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.
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.
Official Map: New Toronto Streetcar Network Being Rolled Out
Submitted by Rob, who says:
The TTC have decided to include a streetcar map inside the new streetcars when they start rolling out at the end of this month. What do you think of the map? With out any actual street grid information it doesn’t seem very helpful since it gives you zero context of where each route is in the street system.
Transit Maps says:
I think Rob is being a little unfair when he says that there’s no street grid information on the map: there’s actually quite a lot of reference points, but the map makes it harder to find than it should be. The east-west streets shown on the map – the ones that have streetcar or subway service – pretty much define the major horizontal elements of Toronto’s downtown grid, and the names of the stations on the Bloor-Danforth (or newly-christened “2”) Line help to define the verticals, as they’re mostly named after the north-south streets they intersect.
However, the type used on the map is so abysmally tiny that I feel it’s going to be difficult for anyone to actually be able to find and use this information. The map is 35” wide by 11” tall, and I’m presuming it’ll be mounted above the doors in the vehicles. The type used for station labels on the map is in the range of just 11 to 13 points, which isn’t that much bigger than what you might find used in a standard typeset novel. It’s certainly not legible from any further away than two feet or so, especially in a moving, crowded streetcar! At least the route numbers are nice and big.
Technically, there’s some pretty sloppy work with some of the curves in the route lines, particularly with the dashed Limited Service routes, and the eastern end of the 506 line. I also don’t see why the Bloor-Yonge subway station needs a little pointer from its label to the station: there’s no possible chance of confusing that label as belonging to anything else on the map!
Typographically, I feel that the Helvetica used for the map labels sits very uneasily with the Art Deco “TTC” typeface used at the top of the map: a definite clash of eras and styles there.
It’s also interesting to note that the map’s north pointer aligns with “street north”, rather than true north (Toronto’s street grid is angled about 17 degrees counter-clockwise from north). However, this probably just reflects common directional terminology in Toronto.
Our rating: Seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity for something truly useful, although I’d love some reports from the field to see if it really is as hard to read as my gut instinct tells me it is. At the moment, my instinct gives it two-and-a-half stars.
Historical Map: Detail of a Tokyo Streetcar Map, c. 1950
Not much more to say here except that this is gorgeous, despite the primitive artwork and terrible colour registration.
Source: Fluoride’s memories/Flickr
Historical Map: Theoretical Diagram of Proposed Transit System, St. Louis, Missouri, 1919
Here’s a map that hyperrealcartography would love: an audacious, almost outrageous, proposal for a transit system in St. Louis drawn up by the City Plan Commission in 1919. The final proposed system shown here would have had the existing streetcars and new rapid transit lines operating side-by-side, described like this in the full proposal:
"The rapid transit system is separated into two distinct systems, that for the routing of surface cars in the downtown district, and that for a distinctly rapid transit system that would operate entirely by subway or elevated tracks within the city. There will be no contact of the two systems, excepting that the stations may be operated in common."
Under this proposal, almost every major street in the city would have had streetcar service. Many of the east-west routes (top to bottom on this diagram) would have funnelled towards new subway loops under the business district, which would have required the total abandonment of the 8th Street railway tunnel (now used by the Metrolink light rail). Seven crosstown lines would have provided comprehensive service for those wishing to bypass downtown.
Note that this is very definitely a theoretical diagram of the system, not a map. Even a very cursory glance at St. Louis in Google Maps reveals that the city’s actual layout is nowhere near as uniform and compliant as this.
The cost for this little project? Around $97 million in 1919: equating to a cool $1.1 billion in today’s money.
Source: Gateway Streets/Flickr
P.S. The entire proposal is scanned and available to read on Google Books: definitely worth a look if you’re interested in early 20th-century city planning.
Historical Map: Comprehensive Rapid Transit Plan for the City and County of Los Angeles, 1925
This is one of the earliest plans commissioned by the City and County of Los Angeles. The consultants — Kelker, De Leuw and Co. of Chicago — were asked to create a plan to accommodate a future city population of three million.
Metro’s own history archive has this to say about the project:
The plan shows a number of proposed immediate and future subways: one across Hollywood to La Brea Boulevard, another from downtown to 7th Street, up Vermont Avenue, and across Third Street. It initially would have run to Larchmont Boulevard as subway with a future extension on elevated rail to Third Street and down Wilshire Boulevard to Beverly Hills and the ocean in Santa Monica. It also shows a subway from downtown across Pico Boulevard, initially to Rimpau Boulevard with a future extension to Venice Beach.
Solid lines on both the regional map and the urban map represent mass rapid transit routes recommended for immediate construction to relieve downtown congestion. Dotted lines predict future extensions that will be necessary to serve population increases. The plan recommended for immediate construction of 153 miles of subway, elevated rail, and street railways at a projected cost of $133,385,000. Strong opposition by the business community to planned sections of elevated rail, as well as voter reluctance to tax themselves to benefit the privately held Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway effectively shelved the plan.
The map itself is a superb example of cartography, complete with some lovely contour work on the mountains around the city and simply lovely hand-drawn typography — check out the loveliness of that “PACIFIC OCEAN” label.
The map does a lot with a limited colour palette, but it’s effective: existing rapid transit in black, proposed lines in red, and everything else in a pleasant (and visually recessive) gold. It’s worth noting that there aren’t any roads shown on this map, just the tracks of the two main streetcar companies, the Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric Railway (see this contemporaneous map of that system).
Our rating: Gorgeous, and fun to compare against the actual existing Metrorail system. Four stars!
Source: LA Metro archive library (lots of other fun planning maps there!)
Historical Map: Map of Glasgow Corporation Transport Services, c. 1934
A handsomely drawn map that does some sterling work with just three colours (a very modern combination of black, cyan and magenta!).
Of particular note is the clever way that a solid magenta line (bus service), can be combined with a dashed black line (trams) to indicate where both types of transportation share the same route without having to draw two separate lines. Interestingly, buses appear to have route numbers, while trams are designated by their final destination only.
Glasgow’s single circular subway line is shown in nicely contrasting cyan, as are neighbourhood labels and the River Clyde.
Submission — Historical Map: Boston Elevated Railway System Map, c. 1946
Kindly sent my way by Ross Howard from his personal collection is this great old map of the Boston Elevated Railway (or BERy).
Ross thought it may have been from the 1930s, but a little Googling has revealed that this version — the seventh edition — was released in 1946-1947, making it the last BERy map before its operations were taken over by the MTA, itself a predecessor to the current MBTA.
The map itself is a fine example of precise mid-20th century cartography, making good use of minimal colour. I also like the great typography and the wonderful compass rose logo on the cover. The house ad for travelling via “El” to the Airport is interesting: shuttle buses still run from the Blue Line to Logan to this very day.
Historical Photo: Streetcars on an Inclined Railway, Cincinnati, 1904
Not a map, but included because this is possibly the strangest piece of transit infrastructure I’ve ever seen. Discovered while researching the post about Cincinnati’s abandoned subway, this photo shows what happened when that city’s streetcars met the steep hills surrounding the downtown area.
At this time, the streetcars were used in conjunction with four of Cincinnati’s five inclined railways: the Mount Adams Incline, Mount Auburn Incline, Bellevue Incline, and the Fairview Incline. The cars would be driven onto the platform, which was level and was equipped with rails and (in most cases) overhead trolley wires. The platform, riding on its own rails, would then be pulled up the hill by the cable, carrying the streetcar. Upon reaching the top, the streetcar could simply be driven off the platform onto the standard track along city streets. The 1872-opened Mount Adams Incline began carrying horsecars in 1877, and it was later strengthened for use by electric streetcars, which were much heavier.
More information on the inclines here.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Historical Map: “Future Growth and Improvement” Map for Lansing, Michigan, 1921
Here’s a simply beautiful map from the 1920s, showing a comprehensive proposed future plan for the city. Along with the extensive and fastidious plans for the extension of the city’s street grid (the web of red extending outwards from the core), the map also shows existing and proposed streetcars with solid and dashed thicker red lines, respectively.
The map also audaciously proposes that the main line railroads be placed onto an elevated viaduct through downtown, something that never actually happened.
Finally, I absolutely love the graceful hand-drawn typography on this — stunning!