Submission - Washington DC Metro Cross Stitch

Submitted by ghostof-electricity, who says:

DC metro map cross stitch I made this summer. I moved away two weeks before the silver line opened so I chose to create the metro map pre-silver line, the way I remember it  :)


Transit Maps says:

Rectilinear transit diagrams lend themselves well to cross stitch, but this is one of the neater ones I’ve seen. Nice work!

  1. Camera: iPhone 4S
  2. Aperture: f/2.4
  3. Exposure: 1/20th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm

Interactive Map: Evolution of the Beijing Subway, 1971-2015 (and Beyond!)

A simple little timeline map from CNN charting the rapid growth of one of the world’s largest and busiest subway systems. The exponential expansion that has occurred since 2006 (pictured above) is both phenomenal and just a little frightening. Despite this, the network is struggling to keep up with the transportation needs of the region, and the newest expansion plans call for more than 1,000km of track by 2020 — more than double the current length of 465km.  

Unofficial Map: MetrôRio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by Pedro Guedes

Submitted by Pedro, who says:

This is an unofficial map for MetrôRio, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I find the official map hideous (May 2012, 2 stars), so I made this one. I haven’t yet ridden this subway, so I based my map on the maps I could find online. Because lines are hard to be distinguished if you are color blind, I have decided to put the line number on their last stations. I know that colors for the Metrô na Superfície subway bus are too close to be told apart, but I have decided to keep the original colors anyway.

I have also chosen to decrease geographic accuracy in order to make the map easier to read. The older map seemed geographic accurate, but it wasn’t that perfect: Pres. Vargas station was shown as almost on the bay, when it actually is just as far as Uruguaiana or Carioca stations.

I designed Line 1 as an open circle because I have found that it is planned to be a circular route when the system is better developed. Whether those plans are still real or they have changed, I can’t assure you, but as far as I have seen, those are the most recent ones.

I also plan on redesigning the map for the subway and commuter rail system in São Paulo, but that’ll take longer as it’s much more complex.


Transit Maps says:

This is a really nice effort from Pedro, with a lot of sound reasoning behind most of his design choices. I especially like the circular shape he’s used for Line 1 – the “design hook” that I often like to see in a diagrammatic map. I do think he could have taken this thought a little further by making the top part of Line 2 a long, curving arc instead of a straight line, but this is a good start!

The rest of my comments really have to do with visual balance and informational hierarchy – I find some elements too large (the legend box and the name of the bay, which isn’t really a hugely important piece of information in the context of a transit map) and others too small (the names of the stops on the Metrô na Superfície bus routes). I also feel that the green “Todas (all)” text box at Central station could be placed above the station label: this would allow the “Pres. Vargas” label to be placed outside the circle like all the other stations around the right half of the ring. The placement of the “Cantaglo” label is a little trickier, but perhaps the whole map could be moved upwards to help accommodate it outside the ring. Note that there’s a lot of empty space above the map, while the bottom is jammed up hard against the edge of the page.

Our rating: Better than the official map and with a lot of good ideas. Needs just a little tweaking to make it really good. Three stars.

3 Stars

Photo: DC Metro Map Made of M&M’s

Delicious! But where’s the Silver Line?

Source: Joey Butler/Flickr

Submission – Official Map: Bucharest Metro

Submitted by ssjmaz, who says:

M4 is under construction, M5 and M6 are future plans.

I’m planing on making a map of my own that is fully diagrammatic, will submit it when it’s ready.


Transit Maps says:

I look forward to seeing ssjmaz’s map, because it will almost certainly be better than this tired old thing. In this modern day and age, it absolutely baffles me that transit agencies put tiny, poorly-rendered JPGs, GIFs and PNGs of their system maps online. This one measures just 785px by 683px, and is quite difficult to read – both because of the small font size and the awful rendering of the type. PDF is nearly universal now and allows users to easily zoom in as close as they need to read the map. At least this is better than an embedded Flash map, I guess…

The map itself is pretty dire, with route lines wobbling around all over the place. The future M4, M5 and M6 lines have just been drawn in to fit around the existing map, which leads to strangely angled lines and awkward shapes almost everywhere.

Accessibility and main line interchange icons for the stations also seem to have been put wherever they can fit, while the grey and white zone background is really quite distracting. It’s also a little misleading, as it just shows districts around the city – not fare zones as one might reasonably expect on a transit map.

Some of the labels seem to have little relationship with their station marker, especially on the purple M6 line. At least most of the labels are set horizontally, although this makes the one outlier – Expoziţiei station – stand out like a sore thumb. Sub-par typography and a couple of really dull legends round out a pretty sad effort.

Our rating: An absolute minimum of effort expended here. One-and-a-half stars.

1.5 Stars

Source: Official Metrorex website

Submission – Is there an awful typographical error in the New York Subway Map?

Submitted by Nelson Ricardo, who says:

Big typographical oopsie in the latest release of the NYC subway map [September 2014, to coincide with the reopening of the Montague Street Tunnel – Cam]. Station names written horizontally are markedly darker than those written at an angle.


Transit Maps says:

I was all ready to agree with Nelson – I opened the PDF up in my browser and the angled type did look terrible – until I did a little more research and opened up the PDF a few different ways (browser plug-ins vs. Acrobat vs. Preview). In short, not all PDF engines are created equal, and some of them render objects or type in a sub-optimal way.

Opening the PDF in Chrome using the PDF plug-in resulted in “bad” angled text, as did using Preview (which uses Apple’s own PDF engine, not Adobe’s). Opening the PDF in Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro on both a Mac and a PC resulted in much better rendering for the angled text, as shown above. Strangely, Safari (Apple’s own browser) uses an Adobe PDF plug-in, so the type renders well there!

For final proof, I managed to unlock the secured MTA map PDF and open it in Illustrator: all the type labels in the above image are 6.92pt Helvetica Bold, regardless of what angle they’re set at.

However, differing amounts of horizontal and vertical scaling have then been applied to the text labels (extremely poor typography!), which is probably what is causing the different PDF engines to render the type so differently.

Source: MTA website (PDF)

Historical Map: Montreal Metro Map, July 1979

From the days before the current colour-coding of the lines and the now-iconic black background. Here, we have dark blue (or black: it’s hard to tell from this picture) instead of green for Line 1, and red instead of orange for Line 2. Line 4 retains its yellow color, and the three colours combined also form part of the Metro’s branding at the base of the map.

The map itself is fairly blocky and primitive, and the stairstepping effect on Line 1 in the eastern portion of the map creates some problems with label placement. The shoreline is strangely detailed in comparison with the rest of the map. 

The enormous “no smoking” icon is much larger than the agency logo, and apparently, way too many people interfere with the doors.

Our rating: An interesting look at the early days of Montreal’s map, although it’s not very memorable in itself. Two stars.

2 Stars

Source: transit103/Flickr

Photo: Tattoo based on H.C. Beck’s First Paris Métro Diagram
The inspiration for this tattoo is really quite obvious when you know what you’re looking for. This is H.C. Beck’s first unsolicited attempt at a Paris Metro diagram from around 1939, and has been reproduced quite faithfully (although without the station names). 
Source: zachhaschanged/Instagram

Photo: Tattoo based on H.C. Beck’s First Paris Métro Diagram

The inspiration for this tattoo is really quite obvious when you know what you’re looking for. This is H.C. Beck’s first unsolicited attempt at a Paris Metro diagram from around 1939, and has been reproduced quite faithfully (although without the station names). 

Source: zachhaschanged/Instagram

Submission - Historical Map: Chicago CTA Rapid Transit Map, 1983

Submitted by our resident repository of Chicago transit map knowledge, Dennis McClendon, who says:

This map of Chicago’s rapid transit network originated in the 1970s (this one is from June 1983), and this style was used until routes received color names in 1993. Happily, by that time digital printing in fiberglass-embedded signs made full-color maps easier to place in graffiti-prone environments.

These maps were silk-screened onto [blue] color blanks, and every color of ink added cost. So the CTA’s six lines are represented by using only two colors. Simple black is used for three “extension” lines that never overlap. A simple white line is used for the north-south line those connect with. For the two other through routes: black with white casing and white with black casing.

The side ticks for stations work fine, but a box for the places where transfers are possible is not altogether intuitive.  The CTA of that era employed skip-stop spacing, so alternate trains stopped at A or B stations only. Another graphic decision that might have deserved more thought:  the names of various suburbs—only a few of which can be reached by rapid transit—floating in their vague geographic positions, but no indication of Chicago city limits or Lake Michigan.


Transit Maps says:

I have to say that I actually really like the forced graphic simplicity of this map. There’s only two colours to work with, so every element has to be very carefully considered and balanced against others for the map to work at all. That it manages to keep the route lines recognisable and separated in the downtown Loop area without the use of an inset map is quite an achievement.

The famous “A-B” stopping patterns are shown pretty deftly as well, being mostly placed on the opposite side of the route line from the station name. The few stations where this doesn’t happen (due to crowding or space limitations) stand out like a sore thumb – Jarvis on the North-South line, and many of the stations on the Ravenswood line. There are also two stations with their labels set at an angle: Merchandise Mart is almost completely unavoidable, but Harvard on the Englewood Line could easily have been fitted in horizontally.

I think the “boxed” interchanges work well enough, having seen similar devices on quite a few maps (the Paris Metro included) now. I also like the extra detail included on the map: station closures on weekends and nights, direction of travel around the Loop, inbound boarding only on the last three stations on the Jackson Park North-South Line, and more.

I would agree with Dennis on the locality names, that just seem to float in space. The biggest offender is “Evergreen Park”, right at the very bottom of the map, below the legend!

As for depicting Lake Michigan, that seems like a good idea, but I struggle to think of a way of doing it without upsetting the delicate balance of the map. You can’t really use a white line, as that could be confused with all the white route lines, and you can’t have a large white area as that would be visually way too heavy. In the end, the lake isn’t that important for such a graphically stylised map (it really just delineates the eastern side of the map), so I’m not too upset by its absence.

Our rating: A fine historical example of how to use a limited colour palette effectively. Minimalist but still effective. Three-and-a-half stars.

3.5 Stars

  1. Camera: Olympus C8080WZ
  2. Aperture: f/2.8
  3. Exposure: 1/10th
  4. Focal Length: 16mm

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)?