Fantasy Map: Rail Transport in Westeros by Michael Tyznik

Not the first Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice of Fire transit map I’ve seen, but definitely the best designed. It was created by Michael Tyznik, who also made this great fantasy map of Columbus (May 2012, 4 stars).

I do detect the influence of my TGV Routes of France map in this work — the general station symbology, the curved routes lines out of King’s Landing and the use of colour coding to define route groups — but Michael has done a fine job of taking things further. His intelligent use of non-standard angles keeps the map nice and compact, but also creates some nice, fun visual shapes. The typeface looks like the superb Source Sans Pro from Adobe, a definite favourite of mine.

(Spoilers below, I guess…)

There is some commentary in the map based on the events of the books and TV series, but it’s limited to some wry notes or labels: ”Please pardon our dust as Harrenhal is restored”, or having most of the stations on the Wall Line shown as being closed, for example. The Twins is also divided into “East” and “West” stations with a walking route between then, a very nice touch. One thing the map does really well is to emphasise the importance of the Kingsroad, the main trunk line of the whole transit system, as it were.

Michael has prints for sale for $40 of both this map and another one that shows the entire known world of the series.

Our rating: Great work: the map looks fabulous and it’s full of fun things for fans of the series. Four stars!

4 Stars!

Source: Michael’s Behance page. Click through to see lots of yummy details of the maps.

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. 


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.

Official Map: Daytime Transport Services of Budapest, Hungary

In addition to the Metro/suburban rail only map that was introduced with the new Metro Line 4, there’s also this more comprehensive city map that adds tram, key bus routes, ferries and more to the mix. It’s more directly analogous to the old Budapest map (July 2012, 2.5 stars), and is also highly reminiscent of this Prague integrated transit map (August 2012, 4 stars).

Definitely aimed at tourists (the PDF file even has the word “turisztikai” in its file name) to give them a good idea of transit options within the central city, the map does a good job of that: the river and park areas work nicely to define the shape of the city and the Metro is given good hierarchical prominence. There’s even some nicely executed simple icons for points of interest around town.

Instead of the approach taken on the previous map, where each tram line was given its own colour, here they’re all represented by yellow. It’s a little odd that it’s the exact same colour as Metro Line 1, but the difference in stroke weight makes it immediately obvious which is which. Key bus routes are shown in blue, and the unique cogwheel railway (Line 60) is highlighted in magenta. For those who are curious, the “Children’s Railway" shown to the far left of the map is not necessarily a railway for children, it’s a railway operated by children (apart from adult supervision and the actual driver of the train).

The only real flaws with this map in my eyes are some overly fussy route lines for buses, particularly the 291 just north of Metro Line 2 on the west side of the river and the strangely jarring choice of Times New Roman for neighbourhood names. 

Our rating: Excellent overview of transportation options in Budapest. Looks good and is easy to follow. Four stars.

4 Stars!

Source: Official BKK website

Fantasy Future Map: Sydney, Australia by Thomas Mudgway

Thomas, who is a ninth-grader (i.e., he’s just 14 or 15 years old), says:

Sydney, my home town, has around 4.7 million people and already has a commuter rail network, however, the city is growing, and the network doesn’t cover everything, so I have augmented the network in many places, as well as showing how it could grow into the currently undeveloped far south- and north-west (they are generally the places where the stations have no names, there simply aren’t currently any for them). It is show by the thick lines. Also represented by the thick lines is the long planned north-west rail link in light green/khaki. Additionally, the map shows bus rapid transitways and light rail in half thickness, some built, some planned, and some I propose. Finally, the map shows the intercity trains as far as the city limits in quarter thickness, as well as an extra express service from the planned Badgerys Creek Airport to the existing Kingsford-Smith airport and the city loop.


Transit Maps says:

Being a native Sydneysider myself, I can’t help but laugh at the sheer audacity of some of Thomas’ proposals for new lines. Yes, it’d be great if there was a rail line running up through the Northern Beaches (from the southern side of the harbour via The Spit, no less!), but the geography of the area means it’ll realistically never happen.

Pipe dreams aside, the map is really quite beautifully drawn, especially for someone so young. His dream system is extremely complex, but everything fits together nicely with a good information hierarchy and harmonious colours. He’s even indicated ferry routes, busways and the extended light rail system to produce a fully multi-modal vision, which is great to see.

This is very promising work from Thomas: keep it up!

Submission: Transportation in the Backwaters of Kerala, India

Submitted by Jim McNeill, who says:

Kerala in southern India is famed for its backwaters, a popular holiday destination for people to cruise in rented houseboats. I was amazed to see a transit map of the area, and not a bad one at that. I was impressed at the attempt to show road, train, boat and air all on the same map. Granted it’s not perfect, the ferry crossings become maze like in the centre and there are some awkward angles in the south, but overall I was impressed.


Transit Maps says:

It’s not the world’s most beautiful transit map, but I’m as impressed as Jim by the map’s intent: one map showing all the transportation options available in the Backwaters of Kerala — a huge area covered by lakes, lagoons, rivers and canals, sometimes compared to the Mississippi Bayous.

One thing the map doesn’t really do is give an idea of the scale of the area shown: it’s around 140km (86 miles) by road from Kollam at the bottom of the map to Kochi near the top. It’s only when you read the notes on the map and see that a ferry trip from Kollam to Allappuzha (not even as far as Kochi) will take seven hours to complete that you start to get an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Some context in the form of the large lakes that the canals join together would be helpful in this regard. 

I’d also agree that the maze-like representation of the ferry routes in the middle isn’t very helpful, although it seems that Allappuzha is the main hub and ferries from elsewhere all end up there eventually. Another thing to note is that India has officially-designated National Waterways, much like National Highways — the main water route through this area is National Waterway 3, and is clearly marked as such on the map.

Our rating: Not beautiful, and not really that great for ferry route-finding. But in the end, it’s quite a nice little overview of transportation in the Kerala region as a whole. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

Official Map: Southern Vectis Bus Map, Isle of Wight, England

An attractively drawn map that bridges the gap between geographical representation and a diagram rather nicely. While the shape of the island is quite accurate (if simplified slightly), all the roads have been straightened out to remove unnecessary kinks and twists. The routes are clearly marked and major stops are shown efficiently. The map is also supported on-line by town maps for the destinations shown in larger type, so there’s more detail where it’s needed. There’s even some lovely icons for points of interest, such as Carisbrooke Castle, Osborne House and the famous steam railway.

No, the map doesn’t show every bus stop: but I’ve never really had a problem with that for bus route maps where it can generally be assumed that stops are fairly evenly spaced — although closer together in more urban areas, and farther apart in rural/outlying areas. The map gives a good idea about destinations that can be reached along each route: a timetable would then handle the fine detail.

About the only real problem I have with this map is its delivery method. While the map can be downloaded as a PDF from Southern Vectis’ website, this is actually a low-resolution JPG (complete with ugly compression artifacts) that has been resaved in PDF format from Photoshop. The map is really quite lovely, so it’s very disappointing to see that good work being shared in this manner. It degrades the crisp, clean look of the map and means that it is not able to be enlarged to any great degree without being pixelated. Nor is the text on the map searchable in any way, or accessible to vision-impaired users — being simply an image.

Sidenote: Interestingly, while “Vectis” has the ring of one of those fancy newfangled transit company names (much like “Arriva”), its use as the name for this bus company dates back to 1927. The name “Vectis” itself is much older, being the name that the ancient Romans gave to the island when they invaded around 43AD.

Our rating: Great map, poor delivery. Three stars.

3 Stars

(Source: Official Southern Vectis website)

High-Resolution Scan of 1988 Amsterdam Transit Map!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my readers?

I posted about this map last Monday, praising its visual clarity, but also lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a higher resolution version of it to really savour the details.

Almost immediately, I got a submission from Alain Lemaire, who generously sent me full high-resolution scans of the whole map from his personal collection. He provided me with four separate scans, one for each quadrant of the map (which is obviously too big to scan in one piece), which I have simply combined them into one big file (4325 × 4653px, 6MB) in Photoshop.

Tumblr’s maximum image size is way too small for a detailed map like this, so I’m hosting it over on my personal website. Click the image above or here to go and view/download it.

Alain has this to say about the map:

In my opinion, this map is a diagrammatic beauty, but pretty much rendered useless outside the city center because of the lack of bus stop labels and a geographic backdrop. Might have been the reason why GVB decided to drop this beauty and put the current – rather bland but more practical – design in place which does not feature any stop labels at all but does have a clear geographic backdrop. That way at least you do have a reference point for using the map. Maybe Hans van der Kooi could tell you more about the history and eventual decommissioning of this map.

As far as the colour coding goes, Van der Kooi used colour and line width to show which lines go where: thick red for all tram and thin red for all bus lines to the central station and main transit hub in Amsterdam, thick green for trams on the inner ring route along the city center, thick yellow for ‘other’ tram routes and thin yellow, green, blue and purple for all other bus routes. It seems to me he used yellow for most lines terminating at Sloterdijk station, which served as a second transit hub in the late 1980s. All regional bus lines are shown in black and white. For comparison: the current official map uses colour only to distinguish between tram, bus, peak bus and regional bus. Not of much use if you want to easily determine where your line is heading.

(Source: Alain Lemaire via email)

Submission - Historical Map: Public Transit in Amsterdam, 1988 by Hans van der Kooi

Submitted by the designer of the map, Hans van der Kooi, who says:

As a result of the popularity of the hand-out map for trams (June 2013, 4.5 stars) in Amsterdam, we designed a larger scale map, used on the tram and bus stops in Amsterdam, including the line of the buses as well. Designed and used in 1988.


Transit Maps says:

An absolute pleasure to have this map submitted by the original designer! While the image size is a little small to make out the fine detail, it’s obvious that this map builds on and continues the good work of the tram network map that I’ve featured previously. Again, the dodecalinear layout suits Amsterdam’s underlying structure almost perfectly, and the way that the thickness of the tram route lines instantly denotes service frequency is quite superb.

Buses are shown with thinner lines and (what looks like) lighter colours. Enough geographical information – parks, bodies of water, major roads, etc. – is included to orient users and make the bus routes useful to use.

The Metro is shown with a dashed blue line: again, the route line doubles in thickness when the two separate lines from Gaasperpas and Gein merge together in the south-eastern corner of the map. National rail services are shown as a dashed black and white line, the way they often are on Dutch transit maps. Note that even in this small image, it’s still very easy to distinguish between the different modes of transit shown – definitely something to aspire to!

Our rating: The image is a little too small to give this a proper rating, but even at a distance, the clarity of the informational design is something to behold.

(Source: 8-13 website via Hans van der Kooi)

Here’s an animated GIF you can show to those people who say the new MBTA map looks “just like the old one”. The clarity of design is so much better, even at this reduced size.

Edit: August 13, 2014 - Welcome readers from r/boston! You can check out other entries on the blog about Boston (and there are lots of them) by clicking here.

Historical Map: Aerial View of the Puget Sound Area, Washington, c. 1940

An old postcard showing a colorised aerial photo of Seattle and the Puget Sound. Points of interest and the ferry routes of the era (pre-Washington State Ferries, which only commenced service in 1951) have then been added to the image.

It’s these ferry routes which allow us to date this charming postcard to somewhere between 1935 and 1942. The little Fletcher Bay to Brownsville ferry route (centre left on the photo) only operated between 1924 and 1942, while the Colman Dock (Seattle) to Manchester route only ran after 1935, when the old eastern terminus dock at Alki Point washed out.

(Source: alanp_photo/Flickr)