New Ottawa Transit Map Goes Diagrammatic

OC Transpo

Last week OC Transpo, the City of Ottawa’s transit service, unveiled a new network map (PDF) that shows the transit routes that will be in effect after the new LRT opens, which is (at the moment) scheduled to take place in November. From a cartographic perspective, what’s interesting is that OC Transpo’s new map adopts a diagrammatic, non-geographical design after years of their maps simply overlaying transit lines over a city map (see, for example, the latest, pre-LRT transit map, PDF). The approach allows the map to enlarge the more densely served core and inner suburbs and shrink the larger, but less service-dense outer suburbs—which is exactly what diagrammatic transit maps of sprawling cities are good for.

Matthew Blackett’s Transit Map of Canada

The Toronto Star talks with Matthew Blackett, who for the past six years has been working on a transit map of Canada. In the figurative sense, not the literal sense: this isn’t a map of Canadian transit networks. Like many maps that draw inspiration from transit network diagrams, Blackett’s map imagines its subject as a giant city: it shows Canadian towns and cities as stops along transit lines that treat regions as neighbourhoods. (Thanks, Dwight.)

Vignelli in D.C.

In the 1970s, Vignelli Associates—Massimo and Lella Vignelli—made a bid to design the maps for the Washington Metro. That gig went to Lance Wyman. The Vignelli Archives recently unearthed some presentation boards and design sketches from their bid; CityLab has more details. Cameron Booth notes that these are hardly new discoveries, as they’d appeared recently in Peter Lloyd and Mark Ovenden’s Vignelli Transit Maps, which came out in 2012.

Booth has recreated a digital version of one of Vignelli’s map sketches—a hexagonal grid concept that appeared in Vignelli Transit Maps—as well as a full, modern system diagram in the same style; he’s selling the latter as a poster.

Before Beck: Perman’s Underground Railways of London

E. G. Perman, Underground Railways of London (London: Waterlo & Sons, 1928). Pocket map, 36×45 cm. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Colour-corrected.

Mapping London takes a close look at a 1928 map of the London Underground by E. G. Perman. Perman’s map, with its use of colour, italic lettering and focus on green spaces, seems like it comes from a completely different era, even though it was published only a few years before the release of Beck’s iconic Tube map.

Previously: Before Beck: The Prior Art of Diagrammatic Transit Maps.

Before Beck: The Prior Art of Diagrammatic Transit Maps

George Dow, “Great Northern Suburban Lines Route Diagram,” 1929.

Harry Beck may have created the iconic Tube map, which substituted a schematic diagram of the network for a geographically accurate map, but he didn’t invent the diagrammatic transit map. Alberto Cairo points to a number of pieces that explore examples of diagrammatic maps that were contemporaneous with or earlier than Beck’s work: Asaf Degani’s article in Ergonomics in Design points to the influence of designer F. H. Stingemore (see p. 12); Douglas Rose’s online essay comparing Beck with George Dow; and there’s a 2005 book by Andrew Dow (George’s son), Telling the Passenger Where to Get Off: George Dow and the Evolution of the Railway Diagrammatic Map. None of which is meant to diminish Beck’s achievement (I think), but serves to remind us that no innovation ever occurs in a vacuum. [Kenneth Field]

French Rail Network Map Updated

Last October I told you about a track network map for the entire French railway network, a map I just loved. That map has now been updated for 2018, which is minor news in and of itself, but (a) I love this map and (b) it’s an opportunity to point at the firm that produced the map, Latitude-Cartagene. Also to point to their other SNCF-related work, including these technical maps of the SNCF’s network and this interactive map of the network in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. All links in French. [Transit Maps]

A Look at European Bus Map Design

Transit map designer Jug Cerović has reposted a look at the state of the art of European bus network maps. “I have studied more than 250 European cities and their bus maps, and have also designed a few. Here are some observations about the state of the practice.” He groups bus maps into three categories, based on how they use colour: maps that use colour to show the technology used (bus, metro, subway); maps that use colour to indicate individual lines; and maps that use colour and width to show bus frequency. Now Jug shows examples of each, and goes through the pros and cons, but he does have some skin in this game: he’s a fan of frequency maps, which he suggests solves the problems of the other two kinds, and in fact has produced frequency maps for Luxembourg (above) and Utrecht. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in transit map design.

Previously: INAT London Metro MapOne Metro World.

A Fantasy TTC Subway Map

There have been plenty of fantasy transit network maps—maps that imagine the subway, rail or bus system they think their city should have. BlogTO points to a good one: a map that reimagines the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway network posted to Reddit by architecture student Henry Lin. BlogTO calls it “one of the most ambitious and beautiful (like, if you’re into that stuff) yet. It’s the subway map Toronto deserves to have—though we probably never will. I mean, if a one stop subway extension costs $3.35 billion, this system would cost a few trilly to build, at least.” Lin’s done a few maps like this one that seem be modified from the original maps (see, for example, Ottawa’s or Montreal’s); the point of exercises like his, though, isn’t the originality of the design, but imagining the expanded network.

Pictorial Railway Maps

Vilelms Griķis, “Apcelo savu Dzimto Zemi!,” 1938.

At Retours, a digital magazine about railway history and design, Arjan den Boer looks at pictorial railway maps.

In the mid-20th century pictorial maps in cartoonish styles were a popular way of promoting travel and tourism. In contrast to objective, realistic maps they appeal to emotions such as romance, fantasy and humor. They are used to tell anecdotes about a region’s history, culture and landscape in a way attractive to old and young. These illustrated maps are meant to inspire, not to provide travel information.

Pictorial maps or Bildkarten seem to be the opposite of the schematic metro-like maps of railway networks from the same period, composed of straight lines and without any details. Schematic and pictorial maps share one thing though: they are only loosely bound to geographic reality. Their common goal is to convey a message—either the straightforwardness of a journey or the attractiveness of a region.

Lots of maps featured here, mostly from European rail services. Since much of the study of pictorial maps focuses on the United States, as well as Britain (especially in re MacDonald Gill), this is a refreshing filling in of the gaps.

Colour Differences in Metro Maps

Scientific American reprints a 2016 article from The Mathematical Intelligencer on an obscure, but important, corner of transit map design: how to choose a colour for a metro line. The discussion is rather math heavy (and therefore above my pay grade), but the gist is that for ease of use lines’ colours should look as different from one another as possible, and it gets more complicated as you add more lines. “Not only must the new colors be unlike the old ones, but also they must differ from each other as much as possible.” The article discusses the math involved in choosing new colours. [WMS]

Previously: The Transit Line Colour Palette.

Transport for London’s Historical Archive of Car Line Diagrams

Bakerloo Line CLDs (Transport for London)

IanVisits has stumbled across Transport for London’s cache of car line diagrams (CLDs)—the linear maps that appear inside each train car. The TfL page includes CLDs ands CLD stickers for all lines going back to 1996; each line has its own PDF file that contains every iteration of its diagram, one per page. “No one will care about this whatsoever,” says IanVisits. IanVisits is, I suspect, wrong. [WMS]