Click here to visit my project page for the McKinney Avenue Trolley Map over on my design site. Go grab yourself a PDF of the final map if you want it!
Work in Progress: McKinney Avenue Trolley Map - Current Service
This is pretty much the finished product, I think, barring any major errors. The MATA website states that there are 38 trolley stops along the route, but I can only find 37, even after multiple “drives” along the entire route in Google Street View.
I changed the background colour from silver to beige after doing some prints: the whole thing just looked too drab and grey once on paper. This works much better and make the whole map seem a little visually lighter.
Points of interest are taken directly from the current official MATA map, although far more accurately located. The only addition is the the historic trolley barn, which I’ve also highlighted by using the M-Line’s distinctive maroon colour. The map also usefully includes MATA’s contact information and general hours of operation. The whole map is formatted to print out perfectly on a US Letter sheet with half-inch margins all around – handy for tourists to print out and bring along for the ride!
The route line itself shows direction of travel, as well as where the route is double-tracked (down McKinney Avenue itself). I’ve made an effort to show where on the road the tracks actually are – left-running, right-running or center-running – while the little “half-circle” stop symbols indicate which side of the road riders should stand on to board the trolley. Full circle markers are reserved for those stops where the trolley physically changes direction: the turntable at Uptown, and the current southern terminus at St. Paul & Ross.
Stops are generally named after the street they are on, with the nearest cross street as the second part of the name. This only leads to one less than optimal result, when the Cole & Lemmon stop is immediately followed by Lemmon & Cole. A few exceptions to the rule are also made for stops near notable landmarks – the Dallas Museum of Art, for example.
DART light rail stations are shown, but lower in the information hierarchy than the streetcar, or even the Katy Trail (in orange), a popular and important multi-use (bike/pedestrian) path that links Uptown and Downtown. The DART line up to Cityplace/Uptown station actually runs in a tunnel underneath the freeway, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s really an important thing to show on a map like this.
I’ve also made two other versions of this map: one for when the spur along Olive Street opens (reportedly very soon), and one for the final configuration with the full loop through the Arts District. All up, I’ve probably only spent 20 hours or so on this project, and that includes drawing the base map from scratch. Once I’m finally done, I’ll be reaching out to MATA to see if they’d like to use this map in any way.
Thoughts? Errors? Can anyone tell me where the mysterious missing 38th stop is?
Work in Progress: McKinney Avenue Trolley Map, Dallas, Texas
Thanks to Michael Champlin for inspiring this little project. I’ve been thinking of doing a more geographically-based map for a while now to break out of the routine of always doing diagrammatic transit maps, so when he sent me a link to the actual map (PDF, 5.6MB) that this heritage streetcar system in Dallas, Texas uses, I knew that something better could be done.
So here’s a work-in-progress screenshot. Most of the hard work has been done, but I’m still toying with a few elements here and there and adding the final informational layers on top. I drew the street map by hand in Illustrator, which is time consuming but rewarding. I did actually try to export the streets, parks and rivers from ArcGIS to style up in Illustrator, but got incredibly frustrated with the poor quality of linework from the City of Dallas’ GIS files: wonky curves, non-joined road segments, etc. It’d take me longer to clean that up than just draw it myself, so that’s what I did. At least I know what I’m ending up with when I do it myself!
The main experiment here – that I think is working well – is the bounding box around the two separate northbound and southbound stops along McKinney Avenue that share the same cross street (and therefore the name of the stop). This means I only have to label the stops once!
Other notes: the background grid is in quarter-mile increments, and the typeface is Good Headline Pro, which has a nice old world “Gothic” feel, but with a bit of a modern twist. Also: huge x-height and tiny descenders, which are great for this type of labelling work. The orange line is the Katy Trail, a popular multi-use path that’s an important part of the urban fabric of this part of Dallas.
Thoughts and suggestions?
Delightful three-dimensional representation of daily passenger numbers on Frankfurt’s streetcar lines in the early 20th century. Each strip of wood represents 4,000 passengers: the higher the wood, the more passengers on that section of line!
The figure is from Willard C. Brinton’s Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts, first published in 1914 and widely regarded as the first book on data visualization best practices. You can read the book on archive.org
It’s not easy to show passenger numbers on a transit network. But in 1914 all you need to do is use wood, as above, or strips of metal!
Submission - Unofficial Unified BART/Muni Metro Map by Jamison Wieser
Submitted by Jamison, who says:
I don’t want to share this map as much as the concept behind it.
San Francisco’s Muni Metro light-rail system and the regional BART heavy-rail system share a subway under Market Street and the five busiest rail stations in the Bay Area. They share a subway, but side-by-side the system maps with radically different designs that don’t share anything in common besides the names of the station.
There are 10 lines between the two agencies and between the two maps, 4 of the colors used are duplicated. Topping that off, neither actually refers to the lines by the color. Muni lines have a letter and name, like the N-Judah. BART refers to trains by their destination, which means figuring out where a Richmond train goes means finding Richmond and backtracking along the map. Nearly every time I fly back home I meet a first time visitor who’s confused when the train is announced as a “Pittsburg/BayPoint train” instead of a Yellow line train they expect from the map.
I didn’t want to rename lines so much as just group them into color coded categories based on which subway corridors they run through in Oakland and San Francisco.
It’s exactly how Boston represents branches of the Green.
Muni’s JKLMN lines through Market Street get merged into the “Orange line” and what we called a line before becomes a branch; so the N-Judah line becomes the N-Judah branch of the Orange line. I choose orange for a couple reasons including the fact that the San Francisco Giant’s ballpark sits along it and it was Muni’s brand color at the time the Metro subway opened. The T-Third Street will be running north-south through a new subway under construction to Chinatown and for all the cultural connections and branding reasons the T was given the color red: I just dropped the letter name. At least as long as there isn’t another branch of it.
I narrowed BART from 5 lines to 3 and with only two of the lines branching I didn’t over-complicate it. The Richmond Line, becomes the Richmond brand of the Green Line. I chose the colors here so the Oakland A’s would be served by the team colors green and yellow, and like Berkeley would be served by Cal’s team colors Yellow and Blue (OK, it’s a different, but…)
I’d like you know what you think of this idea?
Transit Maps says:
There’s a lot to be said for unified transit maps — people just want to know how to get from place to place, without the barriers put in place by two (or more) separate maps getting in their way. With the Clipper Card, the transit systems of the Bay Area are becoming increasingly integrated, so some sort of joint map makes great sense.
The main problem, as I think Jamison is discovering in his working map above, is the vastly differing scales of the two networks. BART is a vast commuter/regional rail network that spreads out across the entire Bay Area, while the Muni Metro is a much more compact streetcar/light rail network that’s contained entirely within the City of San Francisco.
However, the Muni network has substantially more stops than BART, spaced much closer together. This means that it’s almost impossible to show the two networks together on the same map and keep things looking cohesive. The same problem is evident in Portland (with the MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar) and in Sydney (with the Sydney Trains network and the new Inner West light rail). The solution is to only label “important” Muni stations, leaving out most of the street-running stops, as seen on this Bay Area map that I’ve previously featured, and on this newer version of that map.
However, I think the simplification of the multiple routes to branches of coloured routes is very solid, and works well for me. Much the same as the Boston “T” has an underlying rationale behind its colour choices (the Red Line goes to Harvard, whose school colour is crimson, for example), so does Jamison’s vision for San Francisco. Having to ride the Orange Line to the ballpark to see the Giants is bound to annoy opposition fans no end — I love it!
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!
Photo: Tactile Muni Metro Map, San Francisco
Maps in underground stations on the Muni light rail network in San Francisco have raised route designation letters and route lines, as well as braille labels for station names. Nice!
I know that it’s entirely happenstance*, but I really appreciate the fact that the M, K, and T lines appear next to each other on the map, making an “MKT” for Market Street.
*Historical aside: Muni streetcar letters were originally assigned alphabetically in the order they came into being, all the way from A to N. Letters then disappeared as many of the old streetcar lines were converted to numerical bus routes, leaving us with the strange assortment of letters we have now. The modern T Line breaks from this naming convention, as it simply refers to the road it mostly runs along, Third Street.
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.