Going (London) Underground
August 13, 2010 4:47 AM   Subscribe

The London Underground. Every Londoner has used it, but has everyone really seen it? The old map is looking a bit dusty. Perhaps its time for Geographic precision or maybe 3D projection. If we add bicycles to the map, is it still an underground?

[previously]
posted by 0bvious (33 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I find the Google Maps overlay of the tube* really nicely done (and very useful for a non-Londoner who doesn't know what stops are closest to above-ground locations).

*zoom in on London, open the More menu, and click Public Transportation.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:51 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love that picture of Piccadilly Circus station - I always enjoy trying to work out where all the tunnels are in a Tube station, so it's great to see them laid out like that. Except that surely it can't possibly be showing all of them - I'd have thought there should be some ventilation and service tunnels too?

(Also, haven't tried a Boris Bike yet, but I want to because they look really fun.)
posted by ZsigE at 4:53 AM on August 13, 2010


Model stations. Why the door buttons don't do anything (italic section at end of PDF). US Interstate network as a Tube-style map. The training station mockup. A poems for every Tube stop.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:06 AM on August 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Every Londoner has used it, but has everyone really seen it?

Nobody's really seen it until they've seen it on weed
posted by kcds at 5:15 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somewhere I have a pair of underground map, the later of the two featuring the "new Jubilee Line".

Annoyingly, the copy I uploaded to flickr is now is magic small-o-vision.

Maybe I need to pay them some money...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:20 AM on August 13, 2010


I haven't seen it, since I've never been to England, but I did see some ads for it. There's a travelling exhibit (closing at Yale British Gallery this weekend) of art commissioned by the various transportation authorities. Some of the early (1920s, 1930s) posters have a very Mod sensibility I wasn't expecting.

Exhibition permalink (click on 'current' for the next few days, apparently going to France next?)
More examples, including a slightly better view of the apocalyptic 'winter sales' ad.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:22 AM on August 13, 2010


Why the door buttons don't do anything (italic section at end of PDF).

It's a nerdy thing to admit, but I found that article genuinely fascinating - I've wondered for ages why the buttons aren't used.

The UK doesn't seem to have a very good record on this issue, unfortunately. For example, try travelling on some of the National Express East Anglia trains. To open the door, you have to lower the window, stick your arm through at a weird angle, and use the handle on the outside - and that's not a workaround, that's how it was designed!
posted by ZsigE at 5:38 AM on August 13, 2010


To open the door, you have to lower the window, stick your arm through at a weird angle, and use the handle on the outside - and that's not a workaround, that's how it was designed!

You mean safely?
posted by fullerine at 5:49 AM on August 13, 2010


You can tell if you have tourists in front of you in two ways - either they press the door buttons, or they try and get on before people have got off.

I wish they had a tunnel map of Oxford Circus - I can never for the life of me get the exit I want there. It's easier now there's a Shibuya-style diagonal crossing, but still a pain.

More tube maps
posted by mippy at 5:51 AM on August 13, 2010


Here's a bigger geographical tube map
posted by mippy at 5:55 AM on August 13, 2010


More details on the new bike system.
I'm looking forward to joining this as it could save a fortune in Oystercard fees. My entry/exit point to London is usually Victoria Station and I work at either Oxford Circus or High Holborn. Skipping between them will only cost me the annual membership fee (< 1 hour use is free) and if it's pissing down then I can still use the bus/tube.

mippy: Ah the joys of the dual level entry/exit halls :-) I've given up working out a route as half the time I arrive they've shut my preferred exit for rush hour.
posted by i_cola at 6:09 AM on August 13, 2010


Mind the gap.
posted by notmtwain at 6:09 AM on August 13, 2010


To open the door, you have to lower the window, stick your arm through at a weird angle, and use the handle on the outside - and that's not a workaround, that's how it was designed!

You probably don't want a handle on the inside of the door for slightly obvious reasons. That said, AFAIK all of the slam door carriages have been phased out. Good for safety but a total pain in the arse for cyclists/wheelchair users/pushchairs etc. as the guard's van wasn't properly replaced so the space for large items was drastically reduced with cycles being banned for about 8 hours a day on most networks these days. Integrated transport system my arse.
posted by i_cola at 6:14 AM on August 13, 2010


In defence of the tourists, there are plenty of Londoners who shove on before everyone's out of the doors. In my experience, the tourists just tend to stand there looking bewildered.

Boris Bikes are big old beasts, BTW (Haven't ridden one yet, but have had a good look-over, and those wheels are pretty chunky)
posted by Myeral at 6:18 AM on August 13, 2010


More station plan projections – 3D, isometric, woodcut (!) mippy: Your Oxford Circus plan is there although it might not be much help...
posted by i_cola at 6:18 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


You mean safely?

I'm assuming the safety argument is that with no handle on the inside, you can't accidentally lean on it and fall out of the train. But even putting aside the fact that the doors are electronically locked until the train stops, there are many ways of achieving that goal without being hideously difficult to use (off the top of my head - recessing the handle into the door, putting a cover over the top, making the door open when you pull the handle up rather than down).

Essentially, what it comes down to is that if you need a list of instructions to open the door, someone is doing their job very, very badly.
posted by ZsigE at 6:19 AM on August 13, 2010


"There were those, of course, that “were born in a barn” and wouldn’t close their door after entering the train, especially in cold weather! – those you could never educate. Each door push button, which did not illuminate, was a potential equipment ‘failure’ and six operative push buttons were provided at each double doorway position."
posted by mippy at 6:22 AM on August 13, 2010


I like the old map.
posted by blucevalo at 6:40 AM on August 13, 2010


Perhaps we should let people know that:

1) Often the cheapest, fastest and uncrowded way to get where you are going is to take a bus - or even walk. I rarely take the Tube when going from any Zone 1 to Zone 1 trip. It is more of a last resort.
2) Tubes are super-crowded during rush-hour and on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you only use the Tube during these times (as many out-of-towners or suburbanites do) you would deduce that the Tube is always crowded. It isn't.
3) Trains are not evenly spaced. If people have been waiting for a train for 15 minutes and thee boards say there is another one after that in 2 minutes. Wait for the second one. It will be less crowded.
4) Have a geographic map of London in your head anyways. Only a complete neophyte would attempt to use the Tube to get from Chancery Lane to Farringdon, for example.
5) The Tube was designed to be as inconvenient as possible to people with wheelchairs, strollers or luggage. If you fall in any of these categories, see Tip #1 above.
5) Stand on the right, please.
posted by vacapinta at 6:55 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That said, AFAIK all of the slam door carriages have been phased out.

Commuter carriages maybe, but quite a few of the cross-country trains have massive 'stick your arm out of the window to open' doors at each end of the carriage.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:01 AM on August 13, 2010


Also, having left London in April, I am gutted that I didn't get the chance to try a Boris Bike. Anyone know if they do short-term memberships for tourists, like Velib does in Paris?
posted by Happy Dave at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2010


4) Have a geographic map of London in your head anyways

You make that sound as though it's an easy task!

(That said, London's bus system is truly top-notch, but also requires more knowledge of the city's geography)
posted by schmod at 7:19 AM on August 13, 2010


The old map is looking a bit dusty. Perhaps its time for Geographic precision.

Great FPP, but incredibly backwards-looking in its framing. Henry Beck's famous 1931 map specifically did away with "geographic precision" because he has the in-retrospect obvious idea that what matters to most passengers is where stations are in relation to one another, not where they pass under this church or that park. Thus Londoners went from this and this to this. Which one is most readable?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, forgot to italicize the first line...
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2010


If anyone in North America wants to try the Boris Bike "experience," it's pretty much a direct lift of Montréal’s Bixi program. Haven't used it yet, but everyone I know that's tried it has liked it.
posted by Shepherd at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2010


Anyone know if they do short-term memberships for tourists, like Velib does in Paris?

Apparently they're working towards implementing "casual use" - you walk up to a hire point, stick in a debit or credit card, and off you go. Slightly annoying that they're not planning on linking it to Oyster cards, but presumably that's because they can't get an address from an Oyster if they want to track down the person who rode off on one of their bikes and hasn't given it back. No word yet on when that will be ready, though.
posted by ZsigE at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2010


From the "Geographic precision" link:
NB: Routes between stations are interpolated and may not be geographically accurate

The tube lines on those maps aren't correct - they're just a curve fitted to the station positions.

I've spent some time looking for a proper geographic map of the Tube tunnels -- and ideally one showing the whole network in 3D -- and I'm pretty sure there isn't one available to the public.

A Tube network engineer who I met at a party told me that stations and sections of lines were mapped out on engineering diagrams but that, to his knowledge, no comprehensive map or 3D model showing the whole system had ever been compiled.

I have a half-baked plan to make my own 3D map of the tube network using SCIENCE! which I'm convinced would actually work (albeit with some fuzziness), but I need to find a tame and relatively sober mathematician to help me with the setup.

Are you a tame and relatively sober mathematician/physicist/programer in London who might want to collaborate on a nerdy mapping project? MeMail Me!
posted by metaBugs at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2010


A full 3D map is what I crave. One that can be zoomed and spun around in a virtual space. I would love to see not only where the lines go in the city, but how they coil around each other under the ground. The Piccadilly Map is the cloest I have seen to a glimpse of that true underground.
posted by 0bvious at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2010


London Cycle Hire Station Status Map. Updated in (near) real-time. Nice.
posted by normy at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


The runaway train came down the track
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:51 AM on August 13, 2010


The old map is looking a bit dusty.

Add me to the "wait, what?" chorus. The Tube map is a timeless classic.

Although I also would love Obvious's 3D map.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2010


Hi, Metafilter. Been lurking unregistered for a few months, finally registered and here is my first comment. Please point out etiquette breaches gently :)

>>The old map is looking a bit dusty.

> Add me to the "wait, what?" chorus.


The old map linked in the FPP is looking a bit dusty! The Jubilee Line extension is shown as under construction, which dates it to no later than 1999. I'm not sure if this was deliberate / the point of the sentence, or if 0bvious was only able to find a map that old, because TfL have a habit of getting grumpy about copies about the current real map, which I believe is why Wikipedia doesn't have one, for example.

Besides this playful pedanticism, though, I agree with you and ricochet biscuit.

As a south london resident, I'm a fan of the variants including suburban overground services [pdf], because the pure tube map makes it look like there is almost no rail infrastructure south of the river, when in fact I get a train service at tube-like frequency or better, and on PAYG Oyster - so there's little discernible difference from a practical point of view.

From the Picadilly Circus link:

Unlike other major subway systems such as New York or Paris, the London Underground is largely tunneled rather than laid in a covered trench.

Ahem. 55% of the Underground isn't even underground. And plenty of the underground bits are cut and cover. If you add up the line lengths here you get 286km deep-level line vs 184km subsurface, but this is of course hugely meaningless, as (1) all the lines except Waterloo and City have at least some portions above ground, (2) the lines share track, (3) doubtless other reasons I can't even think of.

I would like to know exactly how much deep tunnelling vs covered trench the network has, but I fear researching a real answer thoroughly would take me all night and interest nobody but myself. My hunch is that deep level length would be greater (if only because there's much more sharing of the subsurface bits), making this quote technically correct, but I still feel it implies a more overwhelming balance than reality.

Finally, the main reason I wanted to post was to sate you folks clamouring for more 3D station plans. Bank/Monument (alternatively), although probably out of date as there has been recent (ongoing?) work here, and a barely-just-about-3D Kings Cross St Pancras.

While searching for these (and I think I've seen more that I can't find at the moment) I also came across this. The limited faux 3D-ism is a bit pointless imho but since I found it I thought I might as well throw it in while I was posting anyway.
posted by Slyfen at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Shepherd: "If anyone in North America wants to try the Boris Bike "experience," it's pretty much a direct lift of Montréal’s Bixi program. Haven't used it yet, but everyone I know that's tried it has liked it."

We have that in certain neighborhoods here in Mexico City now too, and while I haven't tried it, I see people using it all the time. Pricing structure and everything else seems directly lifted from the Montréal one, except the bikes are a little less funky looking. It's called Ecobici.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:36 PM on August 13, 2010


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