Unofficial Map: Istanbul Railway Network by Bertan Kılıçcıoglu
I’ve already featured an excellent unofficial map of Istanbul’s transit network by Kerim Bayer (June 2012, 4 stars), but here’s a new one that’s worthy of some attention.
First, let’s note that Istanbul’s transit network has expanded considerably in the last couple of years, and there’s now finally a rail connection across the Bosphorus, as well as a new Metro bridge over the Golden Horn (with a station in the middle of the span, no less!).
Although there’s a revised official map to go along with this expansion (see the second image above), it’s pretty poor. Weird non-standard angles are employed to shoehorn new routes into the existing framework of the map and the whole thing has a very tired, amateur feel about it.
Apparently, Bertan felt so strongly about this poor, sad map that he decided to rework it in his spare time. A man after my own heart!
What’s interesting about his map, though, is that it’s not really a new design at all. Bertan has taken all the elements of the old map — the same colours, route line thicknesses, symbols, icons, and legend information — and has simply used them in a far more attractive, considered way.
Route lines are strictly limited to 45 degrees, all labelling is horizontal (and he’s taken great care to stop labels from overlapping his route lines), interchanges are shown more cleanly… and more! It’s a great example of how a little bit of care and effort can transform an ordinary map into something much more cohesive and user-friendly.
For those who are interested, the (rather nice, if a little quirky) typeface used on Bertan’s map is the open-source Google font, Titillium Web.
Our rating: Using the same building blocks as the official map in an intelligent way, Bertan has transformed this map from dowdy to diva: four stars!
Source: Bertan’s portfolio website — click through to read more about his design process, as well as see some more comparison images.
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.
Source: Official BKK website
Historical Photo: Streetcars on an Inclined Railway, Cincinnati, 1904
Not a map, but included because this is possibly the strangest piece of transit infrastructure I’ve ever seen. Discovered while researching the post about Cincinnati’s abandoned subway, this photo shows what happened when that city’s streetcars met the steep hills surrounding the downtown area.
At this time, the streetcars were used in conjunction with four of Cincinnati’s five inclined railways: the Mount Adams Incline, Mount Auburn Incline, Bellevue Incline, and the Fairview Incline. The cars would be driven onto the platform, which was level and was equipped with rails and (in most cases) overhead trolley wires. The platform, riding on its own rails, would then be pulled up the hill by the cable, carrying the streetcar. Upon reaching the top, the streetcar could simply be driven off the platform onto the standard track along city streets. The 1872-opened Mount Adams Incline began carrying horsecars in 1877, and it was later strengthened for use by electric streetcars, which were much heavier.
More information on the inclines here.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Lyon Metro map (March 2012, 4 stars) on the platform at Croix-Paquet station — reputedly the steepest Metro station in the world, with a 17 percent grade! Although nominally part of Lyon’s Metro system, the "C" Line is really a refurbished rack-and-pinion funicular, with the earliest trains running as far back as 1891.
Official Map: Metropolitana di Napoli - 2 of 2
As promised, here’s the second map of Naples’ Metro system. Unlike the previous example, this one shows all of the rail transit options available in the city, which presents a much more complete picture.
Like the previous map, this map also presents something that I’ve never seen before on a transit map: a “Rainbow Line” (arcobaleno in Italian), where each station on the line is assigned its own colour. However, this map and station signage don’t seem to agree on what those colours are.
What we like: A much cleaner and more modern-looking map, definitely much easier on the eye.
What we don’t like: Lower-case station and line name labels - yuck! The centred station names at the northern end of Line 1 look a bit strange. The map is going to have to be reconfigured when the extension of Line 1 from Universita to Garibaldi/Stazione Centrale opens: there’s currently no room at all for that part of the line to fit in. The slight angle of the Mergellina funicular line seems a little at odds with the rest of the map.
Our rating: Much better, although by no means perfect. Shows the benefit to the end user of presenting all rail transit as a unified map, regardless of operator. 3 stars.
(Source: Official Metronapoli website)
Official Map: Metropolitana di Napoli - 1 of 2
Following on from the last post, here’s a map of Naples’ Metro system. Strangely, there are two completely different maps of the system available on the official MetroNapoli website: probably because different transit agencies control different lines. MetroNapoli runs only Lines 1 and 6 and Naples’ extensive funicular system, which is what is shown on this map. I’ll cover the other map, which does show all services in Naples as a unified map in my next post.
Have we been there? Yes, in 2003. Almost predictably, there was a massive public transportation strike the very first day I was there. Fortunately, it was resolved the next day, so I could catch the Circumvesuviana train (not shown on this map) out to Pompeii and Herculaneum, both of which are incredible archaeological sites.
What we like: Comprehensive and nicely laid out legend, including something I’ve never seen on a transit map before - the location of the IHA hostel! To be fair, I have heard that the hostel in Naples is pretty darn pimping… although it’s currently impossible to get to it from Napoli Centrale station using the transport shown on this map.
I like the idea of the notches out of the route lines to indicate stations - it’s a distinctive visual device, but I’m just not sure it’s executed particularly well in this instance.
What we don’t like: Randomly angled route lines throughout: the extension of Line 1 ends up looking like some sort of crazy race track!
Strange colour choices - the salmon used for the funiculars is especially odd, while the grey used for the names of planned stations is almost unreadable in some places.
Labeling is a bit ugly and intrusive: the giant labels for the names of the funicular lines being the worst offender. Not too sure about the very severe, angular font used, either.
Our rating: Strange, random and chaotic: a fairly accurate depiction of the city itself, in my experience. 1 star.
(Source: Official MetroNapoli website)
Official Map: Prague Integrated Transport
Here’s the last entry in our short series on current transit maps in Prague, an integrated map. In my opinion, this map hits the sweet spot as far as information and presentation are concerned: it shows Metro and tram service better than the simple Metro Orientation map, but without the mind-numbing level of detail of the full service map.
What we like: Retains the cute major landmark icons from the simpler map. The addition of route numbers to the tram lines makes a huge difference in usability - routes can now be traced from beginning to end. While individual stops aren’t shown, this is not a huge issue as tram service normally has tightly-spaced, regularly placed stops. Much better English on this map!
What we don’t like: Strangely muted colours on the Metro lines compared to the other maps, which looks worst on the Red Line (red never tints down very well). The heavy red/brown border is quite overpowering, especially compared to the soothing beige of the other two maps.
Our rating: Just right. Information is easily parsed without having to pore over a detailed full system map. Four stars.
(Source: Official DPP website)
Official Map: Full Service Metro and Tram Map, Prague
The second map in our short series of current transit maps in Prague. Whereas yesterday’s map was perhaps a little light in information, this one goes in completely the other direction and shows absolutely everything. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but this is definitely a map for detailed analysis of transit in Prague, rather than a quick reference guide.
What we like: Comprehensive and detailed overview of rail transit in Prague. Good mode differentiation between Metro and trams by use of stroke thickness.
What we don’t like: The multicoloured names at the interchange stations on the Metro! For example, the Red and Yellow lines meet at Florenc station, so the “Flo” is red, and the “enc” is yellow… it looks hideous.
Not sure about the use of a dashed stroke in the centre of tram routes to denote frequent “backbone” service - a dashed line normally indicates less, not more. On that note, the 50 percent dashed stroke for rush hour services on the 4 and 16 tram lines isn’t particularly visible.
The map’s legend is a bit disjointed, being placed in four different places around the map to fit between gaps in the route lines.
Some absolutely terrible English translation… “In this parts of lines is tram line 4 operated only at workdays morning rush hours…” Say what?
Our rating: Comprehensive, if a little visually cluttered. Suffers a bit from information overload. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Goldilocks “just right!” map. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official DPP website)
Official Map: Prague Metro Orientation Map
This is the first of three posts regarding current transit maps in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. All are part of a unified set of maps (all of which use the interesting framing device of stylised buildings and trams, which I can’t decide if I think is playfully irreverent or just plain stupid) and provide interesting lessons on how much information is “just right” for a transit map to be really useful.
This map is a simplified overview or orientation map of the Metro, and seems to serve a similar purpose to the Key Bus Routes of London Map that we’ve already featured - to provide a quick guide to public transport for visitors to the city. However, it’s slightly less successful than that map, as we’ll see below.
Have we been there? Yes, in 2004. After one initial trip on the Metro from the railway station to the hostel, I used trams exclusively.
What we like: Breezy and simple, bright and bold with a unique look. The little icons for major landmarks are quite charming. The Metro lines stand out really nicely, and interchanges are handled well.
What we don’t like: By comparison with the Metro lines, the tram lines come off very badly indeed. Without route numbers or anything other than final destinations shown, they’re really not very useful in this version of the map other than an indication that tram service exists. After that, you’re on your own…
Our rating: A nice looking map with its own very distinct look - this map belongs to Prague. I’m still not sure about the cartoon-like framing device, but it is carried across all elements of the corporate identity (other maps, website, etc,), so at least they’re consistent! Tram service information is a little light. Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official DPP website)
Official Map: Rail and Tram Network, Budapest, Hungary
Budapest boasts the second oldest underground metro line in the world: its Line 1 (Yellow Line) dates from 1896 and was added the the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002. Only the London Underground predates it. Wikipedia also claims (without attribution, unfortunately) that Budapest’s comprehensive tram service has the busiest “traditional city tram line” in the world where tram lines 4 and 6 combine, with the world’s longest passenger trams (54-metre long Siemens Combino units) running at 60 to 90 second intervals at peak time. Impressive stuff, but does the system map measure up? Yes and no.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Comprehensive overview of services provided. The “interchange zone” boxes around complex modal interchanges work really well. Budapest’s Metro logo is a favourite of mine.
What we don’t like: Strangely muted and pastel-heavy colour palette reduces contrast between the multitude of lines. I feel like there’s a definite Paris Metro map vibe to this map, but the colour choices aren’t as appropriate.
Mode differentiation is poor - the Metro, suburban rail and passenger rail all use the same line weight for their route lines, as do trams and “selected bus routes”. Yet tram line 60, a cog-wheel tram (cool!), gets its own distinct route line style, with boxes for stations instead of dots. I feel this style could have been better used to differentiate between buses and trams.
Our rating: Comprehensive, but hard work to actually use. 2.5 stars.
(Source: Official BKV website)