London Overground Strip Map


Finally, an orange menace that doesn’t pose an existential threat to nations. It does, however, pose an existential threat to my eyes.

There are two reasons this map exists. Three. The first is I needed a break from the Tokyo map. The second is this Twitter conversation:

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 9.28.23 PM.png

The third is this magnificent CityMetric article about all the different problems of the actual Overground map, some of which could be addressed (no Seven Sisters/South Tottenham interchange, the sword symbols beside Cambridge Heath and London Fields) and some of which couldn’t, thanks to the inherent nature of the map itself (everything running horizontally, the isolation of the Romford to Upminster Line).


  • Most of the time when I draw transit maps my philosophy is “it will be as big as it needs to be,” only occasionally trying to squeeze the map into predetermined proportions, like a square. This, however, is the first time I had to deal with hard-and-fast spatial restrictions.
  • I’m evidently not letting my “assign letters to tube lines and numbers to Overground lines” idea die anytime soon. It was actually quite useful here, for trying to differentiate this twisty orange line from that twisty orange line, especially because…
  • I had an idea for different colors for different Overground lines but it looked weird, so everything’s still orange instead.
  • How the map handles accessibility icons was largely inspired by how Cameron Booth did it in his tube map redesign.
  • Good luck trying to fit Crossrail into this thing when it opens in a few years. I’m honestly not sure there’s enough space above the train doors for it.
  • And finally, Jonn’s right. This map is pointless. But some idiot at TfL felt a strip map showing the entire Overground network should exist, so here we are.
Posted in london, maps, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Tokyo Map Update 2

I’m trying to come up with a way to differentiate service patterns on the Tokyo map. I don’t want anything super fine-grained; some lines have seven different varieties of express services running on them and that would just be too unwieldy. That’s what strip maps are for. I just want to be able to tell the difference between local stations and local/rapid stations.

Here’s what I have for the commuter rail lines:

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 11.48.55 AM.png

Pretty straightforward, I think. Filled circle for local/rapid stations, hollow circle for local stations (easy differentiation), smaller filled circle for rapid only stations (those do exist; they’re just kind of rare). Local-only lines would just have the filled circle. The problems start happening when we try and do the same thing with the subway lines (the Asakusa, Fukutoshin, Shinjuku, and Tozai lines all have rapid services in some form or other):

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 11.51.30 AM.png

For the subway lines I want to not just differentiate between local/rapid stations but also want to clearly define through services, and in the latter case I don’t think using a slightly smaller station symbol does the trick. I also want the methods for telling everything apart to be consistent across all modes, so if I change it for the subway lines it’ll also have to change for the commuter rail lines.

Other notes:

  • I’m not worried about rapid-only subway stations because thanks to the nature of Tokyo’s subway network those can’t exist.
  • I don’t have much of a desire to split lines with local and rapid services into two separate lines unless they’re already embedded that way in the public consciousness (e.g. Chuo Rapid, Sobu Rapid).
  • This symbol: Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 12.08.20 PM.pngis already in use for tram lines.
  • I would like to avoid giving different stations different shapes if at all possible.
  • I think this looks funny:Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 12.11.32 PM.png

Anyway, that’s what I have so far. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted in maps, tokyo, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tokyo Map Update

Here’s what I got so far:


I’d say I’m closing in on the halfway point and should, hopefully, have it done by some indeterminate point between late October and late January.

Anyway, in case it wasn’t obvious, this particular iteration of the Tokyo map includes a lot of projects that are in various stages of planning, mostly so I have some confidence that it’ll be good for a few decades and I won’t have to redraw it in the future. Some are under-construction or should be soon (Sotetsu through lines), some are still under planning (the two new subway lines to be built for the Olympics), some have been under planning for a long time but never seem to actually go anywhere (Metro Seven/Eight Liner), and some are pretty much dead (Kawasaki Municipal Subway), included just in case they’re resurrected. Anyway, the resources I’ve been using for this project date from 2010, so naturally they’re a little out of date.

Good news is, I found a more recent resource over on SSC. Bad news is some new ideas have, in fact, been floated since 2010 that I hadn’t anticipated (surprise, surprise). Here they are (and remember, whether they’re likely to happen doesn’t matter to me):

  • The Oedo line (E) extension to the Musashino Line (JM) has been rerouted so it connects to the Seibu Ikebukuro Line (SI) at Oizumi Gakuen. [Turns out they meant Oizumi Gakuen the neighborhood not Oizumi Gakuen the station. Duh.]
  • Through running between Tsukuba Express (TX) and the new, as-yet-unnamed subway line (D) connecting Tokyo Station with Odaiba.
  • Tama Monorail (TT; maybe split into T1 and T2 a la Chiba Monorail) extensions to Itsukaichi and Koremasa.
  • Marunouchi Line (M) extension from Honancho “westward,” whatever that means.
  • Passenger service (JB) along Shinkin freight line between Shin-Koiwa to Kanamachi.
  • Passenger service (JE) along Etchujima freight line between Etchujima and Kameido.
  • Musashino Line (JM) extension along the South Musashino freight branch between Fuchu Hommachi and Tsurumi, and thence from Tsurumi along Keihin freight line (JZ) to Haneda Airport.
  • The Omiya East-West LRT (EW) runs to Urawa Misono instead of Saitama Stadium.
  • Keihin freight line (JZ) swallows Nambu branch line (JN) to Shitte; terminus changed from Shitte to Kawasaki.
  • Through service between Tokyu Toyoko Line (TY) and Tamagawa Line (TM).

Fortunately, this map is bigger and more spacious than the last one, so I have a bit of breathing room. But that doesn’t mean an already frustrating project didn’t just get more difficult…

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LAC[&OC]MTA K Line, In Your Dreams

lacmta k line


Inspired by CalUrbanist’s extensive & impressive work on what the LA Metro might eventually look like, here’s a really early taste of the crayon map I have brewing for Southern California. The current farthest-out plans for the Crenshaw line have it run from Hollywood to Torrance; here it’s extended from Torrance through Long Beach all the way to Anaheim, because that’s a financially justifiable endeavor, oh yes. Some station names and line colors are tentative; connections with Red & Yellow Cars not shown.

Font is Calluna Sans, because I can’t afford FF Scala Sans. Yet.

I posted this here because I’m about to start work on the redesigned Tokyo map and it looks like it’s gonna take a while, so here’s something to hold you over till that’s done.

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Hong Kong MTR with Station Numbering

mtr with station numbering

The Inkscape standard font YuMincho is really close to the Chinese font used on the actual MTR, but interacts oddly with fonts using the Roman alphabet and doesn’t have the appropriate character for the “Kai” in Kai Tak, all of which proved massively entertaining for monolingual Anglophone yours truly.

A station numbering system for the MTR, based off the one in Singapore, which can be implemented once the West Rail and Ma On Shan Lines are joined together in 2019. Singapore’s system of individual station codes and destination numbers works best, I felt, because the MTR’s existing platform-based numbering system plus the abundance of cross-platform interchanges means there’s a greater need to differentiate between directions of service than there is with other systems.

It also did the least amount of damage to the MTR’s current wayfinding standards. Here, for instance, are some examples of strip maps that would be found within the system:

…and here’s how it would affect the MTR’s existing signage.


Short version: train symbols would only be used to point toward all trains, line names (two letters in rounded boxes because one letter in a squared-off box is for the exits) to point toward both directions of a particular line, destination number to point toward a particular direction of service. Mickey Mouse head always points toward Disneyland when not at Sunny Bay station.

Posted in hong kong, maps, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Paris Metro map, v. 1.(something + 1)

paris metro

Once more something something.

I wanted to hold off on posting this for a bit but the laptop’s going in for a lengthy repair job…again…so my hand has been forced.

Anyway, Konovalov just finished his Paris Metro map. (If that link doesn’t work, it’s also here.) It’s what happens when you take Russian transit map design principles and marry them to the RATP house style, and it’s gorgeous. More specifically:

  • The map shows more landmarks and parks than the official map, like Notre Dame, the Pompidou Centre, the Bastille, Sacre-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, and so forth. This may indicate who the map is for (tourists) more than anything else, but it will help them orient themselves a bit more above ground.
  • The particular interchange symbols used allows for a bit more routing flexibility, which is especially helpful where the T3a intersects with Lines 7 and 8, so one line doesn’t have to run parallel with the other.
  • The fare zones are delineated along the RER/Transilien only, which is a more accurate representation of the Ile-de-France fare structure than what I’d come up with.
  • The northern edge of the map is delineated with the grand sweeping arc of the T1, which means we don’t have to see all of the T8 and a substantial chunk of the T5 for no good reason.
  • Speaking of grand sweeping arcs, Line 15 is portrayed beautifully. (As are under construction lines more generally, pulling them about as far back in the information hierarchy as possible without removing them entirely.)
  • And, perhaps most importantly for my purposes here, it features extensions to Lines 4, 10, and 12 that I missed. Also, the station spacing is very even.

I mention this because, inspired by Konovalov’s masterpiece, I updated my own map so it included all those extensions, and uh…

Continue reading

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San Francisco/NorCal Commuter Rail, Crayon Edition

sf bart mk 2

Better late blech.

This one was like pulling teeth, thanks primarily to a laptop and vector graphics editor that just did not want to behave, and the slow and horrifying realization that this thing wants to suggest a world beyond itself and I would therefore have to sketch several more maps to get this thing to look the way I wanted. Some of those might be fleshed out later.

Resources: this BART expansion map, the 1924 Rand McNally maps of California, the 1921 Official Guide to the Railways, this Marin County interurban map and 1937 Bay Area map from the Greater Marin, these Central Valley interurban maps, these 1932 Bay Area streetcar maps, this Peninsular Railway map and service outline, and quite a few local railway historical society websites.


Posted in maps, san francisco, Uncategorized | 3 Comments