Photo: Making Sense of It All

Submitted by Mark, who says:

I was trying to capture a photo of the remnants of this strip list/map when the little girl got in the way and made the photo much better.


Transit Maps says:


  1. Camera: iPhone 3G
  2. Aperture: f/2.8

Mexico City Metro Linea 3 Map… or List

About as simple and directly to-the-point as a line map can get. Really, it’s just a bulleted list, with each station’s icon serving as the bullet. Of note though, is how each icon has its own very distinct shape within the square (with a rounded corner) framework. Each is easily identifiable, even from a bit of a distance. 

Source: dogseat/Flickr

Photo: Istanbul Metro Station Sign

Well, I guess that’s one place to put your map. It’s nice and visible from both platforms, at least!

Source: SpirosK photography/Flickr

Submission - Toronto TTC Strip Map at St. George Station

Submitted by criacow, who says:

Check out this wayfinding sign at St. George Station in the TTC subway here in Toronto. (My blurry photo, but TTC signage.) Up is north, but *left* is *east*—they flipped on an axis rather than rotating—and ‘eastbound’ isn’t noted anywhere. I’ve lived here for years and even I was confused by this until I looked at the specific station names!


Transit Maps says:

I’ll agree that this does look odd at first glance, but I’d bet the map points in the right direction (i.e., Kennedy station is to the left of this viewpoint, with the train entering the station from the right). In effect, this is actually a strip map, showing stations in the direction of travel from this platform, rather than a true system map where the cardinal directions point the way you expect.

I think what really throws you (and probably many others!) is the reversal of the distinctive “U-shape” of the Yonge–University–Spadina line (or should that just be “Line 1” now?).

Official/Future Map: Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Strip Map (now with added Green Line!)

Submitted by Nathan Bakken, who says:

Hi, I am an Urban Studies major at UMN, and while riding the Blue line today I noticed the new transit map for our light rail system. thought i would share.


Transit Maps says:

Looks like the Twin Cities’ Metro Transit is gearing up for the opening of the new Green Line light rail nice and early! The line — which will link the downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul — doesn’t open until June 14, but here’s a strip map ready to go on a train already. By the looks of it, the “Green Line Opens June 14, 1014” text is on a sticker that can simply be removed from the map at the appropriate time.

The map itself does just about everything you could expect from an above-door strip map that has to show the entire system: it clearly labels the stations (using type only set at one, consistent angle: well done), delineates the two downtown cores with a minimum of fuss and even gives estimates of the time taken to travel between stations. I’d like the interchange to the Northstar commuter rail service at the Target Field station to be given a little more prominence, but that’s really about my only complaint.

Our rating: Simple, clean, clear — what maps of this type should strive to be! It’ll be interesting to see how this map evolves further when the Green and Red Line extensions come into play, though. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

  1. Camera: iPhone 5s
  2. Aperture: f/2.2
  3. Exposure: 1/120th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm

Photo: A Washington DC Metro strip map that’s just bound to cause confusion…

Here’s an example of an overly designed strip map that’s gone horribly wrong. This photo was taken by Bryan Rodda, who notes that the sign makes it appear that Foggy Bottom-GWU is the name of the main interchange station between the Silver, Blue and Orange Lines in the center of the photo.

Anyone who knows the DC Metro system will know that the station in question is actually Rosslyn, but the map makes this horribly ambiguous. The problem stems from the fact that all the station names are offset from their markers up and along a 45-degree axis. It seems a reasonable thing to do in theory, but what it has actually done is position most of the labels almost directly above the next station marker to the right, where it can reasonably be confused as belonging to that marker.

Good design should not create confusion or make things unnecessarily ambiguous for the end user — it should always simplify and clarify: something this map absolutely fails to do.

(Source: Bryan Rodda/Twitter)

Fantasy Map: In-Car Strip Map for Fictional Indianapolis “CITI” Red Line

A lesson in how not to add station labels to a strip map: type at five different angles makes things incredibly hard to read. Also not to be recommended for legibility is the all-caps treatment of station names.

This would work much better if the route line was pushed to the top of the strip, with all stations spaced equally and type set at one consistent angle across the entire diagram.

(Source: A2DAC1985/Flickr)

Design Resource: Transport for London’s “Line Diagram Standards” Guide

Definitely worth a look to see how a major transit agency puts together a comprehensive guide to assembling consistently designed maps. The guide deals with horizontal in-car strip maps and the vertical line maps seen on platforms, but many of the principles still hold true for the design of a full transit map.

Of particular interest is the relationship between the x-height of Johnston Sans and the thickness of the route lines (they’re the same). This value of “x” is also used to calculate the radius of a curve in a route line: the innermost edge of a curve is always three times the value of “x” — never any less. Almost every relationship between objects on the map is defined mathematically, although the nomenclature can be a little less than intuitive sometimes: “x”, “n” and “CH” all make an appearance!

Also, if you ever wanted to know what the PANTONE or CMYK breakdowns for all the Underground route line colours are, this guide tells you that, too!

All in all, a really interesting read — just try and ignore the terrible typos that pop up here and there: “donated” instead of “denoted” on page 11 is my favourite! Click on the image or the link below to download the PDF.

(Source: Transport for London website - 2MB PDF)

Submission - New Official Moscow Metro In-Car Strip Map

Submitted by long-time contributor, Dmitry Darsavilidze, here’s a brand new strip map for Metro Line 6. Designed by Art.Lebedev Studios, and based on their contest-winning system map, this carries on the good work of that design.

The strip map is simple and uncluttered, and has nice, large, easy-to-read type (a failing of many strip maps, which often have type to small to be easily read from any sort of distance). Information is presented consistently — interchange information is always given underneath the line, making it easy to locate each and every time. 

My favourite part, however, is the subtle ring that denotes the Koltsevaya (Circle) Line. Given the Koltsevaya Line’s importance in the system (almost every other line interchanges with it at least once) and the way that it represents the border between central Moscow and the outlying suburbs, using it as a visual device like this is very clever.

(Source: Dimitry’s Twitter)

Photo: Lost in Berlin

Heh. Love the expression on his face.

(Source: TGKW/Flickr)