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.
NEW Official Map: TriMet MAX Light Rail, Portland, Oregon
So I saw this at the MAX stop near my work yesterday, and managed to get some photos of it today. For now, the TriMet website still has the previous map, and it seems like these maps may currently be only posted along the 5th/6th Avenue transit mall downtown (any other sightings elsewhere, PDXers?)
So, what’s new?
First off is the obvious (and quite radical) change from 45-degree angles to 30/60-degrees… which can’t help but put me in mind of my own map of Portland’s rail transit, which did the same thing way back in 2011, and revised in September 2012. This map hasn’t taken the concept quite as far as my map, however, as the downtown lines still form a neat horizontal/vertical cross, rather than conforming the the 30/60 degree angles (which actually reflects the real street grid a little better).
The two streetcar lines (North-South and Central) are finally both being shown according to their official colour-coding (lime green and cyan, respectively), although no stops are named. This is actually a pretty good compromise – it’s better than the sad, unlabelled squiggle of previous maps, and it doesn’t mess with the scale of the map as much as it does on my version, where downtown has to be enlarged even more in relation to the rest of the system. The streetcar seems to stop every two blocks anyway, so you’re never that far away from the next one!
Future extensions are shown: the Orange Line to Milwaukie and the completion of the streetcar loop over the new Tillikum Crossing transit bridge. There’s some nice work on the Orange Line to get the station dots to line up properly and exactly over the dashed route line: I always appreciate attention to detail like this. The map still doesn’t tell us exactly how the Orange Line will tie in to the rest of the system: it’s just tacked onto the ends of the Yellow Line at PSU. I’ve heard rumours that southbound trains may change from Yellow to Orange at Union Station, while northbound trains will change from Orange to Yellow at SW College. I’m guessing that some Green Line trains may also change their designation, otherwise there’s really no reason why the Orange Line shouldn’t just be an extension of the existing Yellow Line in my eyes.
I also like the way that the Blue Line drops down southwards with the Green Line east of Gateway before turning again out to Gresham: accurate to real life and nicely done. I’m not so thrilled with the dinky little turns that the Green and Yellow Lines make between Union Station and the Steel Bridge. I also think it would be neater for the Green Line to cross under the Blue and Red Lines here, so that it doesn’t have to make that big right-angled turn across all the other lines out at Gateway. See my map for how this looks.
Some oddities: the Central streetcar line just completely disappears as it passes behind the MAX station labels east of the Willamette (se the right of the second picture above). Similarly, when the Red and Blue lines cross the Yellow and Green Lines downtown, the Blue Line is ghosted back so the “PORTLAND TRANSIT MALL” text can be read, but the Red Line disappears, as do the streetcar tracks when they cross the mall. Consistency is the key here: either approach has merits, but pick one and stick with it!
Finally, one of my pet peeves: stations named after sporting arenas with naming rights. It’s been PGE Park, JELD-WEN Field and now Providence Park, all in the seven years that I’ve been living here. Wouldn’t we just be better off calling the MAX Station “Stadium” and be done with it?
Our rating: Definitely an improvement on previous maps, with a sleeker, more modern feel and much better integration of the Portland Streetcar. Parts of it look eerily familiar to me, but it is also a logical progression from previous TriMet in-car maps like this one. Three stars.
EDIT: A comment from one of TriMet’s designers confirms that the “missing” route lines under the Transit Mall are printing errors on the backlit signs only.
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.
Question: Differentiating Local/Express Services
An anon asks:
What is the best way to display two different lines that share a section if one acts as a local service and the other as an express service? I wanted to use ticks to represent the stations on this map, is there any approach to this problem that allows me to use it?
Transit Maps says:
The solution here is best summed up by the words of the great Massimo Vignelli, who distilled the very essence of transit diagram design down to one little quote:
“A different color for each line, a dot for every station. No dot, no station. Very simple,”
And if you’re using dots as your station markers, it really is that easy, as shown by Vignelli’s own New York Subway map (the 2008 version is shown above), where the express patterns of the 2 and 3 compared to the 1, for example, are easily distinguishable.
Using ticks as station markers does make things a little trickier. You’ll note that the London Underground map separates routes that run along the same track but have different stopping patterns, so there’s absolutely no chance of confusion. I show the section of the Metropolitan Line and Jubilee Line above, but it also occurs on the Picadilly/District Lines west of Earl’s Court. If the route lines touched each other, a tick could be interpreted as belonging to all the lines at that station, so the London approach really is for the best, I feel.
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!
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.
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.
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)?
1914 Hoch und Untergrundbahn Map, Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, Berlin
One of 26 panels on the walls of the platforms of this U-Bahn station that show the history of the subway before the First World War.
Submission – Historical Map: Proposed Underground Mass Transit, Jakarta, Indonesia, c. 1993
Submitted by Josh Brandt, who says:
I used to work at a university, and one day while poking through some dumpsters I found a big hardbound book full of architectural drawings and tables and things, a final report on developing a mass transit system for Jakarta.
I don’t know if that sort of thing interests you, but here are some pictures of pages from it.
They planned for 2 lines, NS and EW, and mapped them out in detail— I only have pictures of 2 of the street plans since about 2/3 of the book is made up of drawings of the streets with the proposed rail lines overlaid. They came up with 3 or 4 potential plans, including one full-underground line and a couple of mixed underground and elevated rail lines. They also sketched out a couple of stations.
I haven’t gone through and compared in detail to what they’re building now, but it looks pretty similar at a quick glance…
Transit Maps says:
What an amazing find, Josh! This is a real old-school proposal document, with beautiful hand-drawn architectural renderings and plans. I’ll note here that one of the proposing companies is Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firm that I work for as a senior graphic designer – essentially producing the same type of proposal documents, but with the benefit of modern computer software and technology.
Josh has posted a great set on Flickr of pages from the proposal, but I’ve posted one of my favourites here: a plan view of what looks like the north-eastern quadrant of the two-line system, including landmarks and other proposed works along the way. The linework is simply beautiful, and I wish more proposals had hand-drawn maps in them these days.
By the way, the 1993 date comes solely from the artist’s signature on some of the other drawings, which are dated March 1993. More than 20 years later, construction on the Jakarta MRT has only just started…
Our rating: Super yummy old style architectural renderings and maps make me happy. Four stars!