Submission — Unofficial Map: Intercity and Commuter Rail of North America’s East Coast by Edward Powell
Submitted by Isaac Fischer, who says:
Here’s a neat map I found online that shows the entire American east coast, as well as southeastern Canada. It shows both commuter and intercity rail lines. As far as I can tell, it seems fairly accurate, and could definitely be useful.
Transit Maps says:
While there’s more than a passing resemblance to my own Amtrak Passenger Rail map here — both in the general aesthetics of the map and in the circle/line device used to indicate whether trains call at a station or not — this map adds another whole level of detail by adding commuter rail services (and eastern Canada!) to the mix.
Note that the map shows intercity and commuter rail only, meaning that in New York, for example, the LIRR and Metro-North lines are shown, but not the subway. For a map of this scale (the entire eastern seaboard), that seems like a wise choice.
The layout of the map is great: nice and clean, very diagrammatic but still mindful of the “lay of the land”. The use of a single, distinctive colour for each agency also works really well — Amtrak’s distinctive teal blue and purple for the MBTA commuter rail are especially effective.
However, I find the typography less inspiring, with labels at a lot of different angles combined with some fairly lacklustre type layout for the different agency legends.
Edward also could have proofed his work a little better (although it’s definitely difficult to do a project this size, as I well know!). Even a cursory look at the map revealed quite a few errors, including labelling all the commuter rail stations in Florida as “VIA”, rather than “TRI” for Tri-Rail. Lake Worth station is also included twice, at the expense of Boynton Beach. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a duplicate Chestnut Hill East station strangely serves as the terminus for the Chester Hill West line. And so on…
Our rating: great diagrammatic layout (although too huge to ever realistically be reproduced as a poster), but let down a bit by some average type treatment. Still a lot of detail to savour and enjoy, though! Three stars.
Source: Edward’s DeviantArt account
Amtrak On-Time Performance by Route
A neat little map/infographic accompanying an interesting article in the Washington Post about Amtrak’s inability to actually get people places on-time. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t own most of your track and freight trains get priority… but I digress.
The map does a good job at presenting the information in an interesting manner: the use of green to differentiate between “vaguely acceptable performance” and the varying shades of “are we ever going to get there?” purple is particularly nice.
However, the map does show one of the pitfalls of placing diagrammatic route lines onto a geographical background. The western terminus of the Missouri River Runner is shown correctly as Kansas City, MO, which the Southwest Chief also runs through. However, the 45-degree angle imposed on the Southwest Chief as it leaves Chicago means that it misses Kansas City by a considerable distance (by roughly half the state of Missouri, actually!). Whoops!
I’d also argue that the Texas Eagle should really only be shown from Chicago to San Antonio, as the Los Angeles section is really provided via a connection to the Sunset Limited at San Antonio (as shown on my own subway map-style poster of Amtrak routes).
Official Map: Southeastern Rail Network, England
Southeastern’s website contains the following blurb: “Our network covers London, Kent and parts of East Sussex. With 179 stations and over 1000 miles of track, we operate one of the busiest networks in the country. We also run the UK’s only high speed trains.”
They should really add: “We also have a network map that makes it almost impossible to work out where our trains actually go.” I mean, what is actually going on here? Leaving out the networks of connecting rail companies, there are two main Southeastern networks – the magenta Metro routes (London and surrounds) and the lime green mainline routes that extend out into Kent and East Sussex – but that’s about as much as this map really tells you.
You could probably assume that most Metro services start at one of the four London terminus stations shown, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. If I get on at Victoria, where can I actually go? What happens at the apparent Y-junctions east of Barnehurst and Slade Green? Which way do trains go and could they actually loop all the way back to London? Nothing here tells me otherwise, so that’s an assumption that could be made by a user unfamiliar with the system.
Do the mainline trains start in London as well, or do I have to catch a Metro train out to, say, Sevenoaks and change trains there? The lime green routes are only shown outside London’s perimeter, after all.
It’s all just horribly ambiguous and unclear. It’s only after poking around on the Southeastern website that I found an alternate “lines of route” interactive map that makes some sense of things. There are actually six Metro routes and five mainline routes, four of which originate from London. The fifth – the Medway Valley line – runs from Tonbridge to Strood. Try working that out from the map.
Our rating: A prime example of style over substance. The map looks cool and all, but it doesn’t actually help a user plan a trip at all. Eleven routes isn’t that many: show them all from end to end so that people can easily determine where to get on a train, where to most efficiently interchange with other services and where they can get off. It’s really not that hard, people. One star.
Source: Southeastern Rail website
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.
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.
Illustration: Southern Rail’s “Southern Adventure” Ad Campaign by Rod Hunt
Extremely nifty isometric “pixel art” illustration showing all the family-friendly adventures that can be had on England’s Southern Rail network. Probably not much use as an actual map, but it does name/highlight a lot of the useful stations and the activities that can be had in the region. A lot of fun to be had poring over the detailed illustration, and I love the pencilled rough for comparison.
The artist, Rod Hunt, is perhaps best known for his “Where’s Stig?” books – a kind of “Where’s Wally?*” for Top Gear fans.
(Yes, that’s “Where’s Waldo?” for the Americans, but not in its original English form.)
Compare the rough to the final artwork - Southern Railway’s “Southern Adventure” summer advertising campaign, imagining the rail network & many of the regions tourist attractions as a theme park. Can you find Loco Toledo, the campaign’s Mexican Wrestler?
See the full project here
Submission – Fantasy Map: Pacific Northwest (USA and Canada) Regional Rail
Submitted by opspe, who says:
This is my concept for what an integrated regional inter-city rail network in the Northwest could look like, if things had developed that way. All there is now (regionally) is Cascades, which I ride all the time, but it’s still rather limited. I decided to include the local commuter rail lines (WES, Sounder, WCE) too. I also decided to beef up CalTrans a bit - they don’t actually serve Redding, although it’s in discussion.
I sort of based the concept on the National Rail network in the UK, although things had to be scaled up a bit. The area shown is about 2.5 times the size of the UK, after all. I decided to include the main communities the lines pass through, rather than have a ton of whistle stops. To me that makes it feel more…functional, for lack of a better word - more like a proper, seamless system. That being said, I think the scale belies the vastness of the region, so if I were to make smaller-scale maps for individual routes, I would probably include “whistle-stop sections” along the route. But that’s TMI for an overview.
The routes are all current rail lines, in various states of freight usage or disrepair. I think the section between Juntura and Burns has been scrubbed entirely, but the grade is still there. There are several other minor infrastructure adjustments that would be needed too (downtown Hillsboro comes to mind).
As far as design goes, it seemed best to include some stylized geographical accuracy rather than have it be too rectilinear. I tried to make the route names somewhat geographic, but I also numbered them for clarity. Route 1 (CascadesExpress) I had imagined as being a high-speed line, as opposed to the more local routes 2 and 3. Together they replace Amtrak Cascades (but keep the name for continuity).
Tumblr and/or Dropbox will likely crush the resolution, but the idea is that it’s supposed to be a big map, such as you would find mounted inside a station, or as a PDF online.
I’m curious what you think of it.
Transit Maps says:
Overall, this is a fine effort, which could just use a little polishing here and there to make it a quite excellent fantasy map. A couple of areas stand out to me for potential improvements:
First, the insets at the top, right and bottom of the map – all for just a few stations each – really make it look like you just ran out of room and didn’t want to go back and rework things. There’s lots of room on a map this big to tighten things up and make everything fit without insets. Even bringing all your stations just a tiny bit closer together across the entire map can create a surprising amount of extra space. For mine, insets should only be used when the complexity of the system at that point can’t reasonably be shown any other way: the inset of the Loop on the official Chicago “L” map stands as a good example of this.
Secondly, you could work a little more on stylizing and simplifying your coastline and rivers. The San Juan Islands look particularly blocky to me, and I think the Columbia River would look so much nicer if it had sweeping curves as it changed direction, rather than the harsh angles you currently have. Remember, the style of your background should complement your route lines, not draw attention away from them.
I also think the thick black border around your legend is a little heavy handed, but that’s a very minor thing.
One thing on the operational aspect of your system (which I don’t normally comment on too much, preferring just to focus on the technical and aesthetic qualities of the map)… I’m not sure any regional/commuter rail system would ever run a route one way up one side of a river and the other direction on the opposite bank like you’ve done with Line 12 in British Columbia. It’s just not at all practical for users! Imagine if I live in Agassiz, and I commute to Vancouver each day: I drive my car to Agassiz station and catch the train. Coming home, I can only return to Chilliwack, which is nowhere near where I left my car. Maybe there are shuttle buses between the two stations, but that just seems incredibly inefficient. I would suggest that most regional rail systems would have one route along the side of the river that serves the most people, or maybe – just maybe! – they’d split the service (but halve the frequency) in both directions on both sides of the river.
Future Official Map: Pearl River Delta Rapid Transit
Sent my way by David Edmondson of The Greater Marin, this is an incredibly large (the dimensions of the PDF are 145” x 101” or 386cm x 256cm!) and very comprehensive map of the planned Pearl River Delta Rapid Transit system. Currently under construction, the idea behind the system is to have every major urban area in the region to be less than an hour away from Guangzhou (the huge urban area in the blue part of the map) by rail.
The map shows not only these planned regional rail lines, but also the extensive Metro systems that many of the major cities have (or will have in the near future – Macau’s people mover as shown in the detail above is not yet built, for example). Interestingly, the map doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the regional services and the Metros: all are depicted by route lines of equal weight, meaning the map lacks a decent informational hierarchy.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the map is also retina-searing bright. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a transit map where the background uses multiple colours that are all as intense and bright as the route lines themselves. It creates a lot of visual dissonance – that effect where edges almost seem to shimmer or vibrate because the clash of colours is so strong – especially where red or magenta meets blue. On the other hand, we also have blue rivers passing through a blue province, which is also a problem.
I also think that the map can’t really decide if it’s a diagram or a geographical map – it has elements of both: simplified route lines versus incredibly detailed waterways that seem to show every twist and turn, for example. The map probably could have benefitted from some further expansion of the denser areas: there’s plenty of empty space in other parts of the map that could have perhaps been used more effectively. As it is, I’m wondering whether a standard topographical map with the routes overlaid wouldn’t actually have been more informational…
Our rating: A grand scope (which I love), and it’s certainly unique, but it hurts my eyes to look at it. Two stars.
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!
Historical Map: Train and Tram Travel Times in Melbourne, Australia, c. 1920
A handsome isochrone map produced by Melbourne’s Metropolitan Town Planning Commission to show the “minimum” (i.e., absolute best scenario) travel time into the city via suburban railways and tram lines. Some later additions to the network seem to have been pencilled in at the bottom right of the map.
Side note: Wikipedia’s article on isochrone maps includes the incredibly lazy assertion that “isochrone maps have been used in transportation planning since 1972 or earlier”, simply because that’s seemingly the earliest example the author could find to cite. This map, as well as this example from Manchester in 1914 (one hundred years ago!), clearly show that they’ve been used for this purpose for much longer. The moral of the story? Don’t trust everything you read on Wikipedia!
(Source: Daniel Bowen/Flickr)
Victorian Rail Network — Concept Map, April 2014
Here’s an interesting proposed new map out of Australia which combines Melbourne’s suburban rail network with the V/Line passenger rail service. In a way, this makes sense, as many of V/Line’s services act as commuter rail services from surrounding cities like Geelong. With the introduction of the myki farecard, much of the V/Line network now even shares the same ticketing system, as shown on the map by use of a solid grey route line. However, it does look a little odd to have Craigieburn (25km from the Melbourne CBD) so close to Albury at the end of the line (over the border into NSW, some 330km from Melbourne). In the end, the diagrammatic distortion is probably a good trade off in making a compact, legible map.
Overall, I really think this a good effort, and I certainly like it a lot more than the current Melbourne rail network map that just uses two colours (blue and yellow) to represent fare zones, although I don’t know if this map will replace that one or is meant to complement it.
I was going to comment that an indication of which direction trains travel around the City Loop would be good, but some research reveals that there’s no easy answer to that: trains can go opposite directions around the loop depending on the time of day.
Apparently, this map is on display at certain stations around Melbourne and Public Transport Victoria will be surveying customers for their opinion. However, putting a call to action on the poster — “for more information, visit our website” — really only works if the end user can actually find the relevant information easily (I gave up after 10 minutes).
Our rating: Nicely done. Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Daniel Bowen/Flickr)