Photo: Incheon Airport Bus Map

As a functional map, this is pretty much useless, as it just looks like giant balls of yarn are unravelling across Incheon and Seoul.

Source: leonardo.bonanni/Flickr

Isaac Fischer writes:

Hi Cameron! I just wanted to thank you for your review of my map for the New Mexico Park and Ride system (July 2014, 3 stars). I thought I should let you know that I have contacted Park and Ride and they are considering adopting my map in place of their regular one. (I made the edits you suggested and also produced a miniature version that will more easily fit into their timetable.) I’ll let you know if they end up adopting the map.

One other thing that might interest you: I make all my maps in OmniGraffle, which is available for both Mac and iPad (but not for Windows or Linux machines). I wasn’t sure if you were aware of OmniGraffle’s potential for designing transit maps, but it is remarkably effective (I designed the Park and Ride map in about two hours). I never understood Illustrator or Inkscape; OmniGraffle is much more user-friendly. If you’re interested, I’d suggest checking it out.

——

Transit Maps says:

That’s very interesting news, Isaac! Hopefully they can see the value in a good system map and not only adopt it, but also pay you an amount that reflects that value for your work.

I’m aware of OmniGraffle, but I would have a couple of qualms about using it for professional map-making work.

Firstly, it’s not industry-standard software, which limits the ability to share work with other designers who don’t have the application, and it also prevents you from learning the Adobe Illustrator techniques and skills that would be required in a real-world job.

Secondly, I’m not sure of its ability to create proper four-colour process (CMYK) or spot-colour output files, which would be an absolute deal-breaker in a print production environment. Later conversion from RGB to CMYK could cause unwanted and unexpected colour shifts, especially with blacks and RGB colours that are brighter than can be printed in the limited CMYK gamut (greens and blues are especially susceptible to this). To be fair, I’ve seen conflicting reports on whether or not OmniGraffle can export a CMYK output file, so it may be capable of this.

In short, if you’d like to experiment with transit mapping for fun or as a hobby, then OmniGraffle looks like a cheap, easy to use solution. Isaac has certainly proved that quality work can be created in it. However, if you’re looking for a career in mapping, then there’s no way around it: learn Adobe Illustrator and learn it well.

Thanks also to “Bklynfatpants”, who left a comment on the site noting that it wasn’t necessarily fair to compare Isaac’s complete map with the tiny schematic that Park and Ride uses in their schedule. Park and Ride does have a complete system map, viewable here (PDF). It’s a geographical map, exported directly from GIS software. It’s still pretty bad, although admittedly much better than the itty-bitty schematic.

Historical Map: Nicholson’s Complete London Guide Bus Map, c. 1980

Unusual and potentially confusing bus map that chooses to colour-code routes by the major thoroughfare that they travel down: all Oxford Street buses are orange, all Farringdon Road buses are lime green, etc. However it’s all a bit of a mess, made more so by the strangely yellow/orange-heavy colour palette. Westminster Bridge is crossed by six routes; five of them are way too similar to each other (orange-brown, yellow, orange, another orange-brown and lime green). Only the dark green Victoria Street route line provides sufficient contrast with the other lines here.

The map also requires the user to have more than a passing familiarity with London bus routes, as it only lists their route number as they leave the map, not their destination. I know that Route 9 passes through Piccadilly, but where does it go after that? A travel-savvy Londoner might know, but a tourist may not.

Reminiscent of this similarly confusing central Sydney bus map from 2000, although at least the Sydney map tells you the final destination of the bus routes!

Our rating: Idiosyncratic, strange and not actually terribly useful. One-and-a-half stars.

1.5 Stars

Source: grepnold/Flickr

Photo: Tassenger (sic) Traffic Circuit Sketch Map

Putting the “net” in “network”. Long distance bus map in Qingdao, China.

Source: chrisdrum/Flickr

Photo: Bus map? Or periodic table?

Not really as bad as all that, but an amusing comparison nonetheless. There’s probably a good reason for the crossed out duplicate route numbers, but I sure as heck don’t know what it is.

Source: anna pickard/Flickr

Submission - Unofficial Map: Park and Ride Commuter Bus, Northern New Mexico by Isaac Fischer
Isaac submitted this in two parts, which I’ve combined into one post here. 
Of the first image, Isaac says:

This is the map that New Mexico Park and Ride provides in their system timetable; it’s probably the worst designed transit map I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design quality abhorrent, but it doesn’t even show the routes as even REMOTELY geographically accurate, and fails to include about two-thirds of the stops. Why they felt it necessary to make their map in this way is beyond me.

The second image is Isaac’s quite lovely redesign of the system as a proper transit map. He’s also made a future fantasy map in the same style, but let’s compare apples with apples for now.
First off, Isaac’s appraisal of the map from the official timetable is spot on. It’s an absolute disgrace, and has instantly found a place in the Transit Maps Hall of Shame. I really don’t need to describe what’s wrong with it, because it’s pretty darn obvious. I particularly like the way that the Purple Line extends to Albuquerque, but the Turquoise Line – which also goes there – is drawn completely separately, not joining on to the top part of the map at all.
Isaac’s map, by comparison, is quite excellent. There are a few minor things that could be tweaked, but in general, this is lovely, clean design that makes the network look easy and efficient to use. I particularly like the nice, wide, sweeping curves that the routes make when they change direction: the big arc that the Turquoise Line makes as it comes into Albuquerque is quite delightful.
I’m not entirely sure about the use of Gill Sans as the main labelling type. While it’s a classic sans serif typeface, I always feel that the x-height is a little small for the best legibility. Here, that failing is especially noticeable in the smaller “subtitle” labels.
I probably would have made the shade used for the Purple Line a little darker to provide better contrast with the adjacent Blue Line through Los Alamos: at the moment, they sort of blur into each other as their colour intensity is very similar. Overall, I find the colours very pleasing, with a nice New Mexican desert feel to the palette, but these two colours could be adjusted a bit for better balance between them.
A bigger problem: using the same line thickness to denote peak hour Purple and Blue Line bus route extensions and the RailRunner commuter rail service between Belen and Santa Fe. Rail is a different transit mode to bus and needs to be differentiated visually from it. 
Finally, a letter line designation – “B” for Blue, “R” for Red”, etc. – for each route could assist colour-blind users. There’s quite a bit of empty space, so adding a couple of markers at each terminus station shouldn’t be too difficult.
Our rating: The official map obviously gets a big, fat, ZERO.

Isaac’s is far superior and really very promising work. Three stars.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Park and Ride Commuter Bus, Northern New Mexico by Isaac Fischer
Isaac submitted this in two parts, which I’ve combined into one post here. 
Of the first image, Isaac says:

This is the map that New Mexico Park and Ride provides in their system timetable; it’s probably the worst designed transit map I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design quality abhorrent, but it doesn’t even show the routes as even REMOTELY geographically accurate, and fails to include about two-thirds of the stops. Why they felt it necessary to make their map in this way is beyond me.

The second image is Isaac’s quite lovely redesign of the system as a proper transit map. He’s also made a future fantasy map in the same style, but let’s compare apples with apples for now.
First off, Isaac’s appraisal of the map from the official timetable is spot on. It’s an absolute disgrace, and has instantly found a place in the Transit Maps Hall of Shame. I really don’t need to describe what’s wrong with it, because it’s pretty darn obvious. I particularly like the way that the Purple Line extends to Albuquerque, but the Turquoise Line – which also goes there – is drawn completely separately, not joining on to the top part of the map at all.
Isaac’s map, by comparison, is quite excellent. There are a few minor things that could be tweaked, but in general, this is lovely, clean design that makes the network look easy and efficient to use. I particularly like the nice, wide, sweeping curves that the routes make when they change direction: the big arc that the Turquoise Line makes as it comes into Albuquerque is quite delightful.
I’m not entirely sure about the use of Gill Sans as the main labelling type. While it’s a classic sans serif typeface, I always feel that the x-height is a little small for the best legibility. Here, that failing is especially noticeable in the smaller “subtitle” labels.
I probably would have made the shade used for the Purple Line a little darker to provide better contrast with the adjacent Blue Line through Los Alamos: at the moment, they sort of blur into each other as their colour intensity is very similar. Overall, I find the colours very pleasing, with a nice New Mexican desert feel to the palette, but these two colours could be adjusted a bit for better balance between them.
A bigger problem: using the same line thickness to denote peak hour Purple and Blue Line bus route extensions and the RailRunner commuter rail service between Belen and Santa Fe. Rail is a different transit mode to bus and needs to be differentiated visually from it. 
Finally, a letter line designation – “B” for Blue, “R” for Red”, etc. – for each route could assist colour-blind users. There’s quite a bit of empty space, so adding a couple of markers at each terminus station shouldn’t be too difficult.
Our rating: The official map obviously gets a big, fat, ZERO.

Isaac’s is far superior and really very promising work. Three stars.

Submission - Unofficial Map: Park and Ride Commuter Bus, Northern New Mexico by Isaac Fischer

Isaac submitted this in two parts, which I’ve combined into one post here. 

Of the first image, Isaac says:

This is the map that New Mexico Park and Ride provides in their system timetable; it’s probably the worst designed transit map I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design quality abhorrent, but it doesn’t even show the routes as even REMOTELY geographically accurate, and fails to include about two-thirds of the stops. Why they felt it necessary to make their map in this way is beyond me.

The second image is Isaac’s quite lovely redesign of the system as a proper transit map. He’s also made a future fantasy map in the same style, but let’s compare apples with apples for now.

First off, Isaac’s appraisal of the map from the official timetable is spot on. It’s an absolute disgrace, and has instantly found a place in the Transit Maps Hall of Shame. I really don’t need to describe what’s wrong with it, because it’s pretty darn obvious. I particularly like the way that the Purple Line extends to Albuquerque, but the Turquoise Line – which also goes there – is drawn completely separately, not joining on to the top part of the map at all.

Isaac’s map, by comparison, is quite excellent. There are a few minor things that could be tweaked, but in general, this is lovely, clean design that makes the network look easy and efficient to use. I particularly like the nice, wide, sweeping curves that the routes make when they change direction: the big arc that the Turquoise Line makes as it comes into Albuquerque is quite delightful.

I’m not entirely sure about the use of Gill Sans as the main labelling type. While it’s a classic sans serif typeface, I always feel that the x-height is a little small for the best legibility. Here, that failing is especially noticeable in the smaller “subtitle” labels.

I probably would have made the shade used for the Purple Line a little darker to provide better contrast with the adjacent Blue Line through Los Alamos: at the moment, they sort of blur into each other as their colour intensity is very similar. Overall, I find the colours very pleasing, with a nice New Mexican desert feel to the palette, but these two colours could be adjusted a bit for better balance between them.

A bigger problem: using the same line thickness to denote peak hour Purple and Blue Line bus route extensions and the RailRunner commuter rail service between Belen and Santa Fe. Rail is a different transit mode to bus and needs to be differentiated visually from it. 

Finally, a letter line designation – “B” for Blue, “R” for Red”, etc. – for each route could assist colour-blind users. There’s quite a bit of empty space, so adding a couple of markers at each terminus station shouldn’t be too difficult.

Our rating: The official map obviously gets a big, fat, ZERO.

Nothing!

Isaac’s is far superior and really very promising work. Three stars.

3 Stars

Historical Map: TriMet Bus and MAX Routes, Portland, Oregon (early 1990s)

Certainly no later than 1998 as the MAX light rail only consists of the original Westside route (later to be the Blue Line).

Of note is the continued use of the service zone icons – fish, rain, snow, beaver, leaf, rose and deer – that defined Portland’s downtown transit mall for decades. I’ve featured them before on this map from 1978, but it’s on this map where their main failing comes to the fore. Because each icon is colour-coded, each respective service area just becomes a tangled web of lines, all represented by the same colour. Cross-town routes like the 75, – which have their own colour – just go to show how much easier a route is to follow when it contrasts against nearby routes, rather than matching them exactly.

Also a little odd: not naming any of the MAX stations on the map, and labelling regular frequency bus lines against very similarly-colured background boxes, which makes the route numbers a little difficult to discern.

All in all, an interesting look at the earlier days of MAX and the later days of the service area icons. It’s also fun to see which routes have survived to the current day and which have disappeared or been combined into one route (for example, the Fish-1 and Leaf-35 have become the modern day Greeley-Macadam 35).

Our rating: A nice piece of transit history from my adopted city, if a little imperfect. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

Source: Screaming Ape/Flickr

Historical Map: Map of Greyhound Lines and Principal Connecting Routes, 1938

From a booklet promoting sightseeing via Greyhound’s long-distance bus lines, which sounds like an absolutely awful way to see America. However, it’s a very handsome two-colour map that certainly highlights the apparent density of the network at that time.

Source: Umpqua/Flickr

Photo: 38 Bus Stop Map, Brooklyn

Rough as guts, but it gets the job done, I guess. Nice big route number, easy to spot “You Are Here” arrow, a north pointer, points of interest and street names. Go!

Source: H.L. Edwards/Flickr

Unofficial Map: Transit Network of Norfolk, Virginia by Jonah Adkins

This is a nice little map from Jonah, whose transit map version of his Noland Trail Map I featured back in July last year. The map certainly does a good job of placing the new light rail line in a regional context, with the Elizabeth River and the Interstate highways defining the surrounding area nicely. Points of interest and county/city borders are nicely shown as well.

However, I disagree a bit with Jonah’s informational hierarchy. I believe that all the Hampton Roads Transit services – be they light rail, commuter bus (yet another MAX acronym!), regular bus or ferry service – should be higher up the hierarchy than the Amtrak and Greyhound services which operate far more on an inter-regional/national level. That is to say, local commuters and residents really don’t use them on a regular basis to get around the area. In particular, having Greyhound buses shown as a thick, dark grey line, while the Hampton Roads buses are a recessive, hard to see, light grey makes little sense. They should also be grouped together in the legend, rather than having the Amtrak/Greyhound services split them up as they currently do.

Minor things: I find the double curve between the MacArthur Square and Civic Plaza stations a little overly-fussy (a single 135-degree angle would work better); it’s Amtrak, not Amtrack; and the legend could have less Random Acts of Capitalization in it… “Daily” is capitalized, for example, but “complex” is not? I personally prefer legend text to be set in sentence case (easier to read, only proper names get capitalized), but if you’re going to write in title case, you need to be consistent about the way you apply it.

It’s still a very attractive map, and certainly one I could envision at bus stops and light rail stations in the area with a little more polish. 

jonahsmaps:

Downtown Norfolk Transit Network (Draft)

For fun last year, I did a transit map version of my Noland Trail map. Since then I’ve really wanted to do a real transit map, but unfortunately I live in one of the most transit-boring regions of the U.S..

The main focus is the new light-rail line (The Tide), and it’s connectivity with the existing bus transportation system. I was excited that light-rail was coming to the region, and bummed when I saw the map. I guess I’m spoiled by all the great work on @transitmaps. Included on this map is the new Amtrack NE Regional train which originates from the downtown area, Greyhound Bus routes, and all of the connecting arterial bus routes.

Bottom line and the point to all my side projects - had fun creating, learning and expanding my skillset, on another (local) map project.