Ellen Harvey’s Network, envisaged as a hand-made glass mosaic depicting Boston’s transportation network, has been chosen as the permanent art installation to be installed at Boston’s South Station. From the proposal:
NETWORK will consist of a hand-made glass mosaic map of the surroundings of South Station juxtaposing the three principal forms of land transportation (rail, subway and road) with the older water-based routes into the city. Each form of transportation is coded a different color—black for subways, dark grey for rail, light grey for roads and silver for water. As travelers descend the stairs, they move towards the ocean where a small mermaid inset in the silvery sea of Boston harbor surveys (literally) the land. NETWORK imagines a world in which the mermaid escapes her destiny of romantic frustration and temptation and decides to take on the land, just as perhaps now we need nature to lead our transportation decisions, rather than to be subject to them.
Harvey, by the way, has the best quote: “There is no romance in your soul if you don’t love a map.” [via]
When I look at the subway map I always want to know where the lines really go. The VanMaps take this wish to a ridiculous extreme. A fully geographic map would be cluttered and difficult to read. I stripped that all away. All you have now is the essence, the subway itself and nothing else. In trying for the most geographic accuracy the map now becomes totally abstracted. The subway line exists on a blank plane. Totally accurate, totally useless. But damn does it look good.
Are transit system maps too complicated? Human beings can only process a finite amount of information at once (eight bits, or yes/no decisions—on maps that would mean 28 or 256 connection points); researchers examining the transit systems of 15 large metropolitan areas found that many trips exceeded that eight-bit limit, especially when multi-modal trips (e.g. subway plus bus or tram) are involved (subway-only trips tended to fall under the limit). System maps with too many data points are overwhelming. “We have found that, in the largest cities, the addition of bus routes with maps that are already too complicated to be used easily by travelers implies that the cognitive limit to urban navigation is exceeded for multimodal transportation systems.” A single map, in other words, is no longer sufficient or useful in such cases. [via]
Designer Cameron Booth wondered whether London’s Tube Map could simply be drawn better. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the current iteration of the Tube Map is a diagram that’s almost completely forgotten that it is one. There’s very little rhythm, balance or flow to the composition of the map outside the central ‘thermos flask’, and there’s shockingly little use of a underlying unifying grid. As a result, nothing really aligns properly with anything else anymore.” His solution included getting rid of fare zones, redrawing accessibility icons, rejigging alignments, and lots of other changes. Read his post and his follow-up post for the end result (or results: he’s continuing to refine the map).
Le Grand Paris en Cartes is a collection of interactive maps and infographics about the Grand Paris Express, a multi-billion-euro project to extend Paris’s Metro and rapid transit network deep into the surrounding Île-de-France region (if you can read French, the official site and French Wikipedia page provide a lot more information). These maps not only illustrate Parisians’ commuting routes and Metro usage, but also (see above) the kind of sociological data that underpins transit planning: employment centres, population density and so forth. In French. [via]
The World Metro Map is a digital collage of every metro system and station—well, 214 systems and 11,924 stations—overlaid on top of one another. A Kickstarter project, it’s available as a poster in two different sizes. [via]
Yonah Freemark’s Transit Explorer is an online map of existing, planned and under-construction transit projects in cities across North America—“fixed-guideway transit,” which means bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail. I’ve spotted a couple of omissions (Montreal’s commuter rail and Winnipeg’s busway don’t appear) but that might be a problem with the underlying OpenStreetMap data. [via]
A revised and expanded edition of Mark Ovenden‘s Transit Maps of the World is coming out in early November, presumably because the transit systems, and the maps thereof, have also been revised and expanded since the first edition was published in 2007. (My review of the first edition is here.) It’s being published by Penguin in the U.S. and Particular Books (a Penguin imprint) in the U.K. [Amazon]
There is no transit map more iconic than the London Underground’s Tube map. First created by Harry Beck in the 1930s, the design has inspired countless other transit network maps that are schematic diagrams rather than geographically accurate maps. But Transport for London, which operates the Underground, also has a geographically accurate map of the network: it was strictly for internal use, but a freedom of information request has now brought it to light. It’s available here (PDF). The response has been so good that TfL now says it’ll be added to their website. CityMetric, Mapping London.
A couple of supremely detailed rail maps to bring to your attention, both of which show every line and station of long-distance, regional and commuter rail networks. There’s one for California, which uses a Beck-like, diagrammatic design, and one for the Northeast Corridor (see above), which opts for geographic accuracy. Despite the differences there’s a lot of overlap on the two design teams. Creative Commons licensed, with printed posters available.
Map designer Max Roberts has designed subway maps for London and New York that are based on a series of concentric circles. Strictly for fun (and shock and horror), he says, but there’s an undeniable clarity to them. Via Kottke.