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A Circular New York City Subway Map To Straighten Things Out

timothy posted about a year ago | from the now-go-help-charlie-get-off-the-mta dept.

Transportation 124

Daniel_Stuckey writes "The U.K.'s Max Roberts, a mapmaker and critic, has created a map that sees this problem and then solves it by adopting a similar distortion strategy to the MTA map, but to a far greater degree. The map heads in the direction of a diagram and away from a map representing features. It may be the most lucid reinterpretation of the New York City subway map I've seen yet."

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Huh? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405171)

"The U.K.'s Max Roberts, a mapmaker and critic, has created a map that sees this problem and then solves it"

Sees what problem?

Seriously, if you're going to summarise an article event then fucking do so the right way...

Re:Huh? (1)

Kawahee (901497) | about a year ago | (#44405181)

Here's the "problem".

If you're new to New York City, simply visiting for vacation, or, if you're a born-and-raised New Yorker that still can't point out any other states on a blank map besides Florida and Jersey, then you might also mistakenly believe what the MTA subway map tells you about the city—that it lacks any realistic level of fidelity and Manhattan is the blown-up silhouette of a Motorala RAZR:


The U.K.'s Max Roberts...

Re:Huh? (2)

swalve (1980968) | about a year ago | (#44405417)

I must admit I'm not too experienced in NYC's subways to be able to tell on my own, but does this new map accurately show the length of the different lines? Because it looks like it doesn't. I would think the #1 point of a subway map would be to help someone relate the underground routes to the landmarks above, and that the length of the different lines on the subway map relates accurately to the length of the ride taken. And the distance between the stops on the map reflective of the actual distances on the streets? Because it sure looks like it doesn't. The walk between two stops on lower manhattan looks like it would be much shorter that the walk between stops in Harlem or Brooklyn. If someone overlayed a roadmap onto that map, it would look like a fucking acid trip.

It's a pretty map, but it requires an extra level of abstraction for users to properly understand. NYC natives will understand the map just fine, but visitors will find it MORE confusing.

Re:Huh? (1)

znanue (2782675) | about a year ago | (#44406089)

Neither map gives you an accurate idea of how long it will take to get to some place, and sometimes the maps show stations as connected but there's a long walk underground, for instance. If you use google to plan your route you're more likely to get some place quickly. Worse, tourists frequently take expresses when they meant to take locals, etc, overshoot the mark, get the wrong station because it sounds similar, forget to change trains, and more. Minimizing distance traveled is probably someone's least concern when they first take the subway.

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#44406495)

....sometimes the maps show stations as connected but there's a long walk underground, for instance.

I once had the opposite problem on the London underground. I can't remember where exactly but I think it was going from the Planetarium to another tourist attraction. I looked at my underground map and saw I had to take two trains and switch lines to get to another station near the other attraction. I went into the underground and after waiting for trains emerged 20 minutes later - and realised that I was a few hundred yards down the road from where I had started!

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

patiodragon (920102) | about a year ago | (#44406455)

The map is not worth much without the streets on it. You usually need a map if you don't know where you are going.

I look for the nearest street to the address I want to go to and then find the nearest subway station. The current map has worked for me for at least 30 years without any problems.

Re:Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405185)

If you can't piece it together, here's a few hints:
1. He's a mapmaker;
2. They're discussing New York;
3. "lucid...subway map" was used in the summary.

If you still can't figure it out, ask your grandson to show you how to read the full article.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405201)

I'm talking about the summary...

What Kawahee wrote would have been ideal as a start.

Re:Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405369)

Look, you obtuse fuck, I'm sure the OP is perfectly capable of deducing the "problem." His point was that the summary of the article is complete shit.

Re:Huh? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#44406477)

Part of the "problem" here is that the article itself doesn't explain anything. It shows two unlabeled maps side by side without explaining what either of them is, apparently assuming (with the same head-up-the-ass solipsism that it ridicules) that everyone is familiar with them. (I'm guessing that the one on the left is published by the MTA, but the fact that it doesn't show any subway routes makes me wonder.)

Laconic (4, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | about a year ago | (#44405179)

Concise description: a map of the New York subway system drawn in the style of the London Tube system map.

Re:Laconic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405621)

Sort of, but not entirely. He's redrawn the London Underground in a "circular" style [essex.ac.uk] (scroll to the bottom) which *isn't* the same as the well-known one.

Re:Laconic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44409203)

Actually most modern subway maps draw direct inspiration from the style of the London Tube map - that is to say they use topological rather than geographic design (quite directly in the case of Paris, Harry Beck revised both the London and Paris maps to topological form).

Although London's underground dates back to 1863, and New York's opened some 40 years later, the first London tube map wasn't released until 1908. Both maps were topological, which made a lot more sense for NY due to the far more logical road layout that the stops follow.

I've got to say though, the modern NY subway map looks far more useful than the London equivalent, which doesn't even show street level and has been bastardised by the inclusion of "overground", docklands light railway, mainline, river crossings, and "emirates air crossing" (a hideously expensive cross-river ski lift that goes from nowhere to nowhere); not to mention confusing the interchange icons with disabled access.

I've seen a few of these new "alternative" map designs now, and they all look interesting - until you try to use them, whereupon you find out that it takes more than an artist to come up with a decent design.

Circular Tube Map (3, Interesting)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#44405195)

The circular tube map, in my opinion, is much better than the square one we have now. Since the original was created quite a number of lines have been added, as well as tram lines and the overground lines which has caused it to be come quite cluttered. The circular map seems to solve this and give a much better indication of where the line actually goes. I'd hope TFL look at it closely.

I don't know much about the NYC subway system but one thing is obvious, they really need to rethink the colours for the lines in Brooklyn, as they're far too similar!

Re:Circular Tube Map (2)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#44405217)

In Soviet Russia, we have Circular Tube Map http://www.metroway.ru/ [metroway.ru]

Circular Tube Map has YOU!!!!! (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44405819)

Really? Then why didn't you link to one?

That's a rectangular map with one circle near the middle.

Re:Circular Tube Map (4, Interesting)

hymie! (95907) | about a year ago | (#44405423)

The subway system's colors weren't designed for Brooklyn. They were designed for Manhattan.

Re:Circular Tube Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405519)

Yeah, especially the G line. *snicker*

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#44405523)

But wouldn't a map where stations are displayed as close as possible to their actual geographical position be more practical? Distance estimation would probably be the first reason.

Re:Circular Tube Map (4, Insightful)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#44405573)

No, because its not the point of the map. its purpose is to make it easier to navigate the transit system. For example when your on a train, do you want a clear and concise diagram of the system so you can see where to change lines, or do you want a map that is geographically correct but is all squished together?

Re:Circular Tube Map (4, Insightful)

Zakabog (603757) | about a year ago | (#44405795)

The subway map is roughly geographically correct while not being all squished together. It's easy to see what stops you need to get off when you need to transfer and also it works as a real map for most tourists since a lot of attactions are displayed on the map (Rockefeller Center, Natural History Museum, Central Park, etc.) As a native New Yorker that uses a subway map almost daily, this circular design doesn't seem to add any benefit.

Re:Circular Tube Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405879)

your on a train

What about my on a train?

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about a year ago | (#44407729)

Well, I more often find myself thinking "I need to get to [some address], on a map it's right around this intersection, I wonder which stop is the closest". That's almost always the initial problem you face when you're about to go somewhere with a public transport system you're not intimately familiar with. Only after this do things like "which station should I change trains at?" factor in.

Add to this that may times public transport systems will have a stop/station named "Something Street" which is actually not on Something Street but rather it's ~50m from one end of Something Street and is only named Something Street because that's where Something Street meets the street that the bus/train/tram runs on and the stop you really wanted was two stops earlier which is called "Random Park" and happens to be on a street parallel to Something Street (and right next to the place you're going to).

Re:Circular Tube Map (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44405771)

Do circuit diagrams necessarily reflect the actual length of the wires? How about LAN schematics?

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44406631)

Unfortunately subways don't move at the speed of light, so distance is a practical concern.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

kobaz (107760) | about a year ago | (#44406823)

Awww :(

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44407723)

Less so than the number of connections, most of the time; you can spend perhaps a thrid of your time waiting rather then moving. Given that the nonlinearity is more pronounced the further out you get, and the further out you get the fewer alternative routes there are, it's not like you can do much about it even if you have the corvofugal vector.

Also, once you've lived somewhere for a while, you sort of get a feel for it. It's clear that Hammersmith is much further from LHR than it is from King's Cross, though on the map they look the same.

Does your mom drive you everywhere? Because it seems to me you've never used the metro in a major city, ever.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#44407139)

Not really. It's diagrammatic. The London Underground has had a map similar to this since the 1930's. Usually people will be given directions from the nearest tube station.

You can use this in conjunction with an actual map if you really need to.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44405803)

That's not to do with whether it's circular or not; it's to do with it being newer.

Posters and paper maps (and screens) are rectangular. A circle wastes space. I suppose they could put ads in the corners ...

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#44405843)

The transit lines for a city generally go from the centre out in all directions so you fill the whole page. NYC seems different as it starts in Manhattan and spreads out 'upward' and to the left, which also makes it perfectly suited. The remaining space is easily filled with the key.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44407303)

The transit lines for a city generally go from the centre out in all directions

Transit maps are schematic or topological. The direction is to a certain extent arbitrary, or at least approximate. They don't represent the true direction, nor are they intended to.

so you fill the whole page.

A circle can't fill a square page. Geometry fail.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#44406699)

The circular tube map, in my opinion, is much better than the square one we have now ... I don't know much about the NYC subway system but one thing is obvious ...

...that you don't know what you're talking about?

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#44407239)

The circular tube map addresses a problem but doesn't completely solve it. The spokes work. The circular parts aren't so good. The ones that head away from the city converge to the central axes. The Victoria Line and and Bakerloo Line have disconcerting hooks that make them very hard to follow.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#44407299)

I agree it's not perfect. But there are some really nice points, like how the the west parts of the Picadilly Line, Central Line and Metropolitan Line all meet. I also have a big soft spot for how he has incorporated the underground 'roundel' logo into the map.

Re:Circular Tube Map (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about a year ago | (#44407311)

The only thing this map does well is show the lines crossing the east river. If anything, it's counter-intuitive because it looks like many lines connect, when in fact they don't. A tourist might get on the Q line in Brighton Beach and expect to transfer to the S line to get to the G line. Or take the Green G line to Harold Square. Not going to happen.
Forcing the lines to be on parallel circular lines causes you to make assumptions about continuous service between two points on that line, when there's not.
Too many sacrifies made to provide useful information at a glance to the casual user. This sort of setup might work in a city that looks like a dartboard, like Houston or Dallas. It falls apart with a dense coastal city however.

Re:Circular Tube Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44409483)

mod up
I suspect none of hte posters have actually used the NYC subway map
it i true it is not linear with teh surface, but the distortions are sufficienctly predictable that after a few tries, you know what to expect
I might point out that 99% of tourists use a smal % of the system; most of the system is for commuters, who don't have to worry that much about realism

The NIH Effect (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405211)

I predict that this will die a quiet death. No one in the MTA would risk taking an idea from someone who clearly isn't a Ney Yorker. How one earth could a stinking limey understand NYC's transport problems?
Quick turn the clock back to 1776 and consign this map to the East River pronto!

A faggot's anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405225)

You know what's also circular? A faggot's anus. Yeah, it's a big round circle after being repeatedly penetrated by another faggot's erect penis.
Don't you which the faggots would just die?

Re:A faggot's anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405887)

Only the receiver is a faggot. The giver is still a manly man.

Re:A faggot's anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44407739)

I hate to break it to you, but your father lied when he told you that.

More dumbing down... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405245)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the existing map, except that it might be difficult to interpret for those who are products of the American public education system. Map reading has not been part of the curriculum in some years.

Re:More dumbing down... (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#44405403)

Apparently Good design == dumbing down
The existing map is extremely hard to read. Maps should not be hard to read, they should be functional. I do not wish to use my limited consciousness deciphering a map when I could be doing something more useful with it.


Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405249)

But can it do anything about the douchebags who shit in the cars. It smells like a midnight meat train in them.

Current map? (4, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#44405295)

Where is the real map so that we can compare it to it?
Why can't people write good articles? Including the current map for comparison should have been an obvious thing to do.

Re:Current map? (3, Informative)

Kilo Kilo (2837521) | about a year ago | (#44405439)

This [nycsubway.org] is a few years old, but a pretty good example. It's the first thing I looked for too.

I'm not a native NY-er, but I'm pretty familiar with the city and I'm good with maps. If I need to go from Manhattan to Brooklyn, I know in my head where I'm going on the map. This thing distorts a traditional map so that geographically you're all messed up.

Probably the best thing the MTA can do would be to make separate maps for the different lines or even just the different boroughs. Or just have a friggin' touch-screen kiosk that will tell you what train to get on.

That map is originally from 1972. (1)

caveat (26803) | about a year ago | (#44406037)

The Vignelli Map. A triumph of minimalist, functional design - and pure beauty to boot. The original had some geographic information (parks, major landmarks, etc) but when he redesigned it for the Weekender he stripped even that out. Now it's just lines and stops, as it should be. You need to worry about geography on the street, not in the Land of the Mole People.

Re:Current map? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405783)

Re:Current map? (4, Informative)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#44407429)

Wow, that looks so much more useful.
They should switch from the stupid circular map in the article to this one ;-)

Seriously, though. The reason they didn't include this map in the article was probably because it is so obviously better than the circular one. They had to juxtapose the circular one with nothing to make it look like it's worth anything.

Re:Current map? (2)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about a year ago | (#44408127)

The funny thing is the map they had before it was even more useful: it had bubbles at major bus transfer points that showed all of the transfers (and the neighborhoods the bus routes served). They still use that version in the stations but not on the trains or for taking home. The extra information was removed because some consulting firm said it was too "confusing" - yeah maybe for tourists, but for us natives it was amazing.

Re:Current map? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405913)

The regular map is here: NYC Subway map PDF [mta.info]

Re:Current map? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44408181)

The author of the map actually has written a lot of interesting material about maps and the psychology that goes behind it. Check this link:


I decided to have a peak around his site when I realized that the article linked nor the summary made any sense... I dont even think one of the editors looked at it.

Why should this be a surprise? (-1, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year ago | (#44405297)

I mean, seriously! Tim Cook should know that one size cannot fit all. It's for that very reason that I, for example, never liked and probably will never be impressed by Apple's "tiny" phones.

Their walled garden doesn't help matters either. Result? I do other things whenever they launch another product. And I'm not alone.

Re:Why should this be a surprise? (1)

petman (619526) | about a year ago | (#44405493)

Wrong article, dude.

could have been relevant. Apple oversimplifies (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#44405659)

Yet the Apple comment could have been relevant, had he mentioned Apple's tendency to (over)simplify things.

Re:Why should this be a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405511)

You are should be an editor at slashdot! You have already demonstrated the necessary skills.

Useless (3, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44405319)

The problem is that subways rarely take you exactly where you want to go. They take you NEAR where you want to go. So your destination is not the subway station you're going to but some other place not on the network ABOVE GROUND that is near that station. Which means distorting the subway map into a flow chart that doesn't line up with the above surface maps/topography is a deal breaker. I want to know where the hell I'm going. Not just the name of the station but the actual street I'm going to pop out at. Because that's where I'm actually going.

This might work fine for tourists. I really don't know. Maybe some guy reading off a card finds this more useful for getting around. But couldn't the same guy do just as well with the old map? I just don't get the point of this map. It makes the map less useful.

Re:Useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405349)

This kind of map works very well in Boston. (http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/subway/). There, the location on a map is next to useless for driving distances because of all the random street layouts and oneways and occassional construction. The large, iconic map gets you to a station at or near your stop, then the wall maps at the stop give more local directions.

I've also traveled in New York. the old map was pretty useless because it's way too cluttered in the busiest junctions and doesn't show the parallel routes that link at multiple places well. This is better.

Re:Useless (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about a year ago | (#44408161)

The "old" (I assume you mean current) NY subway map is amazing: compare [mta.info] . The Boston map is good but kindof crappy in some ways - for example, I kept going to Aquarium on the blue line for Quincy market because I had no idea the green line Haymarket station was close. And it sucks for strictly transit purposes too: from that map it is impossible to know that the E at the unnamed stop just before Heath st and D at "Brookline Village" are actually a 5 minute walk apart. Similarly, the D at Reservoir, C at Cleveland Circle, and the unnamed B stop in the vicinity are all a block away from each other. Someone with an unlimited pass would be able to make those connections and save a lot of time if they started out on one letter and wanted to end up at a stop on another letter, but the map makes you think you have to go all the way downtown.

The current NY subway map makes the unorthodox transfers obvious - with an unlimited card you can transfer from the G to the J at the "Broadway" station, for example.

Re:Useless (5, Informative)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#44405371)

But that's the point, these stylised maps are to navigate the transport system, not to get around at a surface level. They serve different needs. When you've a map where all the lines are geographically correct it makes it hard to understand how to get from station A to station B, make out the station names and there is a lot of wasted space! Have a look at the London underground geographical map [wordpress.com] vs the actual tube map [bbc.co.uk] for example.

Far better to have a map that fits the purpose. If you want to navigate at the surface level, buy a proper map.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405963)

What is the transport system for but to get around at the surface level?

So to use this map you need to carry you own map? That's brilliant.

Re:Useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406069)

I think a lot of people who are very familiar with the 'standard' London Underground map would find the geographical version fascinating, slightly disturbing and strangely beautiful (like some sort of multi-coloured octopus).

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406129)

Oh good, so now I need two maps rather than one. Even the regular maps could stand to have better detail of the relationship between stations and the surface, but at least I can get by on them. What I certainly don't want is *less* detail in that relationship. I've never, ever had a problem reading the current maps for what stations to transfer at, so this new map goes in exactly the wrong direction.

Re:Useless (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44406239)

As someone else said, your idea means we need additional maps to cross reference with your map.

I do understand what you're saying though. You want some sort of station flow chart.

How about just having a list?

That is, have a normal geographically accurate map above with color coded lines. Consider having some sort of ID code/line name by the lines if you've got too many lines for colors to clearly differentiate them.

Then have a list for all their stops in order. Put some sort of code/color dot/etc by stops that have multiple lines intersecting at them.

Navigation between lines would require finding your station on the list and then finding the next station the list that intersected with the next line you wish to transfer to, etc.

Ultimately, I don't find the geographical subway maps confusing. Look at the ACTUAL map with roads for an actual city. If a subway map confuses you then you'll never get home because the surface streets are if anything much more elaborate. The only thing you'll have going for you on the surface is that there shouldn't be any restrictions in moving about especially on foot. By road... there are one way streets etc. But nothing as locked in as a subway route.

Regardless, I travel by foot, car, bus, train, subway, plane, and boat all the time. Its really not a big deal.

I'm a human being. I'm smart enough to figure this out.

No offense... truly... but I do sort of see the Idiocracy trend in this need to make everything moron friendly. Represent the system as what it "is". If some people don't get it, then they can ask for directions from the friendly subway denizens of NYC. Helpful? Why is it okay in the 21st century to be an idiot? 10,000 years ago if you ate the mushroom with white spots on it - you died. If you walked off into the deep dark forest whistling after dark - you died. If you tried to impress a girl by trying to wrestle a wildebeest to the ground... You died. Life was a never ending darwin award where the exceptionally dumb wound up as compost one way or another. So why is it that this post space exploration, internet surfing, human genome sequencing society is doing everything in its power to make everything fool friendly? I am not trying to be a dick here. But what purpose does it serve? Just put the actual map up on the wall. Some will be confused. Most will figure it out.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406769)

It takes less time to figure out how to get to a certain station if the map is arranged in a clearer way. It takes less time relative to a more complex map, even if you are a super-genius. Time is valuable, especially when you are in a rush to catch the subway in a possibly unfamiliar city. Some people value their time.

Re:Useless (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44406271)

Possibly of use to you:
http://images.nycsubway.org/maps/spui_nyc_subway_map_1224px.png [nycsubway.org]

That is what I think the maps should more resemble. YES, it know it isn't very polished. Please assume the actual map fit for publishing was cleaned up a bit. Look over a city road map and you'll see more detail then even in that map without crude elements that make this map look bad. Just look at the information.

Ideally, I would super impose or integrate this map with a regular city map so that you could very easily see where you were in the city AND the subway system just by looking at ONE map.

Re:Useless (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44406335)

Far better to have a map that fits the purpose. If you want to navigate at the surface level, buy a proper map.

Fortunately one can buy a nicely made flat map that has both the geography and clear subway navigation on it. I got my last one, for Boston, at a bookstore a few years ago (remember those?) I think it was about $7, thinly laminated, and folded cleverly upon itself, for pocket storage.

You won't find it for free from the bureaucrats who only care about their fiefdom, but there was a need so it was filled. That was a few years ago - those cartographers might even have a smartphone app by now.

I was surprised to find the map this article is about to be easier to model than the one they print in the stations in NYC but it's still not useful for me to find my way around, just to find my way around the subway system. Last time I was in the city I used Google Maps and it worked perfectly for both - I didn't even look at the subway system's map.

Re:Useless (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44409283)

When you've a map where all the lines are geographically correct it makes it hard to understand how to get from station A to station B, make out the station names and there is a lot of wasted space! Have a look at the London underground geographical map [wordpress.com] vs the actual tube map [bbc.co.uk] for example.

Here's a London Tube Map [tfl.gov.uk] . What is the quickest way to get to Bayswater from Queensway?

Algorithm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405479)

1) Use above ground map to locate nearby station to your start/destination.
2) Use subway map to work out how to to get from station A to station B

Above ground maps are for use above ground. Subway maps are for use below ground. Don't conflate the two.

Re:Algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405673)

Basically this. The problem demands 2 distinct types of maps, so the solution is clearly to use 2 maps.

Re:Algorithm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406199)

No this is a solution without a problem. The converged map has worked well for over 100 years and we only have 120 people fall on the tracks a year.

Re:Algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406145)

3) Realize that because you chose the station without regard to the workings of the subway, you chose a much slower route than if the two sets of information were together.

Re:Useless (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#44406681)

Then you look at a street map to see where your destination is in relation to the nearest subway station, and where you are in relation to the nearest subway station; and the subway map to figure out how to get by subway between the two stations.

Useless in London/NYC, go for mobile apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44407175)

That is not how people use these maps. Even the official subway maps are terrible at what you want from them. 1cm distance maybe tens of kilometers in the far end of the map.

Instead people search nearest station name from real map, and then use subway map to seek same station. It works.

But these paper maps are not even needed in London/NYC, mobile apps are way to go in these cities.

Manhattan and subway maps (3, Informative)

fazookus (770354) | about a year ago | (#44405359)

This makes sense. The original subway system started in Manhattan and it is still basically the hub for the entire system... if you want to go from the Bronx to Brooklyn you have to go by way of Manhattan. If you take the F train in Queens to go to Brooklyn you use the 'downtown' train, named so because it goes downtown when it goes through Manhattan. There are generally no direct lines borough to borough though there are exceptions, so Manhattan, while physically small, is disproportionately large in terms of lines and passengers served, as is shown on the circular map.

Well (1)

sithlord2 (261932) | about a year ago | (#44405373)

Even Atlantis had a subway with concentric circles, according to Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis.

If it worked for them, it can sure work for New York.

Re:Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405465)

If it worked for them, it can sure work for New York.

Clearly it didn't.

Probably the reason it sank...

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405489)

So, if it works for a mythical city portrayed in a fictional story in a game, it will surely work in a completely different city in real life?

Staten Island (1, Flamebait)

LMariachi (86077) | about a year ago | (#44405383)

Can’t they just leave Staten Island off of there altogether? That’s not part of the subway, and it only got included on the official map after it won the mayoral office for Giuliani, who is a total asshole.

He should do a similar one for Tokyo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405625)

That subway network [speedymole.com] is somewhat more complex than New York's.

Re:He should do a similar one for Tokyo (1)

Njovich (553857) | about a year ago | (#44408643)

Looking at the maps, I wouldn't say the Tokyo map is bigger or more complex? Having visited Tokyo, the sheer crowds, enormous stations, and multiple separate metro companies do make it complex though :). I don't really think a new map is what would fix that though ^^

disclaimer: haven't visited NY

Re:He should do a similar one for Tokyo (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44409409)

Tokyo was my first experience of subways. After that, I had no problem deciphering other cities' subway maps. Thankfully, Tokyo seems to be the only city with a subway map design inspired by a bowl of ramen.

Not seeing much difference (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405821)

As someone familiar with the subway and the standard maps, I don't really see much advantage in this alternate design. The current are easy enough to deal with if you have decent reading skills. I prefer the way the current map indicates the points at which you cross from Manhattan - Brooklyn.

Also: the map has at least one mistake: Fort Hamilton Parkway and Church Avenue (on the F line) should be switched with each other.

Circular for the sake of circular (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44405881)

It does seem that the information content on the page is spread out much closer to uniformly, so it is mostly an improvement. But there are spots on the map where information is crowded together to preserve the aesthetics of the curves, so really no different in principle from a geographically accurate map or a stylized grid or any other solution.

I remember a short story (2)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#44405889)

"A Subway named Mobius"

typo + comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405901)

Anybody notice the typographical error - "Bolwing Green"?

I agree that NYC doesn't lend itself to a circular map; it's too west-heavy. For those who want geographical accuracy, Google Maps with transit lines superimposed works pretty well on a smartphone.

Not broken (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44405915)

This [nycsubwaymap.net] does not look broken to me. When I visited NYC many moons ago, I was not confused by the Subway. I didn't even have a map--I just used the ones in the station. To be fair, I never left Manhattan; but I did go way up to the Cloisters. I even took an express train back downtown. No missed stops. Just as easy as DC metro. Of course, I have laces on my shoes not velcro and I'm not a "designer". What? You don't like the tone of that? Shove it, buddy. This is a story about New York!

Re:Not broken (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#44407191)

It's very hard to see what lines connect to what lines in southern Manhattan.

Looking at both of them, tell me, where do I change from Line G to Line 7? How about Line A to Line 1? Line B to line G? This is a lot easier on the circular map.

Worst. Map. Ever. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44405949)

This map is beyond useless. It gives you no idea of where you'll start or where you'll end up. Yes, you can finally see where your connections are, but that's really secondary to not ending up 3 miles away from where you wanted to be. Look at the D line in Brooklyn, 18th, 20th, Bay Parkway and 23rd all lie on 86th street, which can be seen as a stop on the R and N lines. This map shows the path to be perpendicular to 86th street, not on it. The distortion of Manhattan to cause the top of the borough to be wider and not allow for a simple visual estimate of walking distance is equally stupid. In fact that happens all over the map, it's simply not possible to find the closest stop to your destination using this map.

This is a map by someone who's never been in New York, much less rode the subway, for people who would not need to read a map to get where they're going anyway.

The (legendary) Vignelli Map did this 30 years ago (1)

caveat (26803) | about a year ago | (#44406013)

Massimo Vignelli redid both the signage and the map for the MTA in the 70's. Minimalism all the way - the signage remains to this day, white Helvetica on a black background, simple colored circles for the lines, and almost nothing else...there's barely even any arrows.

And his map...oh, it's a thing of beauty. "It was not a map. It was a diagram. It was not about what happens aboveground. The purpose of the diagram was to show where the subway lines go." So perfect that when the MTA wanted a weekend-service-change map [mta.info] they had him reissue it (and this time he eliminated ALL geographic information, and people love it)...and a copy of the original ,a href="http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=89300">still hangs in the Museum of Modern Art

Re:The (legendary) Vignelli Map did this 30 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406227)

The great thing here is that it's not distorted and based in reality. Even if I need to reference an above ground map for my final destination, my start point will very closely correspond on both maps, this is impossible on the circular design.

nice map (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406269)

i noticed that the map doesn't show the Amtrak station or airports. i guess Mr. Roberts didn't have time to add them

oh yeah, i saw there is a place named Jamaica on the map.

You happen to know the way to Shell Beach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406401)

"I've just been spending time in the subway, riding in circles [photobucket.com] . Thinking in circles. There's no way out."

Trickery (2)

sleepypsycho (1335401) | about a year ago | (#44406465)

Comparing the maps side by side, the most noticeable difference is the font size and the thickness of the route lines. This makes it seem more organized and less squeezed together. But in reality, to be able to read it from the same distance it would have to be in a larger format.

You can probably "improve" the current map by the same techniques and not have the same level of distortion. Maybe, a more detailed version can be put in pamphlet form and large station kiosks and the current form can go in each train.

Why this fuss about a copy of the London Tube map (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44406509)

The London Tube map first started using geographical distortion in 1910, and by 1933 had produced the famous 'Beck' map which all other subway services have more or less copied.

This map is only about 100 years behind the Brits. Nice try...

Motorola RAZR? Whut? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44406737)

Can someone explain where this "silhouette of a Motorola RAZR" thing fits in?

A link to (or even to a page with a link to) the current MTA map might have helped give a little context, too.

Newsflash Little extra effort yields better result (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year ago | (#44407327)

Professional map-maker putting extra effort into making non-crappy map makes better map.
News at eleven.

Animated Distortion.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44408455)

The Brits have been playing with tube Train map distortions for about 80 years now.

Here is a site that lets you see the classic 1930s Beck map (the maps which all the other subway maps are copied from), the actual geographic map and the current map for the Central London part of the Tube. Watch it and weep:


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