Official Maps: Transportation at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
A few requests for these very topical maps, so here goes!
The XXII Winter Games are now in full swing, but how do spectators get around? The Games are divided into two very distinct zones: the Olympic Park down by the Black Sea in Sochi itself for all the indoor sports; and the Mountain Zone, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) up into the Caucasus Mountains, where all the sports that actually require snow are held. Access to the Olympic venues by private transportation is strictly limited, so the Games’ transportation network is absolutely vital to moving people around. Buses and trains shuttle spectators between the suburbs of Sochi (a long, narrow strip city wedged between the Black Sea and the mountains behind it) where they are staying to the Olympic venues. Once in the Mountain Zone, more buses or ski resort aerial cable-cars take spectators to the different venues. Or — perhaps optimistically — there are also walking paths up the side of the mountains!
The maps themselves are pretty bare bones and angular, although this does at least work well with the general design aesthetic of the games. There’s only single route line for each transit mode, so you have to refer to the route number boxes at each station to work out which trains travel between the places you want to go. It’s not an overly complex system, so it’s not that difficult, but something a little more intuitive might have been nice.
Our rating: Probably getting away with the absolute bare minimum of effort and detail required. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Sochi Olympics website)
Submission - New Official Moscow Metro In-Car Strip Map
Submitted by long-time contributor, Dmitry Darsavilidze, here’s a brand new strip map for Metro Line 6. Designed by Art.Lebedev Studios, and based on their contest-winning system map, this carries on the good work of that design.
The strip map is simple and uncluttered, and has nice, large, easy-to-read type (a failing of many strip maps, which often have type to small to be easily read from any sort of distance). Information is presented consistently — interchange information is always given underneath the line, making it easy to locate each and every time.
My favourite part, however, is the subtle ring that denotes the Koltsevaya (Circle) Line. Given the Koltsevaya Line’s importance in the system (almost every other line interchanges with it at least once) and the way that it represents the border between central Moscow and the outlying suburbs, using it as a visual device like this is very clever.
(Source: Dimitry’s Twitter)
Historical Map: Interactive Moscow Metro Map, c. 1968
Sent in by long-time Transit Maps reader and contributor, @dars_dm, here’s a great old photo of an interactive map kiosk in the Moscow Metro. Push a button, and your route lights up! Apparently, these displays were common at many Metro stations through the early 1970s. Highly reminiscent of the Paris Metro’s plan indicateur lumineux d’itinéraires (or PILI), an example of which I featured previously.
Submission - Offical Map: Water Transport Routes, St. Petersburg, Russia
Submitted by nelequetan.
Here’s a very pleasant map that shows the “Akvabusy” water transportation routes in St. Petersburg, Russia, which were introduced only a few years ago in 2010. The service only runs from the end of May until October each year as the city’s rivers and canals all freeze over in winter. The fleet — as shown at the bottom of the map — consists of everything from small 12-seat water taxis all the way up to 120-seat hydrofoils that can reach speeds of 65km/h.
The map itself is very clearly laid out and makes good use of 30/60 degree angles to represent the islands and canals of the city. This does make the one really odd angle — on the blue Central Line to the east of the Summer Garden stop — stand out like a sore thumb, however. I’m also not sure that the little “flick” in the red Kurortnaya line as it nears Kronstadt (in the map’s inset) is really necessary.
The map also has other useful information: the distance to nearby Metro stations is marked where appropriate (although 1,100 metres — over a kilometre! — is hardly a “short walk”), as are the names of the city’s famous bridges, both of which are great for general orientation and getting around.
My one main problem with this map is that the type is tiny and very hard to read. All the iterations I’ve seen are online bitmap graphics with a maximum width of just 1000px or so. A lot of the type, especially the English subtitle labelling, is almost impossible to make out at that resolution.
Our rating: Looks good, contains useful information, but teeny-tiny type lets it down somewhat. Three stars.
Moscow Metro Line Maps
A good example of how something that’s probably perfectly clear to locals can be totally confusing to foreign visitors. The first obstacle is obviously the Cyrillic text, which automatically makes things very tricky for non-natives. Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time translating and cross-referencing the text here with a Moscow Metro map, and I think I’ve got it worked out — but this isn’t exactly a luxury that you would have when you’re down in a busy station, trying to work out where to go next.
Basically, this assembly shows transfers to other lines that are available along the Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya (Number 3) line: the dark blue colour of this line runs across the top, and three station names are visible: Kurskaya (Курская) — where you can transfer to the 5 and 10; Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Пло́щадь Револю́ции) — with a transfer to the 2; and Arbatskaya (Арба́тская) — which has interchanges with the 1, 4 and 9. Interestingly, you can also transfer to Line 1 at Ploshchad Revolyutsii, but this is not shown here. I’m guessing that this photo was taken at Kurskaya station, just from the four golden letters — ская — that can be seen at the top left of the picture.
Each line map underneath these station names helpfully tells you the name of the station that you transfer to (it’s not unusual for interchange stations in Moscow to have different names for each line). Less helpfully, it then presents a list of every station on that line from beginning to end, except for the one you are transferring at: which means you can’t see where on the the line that station is.
For example, on the Line 10 list shown at the left, the transfer station you would be using — Chkalovskaya (Чка́ловская) — should be in the fifth position, but is instead completely absent from the list. Needless to say, this isn’t great informational design, especially if you’re used to those reassuring “You Are Here" markers that you see in many other transit systems around the world.
Obviously, these line maps aren’t the only guidance a traveller would have in the Metro — a really good map and an idea of where you wanted to go would be necessities — but they could definitely be a lot better.
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!
The Almost Official Map: Ilya Birman’s Moscow Metro Map
However, I haven’t seen as much attention being paid to the second-place winning map, designed by Ilya Birman. He also has a design process page for his map, and it’s just as fascinating as the Lebedev one.
He discusses the difficulty of having to label the map in Cyrillic and Latin scripts, as well as the problems posed by stations having multiple names, depending which line they are on.
The map also employs an unusual station-finding technique that relates all stations to the Circle Line, rather than the more usual grid look-up. It seems a little quirky at first, but it’s actually surprisingly intuitive after a while.
The page also addresses important issues like colour-blindness (the map holds up fairly well) and what to do when a station named Aeroport no longer has an airport anywhere near it.
Well worth a look, if only to see the sheer amount of thought and effort that goes into making a transit map of this quality. For me, there’s very little between this map and the Lebedev map, and both would have been very worthy of being the public face of this venerable Metro system.
The Design Process Behind the New Moscow Metro Map
As you may have heard by now, the Art Lebedev Studio entry will become the new official Moscow Metro map at the end of February. It beat out the other two entries convincingly, garnering 52% of the popular vote.
Of particular interest to me, though, is the design process page for the map on their website: a fascinating look at the hard work and effort that goes into making a world-class transit map. Concepts are tried, refined, discarded and tried again to find the perfect solution. Nothing is taken for granted and everything is evaluated again and again. Note the beautiful underlying grid (shown above) and the guides used for accurately placing station labels perfectly every time (something that the Washington DC Metro map was completely incapable of in its redesign last year.) More than anything, this page shows that good design doesn’t just “happen”: it’s a process that evolves over time according to the needs of the client and the designer’s skills.
The best part of the page? The map halfway down the page where you can scrub through 95 — yes, ninety-five! — different iterations of the map to see how the map evolved over time.
See also this page on Lebedev’s website that details all the features of the final, finished map. Also fascinating!