Unofficial Map: Transit of Riga, Latvia by Viteks Bariševs
Transit Maps has been keeping an eye on this project for quite some time now: I reviewed an earlier version of this map way back in January 2012, noting that it held a lot of promise for the future.
At the time, Viteks was hopeful that he could get his map adopted as Riga’s official transit map. While that hasn’t quite happened yet, he’s definitely set himself up as an excellent alternative to the (pretty terrible) official maps. That’s right, the official website has to use three maps – one for each mode (bus, trolleybus, tram) – to show what Viteks has expertly put into one.
Having just had his map professionally printed, Viteks was kind enough to send me some samples for review. First off, this map reminds me why I will always love a map on paper… there’s just something about the way you can pore over it and absorb all the details fully that you just can’t replicate on a computer screen. A PDF of a complex network like this is all well and good, but you either have to view the whole map at a size which makes reading text hard, or you have to zoom in and lose the ability to relate the section you’re looking at to the system as a whole.
The print quality of the map is excellent, with good colour fidelity and registration throughout. The map folds down to a very compact size of just 8.5 x 17.5cm (3.3 x 6.9 inches) – a pocket map which can actually fit in a pocket without having to be folded over again! It unfolds to be around 51 x 35 cm (20 x 13.8 inches), which is big without being too big or unwieldy. The folds for the map also concertina nicely, so you could easily unfold it to just the portion that you need without opening it entirely.
The map itself has made great strides in legibility and information hierarchy since the 2012 version: the three transit modes are differentiated much better than before, and terminus stations are now clearly shown in white text in a black box (rather than with underlined text as before). While obviously a diagram, I think Viteks has done a good job of retaining spatial relationships between the different parts of the city, which an be helpful for orientation. The map also has an excellent city centre inset on the reverse of the main map (with some nifty little illustrations of the main points of interest), and a night bus map as well. Truly useful, well-considered information for all travellers!
A few thoughts for improvement: the map is probably at the absolute smallest size that it can be reproduced. While I can read the labels on it just fine, others with poorer eyesight may not fare so well.
Because the route lines are all so thin, the system that Viteks uses to distinguish between the three transportation modes – a solid coloured line for buses, a coloured line overlaid with a thinner white line for trolleybuses, and a coloured line overlaid with a thinner black line for trams – can be a little difficult to make out. The trolleybus lines effectively become two very thin coloured lines separated by an equally thin white one: depending on the colour of the line, this can be very difficult to discern. Similarly, if the route line colour for a tram service is relatively dark, the overlaid black line can be quite difficult to see. In the end, this doesn’t matter a huge amount, because Viteks has cleverly added a letter to the beginning of each route number that corresponds to the mode: A for autobus, E for trolleybus, and T for tram. The legend does point out that these prefixes aren’t actually shown on the vehicles, but perhaps this information could be made a little more prominent to prevent some poor tourist from standing around all day waiting for an “E15” to come.
In short, this is a fantastic effort to create something better than what’s officially available. This is obviously a labour of love and it shows in the attention to detail and quality of the work. Looking at the project website, it seems that lots of locations around Riga are now selling the map, so it would seem that Viteks’ hard work and perseverance is paying off.
Top 10 Most Popular Posts on Transit Maps, January-April 2012
The problem with blogging is that after a while, great content gets pushed to the back pages, never to be seen again. As a way to bring them back from the darkness, this post highlights the ten most viewed posts (as reported by Google Analytics) on Transit Maps for the last four months, from January 1 to April 30, 2012.
So without further ado, here they are:
10. Viteks Bariševs’ Unofficial Unified Transit Map of Riga, Latvia (link)
9. Official Map: Key Bus Routes in Central London (link)
8. Official Map: Atlanta, Georgia - MARTA Rail System (link)
7. Historical Maps: Berlin S- and U-Bahn Maps, 1910-1936 (link)
6. My Boston MBTA Map Redesign Unveiled (link)
5. Igor Skliarevsky’s Unofficial Integrated Transit Map of Kiev, Ukraine (link)
4. The London Tube as Bathroom Tiles (link)
3. Fantasy Map: Chicago El Overlaid On New York City (link)
2. Official Map: Washington D.C. Metro “Rush+” System Map (link)
1. Official Map: MBTA Rapid Transit/Key Bus Routes Map – Boston, MA (link)
Tomorrow, I’ll post an All-Time Top 10, dating back to the site’s inception in October of last year.
Unofficial Map: Unified Transit Map of Riga, Latvia
Yesterday morning, I got an interesting email from Viteks Bariševs in response to my assertion that transit maps rarely show completely different transit modes (bus and rail, mainly) on the same map due to their differing natures. He is working on a totally unified transit map for Riga - and that includes showing a staggering 53 bus routes, 19 trolleybus routes and 9 tram routes - a monumental task!
His map certainly looks impressive, showing a dense network of routes and stations. Interesting aspects include the inner city inset, which switches to a traditional geographically-accurate map with numbered stops. The legend then cleverly tells you at which of these stops different routes call at, thus preventing the central part of the map from becoming a twisting spaghetti-like maze of route lines.
I’m not entirely convinced by Viteks’ method of differentiating between different services by using white dashes of different lengths within each route line (as seen in the detail image): it interrupts the flow of the routes, and can look a little messy when multiple lines are running parallel. My preferred method would be differing line thicknesses (probably tram as thickest, trolleybus as a line the same thickness, but with a solid white line down the centre, then buses as thinner lines). Failing that, you could simply rely on the letter prefix on each route to clue people in as to what type of service that line represents.
If the representation of all of Riga’s transit wasn’t enough, Viteks has also produced a map of night bus services that is nicely overlaid on a ghosted-back version of the daytime services, allowing travellers to relate one set of services to another.
Viteks has big plans for his map, telling me that he hopes to have it become the official map for Riga in the future. It certainly shows a lot of promise, even from these few preview images. Click through on the source link below to view more images from this intriguing project.
(Source: Viteks Bariševs’ Riga Transit Facebook photo album - 6 images)