There has been something of a rail revival in Dublin in recent years, with a significant expansion of the city’s tram network and the re-opening of commuter rail lines. But graphic design has failed to keep up: go to any railway station or tram stop in Dublin and you’ll be struck by the lack of a map which highlights how all the various rail lines integrate with each other. Although route maps for individual services exist, it’s strangely difficult to find a comprehensive –and high-quality –map of all the rail routes in Dublin.
As a former Dubliner and somebody with a love for good design, this is a situation which has always bothered me, and for many years I wanted to create a new map which addressed these shortcomings. And when I read this Citymetric piece on Dublin’s new tram map, which described it as “a crime against cartography,” I felt the time had finally come to get on with this piece of work.
- include all rail and tram routes on one single map, along with Dublin airport bus information;
- be of a similar quality to those found in major European cities like London, Paris and Berlin.
Importantly, we wanted to ensure that wheelchair accessibility information was included on the new map; the existing maps are very poor in this regard.
We also wanted to provide clear information regarding which stations provide bike and car parking – again, something which is not really present on existing maps.
We also decided to include the two key Dublin airport bus routes on the map, to make it easier for visitors to the city to understand where they could switch onto other modes of public transport.
In terms of the aesthetics, we drew considerable inspiration from the London Underground map, believing it to represent the gold standard of design in public transport maps.
However, we wanted to ensure that our map had its own character: hence the green colour scheme (as you might expect, green is often used on Dublin train liveries) and the choice of an alternative typeface to the Tube map’s famous Johnston font.
For the typeface, we plumped for the appropriately named Transport, designed by graphic design heroes of ours, Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert. Transport is a font which will be familiar to Dubliners, being used on all road signs across Ireland, but it also arguably has a more modern “feel” than Johnston. With the pace of change in Dublin being pretty intense at the moment – not just in its transport system, but in terms of urban development, too – we wanted to ensure that the design of the map reflected this sense of modernity, and we thought that the clean, sans-serif Transport font would help us in this regard.
We also wanted to make improvements where possible on the London Underground design – notably in the station index for the map. On the LU map, the grid reference comes before the station name; on ours, we made the assumption that users of the index will be attempting to locate a station name first in order to find the grid reference, not the other way round.
The full map. Click to expand.
A new website for Dublin public transport
During the course of our map design project, it became apparent that Dublin wasn’t just missing a map, it was missing a website too: there isn’t currently a TFL or RATP style transport portal for the city, where information about all the forms of public transport in the capital can be found.
In order to rectify this — and also to provide a home for our new map — we created a new Dublin public transport website, which aims to give users:
- a clear, concise overview of all the public travel options available to them;
- easy access to the journey planners and real-time travel information needed for successful journeys in Dublin;
- key information about wheelchair accessibility on public transport in Dublin;
- information about using bikes on Dublin public transport ;
- information about Dublin airport bus services;
- access to our new Dublin rail map.
It’s my hope that both the new map and website will make travelling around Dublin on public transport considerably easier for both residents of and visitors to the city.
It would be wonderful to see a large poster version of our rail map displayed at every train and tram stop in Dublin, but even if it just has a life as a PDF on a lot of passengers’ phones, I’ll be happy.
Chris Singleton runs the digital communications and design blog Style Factory and when not doing that, fronts London-Irish art-rock band Five Grand Stereo. His new rail map and Dublin public transport website can be accessed here.