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.
Unofficial Map: Suburban Rail Network of Mumbai, India
Designed by two students — Jaikishan and Snehal — at Mumbai’s Industrial Design Centre under the supervision of Associate Professor Mandar Rane. While it looks like quite a traditional transit map, there’s a few innovations and design choices (of which some work, and some don’t) that make it interesting to study.
First off, this map is infinitely better than the official one, which is a bit of a mess however you look at it.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of pseudo-geography behind a diagrammatic map, but I think this actually works rather nicely. The interesting textural treatment of the water is particularly nice.
I also think that the explicit labelling of slow and express (fast) routes is surprisingly effective and definitely leaves no confusion as to which is which. The “play” and “fast-forward” arrows for each service type are a cute touch, but also act as good visual contextual cues.
While naming the lines on the map is a good practice to assist colour-blind users, I think there’s a bit of overkill here for a map this simple. The Central and Western Lines are labelled no fewer than four times each — the one for the Western Line at the bottom left of the map is particularly egregious as the route lines have to take a little jog to the left to accommodate it!
The only part of the map that I would change completely if I had a chance is the grid system. While it’s laudable that the designers have attempted to come up with an new, easier way to locate stations on the map (and it’s very clearly explained in the legend of the map), I feel that the end result has way too much visual importance. The numbers that denote each square are large and visually distracting, and can’t be placed in a consistent location because the actual map (the important stuff!) gets in the way. The haphazard placement of these numbers combined with the checkerboard pattern also makes the map look more than a little like a board game, which probably wasn’t the intended result.
In my opinion, the traditional letter-number grid system — a system that almost all map users around the world are familiar with through years of exposure to it — would work much better here. The letters for the columns (A-D) and numbers for the rows (1-6) could be placed discreetly in the orange border around the map and the distracting numbers removed completely from the main map. If required, the smaller “Find Your Station” grid in the legend could spell out the full grid location within each square (In the example they use, Wadala Rd. station would be at B-4).
Apart from that, there’s just a few missing spaces between words to be fixed and consistency checks to be done — the map needs to use either “Rd.” or “Road” in station names, not both. Space limitations would seem to suggest that the former would be more appropriate here.
Our rating: A considered and well-measured approach to developing something beautiful, modern and usable, although some of the map’s innovations don’t quite work. Three stars.
Source: Professor Rane’s website. I definitely recommend clicking through, as there’s a lot of interesting background on the development of the map, including a Q&A with Jaikishan and Snehal, and images of concept maps that they worked on independently before combining their ideas into the final map. I’m quite partial to a couple of the maps that use 60/30-degree angles myself!
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)
Unofficial Maps: Other Salt Lake City Rail Transit Maps
A selection of alternate maps for Salt Lake City that I’ve received as submissions or that I’ve found on the Internet. The first two maps — by thatlattesipper and scsj, respectively — were sent to me in the aftermath of Friday’s review of the UTA’s latest absymal effort, and must therefore have only had a few hours of work put into them.
Scsj’s map was actually produced by an online transit map generator in less than three hours and also includes the “MAX” bus rapid transit line. While it runs into problems because the stations from Meadowbrook to Courthouse run at a 45-degree angle instead of conforming to Salt Lake City’s street grid, the very fact that a free online tool can produce a more competent map in three hours than a sizeable transit agency can in six months is damning in the extreme.
The third map is by cranialdetritus and is possibly the nicest-looking of the bunch. The inclusion of the Free Fare Zone is a very welcome touch. Routes should be designated by their official numbers, however (701 = Blue Line, etc.).
The fourth is taken from Wikipedia’s page about the UTA, and is theonly map not to currently show the new streetcar line.. It’s not actually that great a map, but I would still venture that it’s better than the real thing.
The fifth map was featured a while back on Transit Maps (December 2012, 3.5 stars), and is also streets ahead of the official map.
So, that’s five completely unofficial maps that outshine the real thing, and I bet there’s more out there as well. Sad, really…
Unofficial Map: Beijing Subway by Cameron Hughes
Submitted by slutzilla, who says:
Hi Cameron, fellow Cameron here! I recently redesigned the Beijing Subway map for an Information Design class (as well as doing a little bit of rebranding and signage/wayfinding design). It’s still a work in progress so I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can view the entire project as well as a full-size PDF here.
Transit Maps says:
Looks like an interesting (and somewhat daunting) project! I think you’ve hit the right notes with the logo — the colours are very well chosen and the type is suitably bouncy and friendly. I do wonder whether the Beijing subway would ever actually adopt a logo using an English acronym made out of English characters, but I’ll let that slide because I like it. I especially like the cropped application of it on the subway fare card… nice!
But on to the map.
Other Cameron said that she made it for an Information Design class, so let’s approach it from that point of view. For me, while the map looks very pleasant at first glance, there’s quite a few serious problems that hinder its usefulness as a piece of informational design.
First — and an absolute deal-breaker in my eyes — is that the size of the type is way too small. The PDF of the map is set up at poster size: 36 inches wide by 45 inches deep. Yet the labels for the stations are set in 7-point type. That’s as small as the type on the sports results pages or those disclaimers at the bottom of car ads in a newspaper! It’s barely readable at a close distance, and absolutely invisible in a real world setting — at a station, or inside a moving, crowded subway car. By comparison, if the Washington DC map was at the same width as this poster, the station labels would be set at approximately 26 points, or over three-and-a-half times larger!
Another huge problem is the lack of identifiers on the map that link the route lines to the map’s legend. Each line should have its number or name denoted on the map so that people can cross-reference it to the legend. At the moment, you have to rely solely on colour to determine which line runs where, and that is Not A Good Thing. Even for non-colour-blind users, there’s a quite a few similar-looking colours on the map, as you’d expect with 17 operating lines and five future ones. Once you introduce colour-blindness into the equation, the map is basically useless. Cameron already has line number icons created as part of her wayfinding system, so it shouldn’t be a problem to add them to the map.
SIDE NOTE: Did you know you can simulate colour-blindness in Adobe Photoshop CS4 and above? Simply choose: View menu > Proof Setup > Color Blindness - Protanopia-type or Color Blindness - Deuteranopia-type. I definitely recommend this as a testing step in any information design work!
The map prominently features background concentric rings, but doesn’t tell you what they are. Reading Cameron’s summary of the project, I found out that they’re meant to represent Beijing’s system of ring roads. However, this type of shading is almost always used on transit maps to represent fare zones, so there’s huge potential for confusion here (For the record, Beijing has a flat fare of 2¥ across the entire subway, except for the Airport Express, which costs 25¥). The rings also interfere with the underlying checkerboard pattern for the map’s grid, making it harder to use.
Speaking of the Airport Express, it would be a good idea to indicate that the train goes to Terminal 3 first, then Terminal 2, then back to Beijing.
A few other notes not related to the informational aspect of the map:
I’d prefer to see the three boxes at the bottom of the map combined into one larger one, just for a cleaner, more unified look.
Because of the concentric rings, the map is crying out to be centred horizontally on the page. At the moment, it’s too far to the left, but only because the subway logo at the top right is so large.
I also feel the icons need a little bit more work to unify them. At the moment, most of them are flat, front-on representations, but the “Temple of Heaven” and the “789 Space” icons have a three-dimensional feel to them that separates them from the rest, while the “Beijing Zoo” icon looks uncomfortably like Cameron has just flipped the World Wildlife Fund logo horizontally. While the actual Beijing Zoo logo also features a similar-looking panda, this icon needs some of its own unique character to stand apart from either of these logos.
Finally, I feel like the “circle/rings” motif could be pushed a little further. The further out from the middle of the map we get, the less that the route lines adhere to this design idea. The north-east and south-west sections of the purple Line 14 stand out the most: they follow a curve, but it’s not related to the main set of rings.
At the moment, this map seems to me to be a bit of style over substance. It looks clean, fresh and modern, but has some serious usability issues when you look at it from a information design viewpoint.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Sydney Trains Aerial Image
Submitted by thatlattesipper.
Sydney Trains routes (complete with new “T-line” branding) for the north and west of the city overlaid on a Google Earth image.
If nothing else, this map reminds us of how staggeringly huge Greater Sydney really is. It’s 20 kilometres in a straight line from the dot representing Central Station at the lower left to Hornsby (just off the right of the map), and over 30km from Central to Prospect Reservoir, the large body of water just glimpsed at the centre top of the map. And this view doesn’t even show the entire southern half of the city (it’s another 20km from Central south to Waterfall) or Western Sydney from Prospect out to Emu Plains.
Some perspective: Greater Sydney has a population of around 4.6 million and an area of 12,100 square km (a population density of just 380 people per square km). The five boroughs of New York City have a population of 8.3 million in just 786 square km (or approximately 10,600 people per square km!)
Unofficial Map: Minimalist Glasgow Subway by Verboten Creative
A system as simple as Glasgow’s (one loop of track with a mere 15 stations) lends itself well to a minimalist design approach. Indeed, the current official map is pretty darn simple itself.
However, this neat little two-colour poster from Glasgow-based creative agency, Verboten, definitely takes a very different approach to that minimalism. It eschews any attempt at geography, dispensing with the River Clyde completely (although the gaps between the groups of stations give away its location for those in the know). Red lines lead way from large station dots to the corresponding station names, as well as a handy list of nearby points of interest (but not connections to other rail services).
For me, these connecting lines are the weakest point of the poster, being overly busy in some cases (Bridge St, for example) for a “minimalist” poster. I’m also not fond of the way that the lines for Cessnock and Kinning Park cross over each other: Cessnock could easily fit under Ibrox and negate the need for the crossover at all.
The “G” logo is a clever idea: reminiscent of the new “S” logo that the subway has adopted without being derivative of it. I just wish the “G” was centred a little better in the circle (it seems too far to the left to me).
Our rating: Despite my minor quibbles, this is still a very attractive interpretation of this venerable transit system. I especially like the interesting colour palette: soft, yet still dynamic at the same time. Three stars.
Submission - Unofficial Map: Metro and Suburban Rail, Milan
Submitted by Dmitry Goloub, who says:
It all started when in Moscow was initiated a public tender for creation of a new, modern metro map. I was really excited and made an imaginary metro map for Florence (IRL there’s no metro).
But then I thought that I can do something really useful. A map for a real transport system that would be helpful, beautiful and clean.
I have completely redesigned the Milan Metro Map. I have added the latest updates with line M5, a grid with alphabetic list of stations, airports, I have created a new set of pictograms and packed them into a symbol font. I have created a completely new style that does not copy any other transport map in the world.
This map now has its own character, just like the city. The emphasis is put on the M lines however you can clearly understand how to use both M and S lines, how to get from point A to point B. The current official map just shows the S stations, it does not show to which line a station belongs.
I have excluded the regular railways (RFI) because they’re not a metropolitan transport.
Full project information and a PDF is here, free for download.
Transit Maps says:
Wow. This is absolutely beautiful work,and quite superior to the somewhat stuffy official map (March 2012, 3.5 stars).
Dimitry hits the nail on the head when he says this map now has a character that’s unique to the city, and its a look that feels appropriate for fashion-conscious, forward-looking Milan. Everything here is created especially for this map: the lovely custom icons, the square-yet-round station markers, and the stunning ribbon-like effect used for the suburban rail lines, which has a lovely rhythmical flow to it. Even the slight checkerboarding pattern used for the grid (alternating squares are tinted a little darker) — which could look clumsy if not handled well — is handled deftly and subtly.
Our rating: Hand-crafted excellence that suits its target city perfectly. 5 stars.
P.S. Seriously, are Russians the best transit map designers at the moment or what? This beautiful piece, Michael Kvrivishvili’s contest-winning MBTA map and Lebedev Studio’s Moscow Metro redesign. All such beautiful work and something for other designers to aspire to.