Future Minneapolis & St. Paul Transit Map
After several months in development, I’m proud to present to you the Future Twin Cities Transit Map. A comprehensive summary of current rapid transit proposals, this version shows all existing and future light rail & BRT lines as well as select major bus routes, commuter rail and HSR connections. Detailed summary of transit improvements available at MetroTransit’s homepage.
In 2030, Twin Cities are expected to join the likes of Chicago, Curitiba and Copenhagen in operating an efficient, reliable, and extensive transit network. Take a peek at the future!
Download, Print, Share, Modify…
No project is ever complete, so I would welcome anyone to use it as a template for their own mapping project!
The map is published under a Creative Commons license(Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike).This means sharing and making copies is not just allowed but strongly encouraged.
Comments / questions? Just ask!
Transit Maps says:
I’ve been following this project with interest for quite a while now, and all I can say now that it’s completed is: WOW!
This is a transit map designed to inspire future riders. It’s beautifully designed, technically excellent (I’ve pulled apart the PDF in Illustrator to get a good look under the hood), and — quite frankly — puts a lot of official transit maps produced in the U.S. to absolute shame.
What I love most is the crystal-clear informational hierarchy: thick, coloured lines represent rapid transit, be it LRT or BRT. Regardless of the mode, service comes frequently (9 to 12 minute headways) and the vehicles move quickly. Grey lines (lower in the hierarchy) show arterial bus service, with line thickness neatly representing service frequency. Beneath this, the I-494/694 ring is subtly shown for orientation, and the geography is rendered in a style that complements the routes beautifully. The legend is clear and easy to use, and the colour scheme for the whole map gives it a very sophisticated, modern feel.
Finally, the icons used on the map are excellent from top to bottom, from the distinctive segmented interchange markers, down to the tiny airport, commuter rail and Amtrak icons. Fantastic attention to detail is evident here.
Our rating: Everything I love about modern transit map design. Five stars!
Lessons in how NOT to adapt your map to a different shape, Denver edition
When I reviewed the new West Line Denver LTD light rail map (April 2013, 2 stars), I wondered how the new landscape format would work on trains and on station fittings. Well, one half of that question has been answered: this is what it looks like on the trains, and it ain’t pretty.
Basically, they’ve just taken the map and compressed it vertically to squeeze it into the allocated space. The loop around the city, which was already a pretty poor excuse for a circle, has now become a weirdly distorted oval, and all the inaccuracies where routes run concurrently have been magnified. Even in this angled photo, you can see huge differences in the spacing between the C, D, E, F, and H lines, especially between the I-25 & Broadway and Alameda stations.
The format also leads to huge amounts of empty, wasted space and teeny-tiny labels for the stations: not exactly useful. I will say that the map looks a lot better without the grey background and street grid (which would probably just look ridiculous in this horribly distorted version, anyway).
P.S. How do you make this map better? Here’s what I came up with in five minutes.
Non-Entry for the MBTA “New Perspectives” Map Challenge
I love the idea of re-designing Boston’s clunky quasi-decipherable Rapid Transit Map. When I heard that the T was putting together a challenge to re-design the map I seized the opportunity. My enthusiasm cooled once I read the fine-print, but more on that later. I spent the weekend tweaking Bezier curves and aligning dots (so many damn dots), using references like Google maps and subway maps from around the world and came up with this.Notably absent from the current map is any green space or any of evidence that humans live and work here. Olmsted’s parks have the decidedly un-manly name of “The Emerald Necklace” which I why I suspect they are absent from the current map. The parks really are a treasure though, and some believe that Franklin Park is Olmsted’s masterpiece trumping his more famous Central Park in New York. ( I confess that I have never been there, though I try to ride my bike to the Arboretum every summer). I did my best to tweak the parks’ geography to the rigidity of the map, as well as keeping them to scale with the Common and Rose Kennedy Greenway.
I named relevant waterways and some government buildings and landmarks. The choice not to overdo it with too many of them is a conscious one. The downtown region where all the lines meet is busy enough already that I simply could not include certain important landmarks. Also, station names that match locations like “Museum of Fine Arts” and “Aquarium” already do the job.The handicap accessibility symbol is necessary but also robs any map of rhythm and intent. My work-around was to create descriptive keys for each major lines listing the sub-lines and their teminuses (termini?) with a statement identifying stations that do not have accessibility. The Red Line only has one non-accessible station, the Blue Line -two. The Silver and Orange Lines have access to all of their stops. I feel this solution is an aesthetically stronger choice than to have the symbol at every accessible stop.The Green Line, however, requires such identification because the inaccessible stops outnumber the accessible ones. I’m not sure how ADA-compliant my idea is in the real world.
Also, naming all of the stops on the Green Line became important. Easy enough to do with the C, D, and (especially) the E lines. The B-Line with its super long names and
1918(!) stops proved a challenge. I’m guilty here of omission and abbreviation (The “Griggs St/Long Ave” stop is now just “Griggs St”) but -hey- the T really should shorten those names. While they’re at it, they should eliminate some stops if they can.
I also took liberties with the names of the Silver Line, um, lines. “S1” simply fits better on a map than “SL1”. Personally, I think it looks better too and is potentially less confusing for the commuter.
So there it is… I would say that its kind of a love letter to this place that I have lived in for 12 years, but that’s over-stating it. It was just wicked fun.
Creating something and then surrendering copyright is tantamount to Work for Hire. With this ‘challenge’ (note, they are shrewdly not calling it a contest), the T wants Work for Hire… for Free. It’s unclear what the incentive is to enter the challenge if there are no prizes and especially if, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith:
“Replacing all of the maps in the MBTA system would represent a significant expense and not one that is being contemplated at this time.”
So, from here it seems that the T is claiming copyright on all the entries so when they do re-design the system map, they can pick and choose great ideas from each without compensating anyone for them. Classy!
Even the perpetually cash-strapped T can throw a bone to graphic designers that need to put in at least a weekend of work to make something look decent. If they really, really wanted designers to care, they could put some meat on that bone. I ride the commuter rail 4 days a week… I’ll take a yearly pass. I’m not alone in thinking this. In fact, American Institute of Graphic Arts points out that designers should never provide anything of value if they are paid nothing of value. So, T… pay for quality graphic design. Oh, and get rid of “forward funding” to finance yourself. That’s just common sense.
Transit Maps says:
Dave’s map has some neat new touches that I really like — the inclusion of Boston’s extensive parklands is lovely — and he’s really put a lot of thought into everything, as his commentary above shows.
Some elements aren’t quite as successful as others: while his “Line Keys” work well, condensing accessibility information into easily digestible blocks, his repetitive naming of the commuter rail lines (especially the quadruple naming on the south-eastern branches) is just redundant. I’d also have to say that making the B, C, and D branches of the Green Line the same length on the map would be confusing for most users — the D branch extends much further out to Riverside and operates more like a normal train service than the at-grade B and C branches.
However, one thing I totally agree with Dave on is his stance against the MBTA’s shameless grab for free creative ideas, as I’ve already posted about here.
Weekend Fun: Name That Transit System!
Here’s something a bit different, just for kicks. These extremely abstracted topological diagrams of U.S. rail transit systems were sent to me by Herbie Markwort, who runs the Gateway Streets blog about transportation issues in St. Louis.
Personally, I love the way that these diagrams look. Simplified down to their bare essentials — connecting points and termini — the systems take on an almost runic appearance. As much as possible, the distance between connection points is kept the same in these diagrams, regardless of the length of the lines in real life.
Obviously then, diagram “A” could represent any of the single-line rail systems in the U.S. — Buffalo, Phoenix, Seattle, et al — and diagram “B” represents a system (or systems) with just one branch line extending from a main trunk line. It’s certainly a fascinating way to look at something familiar from a different viewpoint, and had me scratching my head for quite a while before Herbie let me in on the answers.
Let me know what you think they are — reblog, reply, or use the Disqus commenting system to post your answers.
Official Map Update: Denver RTD Light Rail West Line
Transit Maps reviewed Denver’s light rail map way back in October 2011. We weren’t too impressed with it then, and nothing much has changed with this new edition that marks today’s opening of the new (aqua) West Line out to Golden.
The map itself has had to change orientation from portrait to landscape to fit the new route in, which raises the question of how it’s going to fit into existing fittings on trains and stations. The new format also seems to make a lot of the labels — especially those on the underlying street grid — very small and hard to read.
The route lines on the map are still very poorly dawn. Lines that run parallel to each other appear to have been drawn individually, rather than offsetting a master line with the tools available in most illustration software to ensure accuracy (Hint: in Illustrator, this would be the Object > Path > Offset Path command). As a result, there’s some very ugly and inconsistent gaps between routes in places. The curves are also generally badly drawn: the loop around the city would look so much better as a proper circular arc, while the sudden jog in the West Line at Federal Center looks positively dangerous for riders!
Finally, it looks as if the designer forgot to group all the roads together before reducing their opacity: it looks especially horrid where I-25 and I-225 intersect.
This is very much an interim map: the RTD’s FasTracks program is going to expand the passenger rail system in Denver hugely in the next few years — both light rail and commuter rail. However, that still doesn’t excuse sloppy work like this.
Our rating: Nothing’s really changed since last time in terms of execution or quality. Still two stars.
(Source: Official RTD website)
Where To Go Next?
Taken at Addison station on Chicago’s Blue Line. The “L” system map plus timetable and route information relevant to the current station/line: a simple but effective combination of useful information.
(Source: Lucyrk in LA/Flickr)
Unofficial Map: UTA TRAX and Frontrunner — a plea for good transit map design
Found on Twitter via user @f40phr231
Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s an unofficial map of Salt Lake City’s TRAX and FrontRunner rail system. I’ve feautured another unofficial map of this system previously (December 2012, 3.5 stars), but this one is interesting because it contains a message seemingly aimed at the UTA, almost pleading for better map design. It reads:
This map was created by CLF as an attempt to show how a UTA rail map can be laid out clearly while avoiding unnecessary bends in the lines, and extra lines connecting station names with the station dots.
Transit maps should be simple and easy to route.
For clarity, some station names that had only only numbers were replaced with an hypothetical neighborhood name.
The lines were drawn for black-and-white printing and accessibility for the color-blind.
In the grand scheme of things, this map is really pretty standard — there’s nothing truly memorable about it, nor is the design particularly outstanding — yet it’s still streets ahead of the current official map. The extra space afforded to downtown SLC works wonders for clarity and usability — gone are the ugly lines pointing to stations from awkwardly placed labels. The labelling could still use some work — different sizes of type are used, and the labels on the south-western leg of the Red Line could easily be set horizontally instead of at an angle. The tiny labelling of route names within their respective route lines is next to useless: another approach should be used to identify routes for color-blind users.
Finally, a tweet from the UTA in response to this map seems to suggest that things could get better in the future — here’s hoping!
P.S. Does anyone know who or what “CLF” is?
Salt Lake City UTA TRAX and FrontRunner: now officially the most embarrassing transit maps in the U.S.
Seriously. Do they even care at all any more?
With the opening of the new TRAX light rail Green Line extension to the airport, the UTA has updated their website with new maps. Well, only partially, which is bad enough in itself. If you go to the System Maps page, you still get a combined pre-extension TRAX/FrontRunner map (reviewed here, Dec 2012, half a star). However, if you click on the TRAX or FrontRunner icons, you can get to the updated individual maps for each service as shown here.
These maps are… beyond appalling.
It’s painfully obvious to me that a low-quality JPG has been exported for each map, and the service that is not meant to be shown has been deleted in Photoshop using the eraser tool. And they’ve done a really bad job of it, too, sloppily deleting parts of route lines, station markers and labels all over the place. On the TRAX map, the Red and Blue lines inexplicably change to shades of grey through the city center, and a completely undeleted part of the FrontRunner route remains visible (also in grey!). Stations on the FrontRunner map that would interchange with TRAX still have their wider interchange markers, even though there’s no TRAX routes shown to interchange with.
Even the legend at the bottom of the maps have had the same treatment: there’s room for the three TRAX lines to slot neatly into place on the FrontRunner map and vice versa. I’ve overlaid these two maps on top of each other in Photoshop: they fit almost perfectly.
I recently said that designers shouldn’t work for free, but in this case, I take it all back. Please: can someone — anyone! — design a decent rail map for the UTA and make them use it, because this is is just pathetic.
Unofficial Map: Dallas-Fort Worth Rail Transit by Gabe Tiberius Columbo
I’ve been frustrated with the Dallas rail map for a while, and decided to make a comprehensive diagram of Dallas-Fort Worth rail trainsit.
Transit Maps says:
Simply put, this is a beautiful diagrammatic map and is far more visually attractive than the official DART map (August 2012, 3 stars). There’s a very elegant, restrained feeling to this: from the subtle grey background and typography to some excellent, slightly unusual colour choices for the route lines that work really nicely together. The way the Green and Orange lines interact with the Red and Blue is exactly what I wanted to see in the official map, and this treatment looks so much cleaner.
One could make a case for the inclusion of a few geographical features or major highways to give a better sense of scale and location, but — purely for route finding — the map doesn’t really need them, in my opinion.
The map’s not totally perfect: I don’t see a need for the smaller type for station names on the TRE and A-Train services: the thinner route lines already differentiate them from the main DART services, and the smaller type is somewhat harder to read. By the time we get down to the Amtrak routes and the M-Line Trolley, the type is almost ridiculously small.
There’s also a typo in the legend that references the “Fort Worth Transportaion Authority”.
Our rating: Excellent work that takes a completely different approach to the official map and does it very well. Four stars.
BART Map Mosaic, Near MacArthur Station
An altogether lovely little piece of public art on an otherwise unremarkable trash can. Interestingly, this simple little map still attempts to show the part-time service on the Richmond/Millbrae line south of Daly City.
(Source: Jef Poskanzer/Flickr)