Sunday, May 30, 2010

Making a Subway Map II

[ I wrote a few thoughts on subway map design back here in February, and I started writing about my new version in progress here in Making a Subway Map I in May. ]

As I was posting last week I realized I had not drawn the new link under construction from the Long Island Rail Road to a new terminal at Grand Central. So here is that area with some changes. You see the LIRR link, and look, the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway is there too.

I have doubled the Metro North line too. I am warming to my idea of showing mainline railways with a narrow grey line, and I think where they have at least four tracks I will use a double line.

If you click that, you can also see how clean the new drawing looks at 200% size, and in the background how jagged the old one was.

I've crossed just into the south Bronx. What you see below is a rejected idea for the routing around the 149th St Grand Concourse junction and crossing. Those narrow black lines show the approximate location of the Harlem River, to be added properly later on.

Even though I've rejected this version, I like a few things about it. Firstly, on the green lines, the path of the rush hour trains that skip 138th St is very clean here. Where it rejoins north of 149th St is exactly where the whole route curves northwest. Secondly I made a beautiful reverse curve using the standard curve pieces. It's so nice that I have put a copy of it above and to the right for you to see by itself.

The little diagonal on the local green line going off to the right is annoying to me. I'd rather have had one smooth right angle curve there, but I needed to fit the Metro North line in. I tried to establish a set of diagonals: that green line, Metro North above it, and the jog to the 138th St bypass above that. It's functional but just a little less good than I want. Yes, these are things I worry over.

There were some other variations I didn't keep around to show you. One had the horizontal line at 149th St even farther up, slightly above where it is on the old map, and at that location the diagonal red from Manhattan curved to horizontal exactly where it met the beautiful reverse curve, so that they both curved into the horizontal together. 

But I think you can see the trouble I was running into. How do I get the green line back over to the left where it needs to be? I had variations where it takes a right angle to the left and runs horizontally for a bit. I do like having it cross the orange at right angles, and having them curve to vertical lines symmetrically, as they do on the old map. The variation you can see above is the point at which I gave up. I didn't like the horizontal run to the left, and a diagonal would cross the orange much too far up, as you can see.

Above, this is what I have right now. I have the green-orange crossing at a good location. But between 138th St and 149th St, I think the green looks a little more complicated than it needs to be.

The problem could be that I want the 138th St bypass route to stay a separate line through 149th St station. The only real virtue of that is to suggest that the trains doing the bypass are on a different track at 149th St (the center track instead of the wall track). Will I let go of that? I don't know yet. If I do, I can avoid that place there with three parallel green lines. I haven't decided what to do.

I wish the version with a vertical green at 149th St worked out, but I don't see a way to use it.

On a related note, I did make myself clean up the 145th St double station on the orange and blue lines. This is a two-level station, blue over orange, and they don't veer off in different directions until just north of the station. The old map has the orange swing out to the right, but run parallel to the blue at the station, and then curve again north of it. I have re-drawn this with just one curve. I think it looks a lot better this way.

The only detail I don't like is that I try not have a large station symbol obscure a curved line, and that happens a little with the right-hand orange line at 145th St. So I might move the station symbols a little bit there.

Meanwhile: I heard this week that the MTA map has been revised for the June service changes!

But it's not a new concept. It's basically the same map. Here's a comparison, from the New York Times web site:

A few points:

Staten Island is more distorted than before, but it is still drawn in more accurate detail than the rest of the city. It doesn't match the rest of the map. It looks like someone who didn't understand the design concept added something, and no one in charge reviewed it.

The limited express service on green routes in the Bronx, the purple route in Queens, and the brown route in Brooklyn are still depicted using an extra line. Visually, this emphasizes a part time service more strongly than the full-time express services on other routes. That makes no sense to me.

The balloons for connecting bus and rail routes have been reduced— good!— but not eliminated. Reports are that the balloons are completely gone in an alternate version of the map for subway car display.

In general the revisions are a move in the right direction, but just baby steps.

Continued: Making a Subway Map III.

No comments:

Post a Comment