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.
you might find this interesting: we’ve recently released a project about the limited accessibility of public transport (subway + commuter trains) in New York, London and Hamburg. The results are maps with an interactive slider that let you explore how thinned out the transportation network get’s when you’re handicapped e.g.
here’s a mapgif-preview:
and here all the information about the project http://mappable.info/blog/2014/2/8/accessibility
Transit Maps says:
The depiction of physical accessibility on transit maps of is something I’ve touched on before — see this great 2007 map of the London Underground with all the inaccessible stations removed (Nov. 2011, 5 stars) — but this is a fantastic and intuitive way to show the difference between all stations and only the accessible ones.
You should definitely click through to the full blog entry about this project and see the full interactive maps that have been created for New York, Hamburg and London. If you’ve been inspired, they also give ideas and instructions on how to create a similar map for the transit in your city.
Submission - Unofficial MARTA (Atlanta, GA) Map by Andrew Whited
Now this I like!
Part of an overall identity project for MARTA that Andrew completed, here’s his stylish revision of the system map (I reviewed the official one way, way back in October 2011, giving it a pretty generous 3 stars).
The MARTA system isn’t that complex — essentially only having two intersecting trunk lines with a couple of branches — so simplifying it down and abstracting it like this works really well. The slightly muted colour palette (almost like the route line colours have been multiplied with the background grey) is quite lovely and subtle. There’s also some lovely bespoke icons for restrooms and the airport, and the legend is both comprehensive and attractive.
A couple of quibbles — the spacing of stations on the Green/Blue lines east of the main Five Points interchange could be better — Georgia State is pushed right up close to the Five Points label (the station dots are much closer to the Yellow Line than the Dome/Arena dots are to the Red Line on the other side), The way the labels drop down after the Green Line ends also creates a visual gap between Edgewood and East Lake stations. The dots may be evenly and mathematically placed along this line, but sometimes things have to be tweaked and eyeballed until they look right. I’d probably also make all the labels just a little bit bigger — there’s plenty of room and it would suit the fat, chunky look of the route lines nicely.
Finally, I love the super simple, stylised highways that sit behind the map (including a good old literal “ring road”), but I do have to make a correction: Andrew has labelled them as U.S. Routes, when they’re actually Interstate Highways — that is, it’s not “U.S. 20”, but “I-20”, etc. And I know my Interstates from my U.S. Routes!
Our rating: Pretty yummy stuff! I’d definitely click through to Andrew’s site to check out the whole rebranding project — maps, signage, trains, buses, tickets, the works! Four stars!
Dubai Integrated Transport Network
System Map Design Proposal
A few months ago, Matt Forrest (Carticulate Maps) asked me to redesign Dubai’s system map as part of a larger proposal Matt was working on at the time. Here is what we did:
Seriously beautiful work here from Kyril Negoda, who made this great future map of transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul (May 2013, 5 stars). It’s a great example of how a well-designed transit map can simplify and clarify important information while still retaining enough geographical context to orient users.
I definitely recommend clicking through to Kyril’s Tumblr to read more about the process and rationale behind this lovely map, as well as comparisons between it and the clumsy, cluttered official map.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Philadelphia SEPTA Rapid Transit System
Submitted by Henry, who says:
Hi, my name is Henry, and I’m a senior in high school. I made this map of Philadelphia’s rapid transit services(mostly SEPTA but including PATCO). This is the first transit map I’ve made, for my home city, Philadelphia, a map which I know you have much distaste for. I know it has several problems (alignment mostly I think) but I think it’s a huge improvement over what’s there now. I consciously made the decision to eliminate the entire Regional Rail network from the map and only include the connections, so I could flesh out the Trolley lines, which are not featured on the original map. I hope you’ll think that overall it represents a better designed improvement over the original. I love this city and anybody that knows it well knows that it’s a fantastic and underrated city, and I can only hope that maybe if it had a better map maybe some people’s perception would change.
Transit Maps says:
I definitely agree with Henry’s thoughts on the importance of a good transit map in shaping people’s opinions about transit in a city. And his map is a good, solid effort as well. It fits nicely into a compact shape and deals well with the huge number of stops/stations found on the 101/102 trolley lines and the Norristown Line. The “dotted line” interchange marker used to indicate a pedestrian connection is intuitive and nicely executed — certainly better than the yellow interchange/dashed connecting line used on the official map (Dec. 2011, 1.5 stars). I even quite like the cutesy little “Liberty Bell” north pointer.
About the only problem I really have with this map is the way the subway-surface trolley lines are drawn. In real life, Lines 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 all start at the 13th Street station and travel together through the Market Street tunnel, emerging to the surface at the western end and spreading out to their eventual destinations. Thus, a user of this map should be able to easily and intuitively trace their path from 13th Street all the way along their desired route to the end point. On Henry’s map, this just isn’t possible for most of the lines.
The 10 just needs a little curve where it joins onto the main trunk line to indicate that southbound trolleys turn east toward the Market Street tunnel. Line 34 is fine as it is, but the 11, 13 and 36 all join onto the 34 at a counter-intuitive angle that suggests they all head out to Angora, rather than heading back towards the city. It would work much better if the 13 headed directly towards the 40th Street station (as it does in real life), with the 11 and 36 then joining onto it near there.
Still, there’s a lot to like about this map: an very solid effort, especially from someone still in high school.
Fantasy Map: New York Subway Map in the Style of Washington DC’s Metro Map by Chris Whong
Yes, it only shows Manhattan and The Bronx with small parts of Brooklyn and Queens, but this is still a pretty awesome mash-up. Aesthetically, it’s a dead ringer for the Washington, DC Metro map — big, fat route lines, the “double ring” interchange stations, green areas for parkland, etc. Nice work from Chris to mimic this style so closely!
While the map looks great, it really also shows how unsuited the bold, simplistic approach taken by the DC diagram is to a complex transit system like New York’s. Vital information that New Yorkers depend upon for daily travel is simply nowhere to be found: the distinction between local and express stations, for example, or any indication of those hugely important free transfers between certain stations.
A few little errors that I see on a quick scan: the “A” and “L” lines are missing their terminus letter designation markers, and 42nd St/Port Authority has no station marker at all.
In the end, Chris probably made this because it seemed like a fun thing to do, and it’s certainly that and more. But it’s also very interesting to see that what works for one city doesn’t always work for another!
(Source: Chris Whong’s website)
Unofficial Map: Toilet Map for Stockholm Metro Travellers by Pruek Lawchaiyapruek
A light-hearted and off-beat map/infographic for you today — one that shows the distance, type and cost of public toilets near metro stations in Stockholm, Sweden. Hopefully, the map was not borne out of Pruek’s inability to find a facility when in dire need!
The graphic is nicely put together, and functions well as both a (simple) transit map and an informational graphic. It has one of the nicest examples of “candy-striping” the route lines that I’ve seen in a while where the Red and Green lines share track. I’m not normally a big fan of this approach, but it works very nicely here.
The use of line length and colour-coding to denote distance to the toilet of your choice is really nice, giving two visual indicators for this very important piece of information. The one thing I’m pretty certain the graphic doesn’t do is indicate which direction to go to find the toilet, which could be a problem for people unfamiliar with the area who really, really need to go! Maybe a small arrow pointing the way could work, although that might be hard to integrate with such a schematic diagram. There’s certainly plenty of white space in the graphic to work on a solution.
The icons for each type of facility are nicely done, and the price indicator (open, half-filled and filled circles for each price point) is very intuitive. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the decision to flip the icons vertically when they’re under a distance line: it looks a little strange to me.
And is it just me, or does the second icon for a “stand alone toilet” look like a dead ringer for the TARDIS?
(Source: Pruek’s portfolio website)
Unofficial Map: Washington DC Metro Map by Peter Dovak
An interesting approach to an alternative DC Metro map by Peter Dovak, who previously submitted this fantasy light rail map of Louisville, Kentucky.
There’s quite a bit to like here: I love the circular abstraction of the beltway highway around DC, which is then centred perfactly around the District diamond. Peter’s even made sure that the “square” formed by the three main interchange stations — Metro Center, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza — sits at the exact centre of the diamond/circle, which is a nice design touch. He’s also worked hard to ensure that stations retain their correct position relative to all the boundaries (be they roadway or jurisdictional), which isn’t an easy thing to do.
Less successful, I feel, is the use of 30/60 degree angles for the route lines. While it gives more flexibility in layout, it just ends up looking a little too chaotic when overlaid on the 45-degree angles of the District boundary. Like it or not, this diamond is the shape that defines the District (and the map!): too many angles fights against that shape and dilutes its visual strength. The naturalistic approach taken to the rivers and parkland also creates even more angles that pull the eye different directions. The least successful result of this approach to route lines is the nasty acute angle formed on the southern branch of the Green Line as it turns to follow the District border through the Southern Avenue station.
I like the idea behind the station symbols acting as “ticks” pointing towards their labels, but I feel the white rounded rectangle needs to be brought in from the edge of the “non-tick” side just a little bit. The way it sits right on the edge of the route line at the moment breaks up the flow of the lines and could also cause some problems when printing the map.
Peter’s used the “subtitle” approach to station names that first appeared in a couple of the entries to the Greater Greater Washington map contest and has since migrated to the official map — a fantastic concept, and definitely the right approach. However, he’s also deleted parts of names in certain cases: U Street has lost its “African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo” subtitle completely. While this definitely saves space and helps labels fit, it’s a huge no-no. Lobby groups have worked hard to give stations those ridiculously long names, and they’re not going to like it if you remove them!
While on the subject of labels, Peter always spells out “Street” and “Road” in station names, but uses “Ave”, “Blvd” or “Sq”. I’d prefer either all spelled out or all abbreviated, not a combination of both.
In the end, this is an interesting alternate take on the DC Metro map. Some ideas work really well, others less so, but the thought processes behind them are valid and considered. For me, this map is a step up in both concept and execution from Peter’s Louisville map.
Submission – Unofficial/Future Map: Long Island Rail Road by Anthony Denaro
Submitted by Anthony, who says:
Here’s my map of Off-Peak (weekdays, and nights) and Weekends Long Island Rail Road Service.
This map shows service diagrammatically, de-emphasizing geography for clarity of branch services and transfers, introduces a grouping color coding system for branches, and improves legibility of the system. The LIRR current map lacks both routing and geographic info – there’s no sense of connecting roads and services and no sense of which branch’s trains stop at which station – failing at each of the things that most transit maps try to resolve at least one of.
This map shows the future expansion to Grand Central Terminal which potentially will allow all branches to have direct access to both Penn and GCT – greatly changing the service patterns of the entire system. This could be a tool to better visualize how LIRR service will be affected when that happens. There’s yet been no indication of just what the service patterns will be so I choose just to split Penn Station and GCT-bound lines for now.
Love to hear your take on it.
Transit Maps says:
While I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information shown (not being at all familiar with the operations of the LIRR), I can say that this map looks absolutely gorgeous. Certainly better than the official map, which just uses the standard MTA subway map style to lesser effect.
I really like the stylish usage of 30/60-degree angles: it looks great, suits the shape of Long Island itself, and allows all the labels to be set horizontally, even along the long stretches of the Babylon and Montauk branches. Labelling like this would be trickier on a conventional 45-degree diagram, as these branches would run horizontally across the map. Skillfully and elegantly done.
The colour palette is also very nice: a step back from the bright primaries often used on transit maps, giving the map a nicely understated, refined feeling. The zone information is also deftly handled: subsidiary to the main route information, but easily found when needed.
I’m not so thrilled with the treatment of the coastline: it seems overly detailed in some parts, resulting in a distracting “stepped” appearance in some parts, especially along the Atlantic coastline at the bottom of the map. It’s not bad, per se, it just seems to clash a little with the elegant simplicity of the route lines.
The station labels from Carle Place to Bethpage in the middle of the map seem to be a little close to the route lines – perhaps Anthony has moved them inadvertently, as most other labels seem to be fine. As readers of this blog know, I’m a big stickler for accurate and consistent placement of labels!
Finally, I’m not really sure that a guide to service frequency is of much use when the two categories are "one or more trains an hour" and "fewer than one train an hour". How many trains an hour could that be for the former? Two, three… more? And are you waiting an hour and a half between trains in the latter category, or even longer? It seems to me that you’d still have to consult a timetable to ensure that you caught your train in any case. I guess it works to give a general idea that some branches have less frequent service… any LIRR riders want to weigh in on this?
Our rating: Love the layout and design of the route lines, not so keen on the underlying geographical treatment. Still pretty darn good. Three-and-a-half stars.
For more detailed information on this map, please visit Anthony’s Tumblr.
Unofficial Map: Hand-Drawn Danish InterCity Train Network
Submitted by Halid Karpović, who says:
It’s Halid again, who’s already submitted you the transit diagram of Sarajevo. This time, I’ve got something I’ve made myself.
When I was on vacation in Denmark a while ago, I got a leaflet with timetables of the Danish InterCity lines, operated by DSB. Then, I took a pencil and four sheets of paper and drew a transit diagram with its help. Et voilà, this is the result! I’d be happy to know what you think about it!
Transit Maps says:
This is pretty neat, Halid! I definitely use grid paper and a pen when I have a problematic area of a map to solve, and it’s also a great way to sketch out concepts before getting into the nitty-gritty computer-aided design part of the work.
Conceptually, this seems to follow much the same general layout that can be found in the DSB timetables, although you’ve enhanced the usefulness quite a lot by separating the routes out into their own numbered route lines and showing all the stations along the way.
About the only bit that doesn’t quite work is the area around Fredericia and Vejle: I’d straighten the kink in your station marker for Fredericia out and place the station marker for Vejle at a 45-degree angle, halfway through the 90-degree turn that the northwards routes take. This would eliminate that awkward 90-degree/45-degree combination curve you’ve got going on. But that’s the big advantage of sketching it out like this: now you can be fully aware of that problem area and solve it easily when it comes to final computer layout.
The only other comment I have is that the introduction of some 45-degree angles in the coastline might soften the shapes up a little: the rigid 90-degree-only shapes can look a little harsh.