Official Map: Portland MAX Horizontal Strip Map
The newest rolling stock used on Portland’s MAX light rail (Siemens S70 cars, known as “Type 4”) has enough room above the doors to display a horizontal version of the system map. Types 1 through 3 don’t have this space, and instead display an unwieldy portrait-oriented version of the map that bears little resemblance to geographical reality.
Interestingly, this map is not the same as the official system map found on TriMet’s website or ticket machines (despite sharing the same orientation and very similar proportions) but instead is yet another completely different layout. Wisely, the information on the map has been simplified down to the essentials — route lines and stations. Even the WES Commuter Rail has been omitted: there’s simply a note at the Beaverton Transit Center station noting that transfers to the weekday rush-hour only service can be made.
However, the map is also arguably the most geographically accurate version that TriMet has made: the Red and Blue lines take a big detour southwards from Sunset TC to Beaverton TC on the west side, just like in real life. Similarly, the Blue Line’s realignment from alongside I-84 to E Burnside St after Gateway TC makes an appearance. Even the slight changes in direction at either end of the Blue Line are reminiscent of actual geography.
Finally, of particular interest to me is the map’s striking use of 30- and 60-degree angles. Hmmmm, where have I seen that before?
Portland, Oregon: New Motor Coaches Replace Last Street Cars, February 26, 1950
Here’s an amazing full page ad that ran in The Oregonian on Thursday, February 23, 1950 to announce the end of an era in Portland. The last few remaining streetcar lines — to Council Crest, Willamette Heights and 23rd Avenue — were going to be replaced by “the very latest design in city transit equipment”, modern motor coaches. It’s interesting to compare the bulky, inefficient buses depicted here with their modern equivalents, especially in light of the glowing copy in the ad:
“The finest in heating and air conditioning … extra large windows for better natural light … increased electric lights … comfortable seating with deep upholstery … low entrance and exit steps”.
The ad also includes a number of surprisingly clear and attractive route maps for the most popular lines, many of which were subject to route changes because of the then-new system of one-way streets that was being introduced in downtown Portland at the same time as the equipment change. The ad also exhorts the reader to contact the Portland Traction Company (PTC) Dispatcher if “route and schedule folders are desired” — we’re a long way from real-time arrivals information on our smartphones here!
Click through to Flickr to view the ad at a size where you can (just) read the type. Also, compare with this handsome map of PTC services from 1943 (April 2012, 4 stars) — all the streetcar routes shown on that map (the yellow route lines) have disappeared just seven years later.
Unofficial Map: Portland MAX Light Rail — Super Mario 3 Style
Here’s the latest “Mario Map” from the incredibly prolific Dave Delisle (seriously, how much cool stuff can one guy pump out?). This one is of my home town of Portland, Oregon, and Dave actually enlisted my help in checking the accuracy of the route layouts and the spelling of the station names. Considering the ridiculous length of some of the station names in the system and the limitations of the 8-bit art style, Dave’s done a great job at fitting everything together in a very plausible and attractive manner.
Of course, in true Portlandia style, Dave has literally “put a bird on it” — there’s also a non-birdified version over on his website if you don’t get the joke. Also of note is Dave’s playful take on the TriMet logo, and the fact that our princess seems to be stuck out at Expo Center, the poor thing.
(Source: Dave’s website — posters are for sale!)
Submission — Official Map: Josephine County Transit Bus Map, Oregon
Submitted by Matthew Harris, who says:
This is the official transit map for Grants Pass, Oregon (Josephine County) and it will supersede your German map (February 2013, 0 stars) as the worst transit map.
Transit Maps says:
I knew it!!!
I knew as soon as I gave a score of zero, something else would appear that was even worse. A blurry, muddy, incomprehensible mess without any useful labeling at all. The inclusion of property boundaries on the background layer makes the main part of the map (the city of Grants Pass, Oregon) so dark that it’s impossible to tell where the black “transfer points” actually are.
Our rating: The only thing saving this map from a rating lower than zero is the fact that there’s a Google Maps transit planner link on the County website, which actually works rather well. It really should just act as the official map, because this is terrible.
(Source: Official Josephine County website)
Side Note: 500th post on Transit Maps! Yay!
As you may know by now, I create my own transit maps as well as write about them. But unless you’ve been following me for a while, you may not know exactly what I’ve done, and what I currently have available for purchase this holiday season. Here’s a quick rundown:
Interstates as a Subway Map and US Highways as a Subway Map
These two posters are by far my most popular items. Because I can print in bulk with my supplier, the fantastic Wallblank Printery, the price on these is excellent for the superb quality. Each 36” x 24” poster is just $39 plus $10 shipping, or you can buy a combo pack of both posters for just $68 plus shipping — a saving of $10 over buying each poster individually.
This will be the last Christmas that I offer these posters for sale, as I have plans for something bigger and better next year (which I’ve already been dropping hints about). So, if you’ve been thinking about picking one — or both — of these posters up, do it now. You won’t get another chance. Click through to the order page on my website here.
Not all the maps I create generate as much interest as the ones above, but I still make them available for purchase through my Society6 store. As these posters are print-on-demand, the cost per unit is a little bit higher than the ones I order in bulk through Wallblank, but these are still excellent ideas for unusual gifts for the transit geek in your life.
Note: Due to the fine type and detail in many of these maps, I really, really recommend that you purchase only the LARGE or X-LARGE print sizes that Society6 offers. You will almost certainly be disappointed (and the type will be illegible) if you go smaller than that.
Amtrak Passenger Rail System
Fully updated for 2012, this map shows all of Amtrak’s passenger rail services — split into route lines and colour-coded in the style of a subway map. Big preview here on Flickr.
Boston Rapid Transit Map
My own original redesign of Boston’s transit map. Comes in two flavours: one with key bus routes and the other without (which I like better — the map looks so much cleaner without it).
European International E-Road Network
A couple of years old now, but still one of my favourite maps. Who knew Europe had an international network of routes?
Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon
My own original version of a unified rail map of my home, Portland, Oregon. Shows MAX Light Rail and the Portland Streetcar — including the new Central Loop line on the eastside.
Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon | 1912 | 1943 | 2015
Overlays passenger rail services — light rail, streetcar, interurban and intercity trains — from three different eras for a comparison of how things have changed over time.
Portland Streetcar Strip Map
A first look at the new in-car strip maps for Portland, Oregon’s streetcar system. With the opening of most of the eastside loop, there are now two lines: the original route is now the North/South (NS) line, and the new track is the Central (CL) line.
Unfortunately, for a brand new service that the city desperately wants everyone to like and use, the design of this map is terribly dowdy and old fashioned. There’s some good information there — I particularly like the inclusion of all the bridges over the Willamette River — but it’s just all crammed in with no room for anything to breathe. It may be usable, but it’s definitely not pretty.
Fantasy Map: DC Subway Map from “Leverage”
Just good enough to pass for the real thing when fleetingly seen in the background of a TV show.
The map uses real DC Metro station names, but they’re all in the wrong places. The “corporate identity” uses the colours from the old TriMet livery… which is kind of neat, seeing as the show is filmed in Portland, TriMet’s base of operations.
In the show, I believe that the Washington Park MAX station (the only underground station in the system) stands in for DC Metro stations.
End Of An Era.
September 1 marks the day that TriMet in Portland finally removed its much-loved Free Rail Zone. At the same time, it also moved away from a zone-based fare system altogether, now using a $2.50 “go-anywhere” fare.
So I thought it appropriate to update my Unified Rail Map of Portland to reflect these changes, as well as anticipate the opening of the Central Loop streetcar line through the inner eastside to OMSI on September 22. There are two versions of the map - one showing lines under construction, the other just the existing lines.
More information on my design blog, or 4000px-wide versions over on Flickr - click here for the current lines only, or here for the lines under construction. As always, comments and reblogs are welcome!
Reporting live from the streets of Portland, Oregon, where I’ve just noticed a new map on the ticket machine at my downtown stop. These are being rolled out in preparation for the abolition of the Free Rail Zone (and ALL fare zones!) on September 1st, and I have to say that the removal of the old multi-colored zone rings is a great improvement.
The poor old streetcar still gets short shrift (now being a grey squiggle instead of its previous brown squiggle), even with the imminent opening of the Eastside loop.
Official and Future Maps: EmX BRT System, Eugene, Oregon
One of the best things about this blog is finding people out there who - like me - aren’t always satisfied with the status quo and want to improve on the transit maps that are out there.
Take these maps of the EmX* bus rapid transit system in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. The first one is the current system map issued by the Lane Transit District. While it’s functional enough, it’s certainly not very exciting. I always believe that a good transit map should be enticing and attractive to draw people towards it as a transportation option. In effect, the map is an advertisement for the service - if it looks modern and well-designed, the system benefits by association.
The second map is of a potential EmX system in 50 years’ time, made by Dave Amos, based off information found on LTD’s website. You can read more about the development of the map on Dave’s Tumblr here. Leaving the accuracy of the map aside, as I can’t really comment on that without a lot of further research (and Dave himself admits the map is somewhat speculative), let’s concentrate on the aesthetics.
Dave’s map seems to draw a lot of design cues from the London Underground map, which is good in that it instantly takes on a clean, well-designed look… and a little bad in that it drains the map of its own unique identity a bit. It would be nice to see a map that channels a bit of the character of the city it represents, but this is still a very attractive piece of design. HF&J’s Whitney is a nicely understated, yet modern sans serif font and works well here. The main hubs of Eugene and Springfield are emphasised well, and the inclusion of the important University of Oregon and Lane Community College campuses is welcome.
That’s not to say the map is perfect: the need to show the eastern extent of Springfield’s city boundary creates a lot of empty space, which in turn reduces the size of the routes themselves. I think the names of the streets that the routes follow could be rotated to follow the direction of the streets, like in a street directory, rather than remaining horizontal all the time. The 18th & Willamette station label could be split into two lines to prevent it being confused with the nearby Jefferson station.
There’s also a couple of operational concepts that aren’t shown on the map which might be worth considering. Some sections of the routes operate along one-way couplets, which might be worth showing for clarity and ease of use (For example, an eastbound stop might be one block over from the westbound stop - a handy thing for a traveller to know!). I also know that, currently, buses operate both clockwise and counter-clockwise around the Gateway loop. This is indicated on the current map, but not on Dave’s.
* Side Note: “EmX” is meant to be pronounced as “Em-Ex”, short for “Emerald Express”. But try as I might, I still just keep saying “E-Em-Ex”…