Submission: New Washington, DC Metro Strip Map at Pentagon City

Submitted by Peter Dovak, who says: 

Spotted a new schematic installed at Pentagon City Metro station in Washington this week. I’m not sure if this is experimental or what, but I’ve never seen such detailed line info at a station here before. Not a huge fan of the execution, though, the labels are awful skewed!

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Transit Maps says:

In the limited space allowed here, angled station labels are pretty much the only workable option. It’s actually not dissimilar to the established framework used for line maps on the New York Subway (and many other cities), although they usually only show the one route, not four. The white pointer lines passing through the Orange Line to join station dots to names are not ideal, but are again a product of the space limitations. 

Even though you can only catch Yellow and Blue Line trains from this platform, the map also shows the Green and Orange Lines. In principle, this is fair enough — the lines share physical track and stations for much of what is shown on this map, although this is what also leads to such a complex and convoluted looking map.

However, I personally believe that a strip map like this should only show stations that can be reached directly with trains that serve the station the sign is at: in this case, that’s just Blue and Yellow Line trains. Transfers to other lines could be shown as the Red Line is here: with a small coloured dot. While I believe it is possible to transfer to the Orange and Green lines at any of the stations they share with the Blue or Yellow Lines, it’s really preferable to do so only at the major interchange stations, and the placement of transfer dots should reflect this.

Introducing the level of complexity that this strip map has leads people to expect that it shows everything they need to navigate their way around the system (in effect, competing with the actual system map). However, the information shown here is incomplete: there’s absolutely no reference on this map to the Green Line’s leg from L’Enfant Plaza to Southern Avenue, nor the Orange Line’s leg from Rosslyn to Vienna. According to this map, they simply don’t exist. Yet the branch of the Orange Line to New Carrollton (which doesn’t share any track with the Blue Line) is shown in full detail.

Finally, if this approach is continued into the future, then the whole map is just going to have to be redone when the Silver Line is opened, further increasing the complexity.

Official Map: Sydney T7 Olympic Park Line

Glad they had a whole page to fit this super complex and confusing line map on…

(Source: abesty92/Flickr)

Moscow Metro Line Maps

A good example of how something that’s probably perfectly clear to locals can be totally confusing to foreign visitors. The first obstacle is obviously the Cyrillic text, which automatically makes things very tricky for non-natives. Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time translating and cross-referencing the text here with a Moscow Metro map, and I think I’ve got it worked out — but this isn’t exactly a luxury that you would have when you’re down in a busy station, trying to work out where to go next.

Basically, this assembly shows transfers to other lines that are available along the Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya (Number 3) line: the dark blue colour of this line runs across the top, and three station names are visible: Kurskaya (Курская) — where you can transfer to the 5 and 10; Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Пло́щадь Револю́ции) — with a transfer to the 2; and Arbatskaya (Арба́тская) — which has interchanges with the 1, 4 and 9. Interestingly, you can also transfer to Line 1 at Ploshchad Revolyutsii, but this is not shown here. I’m guessing that this photo was taken at Kurskaya station, just from the four golden letters — ская — that can be seen at the top left of the picture.

Each line map underneath these station names helpfully tells you the name of the station that you transfer to (it’s not unusual for interchange stations in Moscow to have different names for each line). Less helpfully, it then presents a list of every station on that line from beginning to end, except for the one you are transferring at: which means you can’t see where on the the line that station is.

For example, on the Line 10 list shown at the left, the transfer station you would be using — Chkalovskaya (Чка́ловская) — should be in the fifth position, but is instead completely absent from the list. Needless to say, this isn’t great informational design, especially if you’re used to those reassuring “You Are Here" markers that you see in many other transit systems around the world.

Obviously, these line maps aren’t the only guidance a traveller would have in the Metro — a really good map and an idea of where you wanted to go would be necessities — but they could definitely be a lot better.

(Source: nattynora/Flickr)

From the Field - Sydney Trains Indicator Board “Line Map”

Taken at Eastwood station this morning on the way into the city.

The scrolling list of stations on the screen is presented as a simplified line map of the route (in this case, the Northern Line), even down to the correct colour for the route, and an indication of which stations interchange with other routes by use of an interchange lozenge instead of a regular station tick mark.

This style of indicator board is not standard across the Sydney rail network (downtown, they’re simply a scrolling list of station names in white type on a blue background), but it’s a surprisingly attractive and informative presentation of useful information.

Munich Destinations

Absolutely superb U-Bahn line maps in Munich, Germany. Clean, sleek, minimal with information superbly delineated and defined.

(Source: Woodpeckar)

Waka Waka Waka

Simply awesome.

(Source: MissKateGB/Instagram)

Portland, Oregon: New Motor Coaches Replace Last Street Cars, February 26, 1950

Here’s an amazing full page ad that ran in The Oregonian on Thursday, February 23, 1950 to announce the end of an era in Portland. The last few remaining streetcar lines — to Council Crest, Willamette Heights and 23rd Avenue — were going to be replaced by “the very latest design in city transit equipment”, modern motor coaches. It’s interesting to compare the bulky, inefficient buses depicted here with their modern equivalents, especially in light of the glowing copy in the ad:

"The finest in heating and air conditioning … extra large windows for better natural light … increased electric lights … comfortable seating with deep upholstery … low entrance and exit steps".

The ad also includes a number of surprisingly clear and attractive route maps for the most popular lines, many of which were subject to route changes because of the then-new system of one-way streets that was being introduced in downtown Portland at the same time as the equipment change. The ad also exhorts the reader to contact the Portland Traction Company (PTC) Dispatcher if “route and schedule folders are desired” — we’re a long way from real-time arrivals information on our smartphones here!

Click through to Flickr to view the ad at a size where you can (just) read the type. Also, compare with this handsome map of PTC services from 1943 (April 2012, 4 stars) — all the streetcar routes shown on that map (the yellow route lines) have disappeared just seven years later. 

(Source: pdxcityscape/Flickr)

(Back in) Time Tunnel

I love it when people find old transit maps still in situ at stations. This Northern Line map at Embankment dates from sometime prior to 1999 (the year that the Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross closed), but is still in place today — this photo was taken on February 21, 2013.

Note also the beautiful 1914 green glazed tiles next to the map.

(Source: stavioni/Flickr)

Brussels Metro Line Map and Next Train Countdown

A companion piece to the official map (Dec. 2012, 3 stars) on the platform at Rogier station. The look of this map marries with the official map quite well, showing an admirable consistency in application.

Rogier station itself is clearly shown with a nice big arrow and stations before it on the lines are clearly indicated against greyed-out route lines. There’s also a nicely legible countdown for the next two trains, indicating their route number (2 or 6), final destination and estimated time in minutes to arrival. It even looks like the position of all the trains on the line headed in the same direction are shown on the strip map as bright red lights. Now you can see where that train you just missed has got to without you!

The only thing this map fails to show is the circular nature of the routes that the station serves. Routes 2 and 6 form Brussels’ “circle line”, and the two terminus stations for Route 2 — Simonis (Elisabeth) and Simonis (Leopold II) — are really just two different levels of the same Metro station.

(Source: Ian YVR/Flickr)

Paris Metro Map, Line 12

Nice shallow depth of field, but was he holding the camera up way over his head to get this point of view?

(Source: Cormac Phelan/Flickr)