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April 14, 2018 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Cameron Booth of (previously) is organizing the inaugural World Cup of Transit Maps (#wctransitmaps). The Round of 16 starts on Monday. London, Stockholm, New York, Chicago, Moscow, Vienna, São Paulo, Seoul, Berlin, Hong Kong, Beijing, Boston, Barcelona, Paris, Vancouver, and Santiago have made the cut.

Others have already put together their own rankings of transit maps in the world: the best, the worst, the most complex.

Jug Cerovic examines European transit maps on Jarrett Walker's blog Human Transit.

Think you can do better than the official maps? You're not alone: both hobbyists and designers have taken matters into their own hands by re-designing transit maps (WaPo). On the other hand, maybe all of these maps are just making your head spin. You might prefer these transit maps which aren't transit maps at all.
posted by invokeuse (19 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Good title!
posted by Going To Maine at 9:31 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]

The World Cup matchups aren’t especially fair. The only one that’s any gamble at all is Beijing vs. New York, which *could* throw off the final, but I doubt it. That Moscow map is about as elegant as they come, whereas New York is like one of those medical charts that’s a cross-section showing all the blood vessels of the human crotch, and Beijing is just a sloppier version of the Moscow map.

NYC beats CHI, BEI beats BOS; BEI beats NYC
SEO beats SÃO, SAN beats VAN; SEO beats SAN
then BEI beats SEO

LON beats STO, BER beats HON; BER beats LON
MOS beats VIE, PAR beats BAR; MOS beats PAR
then MOS beats BER

MOS beats BEI, or hat eaten
posted by Sys Rq at 10:31 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]

The Naver Seoul subway map is so much nicer than the official one.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:52 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Now I want to waste an hour playing Mini Metro.
posted by Segundus at 3:14 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

If you are a nitpicker, it might be worth noting that the Stockholm map that link to is the Spårtrafikkarta, ie it also includes commuter rail and light rail lines. The subway map is here (pdf).

That said, Stockholm is doomed in this World Cup. We've got nothing on London's map.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:38 AM on April 15

Great post, by the way!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:39 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Whichever city i go to, either as a tourist or for work, I use the transit system but I barely ever use the bus system. Do any cities have this integrated into a useful map? I suspect for bigger systems it just gets too unwieldy.

For people who live in larger cities, do you use the bus system regularly, apart from your single regular route?
posted by biffa at 7:13 AM on April 15

> whereas New York is like one of those medical charts that’s a cross-section showing all the blood vessels of the human crotch
It's funny you say that.
posted by cardioid at 8:01 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Huh. It's strange that depending on how I get to that link in my previous comment, the images either appear or are replaced by a message reading "This image has been archived or removed."

But you can get the idea from the URL, or the written description, or by searching for "nyc dick subway".
posted by cardioid at 8:06 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

Good title!

For those wondering about the title:

Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

posted by adept256 at 9:03 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

The geographic vs. diagrammatic polemic is alive and well, folks.
posted by LMGM at 9:34 AM on April 15

Whichever city i go to, either as a tourist or for work, I use the transit system but I barely ever use the bus system. Do any cities have this integrated into a useful map? I suspect for bigger systems it just gets too unwieldy.

Come to SF and you'll have to use the Muni, which is almost entirely above ground and mostly busses. Bus systems are generally more comprehensive than subways so inevitably more confusing but have no fear: there are dozens of apps for that. But forget that and just use Google maps. Snag a Clipper card at one of the Market Street stations then just tag on (front or back door; it's all good).

I keep an Orca card for my frequent trips to Seattle; same deal but you'll have to enter through the front door.

People love to hate on the Muni, but it's a good system and the drivers are for the most part awesome. I was once walking briskly to the train station and a Muni bus stopped next to me. The driver opened the door and asked, "Are you trying to catch the 5:25?" (or whatever it was) and after I answered "yes," she said, "Well hop on because you're gonna miss it." I did and I made my train. But just barely.

I love the Paris Metro but I use it less and less. You see more above ground.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:48 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

As a Chilean designer and metro user, I'm super proud of our defeat of Singapore and look forward to the match with Vancouver. I'd also like to point out the preferred three-letter code for Santiago is SCL (Santiago de ChiLe, after the airport code), not SAN.
posted by signal at 4:35 PM on April 15

The Boston map was much better during the blizzards of 2015.
posted by adamg at 5:24 PM on April 15

Wait, what, no Toronto? Let me fill you in:


There you go.
posted by cacofonie at 7:33 PM on April 15

Famously, the original and iconic London Underground design by Harry Beck was inspired - perhaps - by the circuit diagrams of 1930s radios.

By today's standards, those radios were remarkably simple. Likewise, the London Underground of the time was far simpler than today's vastly expanded network of integrated over- and underground rail, light rail and metro. The full TfL map is correspondingly unreadable (and doesn't include buses, so is also massively incomplete.

I have played around with using the block diagram approach to simplifying the TfL map, in an analogy to how electronic designers have coped with increasing complexity, but if you consider the purpose of a transport map/diagram to aid the passage of an individual passenger that just doesn't work, any more than modern electronic design is concerned with the passage of a single electron.

I'm now convinced that the days of the transport map are over. and the business of getting yourself from A to B through public transport systems needs a considerable evolution of active and interactive technologies. The various experiments in augmented vision, map-based smart routing, etc, have not been successful; there is nothing as well suited to personal traversal as modern in-vehicle satnav is to driving (itself far from perfect). Come on, design nerds, get with the future!
posted by Devonian at 7:51 AM on April 16

MOS beats BEI, or hat eaten

I have been following this since it began and honestly, people are just voting for the city or transit system they like best. There is no actual set of criteria. (Which is fine and great and this is fun, but for instance see LA vs Chicago. That should not even be a competition if you are looking at maps qua maps.) So, my guess is it will be London vs. NYC, based on the former votes and the people who follow that account / inhabit Twitter.
posted by dame at 9:35 AM on April 16

I personally prefer maps that work as maps (eg, have geographical information) to diagrams (nice simplified lines), but that is not the most common view among transit nerds, for sure.
posted by dame at 9:36 AM on April 16

It must be that time of the year for transit nerds in Vancouver or something; here's a subway map of Vancouver if every Subway [restaurant] was a stop (reddit).
posted by invokeuse at 7:27 AM on April 20

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