Oh hey, so, apparently we're not the only ones who've got the hump about the poor quality of London's new tube map. Yesterday, we received an email from Jug Cerović, a Belgrade-born and Paris-based architect and designer, which included the following:
...I must say I fully agree with you on the poor legibility of the new map.
You see? We're thought leaders round here.
I am also very happy that you have featured Sameboat's map from Skyscrapercity/Wikimedia. [It shows] that map drawing is not any more the personal monopoly of a few administrative bodies.
And then, to prove his point, he attached a map of his own.
In places, Cerović's map, even more than Sameboat’s effort, departs radically from the Transport for London design we’re all used to. In the suburbs, it throws geographical accuracy to the winds to an extent that would make even Harry Beck shudder.
And yet, for all that, in terms of legibility and aesthetics, it’s actually rather good.
In the centre of town, the map, while stylised, stays relatively true to physical geography. Note the presence of Hyde Park, for example, or the way you can now see that Paddington is quite near to Lancaster Gate (something TfL has always preferred to keep secret).
Further out, though, the map abandons geography entirely, allowing the map to stay compact while keeping lines quite evenly spaced. So, for example, lines that head broadly east now take a sudden right angle towards the top of the map:
You'll recall that we had a number of complaints about TfL’s latest effort. One was that it made no effort to distinguish between lines that run every two minutes, and ones that run twice an hour. Another was that it was uses a hideous white/grey two-tone background to represent the fare zones. Another was that parts of it were now so cramped that it was just plain ugly.
Cerović's effort sidesteps some of these problems. The zonal map has been replaced by tiny numbers next to station names:
And less frequent parts of the network appear in less vibrant pastel shades, so that the eye is more likely to skip over them. That includes the Overground, and (something absent from the standard map) the main rail links to London’s airports:
Different DLR routes are shown in different colours, based on their northern or western terminals. (The Stratford and Tower Gateway colours are a bit similar, mind.)
The map's even been designed so you can drop Crossrail in without ruining everything:
There are things we're still not nuts about. The various Overground lines are still all in one colour, which gets a bit confusing in places.
And the use of pastel colours to represent entire networks can be a bit misleading: far more trains serve most of the inner sections of the Overground than do some of the outer reaches of the tube.
Once again, though, it's hard to avoid the feeling that more thought has gone into this amateur map than has gone into TfL's official one for a very long time.
You can see more of Cerović's map on his website, here.
If you have a metro map you'd like CityMetric to publish as part of our never ending, self-indulgent search for viral traffic, then email Jonn.Elledge@CityMetric.com.