Unofficial Map: Istanbul Railway Network by Bertan Kılıçcıoglu
I’ve already featured an excellent unofficial map of Istanbul’s transit network by Kerim Bayer (June 2012, 4 stars), but here’s a new one that’s worthy of some attention.
First, let’s note that Istanbul’s transit network has expanded considerably in the last couple of years, and there’s now finally a rail connection across the Bosphorus, as well as a new Metro bridge over the Golden Horn (with a station in the middle of the span, no less!).
Although there’s a revised official map to go along with this expansion (see the second image above), it’s pretty poor. Weird non-standard angles are employed to shoehorn new routes into the existing framework of the map and the whole thing has a very tired, amateur feel about it.
Apparently, Bertan felt so strongly about this poor, sad map that he decided to rework it in his spare time. A man after my own heart!
What’s interesting about his map, though, is that it’s not really a new design at all. Bertan has taken all the elements of the old map — the same colours, route line thicknesses, symbols, icons, and legend information — and has simply used them in a far more attractive, considered way.
Route lines are strictly limited to 45 degrees, all labelling is horizontal (and he’s taken great care to stop labels from overlapping his route lines), interchanges are shown more cleanly… and more! It’s a great example of how a little bit of care and effort can transform an ordinary map into something much more cohesive and user-friendly.
For those who are interested, the (rather nice, if a little quirky) typeface used on Bertan’s map is the open-source Google font, Titillium Web.
Our rating: Using the same building blocks as the official map in an intelligent way, Bertan has transformed this map from dowdy to diva: four stars!
Source: Bertan’s portfolio website — click through to read more about his design process, as well as see some more comparison images.
Submission — Unofficial Map: Intercity and Commuter Rail of North America’s East Coast by Edward Powell
Submitted by Isaac Fischer, who says:
Here’s a neat map I found online that shows the entire American east coast, as well as southeastern Canada. It shows both commuter and intercity rail lines. As far as I can tell, it seems fairly accurate, and could definitely be useful.
Transit Maps says:
While there’s more than a passing resemblance to my own Amtrak Passenger Rail map here — both in the general aesthetics of the map and in the circle/line device used to indicate whether trains call at a station or not — this map adds another whole level of detail by adding commuter rail services (and eastern Canada!) to the mix.
Note that the map shows intercity and commuter rail only, meaning that in New York, for example, the LIRR and Metro-North lines are shown, but not the subway. For a map of this scale (the entire eastern seaboard), that seems like a wise choice.
The layout of the map is great: nice and clean, very diagrammatic but still mindful of the “lay of the land”. The use of a single, distinctive colour for each agency also works really well — Amtrak’s distinctive teal blue and purple for the MBTA commuter rail are especially effective.
However, I find the typography less inspiring, with labels at a lot of different angles combined with some fairly lacklustre type layout for the different agency legends.
Edward also could have proofed his work a little better (although it’s definitely difficult to do a project this size, as I well know!). Even a cursory look at the map revealed quite a few errors, including labelling all the commuter rail stations in Florida as “VIA”, rather than “TRI” for Tri-Rail. Lake Worth station is also included twice, at the expense of Boynton Beach. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a duplicate Chestnut Hill East station strangely serves as the terminus for the Chester Hill West line. And so on…
Our rating: great diagrammatic layout (although too huge to ever realistically be reproduced as a poster), but let down a bit by some average type treatment. Still a lot of detail to savour and enjoy, though! Three stars.
Source: Edward’s DeviantArt account
Submission - Unofficial Map: Park and Ride Commuter Bus, Northern New Mexico by Isaac Fischer
Isaac submitted this in two parts, which I’ve combined into one post here.
Of the first image, Isaac says:
This is the map that New Mexico Park and Ride provides in their system timetable; it’s probably the worst designed transit map I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design quality abhorrent, but it doesn’t even show the routes as even REMOTELY geographically accurate, and fails to include about two-thirds of the stops. Why they felt it necessary to make their map in this way is beyond me.
The second image is Isaac’s quite lovely redesign of the system as a proper transit map. He’s also made a future fantasy map in the same style, but let’s compare apples with apples for now.
First off, Isaac’s appraisal of the map from the official timetable is spot on. It’s an absolute disgrace, and has instantly found a place in the Transit Maps Hall of Shame. I really don’t need to describe what’s wrong with it, because it’s pretty darn obvious. I particularly like the way that the Purple Line extends to Albuquerque, but the Turquoise Line – which also goes there – is drawn completely separately, not joining on to the top part of the map at all.
Isaac’s map, by comparison, is quite excellent. There are a few minor things that could be tweaked, but in general, this is lovely, clean design that makes the network look easy and efficient to use. I particularly like the nice, wide, sweeping curves that the routes make when they change direction: the big arc that the Turquoise Line makes as it comes into Albuquerque is quite delightful.
I’m not entirely sure about the use of Gill Sans as the main labelling type. While it’s a classic sans serif typeface, I always feel that the x-height is a little small for the best legibility. Here, that failing is especially noticeable in the smaller “subtitle” labels.
I probably would have made the shade used for the Purple Line a little darker to provide better contrast with the adjacent Blue Line through Los Alamos: at the moment, they sort of blur into each other as their colour intensity is very similar. Overall, I find the colours very pleasing, with a nice New Mexican desert feel to the palette, but these two colours could be adjusted a bit for better balance between them.
A bigger problem: using the same line thickness to denote peak hour Purple and Blue Line bus route extensions and the RailRunner commuter rail service between Belen and Santa Fe. Rail is a different transit mode to bus and needs to be differentiated visually from it.
Finally, a letter line designation – “B” for Blue, “R” for Red”, etc. – for each route could assist colour-blind users. There’s quite a bit of empty space, so adding a couple of markers at each terminus station shouldn’t be too difficult.
Our rating: The official map obviously gets a big, fat, ZERO.
Isaac’s is far superior and really very promising work. Three stars.
Unofficial Map: Transit Network of Norfolk, Virginia by Jonah Adkins
This is a nice little map from Jonah, whose transit map version of his Noland Trail Map I featured back in July last year. The map certainly does a good job of placing the new light rail line in a regional context, with the Elizabeth River and the Interstate highways defining the surrounding area nicely. Points of interest and county/city borders are nicely shown as well.
However, I disagree a bit with Jonah’s informational hierarchy. I believe that all the Hampton Roads Transit services – be they light rail, commuter bus (yet another MAX acronym!), regular bus or ferry service – should be higher up the hierarchy than the Amtrak and Greyhound services which operate far more on an inter-regional/national level. That is to say, local commuters and residents really don’t use them on a regular basis to get around the area. In particular, having Greyhound buses shown as a thick, dark grey line, while the Hampton Roads buses are a recessive, hard to see, light grey makes little sense. They should also be grouped together in the legend, rather than having the Amtrak/Greyhound services split them up as they currently do.
Minor things: I find the double curve between the MacArthur Square and Civic Plaza stations a little overly-fussy (a single 135-degree angle would work better); it’s Amtrak, not Amtrack; and the legend could have less Random Acts of Capitalization in it… “Daily” is capitalized, for example, but “complex” is not? I personally prefer legend text to be set in sentence case (easier to read, only proper names get capitalized), but if you’re going to write in title case, you need to be consistent about the way you apply it.
It’s still a very attractive map, and certainly one I could envision at bus stops and light rail stations in the area with a little more polish.
Downtown Norfolk Transit Network (Draft)
For fun last year, I did a transit map version of my Noland Trail map. Since then I’ve really wanted to do a real transit map, but unfortunately I live in one of the most transit-boring regions of the U.S..
The main focus is the new light-rail line (The Tide), and it’s connectivity with the existing bus transportation system. I was excited that light-rail was coming to the region, and bummed when I saw the map. I guess I’m spoiled by all the great work on @transitmaps. Included on this map is the new Amtrack NE Regional train which originates from the downtown area, Greyhound Bus routes, and all of the connecting arterial bus routes.
Bottom line and the point to all my side projects - had fun creating, learning and expanding my skillset, on another (local) map project.
Unofficial Map: “MetroMan” Beijing Subway Map by Lyt
Submitted by Xuan, who says:
Hey Cameron, I am wondering if you’d be interested in reviewing this unofficial subway map of my hometown - Beijing. The author is Lyt, aka lighthunter. I think his version is 100,000 times better than the official map. I think he deserves an ovation.
Although China now has the longest subway mileage in the world, most Chinese transit maps are hideous. That’s why I figure this map could be a really good addition to your blog.
Transit Maps says:
It saddens me to report that this map has been hiding way down at the bottom of my inbox for quite some time now. Quite simply put, this is gorgeous work and should have been posted a long time ago. It’s really everything you want a diagrammatic map to be: compact, simple, easy to understand, and beautiful to look at.
Future lines are shown, but pushed way down in the information hierarchy by making them all a light grey. Beijing’s multiple ring roads are also present, but only very faintly: a visual aid if you need it, barely noticeable if you don’t.
I particularly like the interesting station markers for non-interchange stations – instead of a tick or circle, a thin notch is taken out of the route line that also points towards the station’s label. Nicely done!
Our rating: By far the best Beijing Subway map that I’ve seen. Available on the iTunes as part of the "Metroman China Subway" app. Four-and-a-half stars!
Hard Rock Cafe - New York Subway Map Guitar Pin
As much as I hate to admit it, this is actually pretty darn awesome. With its 45-degree angles, it’s definitely channelling the Vignelli diagram far more than the squiggly official map.
Unofficial Map(s): Atlas of Italian Rail Transit by Andrea Spinosa
Occasionally, I get in a bit of a rut with Transit Maps – I feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see, or that I’m just treading water – and then something like this comes along that just blows me away.
This poster, designed by Andrea Spinosa of the CityRailways blog (in Italian), provides an incredible look at rail mass transit in Italy, and it’s simply superb.
The centre of the poster gives a country-wide overview, showing where the different urban networks are and the distribution of transit modes – Metro, commuter rail, regional rail, trams and even funiculars (which seem to be surprisingly popular in Italy!).
The real highlight for me, however, are the 15 maps around the edge of the poster that show the transit systems of different cities/regions around Italy. I’ve included images of four of these maps above. Not unlike Jug Cerovic’s INAT maps (April 2014), the new maps redraw these systems using one consistent style for everything, and it looks good. Pretty much all of them look better than their corresponding official map, especially Naples. The typeface used looks like our old friend, Neutraface. I particularly like all the custom icons for points of interest, including ones for Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna, each drawn with the appropriate profile for each volcano.
There’s a lot to take in here, and I definitely recommend that you head on over to the CityRailways site and check the poster PDF out in full. Each of the city maps is also available as a separate, pocket-sized PDF that you can download and print out, or just put on your mobile device and use it that way. There are lots of other great maps to be found on the site as well.
Our rating: Brilliant, comprehensive and beautiful. I’d put this poster on my wall! Five stars!
Source: CityRailways site
Unofficial Future Map: Melbourne Metro Train Network by Bernie Ng
Submitted by Bernie, whose excellent map of Singapore (Nov. 2013, 3.5 stars) has already been featured on this site. Bernie says:
I saw your post about the new Victorian Rail Network concept map (April 2014, 3.5 stars) by PTV and was very impressed - it’s quite a quantum leap forward from the existing map. I thought I’d have a go at further redefining the map, but for the Melbourne Metro network only. (I personally don’t see the value in putting the regional/metro network in one map – an average user won’t really need both networks together, and as you say, scale is an issue.)
Quite naturally, the City Loop is used as the visual focal point. I was hoping it could be placed in the centre of the map, but given the lopsided nature of Melbourne, it was not quite possible. I have added some of the proposed extensions for the network, including the metro tunnel running through the city, creating a bypass from the congested loop. (This tunnel is currently attracting lots of debate - the latest government proposal is to run it south of the loop via Montague - although I prefer the original proposed route and have shown that on the map.)
Stopping patterns are shown as they are relatively simple compared to Sydney’s. Most routes operate all stops, or with one all stops and one limited stops service. With recent interest on “clockface” or “turn-up-and-go” services, the map indicates which stations have services at least every 15 minutes or better during the daytime.
Each line is assigned a letter code for easier identification, especially for tourists. The letters are assigned in a counterclockwise order, starting with A-Line for Airport (Tullamarine) services.
Melbourne public transport uses a fare zone system, but the number of zones have been reduced over the years. I would actually prefer to have more zones, which result in the ability to charge fares more commensurate with the distance travelled. This map shows fare zones in 10km increments from Southern Cross station. (I also have a cleaner version of the map omitting the zones.)
The font used is Source Sans Pro – thanks so much for the tip! It is indeed a really great font. Very visually pleasing with high legibility. Perfect for maps.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the map.
Transit Maps says:
This is great work once again from Bernie: a very attractive map that features some distinctive and lovely flowing route lines. The representation of the City Loop as a perfect circle is deftly handled and a perfect focal point for the map (the ever-important visual “hook” that helps a map stand out from the crowd). However, I’m not so keen on the way that the labels for the stations on the loop are angled as if they were spokes on a wheel – Bernie’s done an otherwise excellent job of constraining labels to just two angles (horizontal and reading up from bottom left to top right), and this just seems a little gimmicky and fussy to me.
Bernie’s frequency icons are a nice usability touch (it’s always nice to know that you’re never more than 15 minutes away from the next train!), but I’m less convinced by his attempts to show service patterns. Looking at the legend, he’s using eight different station icons to convey this information, which is a lot to ask users of the map to remember. And – at least in the smaller image size that Tumblr allows – it’s pretty tricky to tell some of those icons apart visually. I’m generally in favour of letting timetables deal with the nitty-gritty of showing local/express route combinations, and this treatment doesn’t really convince me otherwise, although I certainly appreciate the effort Bernie has put into it.
Speaking of the legend, it really is beautifully put together and very comprehensive. Placing it neatly into Port Phillip Bay really works pretty much perfectly.
About the only other comment I have is regarding Bernie’s proposed route naming conventions. If I was giving route designations based simply on the alphabet as Bernie has done here, I would start at the one nearest the 12 o’clock position (probably Bernie’s “T” South Morang route) and continue in a clockwise direction, rather than anti-clockwise. It’s simply far more intuitive to use a universally understood convention like this to make finding route lines easier. Yes, “A” for “Airport” is hard to resist, but none of the other routes have any correlation between their destination stations and the letter designation, so the “A” should be as easy to find as possible.
Our rating: Looks fabulous, but perhaps tries a little too hard to convey a lot of information. Still, I have to applaud Bernie for pushing the envelope and attempting something a little out of the box (and mainly succeeding). Three-and-a-half stars.
My Boston Rapid Transit maps have been updated for 2014, showing the new stations that have been opened along the Fairmount commuter rail line, as well as the new commuter ferry services. I’ve chosen not to show the closure of Government Center, because no one wants to see something temporary like that on a poster. Posters are available from my shop in two sizes, 27”x18” and 36”x24”.
Quick Redesign: Denver RTD Light Rail Isometric Map
Way back when, I posted a quick sketch of an concept Denver RTD light rail map that used 30-degree lines to give an isometric appearance to the map, based on the amazing Stuttgart U- and S-Bahn map, c. 2000.
Now that I’ve finished with my “Highways of the USA" project, I’ve been able to find a few hours to turn that sketch into something a little more more finished. I didn’t want to spend too long on the map – doing it more as a light and fun "warm up" piece, rather than any serious finished article. So it’s a little rough around the edges, but works nicely as a proof of concept.
The interesting thing about an isometric map like this is that it’s actually easier to work with skewed and rotated rectangles for the line routes than the usual stroked paths: this is because the strokes won’t skew properly to give the required 30-degree end to a route line (an isometric map only uses angles that are 30 degrees above and below the horizontal).
While I feel that this treatment works well for the existing Denver rail system, further exploration revealed that it is utterly inappropriate for the near-future of all the FasTracks extensions. The I-225 line would take up way too much space with stations spaced too far apart if the isometric grid was adhered to, and the proliferation of commuter rail routes out of Union Station is almost impossible to convey with only a couple of viable angle options to work with. Any deviation away from the required 30-degree angles spoils the isometric illusion, but would almost certainly be necessary to fit some parts of the network together.
In short, a fun little design exercise that looks pretty nifty, but would be a dead end in the development of a “future-proof” map for Denver.