Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, 1981
A beautiful early map for this system, clearly showing how much of it was planned from the start. Apart from a few name changes (the proposed “Old Fold” station became Gateshead Stadium, for example), this is recognisably the same map that existed as far into the future as the year 2000, when the proposed extension to Sunderland made its appearance.
The outlined route lines to show proposed/future extensions work wonderfully well, making an excellent contrast to the existing coloured routes. The approach is even carried through to outlining the names of the proposed stations — a lovely and deft design touch.
Another interesting feature is how small and low in the visual hierarchy the ferry across the River Tyne is: in later maps, the ferry symbol has become very large and overpowering.
Our rating: The original and the best. Simple, stylish, uncluttered design that sets out a clear vision for the future. Four stars.
Fantasy Map: Tyneride BRT Network Map
Utterly plausible bus rapid transit (BRT) system map for the Tyneside region of England, designed as if it was a division of the Tyne & Wear Metro.
While I can’t comment on whether Nexus/Metro would ever actually operate its own BRT network, I certainly can’t fault the aesthetics of the map itself. It’s absolutely spot-on, mimicking the look of the official Metro rail map (Nov 2011, 3.5 stars) perfectly. The 30/60-degree angles and the use of the distinctive Calvert slab serif typeface all convince the viewer that this is an official Metro map.
If anything, it’s perhaps a little too similar — the only indication that this is a BRT map as opposed to light rail is the red “B - Buses” symbol at the bottom left, a riff off the iconic yellow “M - Metro” logo.
Our rating: A fun visual homage to a well-known system map, although perhaps a little too close to be successfully adapted to real-world usage if such an event ever occurred. Three stars.
Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, England, c. 2000
Showing the then-proposed extension to Sunderland, which opened in 2002.
Interestingly, the 60-degree angled section running through Newcastle is flipped the other way compared to the current map (Nov. 2011, 3.5 stars). I’d say the change was mainly made to accommodate the Calvert typeface used on the modern day map: it’s far more attractive than the Futura Condensed on display here, but a lot wider. Without the flip, the labels for South Gosforth and Four Lane Ends stations on the current version would almost certainly clash.
Tyne & Wear Metro In-Car Map
If anything, I actually like this elongated layout better than the actual official system map (reviewed here) - the removal of the geography and the addition of zone information makes the design both cleaner and more useful. Great use of an awkward space.
Official Map: Tyne & Wear Metro, England
Built in 1980, the Tyne and Wear Metro is the first of Britain’s modern light rail systems. It also benefits from a very strong corporate identity with the slab serif Calvert typeface (named after its creator and one of the original identity designers in 1977, the famous Margaret Calvert) as a core component. The typeface is used extensively throughout the system, even as wall-sized station names as seen in the photo of Monument Station. Taken on its own on the system map, the typeface seems a little clumsy; but when it is considered as part of the overall identity, it actually works quite well and shows a nice consistency in design.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Distinctive, industrial-looking design that suits the region perfectly. Love the Metro logo itself: simple, bold and memorable. Clear and easy to read. I like the idea of the grey circles denoting the important city centres of Newcastle and Sunderland, although I wish the circle for Sunderland didn’t extend out over the ocean - is it underwater?
What we don’t like: Treatment of the two rivers that give the region its name is poor - the angles used are inconsistent with the 30/60-degree angle set up by the routes, and the thinning of the rivers just looks ugly.
The “cutouts” of the Tyne’s shoreline used to represent the North to South Shields ferry look terrible and also imply that the ferry departs directly from the Metro stations, when in reality some distance separates them and their respective ferry terminals.
The crossover of the Yellow line at Monument station could perhaps be better shown: trains actually run from South Shields - Monument - North Shields - Monument (again) - St James, but the map is a little ambiguous about this.
Our rating: Despite a few flaws, this is a solid map with a very distinctive look that ties in beautifully with Metro’s corporate identity. Three-and-a-half stars. It would be four, but I really don’t like the treatment of the rivers.
(Source: Official Nexus Metro website)