy to follow: route termini are clearly shown by route numbers in large circles, and there’s enough smaller numbers along each route to allow you to follow them from one end to the other.

Also of note: basic fare is just 20 cents!

Our rating: Groovy, man! A psychedelic re-imagining of a long-serving and functional map. Four stars.

4 Stars!

(Source: Eric Fischer/Flickr)

Historical Map: Bay Area Connections Map, 1981

Submitted by Alex Jonlin, who says:

I saw this at the Fremont BART Station a couple weeks ago. It’s labeled (in tiny print at the top) “September 1981.” I have no idea how it ended up staying for so long, but it’s interesting to see how the transit system has changed since then. I also like the concept of depicting long-distance rail and long-distance buses just about the same - it shows people that the Bay Area’s transit network extends beyond where just the BART and Caltrain go.


Transit Maps says:

Another fine entry in the “hopelessly out-of-date map” genre — 31 years and still counting!

This really is one of my favourite categories of transit maps. So much so, that I’ve introduced a new tag just for them: out of date. This applies to maps that are still located at active stops or vehicles only — maps in transit museums or used as movie/TV show props don’t count. Anyone got any examples from their local transit system?

  1. Camera: Nokia Lumia 920
  2. Aperture: f/2
  3. Exposure: 1/60th

Unofficial Map: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2011

This post comes about because of a Tumblr Mail (go, on ask me something!) from an anonymous follower, who says:

Any idea if a unified San Francisco transit map exists somewhere out there, perhaps a la the Portland one? SF has to have one of the more confusing transit systems in the country, what with Caltrain + BART + Muni + cable cars + the F line.”

As it happens, there are plenty of unofficial maps showing both just the City of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

This one, from sfcityscape.com, is definitely one of the best. It shows BART, Muni Metro, the F line, Caltrain, and more. The only rail transit it doesn’t show are the historic cable cars (which surely don’t qualify as rapid transit, anyway) and interstate Amtrak trains, preferring to focus on the Amtrak California Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services.

Extra handy features include an indication of stations with timed transfers between services and an awesome little diagram of how BART services change quite radically depending on the day of the week.

Technically, the map is extremely well drawn - there’s a lovely clean minimalism to the linework and the colour palette is gorgeous, especially in the background areas.

My one minor complaint is that the colours used to denote Muni Metro and Caltrain are very similar to each other. While the relative thicknesses of their service lines help distinguish them from each other, the services do touch and overlap in a couple of places. This problem seems like it could have been easily solved with a little more thought, but still barely detracts from the sheer quality of this piece.

Our rating: One of my favourite unofficial maps. Four-and-a-half stars.

4.5 Stars!

(Source: SF Cityscape - PDF)

San Francisco Muni Metro Sign, Church Station

(Source: Jean (tarkastad)/Flickr)