Question: Do you do theoretical maps? Because I’d love to see one of Cincinnati.

Asked by notsammyv.


Transit Maps says:

This is the only future/theoretical map of Cincinnati you ever really need to see. It was made by Michael Tyznik, the same guy who created that amazing Game of Thrones transit map recently.

Not only does it look awesome, but it’s firmly grounded in reality – the map shows what would have been constructed by 2031 if the MetroMoves ballot had been passed back in 2002. It didn’t, and transit in Cincy is still struggling to this day (streetcar woes, anyone?). Click on through to Michael’s site for more details and some more images of the map. He also sells prints!


QuestionYou don't have Cleveland? Why? Answer

I’ve got some Cleveland for you right here.

Anonymous Asked
QuestionI got to you by a link that said you had a metro style map of the freeways in the US. And State maps of the same. I can not find them on your website. Interested. Answer

It all depends exactly which map you want (I’ve made a few over a number of years now). Here’s some links for you:

Check these posters and more out in my shop. It’s never to early to start getting some Christmas presents for family and friends!

Anonymous Asked
QuestionDo the MAX Rail Yellow And Green lines Terminate at PSU or loop around? On the official map, they terminate and on your combined rail map they loop around. Answer

Operationally, Green and Yellow Line trains terminate southbound at the SW Jackson station. All passengers have to disembark there, but the trains do then enter a loop between SW Jackson and the SW College station for a short layover before changing their destination blinds and heading north along 6th Avenue.

So it’s really an individual design decision whether to show that loop or not: it doesn’t exist from a passenger’s perspective, but is required to move trains between the two stations. I personally prefer to show the loop (but also indicate the terminus by use of the correct station marker) because I think it makes more logical sense – how else do the trains get from one station to the other? Teleportation? Interestingly, TriMet used to show the loop for the old western end of the Yellow Line between the Library/9th and Galleria/10th stations before it was rerouted down the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall.

QuestionI don't think you've ever reviewed the actual tube map. Is there a reason for this? Answer

It’s true – I haven’t reviewed the current official Tube map, although I’ve had plenty to say about various historical and unofficial versions of it.

When it comes down to it, I just don’t feel I have much to add to the conversation – it’s one of the most well-known and written about transit maps in the world and I think pretty much everything has been said already. Basically, all I can say is “it’s not as good as it used to be” and give it three stars or something, which hardly seems useful. I think I’d rather focus on its evolution and place in transit map history.

Question: Differentiating Local/Express Services

An anon asks:

What is the best way to display two different lines that share a section if one acts as a local service and the other as an express service? I wanted to use ticks to represent the stations on this map, is there any approach to this problem that allows me to use it?


Transit Maps says:

The solution here is best summed up by the words of the great Massimo Vignelli, who distilled the very essence of transit diagram design down to one little quote:

“A different color for each line, a dot for every station. No dot, no station. Very simple,” 

And if you’re using dots as your station markers, it really is that easy, as shown by Vignelli’s own New York Subway map (the 2008 version is shown above), where the express patterns of the 2 and 3 compared to the 1, for example, are easily distinguishable.

Using ticks as station markers does make things a little trickier. You’ll note that the London Underground map separates routes that run along the same track but have different stopping patterns, so there’s absolutely no chance of confusion. I show the section of the Metropolitan Line and Jubilee Line above, but it also occurs on the Picadilly/District Lines west of Earl’s Court. If the route lines touched each other, a tick could be interpreted as belonging to all the lines at that station, so the London approach really is for the best, I feel.

Submission - Crowd-Sourced Colour #2: Stockholm Metro

Submitted by Henning, who says:

Similarly to Vienna’s open vote for the new subway line, Stockholm is doing the same thing. Although one could argue that it’s not really a new line (3 stations), what I find interesting is that this will be the fourth color on the subway map. So after R,G,B, what color do you pick!?

Here is the link: (linjefarg basically means line color)

Thanks and keep up the great work!


Transit Maps says:

Looks like everyone wants to get in on the “vote for the new line colour” action! What I find interesting about the three colours that Stockholm has put up for review — pink, yellow and purple — is how shockingly bright they all are in comparison to the fairly subdued red, green and blue of the existing map. Because of that, I’d probably be a bit of a traditionalist and pick yellow.

Which colour would you pick?

Question: What’s a good way to display one-way routes on a map?

(Question from an anon).

The only correct answer to this is is to use an arrow that points in the direction of travel. However, there’s plenty of different ways to integrate that arrow into your artwork, as the examples above show: next to your route lines, within your route lines, or even as an integral part of your route line. A lot of it depends on the aesthetic vision of the map, or how much space is available. If there are a lot of one-way routes, then it’s best to plan an approach right at the start of the design process, rather than shoe-horning something inappropriate in later.

As a corollary, there are also times where a route may be running bi-directionally, but certain stops only serve vehicles headed in one direction. Here, you’ll need an arrow that’s contained within (or obviously linked to) the station symbol to make your meaning clear. Remember to explain this in the legend as well!

Images (clockwise from top left): Paris Metro map | Freiburg im Breisgau transit map | Gmünd bus map | Magdeburg bus map | My own Portland rail map | Fort Collins bus map

QuestionHow do you use Adobe Illustrator to design these transit maps?! It looks pretty cool and I want to learn how to! Answer

It is cool! (At least, I think it is!)

I wrote a general article about making transit maps on my own design blog back in 2011, and I also offer a lot of tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years here on the blog. The rest is just trial and error, ha!

And the obligatory reminder to check out the FAQ for answers to this question and more!

Anonymous Asked
QuestionDo you know of transit maps for systems that include ferries that are particularly effective (or ineffective)? Answer

Check it out for yourself, and see what you think of these: