Submission - Historical Map: Greater London British Rail Map, 1969

Submitted by Peter Marshall, who says:

I’m currently trying to design a clearer diagrammatic representation of the maddening tangle of railway lines and services in the South London area. Just doing my initial research into historical versions online, I turned up this interesting map.  It appears to have been published in 1969 by British Rail, for what purpose, I am not absolutely certain.  It seems far too sparse in detail to be a map intended for use by the general public, as it gives so little information about lines and services, however it appears to have been published alongside a timetable.

I think it’s interesting mainly because the first thing I imagine anyone planning to map the railways around London doing is completely abandoning topography, however, topography plays such an important part of this map. The use of the BR typeface and stripped down use of only 3 shades (background, river and line) of the same BR red is beautiful in its simplicity. The strange angularity of the river seems to serve to instruct the user that this is a diagram using topography as its basic principle, but prepared to deviate from it as necessary, such as in the exaggerated separation of Lewisham from the Lewisham bypassing curves, or the large junctions at Selhurst and Streatham.

Perhaps I’m over-familiar with the region and therefore find it easier to use than an ordinary member of the public, but I think this is a really interesting approach.


Transit Maps says:

I think Peter has inadvertently provided the answer to his own question when he says that this map was published along with the British Rail timetable book. This is what I like to call a “boast map” — it serves no other purpose than to say, "Look how large and extensive our network is! Why, you can get just about anywhere on British Rail!"

Of course, to work out how you can actually get there from here, you have to consult the timetables in the accompanying book, or go and talk to a British Rail booking agent.

The map itself serves its purpose well and is another great example of how to make a compelling map with a limited colour palette. The major London terminals are nicely emphasised, and the restrained London Underground roundels to indicate stations with Tube interchanges are rather wonderful.

BR certainly used diagrammatic maps of their Greater London network at the time for use by the general public, as this superb poster from 1965 shows.

Source: Joyce’s World of Transport Eclectica

Submission – Future/Fantasy High-Speed Rail Map of North America by Lukas (age 12)

Hi, my name is Lukas and I am 12 years old. I love to read your blog and other mapping blogs. I was looking online and i found a map of a hi-speed rail system for America designed by the government. I thought the system’s design was horrible, because it was made of isolated corridors and networks that were in no way connected to one another and had too many stations for smaller towns like Millbrae, California and Bakersfield, California. I drew this map of a made-up interconnected hi-speed rail system for the US and Canada. Average speeds would be around 180 mph, while top speeds would be 220 mph. I got my inspiration from the government map and my own travels on the TGV and Eurostar in France ( I am half-french ). Please rate the map and system, I think it is one of the best rail maps i have ever drawn!

Note: the map is slightly discolored, the Colonial ( east coast ) route is yellow and the Big Sky Zephyr ( Chicago to Seattle ) route is an orange-yellow color.


Transit Maps says:

Lukas becomes the youngest contributor to the site with this great hand-drawn map of his vision for high-speed rail in North America. He’s certainly set his sights high, with lines all the way across the USA and all the way up through Alaska to Fairbanks and through Canada up to Edmonton.

Lukas notes that the other high-speed rail maps for the US that he’s seen break things up into smaller unconnected corridors. Unfortunately, this is probably the only way that any sort of high-speed rail will ever be constructed here. The vast distances across the country, low ridership and the ease of air travel all conspire against long-distance HSR. France, by comparison, is much smaller. A trip from Paris to Nîmes in the south of France takes around three hours by TGV and covers a distance of some 400 miles – which is only about the same as the distance between Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho.

However, I have to say that I love this map: it’s creative, fun and well-drawn. Drawing a map like this by hand will put Lukas in good stead if he ever decides to try and make a map using a computer – it’s often a great idea to sketch things out first.

I particularly love the awesome names Lukas has used for his routes: some of them are very evocative of the areas they serve – the Fjordrunner up to Alaska is my favourite, while Big Sky Zephyr and Princess Alberta are positively poetic.

I’m not going to give this map a rating out of 5 – it’s not really possible to compare a hand-drawn map to professionally-made transit maps – but I will say that I think Lukas has shown great creativity, critical thinking and solid design skills with this map and should definitely keep making them. I look forward to seeing more!

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.

  1. Camera: iPhone 5
  2. Aperture: f/2.4
  3. Exposure: 1/128th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm

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?

Unofficial Map: KLM Airlines European Routes Map by Veenspace 

Submitted by Veenspace, who says:

I made this map inspired by a recent CityLab post on airline maps. It posed that most maps are geographically accurate but hard to read, and that the maps that do go for minimalism lose any geographical component. There’s a balance between the two that I wanted to achieve: readable & geographical. I chose to design it like a circuit board, with KLM’s central hub as the CPU.


Transit Maps says:

The circuit board conceit is perhaps a little gimmicky, with limited applications in the real world (an ad in a computer magazine?), but there’s no doubt that this is nicely executed work. I haven’t always been the greatest fan of subway map-styled airline route maps, far preferring the grandeur of the great arcs used in traditional airline maps, but this strikes a better balance than most, and has a definite aesthetic appeal of its own. Whimsical fun!

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.

2.5 Stars

Crowd-Sourced Colours: Vienna turns to the people to decide what colour the new U5 line should be

Submitted by Joshua Davidowitz, who says:

Love your blog and always look forward to the next posting! Anyways, I read that in Vienna, the Wiener Linien are doing a vote of whether the new U5 metro line should be in turquoise or pink.

The two options are shown here – turquoise and pink (PDF links), which are also linked to on the above voting page.

What do you think?

As for me, I would go for turquoise over pink. The pink I find most confusing where it terminates at Karlsplatz and there is the transfer to the U1. If it was somewhere else on the line network it might work, but here it seems to blend in to the red of the U1. If they wanted pink as a line color, I might switch it to the U6 (brown).


Transit Maps says:

Now this is the kind of crowd-sourcing that I like: allowing the people of Vienna to have a say and feel involved in the process of the building of a new U-Bahn line. That said, each colour has its pros and cons for me. As Joshua says, the pink could potentially cause some confusion at Karlsplatz where it meets the Red U1, but pink has much better visual contrast where the U5 runs alongside the green U4.

Interestingly, both colours have very similar values when previewed in Photoshop using colour-blindness proofing settings, so there’s not much of a difference either way there.

In the end, I’d probably opt for turquoise, simply because it helps keep a balance between warm and cool colours on the map.

What do you think (answers enabled)?

Submission – Official Map: In-Car Map of Rome Tram Lines

Submission and photo by Chris Bastian.

Does a decent job of showing a large and disjointed network in a limited space, although it’s not exactly stylish. Notable for its interesting “circle” and “half-circle” terminus stations, as well as its use of double-headed arrow station markers to show that trams stop in both directions there.

As the tram network basically circumnavigates the historical centre of Rome, that part is basically compressed so much that it’s barely even present anymore – a factor of the limited space, more than anything else.

The map also cheats a bit, as the “3B” between Stazione Trastevere and Piramide is actually a bus line, not a tram, despite being represented identically on the map.

Our rating: Not bad for an above-the-door map that has to show the whole network, but not really memorable either. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

  1. Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ70
  2. Aperture: f/2.8
  3. Exposure: 1/200th
  4. Focal Length: 3mm

Submission - Historical Map: Bus and Trolley-bus Routes in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1968

Submitted by creatures-alive.

A striking transit network map from Soviet Vilnius in the late 1960s. The stark, angular route lines are softened a bit by the wide lazy curves of the city’s rivers, but this is still pretty severe, minimalist, almost abstract design. Also of note is the map’s title and legend, set in five different languages — Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, German and English.

Source: Vilniaus Katalogas website

Submission – Unofficial Map: “Hyper Japan” Directory London Underground Map

Submitted by chiguire, who says:

Found this London Tube map in the Hyper Japan directory magazine. Hyper Japan is some sort of convention about the country [of Japan, held in London – Cam], but I couldn’t stop staring at this map. It’s like a car wreck, it’s horrible but you just can’t stop looking :-P


Transit Maps says:

A great example how you can use all the elements of a successful transit map and still end up with a complete mess. Obviously, the organisers of Hyper Japan didn’t want to pay a licensing fee to TfL for the actual Tube map, so they either made one of their own or paid someone substantially less than the licensing fee to make one for them.

The central part of the map actually looks eerily similar in shape to the real deal, with the (in)famous “thermos flask” shape described by the Circle Line remaining almost intact. However, things go rapidly downhill after that, and much of the system south of the Thames just looks horrible: the DLR and Overground suffering the worst. I’m also pretty certain that the southern part of the Northern Line is at a non-standard angle just so the legend can be squeezed in underneath it.

The square interchange symbols aren’t a patch on the superb interconnected circles of the actual Tube map, and the typography is lacklustre at best. If you need connecting lines between labels and the station they name, then you’re doing it wrong.

Our rating: A poor imitation that really makes you realise how balanced and aesthetically pleasing the Tube map is by comparison, and how difficult it is to make a truly excellent transit map. One-and-a-half stars.

1.5 Stars