Unofficial Future Map: Metro Denver Rapid Transit by Steve Boland
Long-time readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of Denver’s current light rail map (April 2013, 2 stars). And it seems that I’m not the only one, as Steve Boland of San Francisco Cityscape has turned his hand to designing a new map. We’ve featured his excellent Bay Area Rapid Transit map previously (Feb. 2013, 4.5 stars).
His Denver map includes all the FasTracks extensions — light rail along I-225 through Aurora, BRT lanes on US 36 to Boulder and new commuter rail lines to all points north, including a line out to Denver International Airport (finally!). Interestingly, he’s chosen to color-code the services by corridor, rather than by route designation, which actually works quite nicely and simplifies the map in the dense downtown core. The map also makes the peak-hour only nature of the “C” and “F” light rail routes visually obvious on the map by adding a white stroke to their route line: a nice usability touch.
Technically, the map is infinitely better drawn than the official one: no wobbly route lines here! I do miss the sweeping arc that the light rail lines make from Auraria West around to Union Station — I always felt that if it was drawn better, it could be the defining visual “hook” of the official map — but the squared off look does fit in well with the overall aesthetics of this map.
Personally, I find the kink in the “G” line at Aurora a little visually distracting in such a clean diagram, but Steve tells me he really wanted to show how the line leaves the I-225 corridor at that point. As he consistently labels all the main roads that transit travels along on the map, this is probably a fair point.
An oddity: without knowing how all the new lines will fit into RTD’s fare structure, the map has to constrain that information to the currently existing parts of the system — which actually highlights the new parts rather nicely.
Our rating: That’s much better! Clean, crisp, functional informational design that builds excitement for the future of transit in Denver. Four stars.
(Source: sfcityscape website — GIF)
An old Boston T map peeks out from underneath the broken remnants of a recent edition, somewhere along the Orange Line in May 2013. It’s interesting to see that while the two maps occupy the same physical space, their use of it is much different. The older, simpler map fills up its space with bold lines and large type, while the modern map is more geographically based and complex — with the addition of bus routes and the Silver Line — and the type on it is correspondingly smaller.
(Source: Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council - MAPC/Flickr - Photographer: Jessie Partridge)
Submission - Historical Map: Informational Leaflet, Metro de Santiago, 1975
When moon-monolith sent me the new Santiago Metro map that I featured yesterday, he also sent me this fascinating old map from 1975: the year that the Metro first opened.
The map itself probably redefines the term “basic” when it comes to transit maps, with some very coarse route lines and type-written station names. However, I’m more interested in the map as a very early look at the current system.
At first glance, it looks like the map shows two extensive lines — Lines 1 (Red) and 2 (Yellow) — with planned future routes for Lines 3, 4 and 5. However, in 1975, all that was open was a small stretch of Line 1 between San Pablo and La Moneda stations. You can just make out this section on the map, as it’s ringed with a thicker black outline — although the map makers erroneously identify the eastern end as Neptuno station, not San Pablo (which seems to be missing a station marker anyway).
So what the map really shows is the existing system, with fairly well-developed plans for the rest of Line 1 and Line 2. Then things get a little nebulous with the other planned lines. As we can see on the current map, Lines 4 and 5 follow different routes to those shown here, while (a completely different) Line 3 is still under planning to this day!
Also, due to the very early stages of planning shown on this map, many stations have completely different names to the current system, or were never actually built.
This map is certainly not going to win any awards for its looks, but it’s definitely a fascinating historical document of the early days of Santiago’s Metro.
(Source: Tercera Cultura article on “Ghosts of the Santiago Metro" - Spanish)
New Official Map: Metro de Santiago, Chile
In a way, this is really an evolution of the previous map, rather than a complete redesign — the routes still sit on top of a stylised street grid of the city, for example — but the execution is much more polished and stylish.
The whole city has been expanded horizontally (the map is rectangular now instead of the almost square proportions of the previous one). With more room to breathe, the labels for all the stations can be set horizontally instead of at angles for easier reading. The deletion of the express route information that was previously shown for Line 1 also helps with the cleaner look.
Informational icons have been simplified and standardised: instead of the entire (and complex) logo for the innovative BiblioMetro program, we now just have a quickly-identifiable (and universally understood) book icon. The standard “bike” symbol also works a lot better than the previous BiciMetro logo.
Things aren’t perfect, though: the poor old airport still loiters up in the top left hand corner of the map with absolutely no way illustrated to actually get there, and there’s some inconsistent and poorly drawn curves on the river. Look especially at the one to the northwest of Puente Cal y Canto station… ugly!
Our rating: An definite improvement! Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Metro de Santiago website)
New Subway Map-Themed Game in Development: Mini Metro!
This looks extremely promising, especially since development on Third Rail seems to have stalled (no updates on progress since mid-last year). It’s being developed by small New Zealand-based studio, Dinosaur Polo Club (great name and logo!). Here’s the preamble from their website:
Mini Metro is a minimalist subway simulation game about designing efficient subway networks. The player must constantly redesign their line layout to meet the needs of a rapidly-growing city.
The game, currently available as a rough and ready alpha version (that’s pre-beta, folks!), currently has four maps — London, New York, Paris and one other that I haven’t identified as yet. Each map in the game looks like that of its real life equivalent, right down to the colours used to represent routes: a neat touch! That’s London seen in the mesmerising GIF above.
In short, I want to play this right now. Hurry up and take my money.
Submitted by gartenriese, who says:
I found this on a wooden toy station from Brio. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to look up what transit network this is supposed to resemble.
Transit Maps says:
Well, this is just adorable. I doubt that it represents any real world transit system, but it looks like it has both trains and buses!
Official Map: Integrated Transit of Südtirol (Alto Adige), Italy
Sent my way by a reader known only as “mmmaps”, here’s a map of the transit system of the northern autonomous Italian province of Südtirol (South Tyrol in English, or Alto Adige in Italian). The system is mainly made up of buses (dark blue), but there’s also a backbone of rail services between the major cities (shown in light blue) and aerial cable-cars as well.
While the restrained colour palette (just blues and greys) looks quite nifty, the map’s usability is seriously hampered by this simplistic approach. Without coloured route lines, the map designers have had to denote separate routes by putting numbered boxes across each line to indicate where they go. And that makes actually using the map to work out how to get places a lot of really, really hard work.
For starters, the termini of routes aren’t indicated at all. A reader has to follow a desired route number along, checking at every bifurcation which way it goes (sometimes it goes more than one direction!). Eventually, there’s no more numbers to follow — so you have to assume that the service ended at the last town? Maybe. You have to work it out by yourself, hopefully with the aid of the individual route timetables and schedules that are available. However, this map gives a rotten overview of destinations, interchanges and routes for someone unfamiliar with the network. A user should always be able to trace any given route from one end to the other without having to make guesses!
If you think I’m being hard on the map, answer this simple question: which two cities does the 314 bus run between?
Our rating: Using a transit map really shouldn’t be this hard. One-and-a-half stars, and that’s because I like the Südtirol logo at the bottom left.
(Source: Official SII website)
Unofficial Map: Transit of Riga, Latvia by Viteks Bariševs
Transit Maps has been keeping an eye on this project for quite some time now: I reviewed an earlier version of this map way back in January 2012, noting that it held a lot of promise for the future.
At the time, Viteks was hopeful that he could get his map adopted as Riga’s official transit map. While that hasn’t quite happened yet, he’s definitely set himself up as an excellent alternative to the (pretty terrible) official maps. That’s right, the official website has to use three maps – one for each mode (bus, trolleybus, tram) – to show what Viteks has expertly put into one.
Having just had his map professionally printed, Viteks was kind enough to send me some samples for review. First off, this map reminds me why I will always love a map on paper… there’s just something about the way you can pore over it and absorb all the details fully that you just can’t replicate on a computer screen. A PDF of a complex network like this is all well and good, but you either have to view the whole map at a size which makes reading text hard, or you have to zoom in and lose the ability to relate the section you’re looking at to the system as a whole.
The print quality of the map is excellent, with good colour fidelity and registration throughout. The map folds down to a very compact size of just 8.5 x 17.5cm (3.3 x 6.9 inches) – a pocket map which can actually fit in a pocket without having to be folded over again! It unfolds to be around 51 x 35 cm (20 x 13.8 inches), which is big without being too big or unwieldy. The folds for the map also concertina nicely, so you could easily unfold it to just the portion that you need without opening it entirely.
The map itself has made great strides in legibility and information hierarchy since the 2012 version: the three transit modes are differentiated much better than before, and terminus stations are now clearly shown in white text in a black box (rather than with underlined text as before). While obviously a diagram, I think Viteks has done a good job of retaining spatial relationships between the different parts of the city, which an be helpful for orientation. The map also has an excellent city centre inset on the reverse of the main map (with some nifty little illustrations of the main points of interest), and a night bus map as well. Truly useful, well-considered information for all travellers!
A few thoughts for improvement: the map is probably at the absolute smallest size that it can be reproduced. While I can read the labels on it just fine, others with poorer eyesight may not fare so well.
Because the route lines are all so thin, the system that Viteks uses to distinguish between the three transportation modes – a solid coloured line for buses, a coloured line overlaid with a thinner white line for trolleybuses, and a coloured line overlaid with a thinner black line for trams – can be a little difficult to make out. The trolleybus lines effectively become two very thin coloured lines separated by an equally thin white one: depending on the colour of the line, this can be very difficult to discern. Similarly, if the route line colour for a tram service is relatively dark, the overlaid black line can be quite difficult to see. In the end, this doesn’t matter a huge amount, because Viteks has cleverly added a letter to the beginning of each route number that corresponds to the mode: A for autobus, E for trolleybus, and T for tram. The legend does point out that these prefixes aren’t actually shown on the vehicles, but perhaps this information could be made a little more prominent to prevent some poor tourist from standing around all day waiting for an “E15” to come.
In short, this is a fantastic effort to create something better than what’s officially available. This is obviously a labour of love and it shows in the attention to detail and quality of the work. Looking at the project website, it seems that lots of locations around Riga are now selling the map, so it would seem that Viteks’ hard work and perseverance is paying off.
Historical Map: “Future Growth and Improvement” Map for Lansing, Michigan, 1921
Here’s a simply beautiful map from the 1920s, showing a comprehensive proposed future plan for the city. Along with the extensive and fastidious plans for the extension of the city’s street grid (the web of red extending outwards from the core), the map also shows existing and proposed streetcars with solid and dashed thicker red lines, respectively.
The map also audaciously proposes that the main line railroads be placed onto an elevated viaduct through downtown, something that never actually happened.
Finally, I absolutely love the graceful hand-drawn typography on this — stunning!
Video: New NYC Transit Touch Screens
Neat little video from Gizmodo giving an overview of the new touch screen maps/informational kiosks at Grand Central. Is it just me, or does it take forever for the map to find and draw a requested route?