Official Map: Salt Lake City Rail Transit for Opening of New “S Line”
Submitted by the eagle-eyed Garrett Smith, who says:
I must say I am not overly impressed with UTA’s revision of their rail map—which will begin to be posted in trains once UTA’s first streetcar, the S Line, opens. Yes, it certainly is better than before. Removing addresses from the map did wonders for improving legibility. But that’s about it. Call me old fashioned, but shouldn’t the lines below the station names roughly correspond to the length of the word? And why doesn’t N. Temple Bridge/Guadalupe receive a callout box when it also is a transfer station involving TRAX, FrontRunner, and local bus service?
Transit Maps says:
And here we are: hardly worth the wait, really. Tiny baby steps have been taken by removing the street addresses of the stations, but almost all the previous faults are still present. The labelling of stations remains an awful, convoluted mess and the giant callout boxes at transfer stations are still completely unnecessary. Downtown is a disgrace, with eight stations crammed into the tiniest of spaces: so small that most of those stations have to have a smaller station dot to compensate. Meanwhile, the new “S Line” streetcar, which is only 2.1 miles long, stretches luxuriously off to the right side of the map, way larger in scale than it should ever be.
And your brand-new, awesome streetcar gets to be the “gray” line? How exciting.
This map needs to be crumpled up, thrown away and never used as a template again. Seriously, who at the UTA actually approves this? Who actually says, “Wow! That looks great! Let’s print some signs and put it on the website!”
Start from scratch. Abandon the pseudo-geographical layout that actually has no consistent scale. Take a diagrammatic approach and expand the downtown area (so we can read the station names!) while compressing the outlying ones. Make the FrontRunner follow a completely straight path from end to end — a compositional vertical axis for the rest of the map. Ditch the freakin’ terrible compass rose. Anything but this.
(Source: Official UTA website)
Official Map: Port Authority of Allegheny County Full System Map
While researching yesterday’s post about Pittsburgh’s light rail map, I came across this, the full system map — showing light rail, BRT (busways) and buses — produced by the Port Authority of Allegheny County and available on their website.
That’s right: the map image has been sliced up into multiple .png files and placed into an HTML table. A table with a staggering fifty-one separate cells. It’s like a time warp back to 1996 or something.
To view the map in more detail, you have to click on one of those cells and a (slightly) enlarged version of that tiny slice of the county comes up for further viewing, as seen in the second picture above. A list of routes that runs through that section also comes up: you can click again to view individual maps and schedules for that line. To see where a route goes outside your current tiny square, you have to close the pop-up and then click on an adjacent area.
Of course, you can also click an area of the map which has no routes shown at all, just to view that wide open nothingness in greater detail (third picture). Useful!
Is this really the best way for customers to view a system map, one tiny little square at a time? It’s almost impossible to follow a route from one end to the other or even really make sense of the map at all (it’s not legible at the overview size). A downloadable PDF of this map with embedded hyperlinks to further route information (linking back to the website) would be a far better way to distribute this information, but that’s not even an option: this clunky, antiquated “Web 1.0” interface is the only way this system map can be accessed.
Submission - Official Map: Pittsburgh Light Rail System Map
Submitted by Dan Daly, who says:
Here is the Pittsburgh light rail map. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. In my opinion it is kinda useless not because of it’s design but because it only covers the light rail. Very little of the urban part of the city is actually covered in this map. If the busways were fully included with station names and the links to the T stops it would be much more useful for someone trying to find their way around the city.
Transit Maps says:
It seems a little unfair to me to single out this one particular light rail map for not showing other transit modes when there are plenty of other maps that do exactly the same thing — my own city of Portland, Oregon makes no reference to bus services on its MAX light rail map. Generally, an overall system map will include all modes of transit — a light rail map like this is then also offered to show this particular mode in full detail without the clutter of the other modes.
So while I can’t really find fault with the scope of this map, I certainly can with the execution. It’s another example of the frustratingly average transit map design seen throughout much of the United States — uninspired typography, dull, unexciting colour choices and poor/strange informational hierarchy.
I especially take issue with the way that stations with high-level platforms are given so much more visual prominence over low-level platforms, with both a bigger station marker and larger, bolder labelling. While it’s good to know whether you’re boarding on the level or via stairs (the light rail trains in Pittsburgh have two front doors, one at each level), it doesn’t justify giving one type of station so much more visual emphasis over the other. Apart from the different platform heights, there’s no difference between these stations — the larger, bolder type should really be reserved for interchange or terminus stations only.
The other thing I’ve long disliked about this map is the weird jog that the Red Line takes through Fallowfield station, which “breaks” the line into two segments at that point. For the longest time, I thought this meant that riders had to change trains here or something, but it just seems to be an unnecessary design element casing that confusion.
The inclusion of busways on this map seem like a complete afterthought: only one busway actually interfaces with the light rail (and even this isn’t made clear with the stations closer to downtown), and the minuscule green route line shown for the West Busway just seems insultingly pathetic.
Our rating: Relentlessly mediocre. Two stars.
Updated: Aerial Photo Transit Map of Portland, Oregon — Now with Bus Routes!
Taylor Gibson’s aerial photo map of Portland’s rail and streetcar routes is one of the most popular posts ever on Transit Maps, so I thought I’d pass on this update to it, which now shows the bus network as well. The colours used match the official TriMet system map, although Taylor hasn’t shown peak hour-only services like the 51 up through Council Crest.
What this view really shows to effect is Portland’s grid-like bus network, which you can read more about (and learn why it’s so good) on Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit blog.
(Source: Submitted by Taylor to the Transit Maps Facebook page)
Single Journey Ticket Issuing Machine, Hong Kong
I’m loving how the Hong Kong MTR map (April 2012, 4 stars) has been integrated into the ticket-purchasing process. It’s as easy as selecting the station you’re travelling to on the screen, inserting money, and getting your ticket: Ticketing and route information all in one!
Submission - Aerial Transit Map of Salt Lake City, Utah
Submitted by Aaron Sebright, who says:
After seeing the aerial maps of the New York City Subway system and Portland’s Rail system, I decided to try it out on my home city of Salt Lake City! Granted that at the end of the year, it will have three light rail lines, one street car line and one commuter rail line it is even simpler than Portland’s at this scale. (Not pictured in this photo is the Sugarhouse Streetcar line). But seeing as when I move to SLC two years ago, the green line in the lower left corner and the purple line (Frontrunner commuter rail) from downtown to the right side of the picture didn’t even exist yet, this system is making a lot of progress in a very short time.
Transit Maps says:
Not a lot to add to this, except to agree about the rapid progress that SLC has made with its rail transit. Now, if only they’d fix their darn maps…
Photo credit: Ron Reiring/Flickr (Creative Commons attribution license)
Unofficial Map: Circular Sydney Suburban Railways by Maxwell Roberts
I have to admit: I’m still not entirely convinced by either the usability or the aesthetics the new “circular transit maps” design trend. However, I think I’ll make an exception for this diagram of my hometown of Sydney, Australia, which is… just beautiful.
Designed by the man at the vanguard of this design movement, Maxwell Roberts, this map actually has a lot of visible advantages over the current official Sydney rail map (Sept. 2012, 3.5 stars), not the least of which is consistent, evenly spaced station labels (all of which are set horizontally).
Wisely, Roberts has confined his map to Greater Sydney alone (i.e., the standard suburban services only, rather than including interurban services to far-distant places like Newcastle, Nowra and Goulburn), something I actually advocate for the official map as well. This is what gives the map far more room to breathe than the official one.
The “hub” of the map is obvious: the aptly-named “City Circle” that loops through Sydney’s CBD, and everything radiates out from there. The visual highlight for me is the treatment of the Cumberland Line, which is one of the few lines that doesn’t route through the city itself — running instead from Blacktown to Campbelltown in Sydney’s far western suburbs. It’s shown as one lovely, giant, sweeping arc for most of its route, which suits its orbital role in the system perfectly.
However, the radial treatment does mean that some destinations are in a slightly unexpected place: Bondi Junction appears far further north than it should be, while in reality Epping and Carlingford stations are just a few kilometres apart, not the vast distance they appear to be here.
The treatment of the inner west light rail line (curiously called the “Lilyfield Tram” here) is also a little problematic, as it appears to extend almost all the way to Meadowbank. In reality, Lilyfield is pretty much due north of Stanmore, much closer to the city’s core. However, station labelling requirements pretty much demand that the route line extends this far on the map, and it’s no worse than the official map in its execution. Some mode differentiation between this route and the main line trains would have been nice, as well as a note that the two systems currently use different fare systems with limited transfers between them.
Minor quibble: “Saint James”, “Saint Marys”, “Saint Peters” and “Saint Leonards” should be written as “St. James”, “St. Marys”, “St. Peters”, “St. Leonards”. No signage in the Sydney system spells out the “Saint”.
Finally, the map is missing the informational icons that are present on the official map — disabled access, parking, etc. — which makes for a much cleaner look, but at the expense of important information.
Our rating: Probably the most aesthetically pleasing circular map I’ve seen yet, quite lovely in its execution. Missing a lot of information that’s present on the official map, so it’s hard to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Let’s call it a draw. Three-and-a-half-stars.
Source: Crikey.com.au — The Urbanist
P.S. - For more information on Mr. Roberts’ circular maps, visit his website by clicking here.
From The Field - More Denver Distortion
Another weirdly squashed map of Denver’s light rail system: this time compressed horizontally. Would it have killed them to make the sign a little wider?
Taken at the 18th & California station.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Portland, Oregon Rail Network by Taylor Gibson
When Taylor sent through his aerial photo map of Portland the other day, he also submitted this very interesting isometric map of the city’s rail network (MAX, WES and streetcar). Tyler is a self-proclaimed “total newbie at making transit maps”, but this is definitely a pretty solid effort.
Highly reminiscent of this isometric map of Stuttgart (Oct 2011, 5 stars), the 30-degree-angled route lines allow station labels to be set horizontally without clashing with each other, even in the congested downtown area. The only real problem area is the almost unavoidable mess created by the four separate “Pioneer Square” stations right in the middle of the map. I’ve noticed that these have been consolidated into one “mega-station” on TriMet’s new in-car maps, and that’s definitely a cleaner, more sensible approach to the problem in my eyes.
I also see a little influence from my own map of Portland’s rail system: both in the layout of the legend, and the fact that Taylor has decided to show the new MAX line to Milwaulkie as an extension of the Yellow Line, rather than the commonly expected “Orange Line”.
I do have a few minor criticisms: text in general is a little small and hard to read, although I can see how larger text would cause layout problems (perhaps a condensed typeface could solve this), and there are a couple of confusing label clashes: the parking symbol for Gateway TC is right on top of the station marker for Parkrose/Sumner TC, for example. It’s also a little sad to see the streetcar relegated to thin unlabelled lines, but the space limitations of the map almost demand this treatment.
Still, for a “newbie”, this is pretty darn awesome. Great work, Taylor!
Submission - Aerial Photo Transit Map of Portland, Oregon
Submitted to the Transit Maps Facebook page by Taylor Gibson. While nowhere near as complex as the New York system featured previously, it’s still an interesting look at a successful rail transit system.
For those unfamiliar with Portland, the thicker lines (Yellow, Green, Blue and Red — shown here as pink for visual clarity, I think) are the MAX light rail, while the thinner aqua and lime green lines are the Portland Streetcar, which has recently expanded to the eastern side of the Willamette River (the top half of this photo).
Eventually, the aqua “Loop” streetcar line will cross back over to the western side of the Willamette at the extreme right of this photo via the new transit-only bridge that is currently being constructed. The bridge will also carry buses, pedestrians, cyclists and the new Orange MAX line.
(Photo Source: DubbaG/Wikipedia — Creative Commons License)