Unofficial Map: Dallas-Fort Worth Rail Transit by Gabe Tiberius Columbo
I’ve been frustrated with the Dallas rail map for a while, and decided to make a comprehensive diagram of Dallas-Fort Worth rail trainsit.
Transit Maps says:
Simply put, this is a beautiful diagrammatic map and is far more visually attractive than the official DART map (August 2012, 3 stars). There’s a very elegant, restrained feeling to this: from the subtle grey background and typography to some excellent, slightly unusual colour choices for the route lines that work really nicely together. The way the Green and Orange lines interact with the Red and Blue is exactly what I wanted to see in the official map, and this treatment looks so much cleaner.
One could make a case for the inclusion of a few geographical features or major highways to give a better sense of scale and location, but — purely for route finding — the map doesn’t really need them, in my opinion.
The map’s not totally perfect: I don’t see a need for the smaller type for station names on the TRE and A-Train services: the thinner route lines already differentiate them from the main DART services, and the smaller type is somewhat harder to read. By the time we get down to the Amtrak routes and the M-Line Trolley, the type is almost ridiculously small.
There’s also a typo in the legend that references the “Fort Worth Transportaion Authority”.
Our rating: Excellent work that takes a completely different approach to the official map and does it very well. Four stars.
Fantasy Map: Victoria Integrated Transit Authority
Introduction: This is a fantasy/proposed transit network for Victoria, BC, Canada. I’ve been working on this off-and-on since the summer of 2011. It’s been a long process because I’ve tried to make this work not only as a nice looking graphic, but also as a maybe, somewhat, kinda plausible and functioning transit network. No destroying entire neighbourhoods and no monorails. However, with that in mind, I should mention I have absolutely no background in urban or transit planning. I have a few transit books and I follow @humantransit. So if you do this for a living and I’ve just made your head hurt, sorry.
Full size map here.
This proposed system consists of 5 light rail lines, a single commuter rail line, and modifications to the existing Victoria bus network. For the most part I’ve tried to utilize existing right-of-ways and minimize the construction of new structures. All the light rail lines would be at grade, and mostly mixed with traffic. Some lines/sections would be closer to a streetcar/tram than light rail, but the definitions of these types of system are getting a little blurry.
This line is very close to the existing Victoria Regional Rapid Transit proposal. I have made some changes though. South of Hillside, I choose an alignment of Government Street. Government Street between Yates and Wharf is almost already a pedestrian mall and I think it would be less obtrusive to put rapid transit down this corridor.
The existing proposal seems to favor the Galloping Goose trail, parallel to the Trans Canada Highway. To me this seems like the best corridor, but I’d be really curious to if they retain the trail or not. I’d love to see the trail kept because if there’s anything I like more than transit, it’s cycling.
The downtown terminus station would involve repurposing the Crystal Gardens. I have no idea if the engineering would work, but it’s such a great building and it seems sadly underutilized.
The Bay Street station would be north of Bay, and a bus loop would be built in one of those car lots between Government and Douglas. It’d be a major transfer point for bus routes and future LRT routes.
Lastly, I think the Wilfert station is probably going to be the least utilized in the entire network (I think it only exists for the casino).
This would be the second line built. It basically replaces the 4, which apparently is one of the busiest routes in the city. I looked at a bunch of different routes from downtown to UVic. To me, this one was the most plausible. It served multiple regional centres (Quadra Village, Hillside Centre, Camosun College and UVic), Hillside had the widest right-of-way, and the grades seemed the shallowest. I think it would be possible to run this line on its own right of way along most of Hillside, but it would probably need to run with mixed traffic along Foul Bay Rd.
Also I expect there would be a lot of NIMBYism in Oak Bay about this line.
A crosstown line that replaces the western part of the 6 route. It also historically mirrors some of the old Victoria streetcar network from the earlier part of the 20th century.
The downtown section would run along Yates Street because, again, I think it has the widest ROW. Convert Yates to two-way traffic, and do the same to Fort. It’s probably too late now, but it’d be great if the rebuilt Johnson Street bridge had space for tracks. Otherwise, it’s going to need its own bridge (or tunnel) over (or under) the inner harbour.
There are two eastern spurs, mostly because I couldn’t decide if the Royal Jubliee hospital or Oak Bay Village was more likely to generate more passengers.
This one is probably the least plausible line. It’d certainly be hard to build in sections.
The eastern end runs along McKenzie, alleviating bus services running crosstown to UVic. McKenzie has a nice wide ROW for most of its length, but it’s also a very, very busy street. Taking vehicle lanes away would probably be problematic. And then getting from Quadra to Uptown is also problematic. The most direct route would be along the Lochside trail, but I really don’t want to destroy this trail either. It would take some effort to keep both the LRT and trail.
I’m not sure if there’d be enough passengers to justify running two lines to the West Shore.
Lastly, the extension to Royal Bay is would be entirely dependant on whether or not Royal Bay actually gets developed. But this would run parallel to the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.
This line is the least necessary line, but also would be easy to build if you wanted to build something down the median of the Pat Bay Highway. It’d alleviate some of the passenger load on the 6 bus route at the north end, plus provide connections to buses to the Saanich Peninsula.
Ideally I’d like to see a rail line up the Peninsula, but finding the right route that connected all the population centres was difficult to pinpoint. The old V&S doesn’t serve Brentwood bay and the old Interurban line doesn’t serve Keating X Road.
Utilizing the old E&N rail corridor, this would be a Train-Tram line. Vehicles would be able to use the street-level tracks in the city, but would operate more like a commuter train otherwise. This service would probably only run during peak hours. The Bastion Square terminus station would be in place of the current Yates Street parkade (unless its cheaper to tear down/repurpose something else nearby).
Frequent Transit Network
Many of these routes already are close to, or already run at, 15 minutes or sooner (though not seven days a week). A few new routes have been created because the rail network has severed some connections. The 5 is the southern portion of the 30/31, the 20 is the western end of the 14, and the 23 is the rest of the 11.
It’s just a dream, but I welcome any feedback/comments/anger via this Tumblr or Twitter.
Phew! That’s a pretty comprehensive overview of an imaginary transit system there! Having only been to Victoria for four hours on a very wet, rainy and cold December day a few years ago, I can’t really comment on the feasibility of all this.
Fortunately, the map looks great: a nice combination of diagrammatic route lines and stylised geography that works really well together, although the type for the bus route labels seems a little small to me. The dramatic circular loops that the buses take around the Medical Sciences light rail station seem a little at odds to the style of the rest of the map at first, but I can see from Google Maps that the road really does transcribe a perfect circle through the university campus there.
Historical Map: Bay Area Connections Map, 1981
Submitted by Alex Jonlin, who says:
I saw this at the Fremont BART Station a couple weeks ago. It’s labeled (in tiny print at the top) “September 1981.” I have no idea how it ended up staying for so long, but it’s interesting to see how the transit system has changed since then. I also like the concept of depicting long-distance rail and long-distance buses just about the same - it shows people that the Bay Area’s transit network extends beyond where just the BART and Caltrain go.
Transit Maps says:
Another fine entry in the “hopelessly out-of-date map” genre — 31 years and still counting!
This really is one of my favourite categories of transit maps. So much so, that I’ve introduced a new tag just for them: out of date. This applies to maps that are still located at active stops or vehicles only — maps in transit museums or used as movie/TV show props don’t count. Anyone got any examples from their local transit system?
Unofficial Map: Portland MAX Light Rail — Super Mario 3 Style
Here’s the latest “Mario Map” from the incredibly prolific Dave Delisle (seriously, how much cool stuff can one guy pump out?). This one is of my home town of Portland, Oregon, and Dave actually enlisted my help in checking the accuracy of the route layouts and the spelling of the station names. Considering the ridiculous length of some of the station names in the system and the limitations of the 8-bit art style, Dave’s done a great job at fitting everything together in a very plausible and attractive manner.
Of course, in true Portlandia style, Dave has literally “put a bird on it” — there’s also a non-birdified version over on his website if you don’t get the joke. Also of note is Dave’s playful take on the TriMet logo, and the fact that our princess seems to be stuck out at Expo Center, the poor thing.
(Source: Dave’s website — posters are for sale!)
Submission - Fantasy Map: Louisville, Kentucky Light Rail Map
Submitted by stupidgit, who says:
Hello! I’m very much new to Illustrator, but I have a love of transit and a budding love of graphic design, and reading your wonderful blog has inspired me to try and pick it up. For practice, I tried turning one of my childhood daydreams into reality — a hypothetical map for a light rail system for my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is a notoriously anti-transit town with just a subpar bus system to its name, and it would be great if I could possibly use this map to start some dialogue back home and get people thinking about the possibility again. Any suggestions for improving either the map or the system idea itself (if you’re familiar with Louisville) would be greatly appreciated!
Transit Maps says:
Not being familiar with Louisville at all, I can’t really comment much on your ideas behind the system, except to say that it looks plausible — if expensive — to build.
The map itself is a solid, workmanlike effort. I like the slightly unusual use of 30/60-degree angles, which seems to fit the actual layout of the city well (at least, from what a quick look at Google Maps tells me), and the general design is fairly clean and uncluttered.
I think the number of directional arrows you use in the downtown area is overkill — use either station icons with arrows or arrows between the stations, not both. If you do use arrows between stations, I really don’t think you need an arrow between every station: one strategically located along each straight section of track should be enough to remind your users which way they’re going. There’s also an error with the arrow on 2nd Avenue between Oak and Magnolia: it should point north, not south.
I find the Interstates are a little too light to make them out easily, and they could perhaps be handled a little more stylishly and also simplified more. The jog in I-65 north of I-264 seems a little unnecessarily detailed to me.
Here’s a few questions for you to consider:
Do we actually need to see the runways at the airport? What benefit does showing them give the users of the map?
Would showing the northern bank of the river give a little more geographic context? I find that it looks more like a lake at present. Could you simplify its shape by using the same 30/60 degree angles used elsewhere? This could bring a unifying design element to the map.
How can you make your station labeling more consistent? I’ve never really been a huge fan of multiple angles to make things fit. Your map is very open and spacious, there could be other alternative ways of doing it.
Finally, “Home of the Innocents” is possibly the most awesome name for a light rail stop ever.
Official Map: CTrain, Calgary, Canada
Lots of people have requested this map, but I’ve held off for a while as some extensions to the system and amendments to the map itself have been made. Calgary Transit actually released a preliminary version of this map last year and asked for public input on it via an on-line survey, which is good to see. However, it’s not the most thrilling map, and there’s still one quirk with it that could cause some confusion.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Clean, minimal, easy-to-follow design. No extraneous bells and whistles to get in the way of a relatively simple system.
What we don’t like: I really don’t see the need to alternate the station labels between the left and right hand side of the route lines when they run vertically. The names would be much easier to quickly read if they just ran underneath each other to the right of the route line, much like a bulleted list. It looks particularly odd on the southern part of the Red Line, where Victoria Park/Stampede and Elton/Stampede are both to the right, and then the rest alternate.
The quirk I mention above regards the handling of the stations along 7th Avenue in the “Downtown Area” of the map. City Hall is the only station in the section where both lines run that serves both directions of travel — the rest of the stations alternate directions. The 1st, 4th and 7th Street stops serve all westbound trains, and the 8th, 6th, 3rd and Centre Steet stops serve all eastbound trains.
The designers have tried to show this by use of a directional arrow near each station. However, by placing these arrows within the coloured route lines, it could be interpreted that only Blue Line trains travel west and only Red Line trains travel east along this corridor. This ambiguity could have been averted by placing the arrows within the station dots or next to the station names themselves, where it would be almost impossible to misinterpret their intention.
However, the approach used here is still markedly better than the one used on the preliminary sample map, which placed the dots for all westbound trains in the Blue Line, and all eastbound dots in the Red Line! Now that would have been confusing!
Our rating: Workmanlike and honest, if a little dull. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Calgary Transit website)
Unofficial Map: Crosscut’s Seattle Link Light Rail Strip Map
Crosscut, a non-profit news website centered on Washington State’s Puget Sound Region, has been talking about Link light rail’s signage for a while now. Their point about the minimal directional signage at SeaTac Airport to guide you to the train is valid, but their problem with Link’s own in-car strip map is less well founded.
They recently called for new designs as part of a competition, but unfortunately didn’t receive any. So they took it upon themselves to design one, and came up with the map at the bottom of the image above. They seem to think it successful, but I have to disagree in just about every respect.
The main problem with their redesign is that it doesn’t take into account where the map is to be used. It’s meant to sit above the door of a light rail carriage, which means it’s around six-and-a-half feet off the ground. Unless you’re very tall, you’re never going to get closer than about a foot to it. The train will often be crowded, and that means you may have to read it from even further away than that, while the train is moving. Simplicity, large type and ease of use are paramount.
I chose the image above because it simulates those typical viewing conditions. The top image shows the current strip map, the bottom one is a hastily composited version of the Crosscut map onto the same picture. At the same viewing distance, almost all of the extra information Crosscut has included is absolutely impossible to read, and even the station names are smaller. The huge lists of every bus route that connects with Link are useless, as are the points of interest listed at each station. If bus routes had to be included on a map like this, I would advocate that only frequent or rapid routes be shown.
The twists and turns in the route line on the Crosscut map make the one really vital piece of information that a traveller needs to know — how many stops until I get off? — that much harder to find. It’s much easier to visually scan along a straight line than a bent one. A straight line also acts as a subtle guarantee of directness and speed, while a bent one implies a circuitous and longer trip. Yes, it’s propaganda (and sometimes close to a lie), but that’s one of the reasons that route lines are straightened out.
Crosscut also mention (but don’t show) the possibility of adding QR codes to the map for further information, but really — who’s going to hold their smart phone up to a map mounted above the door to scan a QR code?
The one part of the Crosscut map that I agree with — the deletion of the awful “Constellation” icons — may not even be possible. I seem to recall being told that their inclusion was mandatory as a visual aid for illiterate transit users.
Packing an in-car strip map with all this extraneous information is poor information design, and would be much better left to a unified system of system maps, locality maps, and wayfinding signage. Which already exists at most Link stations.
(Source for original “before” photo: Alex Abboud/Flickr)
Los Angeles Rail Maps
Great photo showing how the LA Metro maps are part of a larger, unified, wayfinding system. Consistency of typography and brand are key — note how the titles of each map are in the same location and typeface every time, as is the Metro logo: colour is the main differentiator of information.
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…
Submission: Official Map, Seattle Central Link Light Rail
Submitted by Joshua Fan, who says:
This is an official map of Seattle’s Central Link light rail line, which opened in 2009. It appears in the official guide of all of Sound Transit’s services, which can be found in this PDF on the Sound Transit website (this map is on page 22). Frankly, I am quite disappointed in this map: it tries to both diagrammatic and geographical, but fails on both counts (which is a common mistake that you have pointed out on several previously-reviewed maps). Between stations, the map attempts to portray a semblance of geography on the line between stations, but the distances are incorrect: for example, the downtown stations at the north end are much farther apart on this map than they are in reality. The depiction of water is even worse: the map shows a lot of details in the shoreline, suggesting that it reflects the actual geography, but however the shape of the shoreline in the map is a really ugly distortion of the reality. I am curious about what you think about it!
Transit Maps says: The problem with this map is that it’s trying way too hard to make Seattle’s single line of light rail look more impressive than it really is. So it (unnecessarily) shows a lot of the twists and turns in the route and some pseudo-geographic coastline, and adds some optimistic information about the time it takes to get between key stations. It’s not the worst map out there, but it’s really pretty dull. Once North Link and East Link get added to the equation, things should start looking a little more exciting.
If I was drawing this map, I’d keep the big turns in the line: the kink eastward through Tukwila which then turns north to Rainier Beach, and the Beacon Hill tunnel: the rest, I’d straighten out completely. The weird kink south of Rainier Beach is totally extraneous on a map like this.
My main problem with the Seattle map will always be the icons used to mark each of the stations. Not only do they reproduce horribly at smaller sizes — like on this printed map — but the rationale behind them is the worst type of retroactive design-speak.
For those who don’t know, the idea is that “points of interest” near the station are plotted as “stars”, and from these stars, “constellations” created as the station icons. Conveniently, the points of interest always seem to fall just where required in order for something relevant to be designed for each station. Some very selective choosing of those “interesting” places, I think.
Here’s a link to a PDF that tells you more about the Constellations for those who are interested.