Update: Washington, DC Metro Map Final Draft Version
Yes, I post a lot about the DC Metro Map, but it’s not often we get to see the process of developing a transit map as publicly as this, or in such immense detail. I find it fascinating to see the decisions that are made, the different iterations the map goes through, and what is kept and what gets discarded.
Pretty much the only thing up for discussion on this final draft is the shape of the station indicators when there are three route lines present: “whiskers” or “capsule”. I’ve deftly added a “whisker” indicator into the detail part of the map above for easy comparison.
To my mind, the elongated capsule shape is more successful, and is a logical extension of the normal circle shape used to indicate a station. I’d like to see the capsule extend out a little further into the Blue and Orange lines: it barely grazes them at the moment, and isn’t consistent with the amount of overlap you can see when a circle station overlaps two lines, like at Pentagon City — half the circle is on blue, half is on yellow. Similarly, when the symbol is over three lines, half the circle should be on orange and half on blue, joined by the straight edges of the capsule over the Silver Line.
Speaking of the Silver Line, the decision to move it between the Blue and Orange lines is to be applauded. Previous drafts had it sitting above the Orange Line, which necessitated a very clumsy crossover between the Stadium-Armory and Benning Road stations. Having the crossover at East Falls Church instead is visually simpler and cleaner.
Apparently the route lines are now also “24% thinner” than before: looks like Lance Wyman is very grudgingly giving in to the fact that the playfully thick lines of the original map are no longer suitable for this modern version.
Also, there’s parkland shown along the Anacostia River… that’s a first!
Another step in the right direction, I think. Slowly and surely, this map is getting there…
(Source: Plan It Metro website)
Future Minneapolis & St. Paul Transit Map
After several months in development, I’m proud to present to you the Future Twin Cities Transit Map. A comprehensive summary of current rapid transit proposals, this version shows all existing and future light rail & BRT lines as well as select major bus routes, commuter rail and HSR connections. Detailed summary of transit improvements available at MetroTransit’s homepage.
In 2030, Twin Cities are expected to join the likes of Chicago, Curitiba and Copenhagen in operating an efficient, reliable, and extensive transit network. Take a peek at the future!
Download, Print, Share, Modify…
No project is ever complete, so I would welcome anyone to use it as a template for their own mapping project!
The map is published under a Creative Commons license(Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike).This means sharing and making copies is not just allowed but strongly encouraged.
Comments / questions? Just ask!
Transit Maps says:
I’ve been following this project with interest for quite a while now, and all I can say now that it’s completed is: WOW!
This is a transit map designed to inspire future riders. It’s beautifully designed, technically excellent (I’ve pulled apart the PDF in Illustrator to get a good look under the hood), and — quite frankly — puts a lot of official transit maps produced in the U.S. to absolute shame.
What I love most is the crystal-clear informational hierarchy: thick, coloured lines represent rapid transit, be it LRT or BRT. Regardless of the mode, service comes frequently (9 to 12 minute headways) and the vehicles move quickly. Grey lines (lower in the hierarchy) show arterial bus service, with line thickness neatly representing service frequency. Beneath this, the I-494/694 ring is subtly shown for orientation, and the geography is rendered in a style that complements the routes beautifully. The legend is clear and easy to use, and the colour scheme for the whole map gives it a very sophisticated, modern feel.
Finally, the icons used on the map are excellent from top to bottom, from the distinctive segmented interchange markers, down to the tiny airport, commuter rail and Amtrak icons. Fantastic attention to detail is evident here.
Our rating: Everything I love about modern transit map design. Five stars!
Future Map: Washington, DC “Silver Line” Draft Map
Long time readers will be aware of my low opinion of the Washington DC Metro Rail map — here’s a fairly scathing review of the “Rush+” map (March 2012, 2.5 stars) to refresh your memory.
It looks like WMATA is preparing for the opening of the Silver Line and has put a draft version of a new map up on MindMixer for comments. According to the blurb there, the route lines are now thinner and station names are now treated more consistently. The other obvious visual change is the introduction of a new station symbol (one with thin “whisker” extensions) to accommodate the three routes that will now run across the middle of the map. Let’s discuss all of these in turn.
The route lines may be thinner, but only barely. Probably not enough to make any useful difference to the map. While the playful thickness of the route lines are very much an identifying feauture of the WMATA map, it’s now becoming a liability to its usefulness. The extra space required to accommodate the Silver Line through Foggy Bottom and Farragut West means that the six stations on the northwest leg of the Red Line inside the District have to be crammed into a ridiculously tight space — far tighter than anywhere else on the map. I always feel that a diagrammatic map like this has to strive for even and harmonious spacing across the entire map… and this map simply doesn’t do that well any more.
The new treatment of station names includes “consistent street abbreviations across the map”, which should be a good thing: it’s always better to choose either “Avenue” or “Ave” and stick with that choice across the whole map. However, “Hgts” is a visually awful abbreviation for “Heights” and is included for the sole purpose of making “Columbia Hgts” fit on one line without conflicting with the “Van Ness-UDC” label. “Ctr” is an equally terrible abbreviation for “Center”, and doesn’t actually seem to bring any real space-saving benefits to the map.
The new “whiskered” station symbol just feels forced and unnecessary to me. It introduces a third station symbol, even though hierarchically, it means exactly the same as the plain station circle that already exists. An elongated “pill” symbol with the same cap radius as the normal circle would work a lot better in my opinion. Or — narrow down the route lines until the normal circle symbol can touch all three.
At the moment, this map is only a work in progress, but I’m not exactly impressed by any of the new design decisions.
Design can be a highly iterative process, something that is challenging and depressing at the same time. And yet… so rewarding when you finally get it right!
Here’s another post that shows the huge amount of work that goes into making a transit diagram as design options are explored — this time as a sweet animated .GIF. Kind of hypnotising after a while…
Historical Map: Proposed Extensions of Rapid Transit into Suburban Boston, 1945
Here’s another amazing historical planning map, this time from Boston in 1945. Visually, it looks quite similar to this map, but shows an amazing array of planned extensions to the existing system.
Some of them were built soon after this map was drawn up:the Revere (Blue Line) extension to Wonderland was essentially complete by 1952, although this map shows the line heading even further north. Others took much, much longer: the (Red Line) to Quincy and Braintree wasn’t operational until 1980.
Other lines ended up substantially different to what is shown here: the proposed line east of Harvard takes a circuitous route through East Watertown before ending in Arlington Heights, while others were never built at all, like the extension of the old Everett/Forest Hills elevated line to Dedham.
Interestingly, it looks like there were plans to convert the current Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line into rapid transit: the map shows proposed track emerging from the subway and passing through Trinity Place station (the original name for Back Bay) before heading out towards Auburndale.
Seriously, there are so many interesting things about this map that I can’t list them all here: go take a look at it BIG here.
What we like: Incredible look at ambitious post-war plans for the Boston rapid transit system, especially to compare what got built and what didn’t. The detail is amazing, with each station, bridge, overpass and tunnel being individually and accurately drawn.
What we don’t like: Absolutely nothing. I could look at this for days.
Our rating: 5 stars, duh!
(Source: Otto Vondrak/Flickr)
Official and Future Maps: EmX BRT System, Eugene, Oregon
One of the best things about this blog is finding people out there who - like me - aren’t always satisfied with the status quo and want to improve on the transit maps that are out there.
Take these maps of the EmX* bus rapid transit system in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. The first one is the current system map issued by the Lane Transit District. While it’s functional enough, it’s certainly not very exciting. I always believe that a good transit map should be enticing and attractive to draw people towards it as a transportation option. In effect, the map is an advertisement for the service - if it looks modern and well-designed, the system benefits by association.
The second map is of a potential EmX system in 50 years’ time, made by Dave Amos, based off information found on LTD’s website. You can read more about the development of the map on Dave’s Tumblr here. Leaving the accuracy of the map aside, as I can’t really comment on that without a lot of further research (and Dave himself admits the map is somewhat speculative), let’s concentrate on the aesthetics.
Dave’s map seems to draw a lot of design cues from the London Underground map, which is good in that it instantly takes on a clean, well-designed look… and a little bad in that it drains the map of its own unique identity a bit. It would be nice to see a map that channels a bit of the character of the city it represents, but this is still a very attractive piece of design. HF&J’s Whitney is a nicely understated, yet modern sans serif font and works well here. The main hubs of Eugene and Springfield are emphasised well, and the inclusion of the important University of Oregon and Lane Community College campuses is welcome.
That’s not to say the map is perfect: the need to show the eastern extent of Springfield’s city boundary creates a lot of empty space, which in turn reduces the size of the routes themselves. I think the names of the streets that the routes follow could be rotated to follow the direction of the streets, like in a street directory, rather than remaining horizontal all the time. The 18th & Willamette station label could be split into two lines to prevent it being confused with the nearby Jefferson station.
There’s also a couple of operational concepts that aren’t shown on the map which might be worth considering. Some sections of the routes operate along one-way couplets, which might be worth showing for clarity and ease of use (For example, an eastbound stop might be one block over from the westbound stop - a handy thing for a traveller to know!). I also know that, currently, buses operate both clockwise and counter-clockwise around the Gateway loop. This is indicated on the current map, but not on Dave’s.
* Side Note: “EmX” is meant to be pronounced as “Em-Ex”, short for “Emerald Express”. But try as I might, I still just keep saying “E-Em-Ex”…
Unofficial Future Map: Seattle East Link Light Rail (Segment A)
Hey, I got to make a transit map for work! This base map will eventually show all the issues (and solutions) that my company has identified for this part of the corridor, but I can’t show you that part, just the map itself.
These “issues maps” are usually created from GIS data overlaid on a low-quality aerial photo, so it’s definitely nice to break the mould and create something more visually compelling and stylish. Using 30- and 60-degree angles instead of the usual 45 degrees: this is one of those rare occasions where it’s actually more appropriate.
Thanks for that! From the image over at the blog you reference (which isn’t the clearest), it looks like that’s the Metro “Under Construction” map with the Phase 1 Expo Line now coloured as an actual route line, rather than being a dashed “under construction” line. Aesthetically, it’s very much in line with Metro’s current map: I actually think they have some of the most unified branding/map design out there at the moment, which is a good thing!
Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon
Transit diagram of Portland, Oregon that shows the MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar as one integrated service, rather than relegating the Streetcar to a tiny squiggle behind the MAX lines downtown. Click through to view the diagram large, or read the full story behind its design on my blog.
Future Map: Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon, 2015
My own work, so modesty prevents me from giving this a score or critique. However, I’d love to hear what people think! Prints of this diagram are for sale at my Society6 store.