Amended Tube Map removes Embankment Interchange for 2014 Works
Even design classics like the London Tube map have to be flexible enough to cope with change. The escalators to the Northern and Bakerloo lines at Embankment station — yes, the very escalators that can be seen in the previously posted cutaway diagram from 1914 — are going to be completely replaced.
The process is going to take 43 weeks starting on January 8 next year. During that time, Northern and Bakerloo trains will pass through Embankment without stopping, as there simply won’t be a way to get from their platforms to the surface or to the District/Circle Line platforms.
As a result, Embankment has been temporarily downgraded from an interchange ring on the map to a station tick, and moved away from the intersection between all the routes. It’s had to be moved quite a distance, because “Embankment” is quite a long name (no hyphenation of names on the Tube map!). As a result, Temple has been moved off the horizontal section of the District/Circle line and placed on the 45-degree segment along with Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street.
I personally don’t think that Temple needed to be moved off the horizontal section: Embankment and Temple could clearly be evenly spaced across the horizontal section — Embankment below the line, Temple above — without any confusion, as the station ticks would clearly “point” to their respective stations. Embankment’s label might have to slightly to the right compared to its tick, but it would be no worse than the placement of Westminster’s label. With these two stations on the horizontal segment, Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street could all retain their usual positions: I think this would create more even, harmonious spacing of all the stations than the map shown here.
Apparently, this map is appearing on some Northern Line trains but hasn’t been updated on the TfL site yet (and shouldn’t be until the work commences).
(Source: Tweet by Ian Jones — @metro_land)
Official Map: New York/New Jersey Regional Transit Diagram — Full Review
After our first glimpse yesterday, now it’s time for a more in-depth look at this map. Thanks to everyone who sent me a link to the PDF (and there were more than a few of you)!
First things first: this MTA press release confirms that the map was designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse of Vignelli Associates. It’s definitely nice to see that the original creators of the diagram continue to shape its future, rather than being handed off to another design team.
That said, the original source that this map is based off — the 2008 revision of Vignelli’s classic 1970s diagram, as used on the MTA’s “Weekender” service update website — actually creates some problems for this version of the map.
Because the bright primary colours used for the Subway’s many route lines are so much a part of the map’s look (and indeed, the very fabric of the Subway itself, appearing on signage and trains across the entire system) it forces the NJ Transit, PATH and Amtrak routes shown to be rendered in muted pastel tones in order to differentiate them from the Subway. This results in a visual imbalance between the New York and New Jersey sides of the map: cool and muted on the left, bright and bold to the right. I also feel that the PATH lines up to 33rd Street become a little “lost” compared to the adjacent subway lines.
The other result of using pastel route lines is a loss of contrast between all those lines: they all register at a similar visual intensity, making them a little harder to differentiate. Because of the sheer number of lines that have to be shown, some of the NJ Transit routes have lost their “traditional” colour as used on their own official map (Nov. 2011, 1.5 stars). The Bergen County Line is no longer light blue, but the same yellow as the Main Line, while the Gladstone Line now uses the same green as the Morristown Line. Their original colours get redistributed to New Jersey’s light rail lines and Amtrak.
Some people have noticed that the map shows weekday off-peak services and commented that this is useless for the Super Bowl, which is held on a Sunday. However, the map has to be useful for the entire week of Super Bowl festivities, not just game day, so I feel it’s doing the best it can under the circumstances. If it really bothers you, @TheLIRRToday on Twitter has made a quick and dirty version of the map that shows weekend service patterns. As as has been pointed out to me, service on Super Bowl Weekend will be close to that of the weekday peak, so the difference is negligible anyway.
What bothers me is the fact that the football icon has an extra row of laces. NFL balls have eight rows of laces — the icon shows nine.
Our rating: Based on the classic Vignelli diagram. While it remains true to its minimalist roots, it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessors. The need to integrate so many different routes and services while retaining familiar route colours for the Subway mean that the left half of the map isn’t as visually strong as the right. Still far better than many North American transit maps. It would also make a neat souvenir of a trip to the Super Bowl! Three stars.
(Source: NJ Transit “First Mass Transit Super Bowl" web page — also available on the MTA website)
Historical Map: Tyne and Wear Metro, 1981
A beautiful early map for this system, clearly showing how much of it was planned from the start. Apart from a few name changes (the proposed “Old Fold” station became Gateshead Stadium, for example), this is recognisably the same map that existed as far into the future as the year 2000, when the proposed extension to Sunderland made its appearance.
The outlined route lines to show proposed/future extensions work wonderfully well, making an excellent contrast to the existing coloured routes. The approach is even carried through to outlining the names of the proposed stations — a lovely and deft design touch.
Another interesting feature is how small and low in the visual hierarchy the ferry across the River Tyne is: in later maps, the ferry symbol has become very large and overpowering.
Our rating: The original and the best. Simple, stylish, uncluttered design that sets out a clear vision for the future. Four stars.
Fantasy Map: Airbus A380 Network as a Subway Map
Here’s a map that’s doing the social media rounds today — a subway map-style representation of Airbus A380 routes.
All I can say is: meh.
Remember when air travel was stylish and cool? Personally, I love airline route maps, with their arc-like routes branching out all across the globe: it helps keep a sense of wonder about the vast distances we travel, high above the earth.
Instead, here we are: on the subway. Under the city, running through dark, noisy tunnels, packed in like sardines (actually, that last part holds true for air travel as well these days!). It’s a miserable metaphor for what’s meant to be the future of air travel, and it doesn’t help that the map is terribly executed as well. The continents are reduced to shapeless grey blobs (South America isn’t even shown at all!), while, bizarrely, a river runs through the oceans. I guess it’s meant to make it look more “transit mappy”, but it’s just asinine.
And then there’s the completely inconsistent application of station symbols — circles, rectangles and dots just plonked down anywhere. Why does Guangzhou have an interchange symbol when it doesn’t actually interchange with anything?
Our rating: A poor execution of an awful concept. You can’t tell me this wouldn’t look a hundred times more magnificent and exciting if it was a traditional air route map. Half a star.
(Source: Airbus’ Facebook page)
Unofficial Future Map: Singapore MRT/LRT by Bernie Ng
Submitted by Bernie, who says:
I saw your recent post regarding future Singapore MRT/LRT maps and thought I’d throw mine into the ring. The Singapore MRT has long been one of my fave metro systems around the world. I like the concept of destination numbers and station numbers - I believe it is one of the first, if not the first, to use this concept (do let me know if that’s not quite right). My approach for this map is to incorporate the station number into the station marker itself to avoid some of the clutter associated placing the station name AND the number alongside the station marker. Also, I really wanted the Circle Line to be a circle, so I have adopted a few distortions to make that happen. Finally, I tried to incorporate geography of Singapore in a stylistic manner to further reinforce the circle motif. I know this does not quite meet the professional standards I often see on this blog (this is drawn using Microsoft Visio), but let me know what you think all the same!
Transit Maps says:
I don’t know, Bernie — this looks pretty darn nice from what I can see!
The temptation to make any line called the “Circle Line” live up to its name is almost always too hard to resist! Sometimes the result can be a little forced or contrived, but I think you’ve done a nice job here — for the most part, the stations are spaced out pretty nicely. I particularly like the way you’ve managed to keep the purple North East Line perfectly straight while heading entirely in the direction its name implies.
Integrating the station code into the station marker is a good idea that removes clutter — reader Xavier Fung pointed out that the new official map does this as well — and the insets for the LRT systems also work well in simplifying the main map as well as providing greater detail for these services than the official map can. I also really like the stylish shell-like shape that the island of Singapore takes on: stylised but recognisable!
My few quibbles — the graduated grey background could be seen as representing fare zones. As Singapore uses a distance-based fare system, not a zonal one, this could cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. I also find the grey a little drab and overpowering — it seems to make the other colours used on the map a little duller as well.
Finally: Visio? Not my tool of choice, and you’re probably pushing it to the absolute limit of its capabilities, but this does look really, really good.
Our rating: Strong visual concept, nicely executed, a couple of well-thought out innovations. Colours could be brighter and more evocative of Singapore. Three-and-a-half stars.
P.S. See another excellent unofficial redesign of the Singapore MRT map here.
Unofficial Map: Singapore MRT by Andrew Smithers
As promised, here’s an unofficial map of Singapore’s rail transit that takes the future extensions and integrates them far more effectively and attractively than the official future map. This map was created by Andrew Smithers, who runs the quite excellent Project Mapping website — well worth losing a few hours to all the maps he has over there!
Immediately, you can see how design is used to simplify and clarify the routes — the Thomson Line becomes a north-south axis for the map, while the new Downtown Line now describes a perfect diamond-shaped loop. This motif is echoed beautifully by the larger loop of the yellow Circle Line — which visually lives up to its name far more here than on the official map — and even by little double-crossover between the Downtown and North East lines at the bottom centre of the map. Repetition of design themes in a transit map is a lovely thing, and it really helps to hold a map together thematically.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect, however. The station codes — used to help non-English speakers buy tickets and navigate the system — are just as problematic here as they are on the official map. Andrew has opted to place them on the opposite side of the route line to the station name; while it works well in the less-crowded parts of the map, it can get a little messy in places, especially where the Downtown Line runs close to the North East and Circle Lines in the densest part of the map (just to the right of centre).
Our rating: A lovely example of how repeated design elements can thematically tie a map together. Four stars.
(Source: Via email discussion with Andrew)
Future Map: Singapore MRT with Future Extensions
I reviewed the official Singapore MRT map back in January 2012, and was generally in favour of it (giving it four stars). So it’s interesting to look at this version of the map, which includes extensions that are currently under construction or in the final stages of planning. There are two entirely new lines — the blue Downtown Line and the brown Thomson Line, as well as an eastern extension to the green East-West Line. There’s also a new light rail loop being added to the far north-eastern sector of the city.
The problem with this map is that the new lines have simply been overlaid on top of the existing older version, and they then have to take some very strange and visually unattractive routes to “join the dots” where they interchange with existing stations. The dashed “under construction” lines also align poorly with station ticks, leaving some of them floating in space between dashes. Finally, the downtown area is also becoming a little tangled and cramped because of all the new additions.
This map still does a very good job, and is still a very competently executed piece. However, some more thought about how to restructure it so that the new lines could be better integrated would definitely have been welcome.
As it happens, I have an unofficial map that definitely does consider how to incorporate the new lines in a more thoughtful manner… but you’ll have to wait for my next post to see it!
Our rating: The original map provides a solid base, but the new additions really aren’t integrated with much thought. A downgrade to three stars.
(Source: Singapore Land Transport Authority website)
Fantasy Map: Mente Subterránea by Miguel Andrés, 2010
Thanks to reader alber for pointing me to this, a nicely different take on the “brain as subway map” theme. This one seems to be based more on medical fact than the HSBC ad I featured this morning, though that does mean that the route lines are a little wobblier and less adherent to a 45-degree grid than I’d normally like to see.
The routes seem to be named after parts of the brain, with intermediate stops representing what that part is responsible for: “Dreams”, “Aggressiveness”, “Object Names”, etc. Interchange stations represent major functional centres in the brain, giving us the rather charmingly-named “Medulla Main Station” and “Gustatory Cortex Gardens”, among others.
A nicely cheeky “MIND” logo that echoes the famous London Underground roundel finishes things off nicely. About the only thing I don’t care for is the somewhat ugly compass rose, although it does seem to cleverly indicate the “left” and “right” sides of the brain, rather than compass directions.
One last thing: why is the left eye pointing in a different direction to the right?
(Source: Miguel Andrés’ website)
Fantasy Map: “Brain” Subway for HSBC Ad Campaign by Triboro Designs
A nicely executed concept, and better drawn than a lot of actual subway maps (Note the nicely nested curves when multiple route lines change direction!). Not quite sure what’s going on with the light green route as it crosses over the central trunk, but hey… it’s a BRAIN, not a real transit system.
(Source: Triboro Designs website)
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