Submission: Transportation in the Backwaters of Kerala, India

Submitted by Jim McNeill, who says:

Kerala in southern India is famed for its backwaters, a popular holiday destination for people to cruise in rented houseboats. I was amazed to see a transit map of the area, and not a bad one at that. I was impressed at the attempt to show road, train, boat and air all on the same map. Granted it’s not perfect, the ferry crossings become maze like in the centre and there are some awkward angles in the south, but overall I was impressed.

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Transit Maps says:

It’s not the world’s most beautiful transit map, but I’m as impressed as Jim by the map’s intent: one map showing all the transportation options available in the Backwaters of Kerala — a huge area covered by lakes, lagoons, rivers and canals, sometimes compared to the Mississippi Bayous.

One thing the map doesn’t really do is give an idea of the scale of the area shown: it’s around 140km (86 miles) by road from Kollam at the bottom of the map to Kochi near the top. It’s only when you read the notes on the map and see that a ferry trip from Kollam to Allappuzha (not even as far as Kochi) will take seven hours to complete that you start to get an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Some context in the form of the large lakes that the canals join together would be helpful in this regard. 

I’d also agree that the maze-like representation of the ferry routes in the middle isn’t very helpful, although it seems that Allappuzha is the main hub and ferries from elsewhere all end up there eventually. Another thing to note is that India has officially-designated National Waterways, much like National Highways — the main water route through this area is National Waterway 3, and is clearly marked as such on the map.

Our rating: Not beautiful, and not really that great for ferry route-finding. But in the end, it’s quite a nice little overview of transportation in the Kerala region as a whole. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

Here’s a new preview of my Highways project to round out the old year. Last time, I showed an overview of most of the western United States: this time I’m zooming way in and showing a selection of smaller cities.

My decision to include all Interstate highways (even tiny spur lines) is having a very interesting effect. The small cities shown here — which on my previous Interstate and US Route maps were all rendered as a single dot at the intersection of roads — are having to be plotted with a startling degree of detail and accuracy to make the junctions between all the roads make sense.

Shown here are Boise, ID; Lincoln, NE; Duluth, MN; Sioux City, IA; Las Vegas, NV; and Salt Lake City, UT, each of which presented their own challenges. Of these, I’m most proud of Sioux City: finding a way to show the short concurrency between US-20, US-75 and the spur Interstate 129 as they cross the Missouri River to I-29 on one bridge, while also showing that US-77 splits from US-75 and crosses the river on a separate bridge to terminate in Sioux City was quite a challenge. Finding a solution that was also aesthetically pleasing and simple to understand was a bonus.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m getting myself into with this project. On my previous road maps, there were maybe five to ten “difficult” junctions like these … but there are multitudes of these small cities on this map, and we’re not even talking about complex “spaghetti junction” cities like New York, the Twin Cities, or Dallas/Fort Worth, to name a few! One at a time, that’s what I keep telling myself…

Sneak Peek: Los Angeles

This project has been ruminating in my head for a while, but I’ve finally got going. Very early days, but the look is starting to come together. How is this project different to my previous Interstate and U.S Highway paps? You’ll see… think bigger.

Cranialdetritus has got it right! My current transit map project is of the U.S. Highway system… that’s U.S. Routes like U.S. 101 and (the now defunct but famous) U.S. 66 as opposed to the newer Interstate system (I-5, I-70, etc.)

It’s actually a far denser, more complex system than the Interstate system and some routes curve around all over the place, out of the nominal numbering order. Some parts of it are doing my head in.