Submission - Lukas’ HSR Map Redrawn Digitally by Isaac Fischer

Hi Cameron! This map is in response to the map you posted by Lukas, age 12. I thought that Lukas’s map was quite interesting - the network reminded me of Alfred Twu’s high-speed rail map from last year, and the style was remarkably similar to that of my own hand-drawn maps. However, I thought that the map should not have stopped at a hand-drawn sketch, and so I took a few hours drawing up this map in OmniGraffle. I was hoping that you could pass this map on to Lukas, and I hope that it encourages him to invest in a drawing program to help him in his future cartographic endeavors. (Maybe he could ask for OmniGraffle for his birthday or for Christmas? It’s in about the right price range, although it’s only for Mac, and I know from experience that it’s easy to use even at age 12.)

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Transit Maps says:

a faithful rendition of Lucas’ vision that I hope he enjoys seeing! The only difference I see is that Lucas showed the Appalachian line as two separate routes from beginning to end, instead of one line that branches to Detroit or Chicago. And I think his original Columbia Rail logo was meant to represent a high speed train, windows, doors and all.

Submission — NEW Official Map: MARTA Rapid Rail System, Atlanta, Georgia
'Tis the season for new transit maps in the United States! Hot on the heels of Portland’s new MAX light rail map comes this new version for Atlanta’s rapid rail system. These photos were submitted by long-time correspondent Matt Johnson on a recent visit to Atlanta, and he notes that they are present in many of the system’s major stations.
For the time being, MARTA’s website is lagging behind, still displaying an older version that’s sort of halfway between this map and the version I previously reviewed (Oct 2011, 3.5 stars).
This map has quite a few improvements and changes from the version I previously reviewed, not the least of which is the change from Futura to Helvetica as the map’s main typeface. This makes a big difference in my eyes — Helvetica may have some failings that prevent it from being a truly excellent wayfinding typeface, but its clean looks and large x-height are a big step up from the idiosyncrasies of Futura.
The other big change is the way that night services are now shown as a separate inset map, rather than trying to explain them on the main map with different markings on the route lines. For a relatively simple system like Atlanta’s this works extremely well and is definitely easier to use and understand. However, it introduces one element that is simply awful and totally out of character with the simplicity of the rest of the map. The nighttime Red and Green Lines (the ones that have service cut back to only cover the stand-alone sections of track) have tiny little directional arrows running along both edges of the route line. I guess it’s meant to emphasise the shuttle-like nature of the lines, but I think that it’s totally unnecessary (as well as ugly). Bi-directional travel along route lines is inherently implied on a transit map unless specifically indicated otherwise, so why are these arrows even needed?
Other changes for the better include better drawn route lines than now nest properly going around curves (yay!). They’ve also lost their bounding black keylines, which helps to simplify the map — the Gold Line is a deeper hue now to enable it to retain its visibility compared to the other lines.
Our rating: In a way, this map has almost come full circle back to the stylish minimalism of the map used in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. The little directional arrows on the night services map are a strange aberration, but overall, this is a solid improvement over previous recent maps. Four stars!
Submission — NEW Official Map: MARTA Rapid Rail System, Atlanta, Georgia
'Tis the season for new transit maps in the United States! Hot on the heels of Portland’s new MAX light rail map comes this new version for Atlanta’s rapid rail system. These photos were submitted by long-time correspondent Matt Johnson on a recent visit to Atlanta, and he notes that they are present in many of the system’s major stations.
For the time being, MARTA’s website is lagging behind, still displaying an older version that’s sort of halfway between this map and the version I previously reviewed (Oct 2011, 3.5 stars).
This map has quite a few improvements and changes from the version I previously reviewed, not the least of which is the change from Futura to Helvetica as the map’s main typeface. This makes a big difference in my eyes — Helvetica may have some failings that prevent it from being a truly excellent wayfinding typeface, but its clean looks and large x-height are a big step up from the idiosyncrasies of Futura.
The other big change is the way that night services are now shown as a separate inset map, rather than trying to explain them on the main map with different markings on the route lines. For a relatively simple system like Atlanta’s this works extremely well and is definitely easier to use and understand. However, it introduces one element that is simply awful and totally out of character with the simplicity of the rest of the map. The nighttime Red and Green Lines (the ones that have service cut back to only cover the stand-alone sections of track) have tiny little directional arrows running along both edges of the route line. I guess it’s meant to emphasise the shuttle-like nature of the lines, but I think that it’s totally unnecessary (as well as ugly). Bi-directional travel along route lines is inherently implied on a transit map unless specifically indicated otherwise, so why are these arrows even needed?
Other changes for the better include better drawn route lines than now nest properly going around curves (yay!). They’ve also lost their bounding black keylines, which helps to simplify the map — the Gold Line is a deeper hue now to enable it to retain its visibility compared to the other lines.
Our rating: In a way, this map has almost come full circle back to the stylish minimalism of the map used in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. The little directional arrows on the night services map are a strange aberration, but overall, this is a solid improvement over previous recent maps. Four stars!
Submission — NEW Official Map: MARTA Rapid Rail System, Atlanta, Georgia
'Tis the season for new transit maps in the United States! Hot on the heels of Portland’s new MAX light rail map comes this new version for Atlanta’s rapid rail system. These photos were submitted by long-time correspondent Matt Johnson on a recent visit to Atlanta, and he notes that they are present in many of the system’s major stations.
For the time being, MARTA’s website is lagging behind, still displaying an older version that’s sort of halfway between this map and the version I previously reviewed (Oct 2011, 3.5 stars).
This map has quite a few improvements and changes from the version I previously reviewed, not the least of which is the change from Futura to Helvetica as the map’s main typeface. This makes a big difference in my eyes — Helvetica may have some failings that prevent it from being a truly excellent wayfinding typeface, but its clean looks and large x-height are a big step up from the idiosyncrasies of Futura.
The other big change is the way that night services are now shown as a separate inset map, rather than trying to explain them on the main map with different markings on the route lines. For a relatively simple system like Atlanta’s this works extremely well and is definitely easier to use and understand. However, it introduces one element that is simply awful and totally out of character with the simplicity of the rest of the map. The nighttime Red and Green Lines (the ones that have service cut back to only cover the stand-alone sections of track) have tiny little directional arrows running along both edges of the route line. I guess it’s meant to emphasise the shuttle-like nature of the lines, but I think that it’s totally unnecessary (as well as ugly). Bi-directional travel along route lines is inherently implied on a transit map unless specifically indicated otherwise, so why are these arrows even needed?
Other changes for the better include better drawn route lines than now nest properly going around curves (yay!). They’ve also lost their bounding black keylines, which helps to simplify the map — the Gold Line is a deeper hue now to enable it to retain its visibility compared to the other lines.
Our rating: In a way, this map has almost come full circle back to the stylish minimalism of the map used in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. The little directional arrows on the night services map are a strange aberration, but overall, this is a solid improvement over previous recent maps. Four stars!

Submission — NEW Official Map: MARTA Rapid Rail System, Atlanta, Georgia

'Tis the season for new transit maps in the United States! Hot on the heels of Portland’s new MAX light rail map comes this new version for Atlanta’s rapid rail system. These photos were submitted by long-time correspondent Matt Johnson on a recent visit to Atlanta, and he notes that they are present in many of the system’s major stations.

For the time being, MARTA’s website is lagging behind, still displaying an older version that’s sort of halfway between this map and the version I previously reviewed (Oct 2011, 3.5 stars).

This map has quite a few improvements and changes from the version I previously reviewed, not the least of which is the change from Futura to Helvetica as the map’s main typeface. This makes a big difference in my eyes — Helvetica may have some failings that prevent it from being a truly excellent wayfinding typeface, but its clean looks and large x-height are a big step up from the idiosyncrasies of Futura.

The other big change is the way that night services are now shown as a separate inset map, rather than trying to explain them on the main map with different markings on the route lines. For a relatively simple system like Atlanta’s this works extremely well and is definitely easier to use and understand. However, it introduces one element that is simply awful and totally out of character with the simplicity of the rest of the map. The nighttime Red and Green Lines (the ones that have service cut back to only cover the stand-alone sections of track) have tiny little directional arrows running along both edges of the route line. I guess it’s meant to emphasise the shuttle-like nature of the lines, but I think that it’s totally unnecessary (as well as ugly). Bi-directional travel along route lines is inherently implied on a transit map unless specifically indicated otherwise, so why are these arrows even needed?

Other changes for the better include better drawn route lines than now nest properly going around curves (yay!). They’ve also lost their bounding black keylines, which helps to simplify the map — the Gold Line is a deeper hue now to enable it to retain its visibility compared to the other lines.

Our rating: In a way, this map has almost come full circle back to the stylish minimalism of the map used in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. The little directional arrows on the night services map are a strange aberration, but overall, this is a solid improvement over previous recent maps. Four stars!

4 Stars!

Submission – Unofficial Map: Regional Rail Network for Rennes, Brittany

Submitted by favrebulle, who says:

This is a proposed regional rail network for Rennes, Brittany. The map is my own work. The network revolves around a central Ring. Lines come in two types. Main lines are in bright colors, and circulate all day, every day, twice an hour. Secondary lines are in pastel colors and run during rush hours, or during special events for the Expo Arena line. Intercity and high-speed services (not detailed) are the grey, outern lines. The stations are simple, white indentation in the lines. Texts come in only two angles. Finally, the map is in breton.

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Transit Maps says:

Stylistically, this map immediately brought to mind this commuter rail map from Madrid (June 2013, 3 stars), which similarly features a central ring and sharply angled corners.

I do like the interesting “half-circle” device used for stations, and the way it changes into a full circle when two lines are present, or a longer “pill” shape for three or more lines. It’s a logical transformation and is used effectively throughout.

Less successful are the pastel colours used for the rush hour services – they’re too visually recessive (the light yellow S24 line almost disappears completely), and S21 and S22 look way too similar to each other. Something that could help here would be to link the route designations in the legend to the lines on the map, so that it’s easier to work out where each line begins and ends.

Our rating: A nicely distinctive diagrammatic style of map that just needs a little more work on the usability side to make it really successful. Two-and-a-half stars!

2.5 Stars

Unofficial Map: Sydney Rail Network (Trains and Light Rail) by Ben Luke

Submitted by Ben, who says:

This is my version of the Sydney Trains map. I was inspired to try designing my own version after the introduction of the new official map which I found to be rather uninspiring. I have been learning Illustrator in the process, so thanks to your excellent blog for all the tips and tutorials.

I have used a realistic background layer which is distorted to fit around the map but maintains a sense of geographic familiarity (I’m a map geek so this is important to me!). My aim was to capture the essence of Sydney with its rich interplay between land and water without being to distracting. I have also decided to include the light rail system, which the new official map has dropped, as I’ve always been fan of multi mode maps. Other than that I just tried to keep things as simple and straight as possible. 

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Transit Maps says:

There’s a lot to like in Ben’s reinterpretation of the Sydney Trains map. His use of 30/60-degree angles actually helps a lot in some of the traditionally crowded parts of the map – the Illawarra Line south of Arncliffe and the North Shore Line, in particular. The reorientation of the main trunk line out to Blacktown as one long straight line on a 30-degree angle also works surprisingly well, countering the diagrammatic enlargement of the CBD nicely. There are places where the 30-degree lines look a bit awkward next to the 45-degree labels (Flemington to Granville, for example), but I can see why Ben’s taken this approach.

I also really like the “Intercity” labels that Ben has used to indicate the direction of longer-distance trains: it integrates the branding of the service more effectively than the official map, although adding some key destinations along each line might be a good idea for users unfamiliar with the system: Blue Mountains Line – to Katoomba and Lithgow works better than just the line name for me. A little more “breathing room” at the top and bottom of the map would also be welcomed, as the labels are pushed up pretty tight to the edge at the moment.

I do feel that the spacing of the stations in the western part of the map is a little big compared to other parts of the map: there’s nice, even, tight spacing up to Blacktown, then a giant gap to Doonside or Marayong, and much bigger spacing between all the stations from there on out.

I’ve gone on record as saying that I’m not the greatest fan of diagrammatic maps on geographic backgrounds – but if you’re going to do it, do it well. Ben’s done it very well here – it looks far less distorted and cartoony that the previous Sydney rail map.

Ben’s integrated the light rail system into his map – although he’s inexplicably changed it to blue from its official deep red – and has come across a pretty big problem. The sydney train network is vast and sprawling, covering huge distances in every direction – while the light rail line is much denser, with stations spaced much closer together. It’s very difficult to coherently place these two very different systems on the same map, although Ben’s put in a manful effort here. I’d probably be in favour of showing the light rail (because I like a good multi-modal map too!), but only labelling major terminus stations. Dots or ticks to indicate the number of other stations could be retained. A separate map could then be used to show the light rail system in detail, without having to show all of Greater Sydney on the same map.

Our rating: Some excellent ideas that improve on the official map in some aspects. Spacing of stations could be a little more even/harmonious, but it’s really a great effort. Three stars.

3 Stars

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.

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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.

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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.

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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: www.linjefarg.se (linjefarg basically means line color)

Thanks and keep up the great work!

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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.

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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.

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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