Submission - Washington DC Metro Cross Stitch

Submitted by ghostof-electricity, who says:

DC metro map cross stitch I made this summer. I moved away two weeks before the silver line opened so I chose to create the metro map pre-silver line, the way I remember it  :)


Transit Maps says:

Rectilinear transit diagrams lend themselves well to cross stitch, but this is one of the neater ones I’ve seen. Nice work!

  1. Camera: iPhone 4S
  2. Aperture: f/2.4
  3. Exposure: 1/20th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm

Work in Progress: McKinney Avenue Trolley Map - Current Service

This is pretty much the finished product, I think, barring any major errors. The MATA website states that there are 38 trolley stops along the route, but I can only find 37, even after multiple “drives” along the entire route in Google Street View. 

I changed the background colour from silver to beige after doing some prints: the whole thing just looked too drab and grey once on paper. This works much better and make the whole map seem a little visually lighter.

Points of interest are taken directly from the current official MATA map, although far more accurately located. The only addition is the the historic trolley barn, which I’ve also highlighted by using the M-Line’s distinctive maroon colour. The map also usefully includes MATA’s contact information and general hours of operation. The whole map is formatted to print out perfectly on a US Letter sheet with half-inch margins all around – handy for tourists to print out and bring along for the ride!

The route line itself shows direction of travel, as well as where the route is double-tracked (down McKinney Avenue itself). I’ve made an effort to show where on the road the tracks actually are – left-running, right-running or center-running – while the little “half-circle” stop symbols indicate which side of the road riders should stand on to board the trolley. Full circle markers are reserved for those stops where the trolley physically changes direction: the turntable at Uptown, and the current southern terminus at St. Paul & Ross.

Stops are generally named after the street they are on, with the nearest cross street as the second part of the name. This only leads to one less than optimal result, when the Cole & Lemmon stop is immediately followed by Lemmon & Cole. A few exceptions to the rule are also made for stops near notable landmarks – the Dallas Museum of Art, for example.

DART light rail stations are shown, but lower in the information hierarchy than the streetcar, or even the Katy Trail (in orange), a popular and important multi-use (bike/pedestrian) path that links Uptown and Downtown. The DART line up to Cityplace/Uptown station actually runs in a tunnel underneath the freeway, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s really an important thing to show on a map like this.

I’ve also made two other versions of this map: one for when the spur along Olive Street opens (reportedly very soon), and one for the final configuration with the full loop through the Arts District. All up, I’ve probably only spent 20 hours or so on this project, and that includes drawing the base map from scratch. Once I’m finally done, I’ll be reaching out to MATA to see if they’d like to use this map in any way.

Thoughts? Errors? Can anyone tell me where the mysterious missing 38th stop is?

Work in Progress: McKinney Avenue Trolley Map, Dallas, Texas

Thanks to Michael Champlin for inspiring this little project. I’ve been thinking of doing a more geographically-based map for a while now to break out of the routine of always doing diagrammatic transit maps, so when he sent me a link to the actual map (PDF, 5.6MB) that this heritage streetcar system in Dallas, Texas uses, I knew that something better could be done.

So here’s a work-in-progress screenshot. Most of the hard work has been done, but I’m still toying with a few elements here and there and adding the final informational layers on top. I drew the street map by hand in Illustrator, which is time consuming but rewarding. I did actually try to export the streets, parks and rivers from ArcGIS to style up in Illustrator, but got incredibly frustrated with the poor quality of linework from the City of Dallas’ GIS files: wonky curves, non-joined road segments, etc. It’d take me longer to clean that up than just draw it myself, so that’s what I did. At least I know what I’m ending up with when I do it myself!

The main experiment here – that I think is working well – is the bounding box around the two separate northbound and southbound stops along McKinney Avenue that share the same cross street (and therefore the name of the stop). This means I only have to label the stops once!

Other notes: the background grid is in quarter-mile increments, and the typeface is Good Headline Pro, which has a nice old world “Gothic” feel, but with a bit of a modern twist. Also: huge x-height and tiny descenders, which are great for this type of labelling work. The orange line is the Katy Trail, a popular multi-use path that’s an important part of the urban fabric of this part of Dallas.

Thoughts and suggestions?

Interactive Map: Architectural Types of the Washington DC Metro

An interesting post over at Greater Greater Washington by long-time Transit Maps contributor Matt’ Johnson: a clickable interactive map that displays the location of each of the different architectural styles at stations. (That’s eleven defined styles, plus a category for those few stations that are unique). The “waffle” vaulting at underground stations may be the iconic style in most people’s minds, but there’s definitely more to be seen than just that! Even the map above gives a great idea of how the architecture evolved (for reasons of both cost and changing architectural tastes) as the system has expanded over the years: a unified central core of the original “waffle” style, with increasing diversity out along the (newer) branch lines. Matt’ promises an animated chronological map tomorrow, which sounds excellent.

Source: Greater Greater Washington

Historical Map: SCRTD Tourist Bus Pass Brochure Map, 1980

When is a bus map not a bus map? When it doesn’t really show any routes at all, that’s when. While this cheerfully cartoonish map might show destinations and label some major roads with bus route numbers, I think that anyone — let alone tourists new to LA! — would find it very difficult to actually navigate their way anywhere using only this map. It just about works as an introduction to the region and the bargain tourist pass rates ($1 per day for unlimited bus rides — sweet!), but that’s about it.

Source: Metro Transportation Library and Archive/Flickr

Video: Hyperlapse of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel

No map to be seen, but plenty of transit! Here’s a short Hyperlapse video that I made this week of peak-hour traffic in the transit tunnel underneath 3rd Avenue in Seattle, Washington. This is about 7 minutes of real time condensed into 30-odd seconds of high-speed footage.

The tunnel is one of only two combined light rail/bus tunnels in the United States and the only one with stations: the other is the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel in Pittsburgh.

Washington DC Metro Map Cocktail Menu

The cocktail menu from a now closed (and not much missed, judging by its Yelp reviews) Washington DC restaurant/cocktail bar. It’s a pretty lazy attempt at a very obvious motif, executed without a lot of panache… the best value is in the “activities prohibited” icons at the bottom of the page.

Source: urbanbohemian/Flickr

Submission - Unofficial Unified BART/Muni Metro Map by Jamison Wieser

Submitted by Jamison, who says:

I don’t want to share this map as much as the concept behind it. 

San Francisco’s Muni Metro light-rail system and the regional BART heavy-rail system share a subway under Market Street and the five busiest rail stations in the Bay Area. They share a subway, but side-by-side the system maps with radically different designs that don’t share anything in common besides the names of the station.

There are 10 lines between the two agencies and between the two maps, 4 of the colors used are duplicated. Topping that off, neither actually refers to the lines by the color. Muni lines have a letter and name, like the N-Judah. BART refers to trains by their destination, which means figuring out where a Richmond train goes means finding Richmond and backtracking along the map. Nearly every time I fly back home I meet a first time visitor who’s confused when the train is announced as a “Pittsburg/BayPoint train” instead of a Yellow line train they expect from the map.

I didn’t want to rename lines so much as just group them into color coded categories based on which subway corridors they run through in Oakland and San Francisco.

It’s exactly how Boston represents branches of the Green.

Muni’s JKLMN lines through Market Street get merged into the “Orange line” and what we called a line before becomes a branch; so the N-Judah line becomes the N-Judah branch of the Orange line. I choose orange for a couple reasons including the fact that the San Francisco Giant’s ballpark sits along it and it was Muni’s brand color at the time the Metro subway opened. The T-Third Street will be running north-south through a new subway under construction to Chinatown and for all the cultural connections and branding reasons the T was given the color red: I just dropped the letter name. At least as long as there isn’t another branch of it.

I narrowed BART from 5 lines to 3 and with only two of the lines branching I didn’t over-complicate it. The Richmond Line, becomes the Richmond brand of the Green Line. I chose the colors here so the Oakland A’s would be served by the team colors green and yellow, and like Berkeley would be served by Cal’s team colors Yellow and Blue (OK, it’s a different, but…)

I’d like you know what you think of this idea?


Transit Maps says:

There’s a lot to be said for unified transit maps — people just want to know how to get from place to place, without the barriers put in place by two (or more) separate maps getting in their way. With the Clipper Card, the transit systems of the Bay Area are becoming increasingly integrated, so some sort of joint map makes great sense.

The main problem, as I think Jamison is discovering in his working map above, is the vastly differing scales of the two networks. BART is a vast commuter/regional rail network that spreads out across the entire Bay Area, while the Muni Metro is a much more compact streetcar/light rail network that’s contained entirely within the City of San Francisco.

However, the Muni network has substantially more stops than BART, spaced much closer together. This means that it’s almost impossible to show the two networks together on the same map and keep things looking cohesive. The same problem is evident in Portland (with the MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar) and in Sydney (with the Sydney Trains network and the new Inner West light rail). The solution is to only label “important” Muni stations, leaving out most of the street-running stops, as seen on this Bay Area map that I’ve previously featured, and on this newer version of that map.

However, I think the simplification of the multiple routes to branches of coloured routes is very solid, and works well for me. Much the same as the Boston “T” has an underlying rationale behind its colour choices (the Red Line goes to Harvard, whose school colour is crimson, for example), so does Jamison’s vision for San Francisco. Having to ride the Orange Line to the ballpark to see the Giants is bound to annoy opposition fans no end — I love it! 


Question: Do you do theoretical maps? Because I’d love to see one of Cincinnati.

Asked by notsammyv.


Transit Maps says:

This is the only future/theoretical map of Cincinnati you ever really need to see. It was made by Michael Tyznik, the same guy who created that amazing Game of Thrones transit map recently.

Not only does it look awesome, but it’s firmly grounded in reality – the map shows what would have been constructed by 2031 if the MetroMoves ballot had been passed back in 2002. It didn’t, and transit in Cincy is still struggling to this day (streetcar woes, anyone?). Click on through to Michael’s site for more details and some more images of the map. He also sells prints!


Submission – Is there an awful typographical error in the New York Subway Map?

Submitted by Nelson Ricardo, who says:

Big typographical oopsie in the latest release of the NYC subway map [September 2014, to coincide with the reopening of the Montague Street Tunnel – Cam]. Station names written horizontally are markedly darker than those written at an angle.


Transit Maps says:

I was all ready to agree with Nelson – I opened the PDF up in my browser and the angled type did look terrible – until I did a little more research and opened up the PDF a few different ways (browser plug-ins vs. Acrobat vs. Preview). In short, not all PDF engines are created equal, and some of them render objects or type in a sub-optimal way.

Opening the PDF in Chrome using the PDF plug-in resulted in “bad” angled text, as did using Preview (which uses Apple’s own PDF engine, not Adobe’s). Opening the PDF in Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro on both a Mac and a PC resulted in much better rendering for the angled text, as shown above. Strangely, Safari (Apple’s own browser) uses an Adobe PDF plug-in, so the type renders well there!

For final proof, I managed to unlock the secured MTA map PDF and open it in Illustrator: all the type labels in the above image are 6.92pt Helvetica Bold, regardless of what angle they’re set at.

However, differing amounts of horizontal and vertical scaling have then been applied to the text labels (extremely poor typography!), which is probably what is causing the different PDF engines to render the type so differently.

Source: MTA website (PDF)