May 14 Reblogged
Topology versus Geography in Transit Maps
Here’s a nice little animated diagram from Fathom Information Design that compares the two polar opposites of transit mapping using Boston’s MBTA rail network as an example. Click through to play around with it, and see the benefits and drawbacks of the two approaches. It’s also super fun to watch the map morph between the two styles.
In real life, most transit maps fall somewhere between these two extremes: very few use such a strict topological grid, and completely geographically accurate maps are also very rarely used for this purpose — even the New York subway map has a certain level of simplification and abstraction.
Nov 15 Reblogged
Historical Map: Moscow Metro, 1980
Here’s a beautiful map of the Moscow Metro from 1980 that’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s an official map, as it looks quite different to other Moscow maps of the same vintage. The archive I found the map in also lists it as “Source Unknown”. It appears to have been printed on the flyleaf of a pocket-sized book, bound to the book’s front cover on the left half, with the fold just to the right of the vertical Orange Line of the map.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: One of the most unique-looking transit maps I’ve ever seen. It looks more like a map of the solar system, with Jupiter-sized interchange stations within the orbit of the Ring Line, smaller satellites (outlying stations) trailing along in their wake. Despite the unusual form, and the renowned complexity of the Moscow system, this still has a nice sense of clarity, simplicity and order to it - this map is still very usable.
What we don’t like: Some absolutely terrible registration on the printing (which appears to be all spot colours - nine different colours in total!). Some fairly crude-looking linework, which may be poor draftsmanship or the result of the printing.
Our rating: Totally unique, but still a very usable map. Four stars.
(Source: Lebedev Studio’s historical archives of Moscow Metro maps)
Aug 16 Reblogged
Unofficial Map: Boston Subway Time-Scale Map
Peter Dunn from Stonebrown Design sent this map to me this morning for my thoughts, and it’s definitely worth looking at. You may recall that Peter is also responsible for this neat “subway map” of the Appalachian Trail, previously featured on Transit Maps.
Visually, this map reminds me of this unofficial map of Amsterdam’s Metro - mainly because of the unusual radial design and the treatment of bodies of water. However, this map arguably puts that radial design to better use: to represent time from the central “hub” of Boston, allowing a quick and easy visual comparison of journey times.
Have we been there? Yes. However, Lechmere to Government Center took considerably longer than eight minutes when I was using the Green Line.
What we like: The treatment of the four downtown stations - Park, Government Center, State and Downtown Crossing - is beautifully done: it fits the “hub” theme well and looks good doing it.
Map emulates the look of the real Boston map nicely, even though the format is quite different.
Love the statement in the legend: “All times are approximate; your results may vary. Especially on the Green Line.”
What we don’t like: As the map moves further away from the central hub, the time contours start deforming in order to fit things in. This is a pity, because the map works best (and looks better) where the contour lines form proper concentric rings. Compare how the station labels on the Red Line out to Alewife curve neatly with the time contours, while the station labels on the “B” branch of the Green Line don’t really match up with the contours at all.
The contours themselves could perhaps use a few more of their own labels for minutes: you have to scan a long way round from the southern Orange Line to find one!
Our rating: Leaving aside accuracy of the data used to create this map (some of these times do seem a little on the optimistic side, but if that’s what the timetable says…), this is still a very impressive piece of work, and an interesting alternative view of a familiar rapid transit system. I feel the map could look even nicer if the time contours formed concentric rings all the way out - time is a constant, after all! Three-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Stonebrown Design)
Jul 22 Reblogged
Unofficial Map: Circular Map of Oslo’s T-Bane System
We’ve already covered the official Oslo T-Bane map, so it’s interesting to have a look at a completely different take on it; one that takes the “Circle Line” concept to its logical extreme. This piece is the work of Francisco Dans, a design student in London.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Interesting experiment using arcs and circles, while still maintaining some level of relative placement.
What we don’t like: Adobe Illustrator is pretty unforgiving when it comes to tangential lines, and there’s a few wonky curves and joins in this map, mainly on the pink “5” line. The widening of the interchange stations in the city centre to accomodate the visual conceit of the arcs makes it look like a heck of a walk from one line to another. The line work and type size is probably a little too spindly for use in a real world application.
Our rating: An interesting experiment that looks fun and breezy. Two-and-a-half-stars.
(Source: Francisco’s Minefield Junction website)
Apr 06 Reblogged
Unofficial Historical Map: An Animated History of the MBTA
This is something you just have to look at: an amazing animated timeline of the Boston MBTA Subway over at Andrew Lynch’s Vanshnookenraggen blog (check out his future MBTA maps while you’re there).
To my mind, this work is far superior to the animated history of the New York Subway map that was floating around the interwebs a little while back: it’s clearly dated on the map, it’s fully annotated, and even has a slide show version below the animated GIF so you can flick through the years at your own pace. What’s fascinating to me is the almost complete reinvention of transit in Boston as the original elevated lines get torn down and replaced by subway.
An amazing work, and fully worthy of a 5 star rating. I’m not going to steal Andrew’s thunder by posting the full GIF here: click on the image or here to visit his site and watch the years roll by!
Apr 05 Reblogged
Unofficial Map: Amsterdam Metro and Railway Connections by Eric Hammink
The simplified rectilinear grid is such a familiar form for transit maps that when we see something that breaks that mould, the results can be visually stunning. That’s certainly the case with this beautiful map from designer Erik Hammink, who uses the natural circular shape of Amsterdam’s canals to great effect.
Have we been there? Yes, although I’ve only used the tram network rather than the Metro service.
What we like: Lovely, minimalist European design, with echoes of 1930s Art Deco transit posters in its stylised, circular rendering of the IJ and the Amsterdam Metro type to the top right of the map. Beautifully clear and easy to read. I especially like the rendering of Amsterdam’s ring of canals, which orients the user perfectly.
What we don’t like: The need to adhere to the radial spoke design form means that some of the curves where routes change direction look a little uneven. The icon for Schiphol airport looks very large and out of character compared to the smaller, more elegant icons for the Metro and rail termini stations. The gradients behind the legends at the top of the map look a little modern and iOS-like compared to the beautiful retro feel the rest of the map has.
Our rating: Stunning work, especially when you also know that Eric has also produced a map of Amsterdam’s dense tram network that appears to fit onto the same radial grid. A true labour of love, and it shows. Four stars.
(Source: Hammink Design website - free download for personal use)
Feb 16 Reblogged
Jan 13 Reblogged
Unofficial Map: Paris RER Line B as the Eiffel Tower by Sonoko Hagiwara
Words cannot express just how much I love this cleverly thought of, deftly executed and incredibly cute rendering of Paris’ RER Line B as the Eiffel Tower. Hagiwara has drawn her inspiration from the official RER line diagram, with the bifurcation of the line becoming the “legs” of the tower. Almost seems like a clever advertisement for the RER, and only took her 20 minutes to execute!
(Source: Sonoko Hagiwara)
Dec 13 Reblogged
File this under “A” for “awesome”!
Here’s Zone 1 of the London Underground map made entirely from drinking straws. I particularly like the use of striped straws to simulate the double-stroked DLR and Overground lines from the real map. Clever work from artist Kyle Bean, who has heaps of amazing work on his website.