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)

Slope

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.

(Source: BrusselsBen/Flickr)

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.

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.

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.

4 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.

2.5 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.

3.5 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.

2.5 Stars

(Source: Official BKV website)

Official Map: Metro do Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal’s Metro light rail system is only ten years old, but is already a comprehensive and far-reaching network. With such a modern transit system, it’s important to have a map to match, and in most respects, this one certainly fits the bill. But does everything have to be so small?
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Some beautifully crafted elements, especially the bespoke icons for connecting services (bus, train, airport, etc.) Too many maps use the standard and dated ESRI icons for these, but these match the light, airy feel of the map perfectly.
The curves in the route lines are also beautifully executed, being wide and flowing throughout. I especially like the little s-curve from the Aeroporto station at the north end of the “E” (purple) line through to Verdes station.
What we don’t like: While beautifully designed, at anything but the actual poster size of 48x68 cm (around 19x27 inches), many of the elements are just too small. The route lines become very lightweight and spindly, while the “superscripted” parking symbol becomes almost invisible. As the map is downloadable as a PDF from the agency’s website, I feel better thought has to be given as to how the map displays on screen.
Our rating: A stylish and modern map to match a stylish and modern light rail system. Let down slightly by the smallness of some elements. Three-and-a-half stars.

(Source: Metro de Porto website) Official Map: Metro do Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal’s Metro light rail system is only ten years old, but is already a comprehensive and far-reaching network. With such a modern transit system, it’s important to have a map to match, and in most respects, this one certainly fits the bill. But does everything have to be so small?
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Some beautifully crafted elements, especially the bespoke icons for connecting services (bus, train, airport, etc.) Too many maps use the standard and dated ESRI icons for these, but these match the light, airy feel of the map perfectly.
The curves in the route lines are also beautifully executed, being wide and flowing throughout. I especially like the little s-curve from the Aeroporto station at the north end of the “E” (purple) line through to Verdes station.
What we don’t like: While beautifully designed, at anything but the actual poster size of 48x68 cm (around 19x27 inches), many of the elements are just too small. The route lines become very lightweight and spindly, while the “superscripted” parking symbol becomes almost invisible. As the map is downloadable as a PDF from the agency’s website, I feel better thought has to be given as to how the map displays on screen.
Our rating: A stylish and modern map to match a stylish and modern light rail system. Let down slightly by the smallness of some elements. Three-and-a-half stars.

(Source: Metro de Porto website) Official Map: Metro do Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal’s Metro light rail system is only ten years old, but is already a comprehensive and far-reaching network. With such a modern transit system, it’s important to have a map to match, and in most respects, this one certainly fits the bill. But does everything have to be so small?
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Some beautifully crafted elements, especially the bespoke icons for connecting services (bus, train, airport, etc.) Too many maps use the standard and dated ESRI icons for these, but these match the light, airy feel of the map perfectly.
The curves in the route lines are also beautifully executed, being wide and flowing throughout. I especially like the little s-curve from the Aeroporto station at the north end of the “E” (purple) line through to Verdes station.
What we don’t like: While beautifully designed, at anything but the actual poster size of 48x68 cm (around 19x27 inches), many of the elements are just too small. The route lines become very lightweight and spindly, while the “superscripted” parking symbol becomes almost invisible. As the map is downloadable as a PDF from the agency’s website, I feel better thought has to be given as to how the map displays on screen.
Our rating: A stylish and modern map to match a stylish and modern light rail system. Let down slightly by the smallness of some elements. Three-and-a-half stars.

(Source: Metro de Porto website)

Official Map: Metro do Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal’s Metro light rail system is only ten years old, but is already a comprehensive and far-reaching network. With such a modern transit system, it’s important to have a map to match, and in most respects, this one certainly fits the bill. But does everything have to be so small?

Have we been there? No.

What we like: Some beautifully crafted elements, especially the bespoke icons for connecting services (bus, train, airport, etc.) Too many maps use the standard and dated ESRI icons for these, but these match the light, airy feel of the map perfectly.

The curves in the route lines are also beautifully executed, being wide and flowing throughout. I especially like the little s-curve from the Aeroporto station at the north end of the “E” (purple) line through to Verdes station.

What we don’t like: While beautifully designed, at anything but the actual poster size of 48x68 cm (around 19x27 inches), many of the elements are just too small. The route lines become very lightweight and spindly, while the “superscripted” parking symbol becomes almost invisible. As the map is downloadable as a PDF from the agency’s website, I feel better thought has to be given as to how the map displays on screen.

Our rating: A stylish and modern map to match a stylish and modern light rail system. Let down slightly by the smallness of some elements. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

(Source: Metro de Porto website)

Official Map: Transports en Commun Lyonnais System Map, Lyon, France

Requested by clubmaintenant.

Another fine example of a multimodal map, this time from Lyon, France. This map shows Métro, tram, bus and funicular service, as well as indications of connections to SNCF mainline train services in a map that wears its London Underground influences on its sleeve.

Have we been there? No.

What we like: Lovely clear layout, with almost all lines reduced to horizontals or verticals - only a few 45-degree route lines are to be seen. The typeface used is quite lovely, and may be custom: the PDF names it as “Confluence”, which is certainly apt for the city that sits at the confluence of the Saone and Rhone rivers. Excellent informational hierarchy, with terminus stations clearly shown via a black box with reversed text, and route lines at their thickest for the Métro and thinnest for bus routes.

What we don’t like: The letters that denote each transportation mode (“M”, “T”, “F” and “C”) end up looking too similar because of the consistent red background. Perhaps different colours or even different shapes could have been used to differentiate them a little more. The combined letters ad route numbers also take up quite a lot of space on the map, and can be a little hard to decipher at stations where many routes converge. Not sure of the utility of the unnamed station markers on the bus routes: are you meant to count stops to find where you want to get off?

Our rating: Clean, easy to read and quite charming. Four stars.

4 Stars!

(Source: Official TCL website)