Official Maps: In-Car Strip Maps for Loop or Circle Lines
An anonymous follower asks: “Do you have any examples of a line map for a loop/circle line? I’m curious as to how those are implemented.”
Transit Maps says:
Generally, a strip map for a loop or circle line follows much the same principles as a usual one, although the available space may have to be used a little more creatively in order to fit things in. Above are a few interesting examples.
London’s Circle Line: With recent additions, this line is no longer a true loop — for which the travelling public is sincerely thankful, as any problems on the Circle used to impact the District and Hammersmith & City lines terribly, throwing much of the Underground into chaos. From the picture above, it can be seen that the Circle Line’s strip map utilises a much deeper space above the doors than many Underground strip maps do. Often, they run in a single, shallow line above the windows of the carriage. The other lines that share track with the Circle Line are also shown, but not lines that cross it: these are shown as standard interchanges instead.
Chicago’s Orange Line: This line runs around Chicago’s central Loop and returns back the way it came. The map handles things in a pretty straightforward way, although, interestingly, the thickness of the route line halves while it’s going around the loop. The direction of travel around the loop is clearly indicated with arrows.
Tokyo’s Yamanote Line: Of course, the Japanese use technology to display information about their famous circle line! Each car on the Yamanote Line has LCD displays that indicate the current station (the red box), as well as the estimated time to the next few stations. The display alternates between Japanese and English information.
Glasgow Subway: Well, the whole subway is a loop — earning the system the nickname “The Clockwork Orange” — so all their maps look like this. Despite the inner and outer loops travelling in opposite directions, this map neglects to point out which one goes where!
More Tariff Zone Maps: The Ugly Stepsisters of the Transit Map World
Yesterday’s post on Eastern Austria/Greater Vienna’s tariff zone map certainly attracted some attention: I’ve already received quite a few links to similar maps from different (mainly European) locations. Shown here are the tariff zone maps for Munich, Glasgow and Hamburg, all of which are bewildering in their own way.
As some commenters have pointed out to me, these maps seem to be a bit of a necessary evil: the transit agency needs to have some way of conveying their (often complex) fare structure to commuters, who require this information to buy weekly or monthly passes. The larger the system and the more modes of transportation used, the more complex and unwieldy the map becomes.
Because they’re only used by a subset of the total users of the system, these maps don’t always get the same “design love” that the main system map gets… leaving us with something that’s often visually unsatisfying and arcane in its actual usage. In this digital age, I think that a form on the transit agency’s website linked to a database of destinations would actually be a quicker, more user-friendly way for commuters to obtain this information. Enter your starting point, your destination, choose between alternate routes or services if there’s a choice, and you’re then presented with the cost of your pass, which perhaps you could even purchase on-line.
Fantasy Map: Children’s Library Literary “Transit Map”
This adorable map adorns the walls of the rather lovely Passmore Edwards Centre children’s library in Newton Abbot, England. The names of the “stations” were chosen by local children in a competition.
(Source: Devon Libraries/Flickr)
Video: Making of a London Underground String Map
Feeling creative? Why not make a string art replica of your favourite subway system as shown in this awesome video? The pro tip is definitely the taping down of the actual map before putting in the nails for guaranteed fidelity to the real thing.
(Source: fsm vpggru/Vimeo)
Unofficial Map: Circular Tube Map by Maxwell Roberts
Apparently, circular Tube Maps are like London buses — none come forever, then two arrive at the same time.
This one is by Maxwell Roberts, an expert on the London Underground map if there ever was one. He’s personally redrawn multiple, multiple versions of the map in just about every possible configuration, just to see what works and what doesn’t. Many are featured in his excellent book, Underground Maps Unravelled, which I promise I’ll review properly one day.
Wisely, Roberts has confined his map to the traditional view of Greater London itself, with trains headed to distant places given an arrow pointer towards that destination.
Interestingly, most of his route lines radiate out from a central point, but some run parallel to other routes instead. This makes the design less rigid to a design ideal, but also upsets the visual flow of the diagram in a couple of places — I find the parallel Bakerloo and Metropolitan Lines in the northwest part of the map quite jarring.
Roberts’ interchange stations are much tighter than Fisher’s, looking far more like “traditional” Tube Map markers, but some are still very convoluted in making their connections between lines, such as at Farringdon/Barbican.
The London Underground logo “hidden” in the Circle Line is a bit of a gimmicky design affectation, although it actually works surprisingly well in the context of the diagram.
Overall, I think this version is more successful than Jonny Fisher’s, although I still don’t really see it as a viable alternative to the current official map. Neither does Mr. Roberts, who says, “Overall though, I don’t think I will be sending this one to TfL for comments. No great advances in usability here, but it was fun to make it.” Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Going Underground blog — click through for more detailed analysis from Maxwell Roberts himself)
Unofficial Map: “Orbital” London Underground Map by Jonny Fisher
Here’s an interesting new look at the London Underground from architect/designer/writer Jonny Fisher. It’s always fun when someone reinterprets something as well known as this: every designer approaches the same problem differently. For me, this map isn’t wholly successful, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.
Have we been there? Yes.
What we like: A bold attempt at a redesign of possibly the most well-known transit map of all. The “orbital” theme actually makes a lot of sense: London already has a Circle Line, and the Overground does form a looser larger circle around that. As a map designer myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into making this look as coherent and attractive as it does.
What we don’t like: Station labels set in all lower case text… ugh!
Inclusion of far-distant Thameslink stations like Brighton, Peterborough and Kings Lynn (97 miles from London and — from my understanding — no certainty to be a part of the final Thameslink Programme) is faintly ridiculous and leads to some awful crowding of station names in the north eastern quadrant of the map. Inclusion of the Tramlink services in southern London may have been more warranted, and would have helped with the “orbital” theme of the map.
Lack of differentiation betwen the different types of service shown, even in the legend, which opts for a pretty “rainbow” of route lines instead. The colours may be in order, but the types of services are all mixed up. As the Underground operates at far greater frequencies that the mainline and rail services, this is an important distinction to make.
Some of the bigger interchange stations are now inordinately large: it looks as if you have to traverse across large parts of London to change from the Circle Line to the Victoria Line at Kings Cross/St. Pancras, for example.
I miss the Thames.
Our rating: Interesting new look at something familiar, if flawed. Two-and-a-half stars.
Happy Birthday Johnston and the London Underground
This week London sees the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. To commemorate the occasion a stream locomotive used in the 19th century made a journey through the modern tunnels of the Metropolitan line. See more on the BBC
It is also 100 years since its iconic typeface Johnston Sans was released as the the ‘Underground’ typeface. Dan Rhatigan, type director at Monotype and forthcoming interviewee of 8 Faces talks about Edward Johnston and the typeface here.
The structured, based on a calligraphic nib held at a 45 degree angle, is emphasised by Johnston’s diamond tittles shapes (the dots over the i and j), one of it’s most recognisable characteristics.
That drawing for the old London Underground roundel (or “bullseye” as they called it then) is just beautiful. I’m a little divided about Johnston Sans itself: while it’s a distinctive and integral part of the Underground’s identity, it’s not a very versatile font and is pretty wide, taking up a lot of space, even for something simple like station labels on the tube map.
Historical Map: Railways of London, showing the Metropolitan and District Lines, 1889
One last post for the Tube’s 150th birthday (it’s still the 9th of January here on the West Coast of the United States!). This is the oldest map I can find that shows what would later be known as the London Underground: an 1889 map of London’s railways — still some 26 years after the first part of the Metropolitan Line opened.
Main line routes are shown in red and the newfangled “underground lines” are shown in blue. The newly completed Circle Line — a cooperation between the two competing Underground operators — can clearly be seen on the map.
Google Doodle Celebrates the London Tube’s 150th Birthday!
The Metropolitan Line — first part of what was to become today’s London Underground — was opened on January 9, 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon Street via Kings Cross.
See my other posts about the London Underground here.
(Source: google.co.uk home page)
Vintage “Punch” Magazine Tube Map Cartoon
Lovely little Edwardian piece of whimsy to welcome the weekend.
(Source: Annie Mole/Flickr)