The Manchester Metrolink map is rubbish. It shows an indeterminate number of tram routes, every one of them in grey; and while it shows you where each starts, and where it ends, it's strangely silent on where they go in between.
Oh, and to make matters worse, the letters which represent the routes on the map don't appear on any of the actual trams. None of this is a network-killing flaw, providing you're trying to get from the suburbs to the city or back again; but in the event you're trying to get from, say, Manchester Airport to Oldham, it's a right pain in the bum.
The official map. Click to expand if you want to suffer. Image: Transport for Greater Manchester.
A few months back I wrote a piece, noting all this and suggesting an alternative: why not colour-code the different lines by the route they took through the city centre?
I was quite lazy about this, though, so this is as far as I got:
Hey, I was busy. Image: CityMetric.
Luckily, however, there are those with rather more commitment and better graphic design skills than me. Andrew Smithers from the excellent Project Mapping has taken my suggestion and run with it, breaking the various routes into five different groups. Here's the result:
Oooooh. Click to expand. Image: Project Mapping.
And here's the strip map version, for inside carriages:
Nice. Click to expand. Image: Project Mapping.
There are disadvantages to this approach – it’s less flexible if the authorities decide they want to unexpectedly divert a tram, say.
But in most situations this, to my mind, is much clearer. Say you do want to get from Manchester Airport to Oldham. Now you can see that one is on the light blue line, the other on the dark blue one, and so you need to change somewhere between St Werburgh's Road and Deansgate-Castlefield. Easy.
The next stop, of course, would be line names. I can think of three – the Airport line for the light blue, the Exchange line for the dark blue and (proud of this one, lads) the Picctoria line for the red one.
But I'm stumped on the other two. Perhaps they'd be better off sticking with colours, letters or numbers – if you have any suggestions, though, do feel free to make them on social media.
That’s three stories about Manchester in two days, you know. Someone will be along in a minute to point out that not everyone lives in Manchester, I’m sure.