Unofficial Map: Sydney Rail Network (Trains and Light Rail) by Ben Luke

Submitted by Ben, who says:

This is my version of the Sydney Trains map. I was inspired to try designing my own version after the introduction of the new official map which I found to be rather uninspiring. I have been learning Illustrator in the process, so thanks to your excellent blog for all the tips and tutorials.

I have used a realistic background layer which is distorted to fit around the map but maintains a sense of geographic familiarity (I’m a map geek so this is important to me!). My aim was to capture the essence of Sydney with its rich interplay between land and water without being to distracting. I have also decided to include the light rail system, which the new official map has dropped, as I’ve always been fan of multi mode maps. Other than that I just tried to keep things as simple and straight as possible. 

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Transit Maps says:

There’s a lot to like in Ben’s reinterpretation of the Sydney Trains map. His use of 30/60-degree angles actually helps a lot in some of the traditionally crowded parts of the map – the Illawarra Line south of Arncliffe and the North Shore Line, in particular. The reorientation of the main trunk line out to Blacktown as one long straight line on a 30-degree angle also works surprisingly well, countering the diagrammatic enlargement of the CBD nicely. There are places where the 30-degree lines look a bit awkward next to the 45-degree labels (Flemington to Granville, for example), but I can see why Ben’s taken this approach.

I also really like the “Intercity” labels that Ben has used to indicate the direction of longer-distance trains: it integrates the branding of the service more effectively than the official map, although adding some key destinations along each line might be a good idea for users unfamiliar with the system: Blue Mountains Line – to Katoomba and Lithgow works better than just the line name for me. A little more “breathing room” at the top and bottom of the map would also be welcomed, as the labels are pushed up pretty tight to the edge at the moment.

I do feel that the spacing of the stations in the western part of the map is a little big compared to other parts of the map: there’s nice, even, tight spacing up to Blacktown, then a giant gap to Doonside or Marayong, and much bigger spacing between all the stations from there on out.

I’ve gone on record as saying that I’m not the greatest fan of diagrammatic maps on geographic backgrounds – but if you’re going to do it, do it well. Ben’s done it very well here – it looks far less distorted and cartoony that the previous Sydney rail map.

Ben’s integrated the light rail system into his map – although he’s inexplicably changed it to blue from its official deep red – and has come across a pretty big problem. The sydney train network is vast and sprawling, covering huge distances in every direction – while the light rail line is much denser, with stations spaced much closer together. It’s very difficult to coherently place these two very different systems on the same map, although Ben’s put in a manful effort here. I’d probably be in favour of showing the light rail (because I like a good multi-modal map too!), but only labelling major terminus stations. Dots or ticks to indicate the number of other stations could be retained. A separate map could then be used to show the light rail system in detail, without having to show all of Greater Sydney on the same map.

Our rating: Some excellent ideas that improve on the official map in some aspects. Spacing of stations could be a little more even/harmonious, but it’s really a great effort. Three stars.

3 Stars

Submission — Follow Up on Portland’s New Light Rail Maps

Submitted by Taylosaurus, who says:

I saw the last post about Portland’s new TriMet maps and the stations and I knew I’d seen a map without that weird disappearing Red Line/streetcar thing so I made sure to take a picture on my way home. This map is on the ticket vending machines. I’m not sure if it’s on all of them but it’s at least on the ones at the Rose Quarter and at SE Powell Blvd. The maps you posted are on the lighted signs on the Transit Mall and the I-205 section of the Green Line.

So basically, it looks like it might be an issue of production rather than the design of the map. Not sure if that warrants given it an extra 1/2 star or not, but I thought you ought to know.

——

Transit Maps says:

Yes, I just got confirmation via a comment from one of TriMet’s designers this morning that this is a printing error on the backlit signs. Apparently, the ink for the “missing” ghosted-back lines didn’t hold at all. I’m kind of amazed that it didn’t hold for the Red Line, as it’s still quite a solid colour in the photo above, but there you go. As these will be revised/reprinted when the Orange Line opens (in about a year!), we won’t have to put up with this error for too long, at least.

  1. Camera: iPhone 5
  2. Aperture: f/2.4
  3. Exposure: 1/128th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm
NEW Official Map: TriMet MAX Light Rail, Portland, Oregon
So I saw this at the MAX stop near my work yesterday, and managed to get some photos of it today. For now, the TriMet website still has the previous map, and it seems like these maps may currently be only posted along the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall downtown (any other sightings elsewhere, PDXers?)
So, what’s new?
First off is the obvious (and quite radical) change from 45-degree angles to 30/60-degrees… which can’t help but put me in mind of my own map of Portland’s rail transit, which did the same thing way back in 2011, and revised in September 2012. This map hasn’t taken the concept quite as far as my map, however, as the downtown lines still form a neat horizontal/vertical cross, rather than conforming the the 30/60 degree angles (which actually reflects the real street grid a little better).
The two streetcar lines (North-South and Central) are finally both being shown according to their official colour-coding (lime green and cyan, respectively), although no stops are named. This is actually a pretty good compromise – it’s better than the sad, unlabelled squiggle of previous maps, and it doesn’t mess with the scale of the map as much as it does on my version, where downtown has to be enlarged even more in relation to the rest of the system. The streetcar seems to stop every two blocks anyway, so you’re never that far away from the next one!
Future extensions are shown: the Orange Line to Milwaukie and the completion of the streetcar loop over the new Tillikum Crossing transit bridge. There’s some nice work on the Orange Line to get the station dots to line up properly and exactly over the dashed route line: I always appreciate attention to detail like this. The map still doesn’t tell us exactly how the Orange Line will tie in to the rest of the system: it’s just tacked onto the ends of the Yellow Line at PSU. I’ve heard rumours that southbound trains may change from Yellow to Orange at Union Station, while northbound trains will change from Orange to Yellow at SW College. I’m guessing that some Green Line trains may also change their designation, otherwise there’s really no reason why the Orange Line shouldn’t just be an extension of the existing Yellow Line in my eyes.
I also like the way that the Blue Line drops down southwards with the Green Line east of Gateway before turning again out to Gresham: accurate to real life and nicely done. I’m not so thrilled with the dinky little turns that the Green and Yellow Lines make between Union Station and the Steel Bridge. I also think it would be neater for the Green Line to cross under the Blue and Red Lines here, so that it doesn’t have to make that big right-angled turn across all the other lines out at Gateway. See my map for how this looks.
Some oddities: the Central streetcar line just completely disappears as it passes behind the MAX station labels east of the Willamette (se the right of the second picture above). Similarly, when the Red and Blue lines cross the Yellow and Green Lines downtown, the Blue Line is ghosted back so the “PORTLAND TRANSIT MALL” text can be read, but the Red Line disappears, as do the streetcar tracks when they cross the mall. Consistency is the key here: either approach has merits, but pick one and stick with it!
Finally, one of my pet peeves: stations named after sporting arenas with naming rights. It’s been PGE Park, JELD-WEN Field and now Providence Park, all in the seven years that I’ve been living here. Wouldn’t we just be better off calling the MAX Station “Stadium” and be done with it?
Our rating: Definitely an improvement on previous maps, with a sleeker, more modern feel and much better integration of the Portland Streetcar. Parts of it look eerily familiar to me, but it is also a logical progression from previous TriMet in-car maps like this one. Three stars.

EDIT: A comment from one of TriMet’s designers confirms that the “missing” route lines under the Transit Mall are printing errors on the backlit signs only. NEW Official Map: TriMet MAX Light Rail, Portland, Oregon
So I saw this at the MAX stop near my work yesterday, and managed to get some photos of it today. For now, the TriMet website still has the previous map, and it seems like these maps may currently be only posted along the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall downtown (any other sightings elsewhere, PDXers?)
So, what’s new?
First off is the obvious (and quite radical) change from 45-degree angles to 30/60-degrees… which can’t help but put me in mind of my own map of Portland’s rail transit, which did the same thing way back in 2011, and revised in September 2012. This map hasn’t taken the concept quite as far as my map, however, as the downtown lines still form a neat horizontal/vertical cross, rather than conforming the the 30/60 degree angles (which actually reflects the real street grid a little better).
The two streetcar lines (North-South and Central) are finally both being shown according to their official colour-coding (lime green and cyan, respectively), although no stops are named. This is actually a pretty good compromise – it’s better than the sad, unlabelled squiggle of previous maps, and it doesn’t mess with the scale of the map as much as it does on my version, where downtown has to be enlarged even more in relation to the rest of the system. The streetcar seems to stop every two blocks anyway, so you’re never that far away from the next one!
Future extensions are shown: the Orange Line to Milwaukie and the completion of the streetcar loop over the new Tillikum Crossing transit bridge. There’s some nice work on the Orange Line to get the station dots to line up properly and exactly over the dashed route line: I always appreciate attention to detail like this. The map still doesn’t tell us exactly how the Orange Line will tie in to the rest of the system: it’s just tacked onto the ends of the Yellow Line at PSU. I’ve heard rumours that southbound trains may change from Yellow to Orange at Union Station, while northbound trains will change from Orange to Yellow at SW College. I’m guessing that some Green Line trains may also change their designation, otherwise there’s really no reason why the Orange Line shouldn’t just be an extension of the existing Yellow Line in my eyes.
I also like the way that the Blue Line drops down southwards with the Green Line east of Gateway before turning again out to Gresham: accurate to real life and nicely done. I’m not so thrilled with the dinky little turns that the Green and Yellow Lines make between Union Station and the Steel Bridge. I also think it would be neater for the Green Line to cross under the Blue and Red Lines here, so that it doesn’t have to make that big right-angled turn across all the other lines out at Gateway. See my map for how this looks.
Some oddities: the Central streetcar line just completely disappears as it passes behind the MAX station labels east of the Willamette (se the right of the second picture above). Similarly, when the Red and Blue lines cross the Yellow and Green Lines downtown, the Blue Line is ghosted back so the “PORTLAND TRANSIT MALL” text can be read, but the Red Line disappears, as do the streetcar tracks when they cross the mall. Consistency is the key here: either approach has merits, but pick one and stick with it!
Finally, one of my pet peeves: stations named after sporting arenas with naming rights. It’s been PGE Park, JELD-WEN Field and now Providence Park, all in the seven years that I’ve been living here. Wouldn’t we just be better off calling the MAX Station “Stadium” and be done with it?
Our rating: Definitely an improvement on previous maps, with a sleeker, more modern feel and much better integration of the Portland Streetcar. Parts of it look eerily familiar to me, but it is also a logical progression from previous TriMet in-car maps like this one. Three stars.

EDIT: A comment from one of TriMet’s designers confirms that the “missing” route lines under the Transit Mall are printing errors on the backlit signs only.

NEW Official Map: TriMet MAX Light Rail, Portland, Oregon

So I saw this at the MAX stop near my work yesterday, and managed to get some photos of it today. For now, the TriMet website still has the previous map, and it seems like these maps may currently be only posted along the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall downtown (any other sightings elsewhere, PDXers?)

So, what’s new?

First off is the obvious (and quite radical) change from 45-degree angles to 30/60-degrees… which can’t help but put me in mind of my own map of Portland’s rail transit, which did the same thing way back in 2011, and revised in September 2012. This map hasn’t taken the concept quite as far as my map, however, as the downtown lines still form a neat horizontal/vertical cross, rather than conforming the the 30/60 degree angles (which actually reflects the real street grid a little better).

The two streetcar lines (North-South and Central) are finally both being shown according to their official colour-coding (lime green and cyan, respectively), although no stops are named. This is actually a pretty good compromise – it’s better than the sad, unlabelled squiggle of previous maps, and it doesn’t mess with the scale of the map as much as it does on my version, where downtown has to be enlarged even more in relation to the rest of the system. The streetcar seems to stop every two blocks anyway, so you’re never that far away from the next one!

Future extensions are shown: the Orange Line to Milwaukie and the completion of the streetcar loop over the new Tillikum Crossing transit bridge. There’s some nice work on the Orange Line to get the station dots to line up properly and exactly over the dashed route line: I always appreciate attention to detail like this. The map still doesn’t tell us exactly how the Orange Line will tie in to the rest of the system: it’s just tacked onto the ends of the Yellow Line at PSU. I’ve heard rumours that southbound trains may change from Yellow to Orange at Union Station, while northbound trains will change from Orange to Yellow at SW College. I’m guessing that some Green Line trains may also change their designation, otherwise there’s really no reason why the Orange Line shouldn’t just be an extension of the existing Yellow Line in my eyes.

I also like the way that the Blue Line drops down southwards with the Green Line east of Gateway before turning again out to Gresham: accurate to real life and nicely done. I’m not so thrilled with the dinky little turns that the Green and Yellow Lines make between Union Station and the Steel Bridge. I also think it would be neater for the Green Line to cross under the Blue and Red Lines here, so that it doesn’t have to make that big right-angled turn across all the other lines out at Gateway. See my map for how this looks.

Some oddities: the Central streetcar line just completely disappears as it passes behind the MAX station labels east of the Willamette (se the right of the second picture above). Similarly, when the Red and Blue lines cross the Yellow and Green Lines downtown, the Blue Line is ghosted back so the “PORTLAND TRANSIT MALL” text can be read, but the Red Line disappears, as do the streetcar tracks when they cross the mall. Consistency is the key here: either approach has merits, but pick one and stick with it!

Finally, one of my pet peeves: stations named after sporting arenas with naming rights. It’s been PGE Park, JELD-WEN Field and now Providence Park, all in the seven years that I’ve been living here. Wouldn’t we just be better off calling the MAX Station “Stadium” and be done with it?

Our rating: Definitely an improvement on previous maps, with a sleeker, more modern feel and much better integration of the Portland Streetcar. Parts of it look eerily familiar to me, but it is also a logical progression from previous TriMet in-car maps like this one. Three stars.

3 Stars

EDIT: A comment from one of TriMet’s designers confirms that the “missing” route lines under the Transit Mall are printing errors on the backlit signs only.

Historical Map: TriMet Bus and MAX Routes, Portland, Oregon (early 1990s)

Certainly no later than 1998 as the MAX light rail only consists of the original Westside route (later to be the Blue Line).

Of note is the continued use of the service zone icons – fish, rain, snow, beaver, leaf, rose and deer – that defined Portland’s downtown transit mall for decades. I’ve featured them before on this map from 1978, but it’s on this map where their main failing comes to the fore. Because each icon is colour-coded, each respective service area just becomes a tangled web of lines, all represented by the same colour. Cross-town routes like the 75, – which have their own colour – just go to show how much easier a route is to follow when it contrasts against nearby routes, rather than matching them exactly.

Also a little odd: not naming any of the MAX stations on the map, and labelling regular frequency bus lines against very similarly-colured background boxes, which makes the route numbers a little difficult to discern.

All in all, an interesting look at the earlier days of MAX and the later days of the service area icons. It’s also fun to see which routes have survived to the current day and which have disappeared or been combined into one route (for example, the Fish-1 and Leaf-35 have become the modern day Greeley-Macadam 35).

Our rating: A nice piece of transit history from my adopted city, if a little imperfect. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

Source: Screaming Ape/Flickr

Unofficial Map: Transit Network of Norfolk, Virginia by Jonah Adkins

This is a nice little map from Jonah, whose transit map version of his Noland Trail Map I featured back in July last year. The map certainly does a good job of placing the new light rail line in a regional context, with the Elizabeth River and the Interstate highways defining the surrounding area nicely. Points of interest and county/city borders are nicely shown as well.

However, I disagree a bit with Jonah’s informational hierarchy. I believe that all the Hampton Roads Transit services – be they light rail, commuter bus (yet another MAX acronym!), regular bus or ferry service – should be higher up the hierarchy than the Amtrak and Greyhound services which operate far more on an inter-regional/national level. That is to say, local commuters and residents really don’t use them on a regular basis to get around the area. In particular, having Greyhound buses shown as a thick, dark grey line, while the Hampton Roads buses are a recessive, hard to see, light grey makes little sense. They should also be grouped together in the legend, rather than having the Amtrak/Greyhound services split them up as they currently do.

Minor things: I find the double curve between the MacArthur Square and Civic Plaza stations a little overly-fussy (a single 135-degree angle would work better); it’s Amtrak, not Amtrack; and the legend could have less Random Acts of Capitalization in it… “Daily” is capitalized, for example, but “complex” is not? I personally prefer legend text to be set in sentence case (easier to read, only proper names get capitalized), but if you’re going to write in title case, you need to be consistent about the way you apply it.

It’s still a very attractive map, and certainly one I could envision at bus stops and light rail stations in the area with a little more polish. 

jonahsmaps:

Downtown Norfolk Transit Network (Draft)

For fun last year, I did a transit map version of my Noland Trail map. Since then I’ve really wanted to do a real transit map, but unfortunately I live in one of the most transit-boring regions of the U.S..

The main focus is the new light-rail line (The Tide), and it’s connectivity with the existing bus transportation system. I was excited that light-rail was coming to the region, and bummed when I saw the map. I guess I’m spoiled by all the great work on @transitmaps. Included on this map is the new Amtrack NE Regional train which originates from the downtown area, Greyhound Bus routes, and all of the connecting arterial bus routes.

Bottom line and the point to all my side projects - had fun creating, learning and expanding my skillset, on another (local) map project.

Historical Map: Opening of the Los Angeles Metro Red Line, January 30, 1993

A very simple map showing the first segment of Los Angeles’ Red Line on its opening in January 1993. The Blue Line (part of which is also shown on this map) had opened three years earlier.

The map is mainly notable for the “RTD” logo that belonged to the southern California Regional Transit District, the immediate ancestor of today’s Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA, or more commonly, just “Metro”). In fact, the LACMTA was formed just a few months after this map was produced.

Source: Striderv/Flickr

Photo: Old Rome–Pantano Railway Map, Italy

Submitted by Chris Bastian. An old, out-of-date wall map of the Rome–Pantano railway. Until 2008, the line ran from the Roma Termini station out to Pantano, a suburb to the east of Rome. Since then, the line has been cut back to Giardinetti (the station near the ring road shown on this map), as the eastern portion of the line is being converted into part of the new Metro Line 3.

Also of note is the depiction of island or side platforms on the map: always nice to know which side of the train to get off!

  1. Camera: Panasonic DMC-TS2
  2. Aperture: f/3.3
  3. Exposure: 1/30th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm
Submission – Official LYNX Light Rail Map, Charlotte, North Carolina
Man, this map sure manages to make depicting one line a lot of hard work. Despite the simple diagrammatic style, stations are still cramped together so close towards the top of the map that the labels have to be randomly placed on either side of the route line, rather than being spaced far enough apart to place them all neatly on one side. The map doesn’t give enough geographical context to justify this “accurate” placement of stations, so even spacing would work much better. If needed, stations in the city centre could be spaced closer together than the outlying Park-n-Ride stations, but the spacing for each type should be even.
Why is the “Blue Line” label all the way over by I-77? What happens when I-77 meets I-485? Apparently, they just end. South Boulevard has a label, but no road. The prominent north pointer is actually not a lot of use, as the diagram doesn’t really conform to reality anyway. In the real world, the line runs almost directly north-south from Woodlawn all the way down to the I-485/South Boulevard station, rather than NE-SW as indicated here. But that would get in the way of the legend, so we get what we get…
Our rating: Not horrendous, but a few little tweaks could make it so much nicer. Two stars.

Source: City of Charlotte LYNX web page

Submission – Official LYNX Light Rail Map, Charlotte, North Carolina

Man, this map sure manages to make depicting one line a lot of hard work. Despite the simple diagrammatic style, stations are still cramped together so close towards the top of the map that the labels have to be randomly placed on either side of the route line, rather than being spaced far enough apart to place them all neatly on one side. The map doesn’t give enough geographical context to justify this “accurate” placement of stations, so even spacing would work much better. If needed, stations in the city centre could be spaced closer together than the outlying Park-n-Ride stations, but the spacing for each type should be even.

Why is the “Blue Line” label all the way over by I-77? What happens when I-77 meets I-485? Apparently, they just end. South Boulevard has a label, but no road. The prominent north pointer is actually not a lot of use, as the diagram doesn’t really conform to reality anyway. In the real world, the line runs almost directly north-south from Woodlawn all the way down to the I-485/South Boulevard station, rather than NE-SW as indicated here. But that would get in the way of the legend, so we get what we get…

Our rating: Not horrendous, but a few little tweaks could make it so much nicer. Two stars.

2 Stars

Source: City of Charlotte LYNX web page

Fantasy Future Map: Sydney, Australia by Thomas Mudgway

Thomas, who is a ninth-grader (i.e., he’s just 14 or 15 years old), says:

Sydney, my home town, has around 4.7 million people and already has a commuter rail network, however, the city is growing, and the network doesn’t cover everything, so I have augmented the network in many places, as well as showing how it could grow into the currently undeveloped far south- and north-west (they are generally the places where the stations have no names, there simply aren’t currently any for them). It is show by the thick lines. Also represented by the thick lines is the long planned north-west rail link in light green/khaki. Additionally, the map shows bus rapid transitways and light rail in half thickness, some built, some planned, and some I propose. Finally, the map shows the intercity trains as far as the city limits in quarter thickness, as well as an extra express service from the planned Badgerys Creek Airport to the existing Kingsford-Smith airport and the city loop.

——

Transit Maps says:

Being a native Sydneysider myself, I can’t help but laugh at the sheer audacity of some of Thomas’ proposals for new lines. Yes, it’d be great if there was a rail line running up through the Northern Beaches (from the southern side of the harbour via The Spit, no less!), but the geography of the area means it’ll realistically never happen.

Pipe dreams aside, the map is really quite beautifully drawn, especially for someone so young. His dream system is extremely complex, but everything fits together nicely with a good information hierarchy and harmonious colours. He’s even indicated ferry routes, busways and the extended light rail system to produce a fully multi-modal vision, which is great to see.

This is very promising work from Thomas: keep it up!

Quick Redesign: Denver RTD Light Rail Isometric Map

Way back when, I posted a quick sketch of an concept Denver RTD light rail map that used 30-degree lines to give an isometric appearance to the map, based on the amazing Stuttgart U- and S-Bahn map, c. 2000. 

Now that I’ve finished with my “Highways of the USA" project, I’ve been able to find a few hours to turn that sketch into something a little more more finished. I didn’t want to spend too long on the map – doing it more as a light and fun "warm up" piece, rather than any serious finished article. So it’s a little rough around the edges, but works nicely as a proof of concept.

The interesting thing about an isometric map like this is that it’s actually easier to work with skewed and rotated rectangles for the line routes than the usual stroked paths: this is because the strokes won’t skew properly to give the required 30-degree end to a route line (an isometric map only uses angles that are 30 degrees above and below the horizontal).

While I feel that this treatment works well for the existing Denver rail system, further exploration revealed that it is utterly inappropriate for the near-future of all the FasTracks extensions. The I-225 line would take up way too much space with stations spaced too far apart if the isometric grid was adhered to, and the proliferation of commuter rail routes out of Union Station is almost impossible to convey with only a couple of viable angle options to work with. Any deviation away from the required 30-degree angles spoils the isometric illusion, but would almost certainly be necessary to fit some parts of the network together.

In short, a fun little design exercise that looks pretty nifty, but would be a dead end in the development of a “future-proof” map for Denver.