Historical Photo: Detroit Department of Street Railways (DSR) Coach and Car Stop Locator, c. 1955
An interesting twist on the old push-button interactive transit map. Instead of pressing a button to map out your route, here you press a button to find out where in Detroit’s downtown area to board your bus or streetcar. Although difficult to make out, the text along the bottom of the map seems to read: “To locate your loading zone, press button on your line.” I’m not entirely sure how successful this innovation was, as everyone in the photo seems to have an air of confusion about them.
(Source: WSU Virtual Motor City Collection)
Official Map: “BUZ” Frequent Service Bus Network, Brisbane, Australia
"BUZ" apparently stands for "Bus Upgrade Zone", a somewhat convoluted way to refer to frequent service routes — every 10 minutes in peak periods and every 15 minutes at other times. That Brisbane has 20 such frequent service routes is actually pretty impressive, but the map itself is not.
What a horrible, twisted, messy, scraggly attempt at a network map this is. Completely diagrammatic in some parts, and overly precise in others: what is with the ridiculous twists in the two routes at the very top of the map? The central part of the map is simply ghastly, with absolutely no thought as to how to group routes together properly. Routes that leave the city headed towards a common direction or destination should all be grouped with each other, not randomly separated as they are here.
Why does the western end of the Maroon Cityglider have a slight non-standard and visually distracting angle applied to it?
Looking at the map, but not the legend, tell me if the last stop at the eastern end of the Maroon Cityglider is Stones Corner or Langlands Park. It’s the former, although the placement of the labels leads you to believe its the latter.
The 90-degree curve on the cyan Route 340 line through the city centre is terribly drawn and — appallingly — runs into the lime green Route 196 terminus at Merthyr.
Station dots that don’t align with the route line they’re on, badly implemented arrows that point at stations that are too far away from their labels, labels that aren’t consistently aligned (there’s a thought for another tutorial!), insipid typography (Arial!), strange spacing (what’s with the giant empty gap in the middle of the southern leg of Route 100?)… the list of awfulness goes on and on.
Our rating: Not thought through at all and almost incoherently executed. It’s like a first draft by someone who’s never made a transit map before. Who signs off on these things? One (incredibly generous) star, and that’s only because I was born there and have a sentimental attachment to the place.
(Source: Translink Queensland website)
Historical Map: Montreal Tramways Company, 1941
Here’s a very handsome map of transit in 1941 Montreal, provided by the Montreal Tramways Company, or La Compagnie des Tramways de Montreal. Despite the name, there’s also a healthy (and growing) number of bus routes on this map, shown in blue.
Cleverly, the map rotates the city away from true north in order to fit everything onto the sheet of paper allocated, and the north pointer used is simply lovely, even including the company’s “MTC” monogram.
The map does a lot with just three colours, clearly differentiating between bus and tram services while highlighting regular services versus supplementary/rush hour ones with a minimum of fuss. The callout boxes for main stations are lovely, with the names contained within an ornate scroll at the top of the box.
My favourite part of the map, however, is how it effortlessly deals with the requirement to present information in both French and English. It even goes so far as to have one information box say “Index of/des Routes” while the other states “Index des/of Routes”, so that no-one feels that the other side got a better deal.
Finally, the roundel that the MTC uses for its logo looks awfully familiar...
Our rating: Quite lovely — clear and stylish. Four stars!
Historical Map: TTC System Map, Guide and Patron, December 5, 1957
Awesome old publicity photos that seem to feature a helpful TTC guide explaining the system map to Betty Draper. Also, the illustrations around the map itself are kind of incredible. The newfangled subway has only been open for three years at this point in time.
Compare to this similarly amazing TTC photo from 1966.
Reblogged from: torontohistory
Official Map: Port Authority of Allegheny County Full System Map
While researching yesterday’s post about Pittsburgh’s light rail map, I came across this, the full system map — showing light rail, BRT (busways) and buses — produced by the Port Authority of Allegheny County and available on their website.
That’s right: the map image has been sliced up into multiple .png files and placed into an HTML table. A table with a staggering fifty-one separate cells. It’s like a time warp back to 1996 or something.
To view the map in more detail, you have to click on one of those cells and a (slightly) enlarged version of that tiny slice of the county comes up for further viewing, as seen in the second picture above. A list of routes that runs through that section also comes up: you can click again to view individual maps and schedules for that line. To see where a route goes outside your current tiny square, you have to close the pop-up and then click on an adjacent area.
Of course, you can also click an area of the map which has no routes shown at all, just to view that wide open nothingness in greater detail (third picture). Useful!
Is this really the best way for customers to view a system map, one tiny little square at a time? It’s almost impossible to follow a route from one end to the other or even really make sense of the map at all (it’s not legible at the overview size). A downloadable PDF of this map with embedded hyperlinks to further route information (linking back to the website) would be a far better way to distribute this information, but that’s not even an option: this clunky, antiquated “Web 1.0” interface is the only way this system map can be accessed.
Submission - Official Map: Pittsburgh Light Rail System Map
Submitted by Dan Daly, who says:
Here is the Pittsburgh light rail map. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. In my opinion it is kinda useless not because of it’s design but because it only covers the light rail. Very little of the urban part of the city is actually covered in this map. If the busways were fully included with station names and the links to the T stops it would be much more useful for someone trying to find their way around the city.
Transit Maps says:
It seems a little unfair to me to single out this one particular light rail map for not showing other transit modes when there are plenty of other maps that do exactly the same thing — my own city of Portland, Oregon makes no reference to bus services on its MAX light rail map. Generally, an overall system map will include all modes of transit — a light rail map like this is then also offered to show this particular mode in full detail without the clutter of the other modes.
So while I can’t really find fault with the scope of this map, I certainly can with the execution. It’s another example of the frustratingly average transit map design seen throughout much of the United States — uninspired typography, dull, unexciting colour choices and poor/strange informational hierarchy.
I especially take issue with the way that stations with high-level platforms are given so much more visual prominence over low-level platforms, with both a bigger station marker and larger, bolder labelling. While it’s good to know whether you’re boarding on the level or via stairs (the light rail trains in Pittsburgh have two front doors, one at each level), it doesn’t justify giving one type of station so much more visual emphasis over the other. Apart from the different platform heights, there’s no difference between these stations — the larger, bolder type should really be reserved for interchange or terminus stations only.
The other thing I’ve long disliked about this map is the weird jog that the Red Line takes through Fallowfield station, which “breaks” the line into two segments at that point. For the longest time, I thought this meant that riders had to change trains here or something, but it just seems to be an unnecessary design element casing that confusion.
The inclusion of busways on this map seem like a complete afterthought: only one busway actually interfaces with the light rail (and even this isn’t made clear with the stations closer to downtown), and the minuscule green route line shown for the West Busway just seems insultingly pathetic.
Our rating: Relentlessly mediocre. Two stars.
Historical Map: San Francisco Muni Transit Routes, 1970
For a long period of time, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, (commonly shortened to just “Muni”) used pretty much exactly the same map in their brochures. It seems that each year, they’d simply make any amendments required — addition of new routes, deletion of old ones, etc. — and then reprint the brochure/map in a new colour combination.
The earliest example I can find, from 1952, uses a sombre two-color palette of black and red, mostly tinted down to greys and pinks. However, by 1970, the map had evolved into this gloriously garish three-colour purple, yellow and black vision that suits the post-Summer of Love San Francisco perfectly.
The map shows all Muni streetcar, coach and cable car services, but with no visible mode differentiation — express services are shown with a dashed line. However, the map’s actually pretty clean and easy to follow: route termini are clearly shown by route numbers in large circles, and there’s enough smaller numbers along each route to allow you to follow them from one end to the other.
Also of note: basic fare is just 20 cents!
Our rating: Groovy, man! A psychedelic re-imagining of a long-serving and functional map. Four stars.
(Source: Eric Fischer/Flickr)
Historical Map: Berlin BGV Map Detail, 1931
Lovely informational clarity in this detail from a beautiful 1931 map of Berlins transit - tram, bus and U-Bahn. Of particular note is how all labelling that is not directly related to the transit routes is rendered in a visually pleasing and subordinate light grey.
(Source: IsarSteve — Around and About in Berlin)
Official Map: Public Transport Network of Debrecen, Hungary
Sent my way via a comment left on the website regarding the woeful map of Szeged, Hungary (Sept. 2013, 0.5 stars), here’s another truly awful transit map from Hungary: this one from its second-largest city, Debrecen.
In short, it’s an absolute disaster.
Route lines branch off in any direction (no constraining angles to 45-degree increments for this bad boy!), while labels are jammed in wherever they can fit, at any old angle. The labelling is so bad, that the map has a large part of the legend at the bottom left devoted to defining abbreviations that are used in an attempt to shorten names to make them fit! At least none of the labels cut through route lines, but the means don’t justify the ends here.
Technically, even the curved parts of the route lines are actually short sections of straight paths that simulate a curve (badly), making me think that this has been put together in CAD software, rather than a design/illustration application.
The strangely subdued colour scheme (a lot of pastel pinks, purples and greys) doesn’t help matters either: there’s very little contrast between a lot of adjacent route lines, which makes following them difficult.
Almost apologetically, the text above the legend states: “Attention! Map not to scale.”
Our rating: An absolute eyesore. This style of map is fairly common for bus/tram networks in Europe, and can work when executed well (see Viteks Bariševs’ unofficial map of Riga, Latvia), but this is definitely not working at all. No stars.
(Source: Official DKV site — also an “interactive” Flash-based version of the same map, and an SVG download if you want to open it up in Illustrator for some laughs)
Detail, Transit Map of Milan, Italy
A detail of a city-wide map showing the approximate limits of the historical centre of Milan. I’m guessing that this is located in or near the Duomo Metro station, based on the way that the map is worn away at that point — as I’ve mentioned before, many users will actually point to their starting location on a map as they trace their intended route.
Tge thick green/yellow/red lines are the Metro, blue lines are the tram and brown/maroon lines would be buses. Numbers in circles show route termini; numbers in squares allow you to follow a route from point to point.
The area shown here is actually easily walkable without the use of public transport, unless you’re in a hurry, I guess!