Taipei Metro & a Few Other Things

taipei metro with station numbering

Whoo boy check out them rivers.

This map only exists because I was annoyed by something. The Taipei Metro will roll out a station numbering system next year. This wouldn’t be a problem except (a) I don’t like that the lines are labeled according to color instead of number (so Daan Park, f’rinstance, is R06 instead of 206), (b) you’d think they’d have learned to account for future line extensions from the last time they tried this (BL1 isn’t the terminal station on Line 5; the next station is BL40), and (c) they’ve been really lousy about infill stations and such (the next station on the hopefully soon-to-open airport line after the one labeled A2 isn’t A3, but A2a, then A3, and this is before the system’s had a chance to embed itself in the public consciousness).

So here we are, an attempt to fix the present situation that, as tends to happen, went out of hand once I started accounting for future extensions and so forth. The way the lines converge around Taoyuan Station would probably suck for color-blind users. I would have included the TRA line right there on the map but the Sanying Line got distorted pretty bad and it would have done some serious weaving. I was considering redrawing the Taoyuan portion of the map entirely but I then had problems getting everything to line up properly. As a mea culpa, here’s a bonus rough draft of some signage.

taipei metro signage

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Wellington Metro, Again

wellington metro

Once more, with polish.

It’s that Wellington Metro map I drew when my computer was in the shop back in late December, as rendered on Inkscape. This’d be for like a small tourist brochure or something, the back half of which would be a combination of ad space and nearby attraction information (museums, stadiums, unis, parks, beaches, the Beehive, Weta, &c.).

More fun with icons and station numbers. I’m also really starting to like Myriad as a transit map font. It’s very friendly in a professional sort of way.

Normally I try to avoid placing station labels at an angle, but it’s the cable car, I think I’m at least somewhat justified.

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Montevideo Metro

montevideo metro

Consider yourself lucky I’m not inflicting my awful Spanish on you.

Here’s the other fictional metro system I drew when my computer was in the Apple Store; and its paper origins might go a long way to explaining how it looks the way it looks.

This, I will readily admit, is not what one would call a good map. It’s my first foray in a long time into something other than strict octolinearity, the effect of which is that nothing lines up right and the routes go in all different directions (which, to be fair, is more or less how the major arteries in the Uruguayan capital actually are). The weird kinks in lines C and G are especially inexcusable. But it’s the first like Full Map I’ve done with station numbers in it, so there’s that. I’m also trying a little something different with all the park/airport/bus icons and such.

Route letters, route colors, general map design snafu’d from the Buenos Aires Metro map.

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Diagrammatic 1913 Tube Map


I hate drawing tube maps.

I try to give each map I draw a certain aesthetic which I believe matches its subject’s in some way. Sometimes it works (I still consider those old Koana Islands maps among my best work for that reason and that reason alone) sometimes it doesn’t (one motivation for eventually redoing the Tokyo map is that Futura is a fine font and all but it’s impossible to read from a distance). Europe, meanwhile, is a transit map nerd’s wonderland. I ripped off the Paris Metro map’s design language when drawing my own for a very good reason. The Berlin U- and S-Bahn map is gorgeous. I have not yet seen a transit map from Russia or Ukraine that wasn’t jaw-dropping. There are even some nice hidden gems in places like Lyon or Leipzig. This continent gave us Jug Cerovic.

Which brings us neatly back to the United Kingdom, which in its splendid isolation never attained anything remotely like its continental brothers’ aptitude for transit map design. At all. They have given us exactly one good transit map; everything else is crap.* Unfortunately, although aforesaid good transit map is universally recognized as the transit map, it’s been slowly ruined by all the various lines and branches and fare zones that have been grafted on to it.

More unfortunately, since the tube map is, y’know, The Tube Map, everyone with even a remote interest in this li’l niche discipline has tried their hand at drawing something in the tube map style. This is a double-edged sword: I personally, like many others, can thank a tube-map-esque thing (this one for the LA Metro on some rail advocacy website somewhere) for bringing me into this world, but as my critical faculties have evolved I’ve also realized anything drawn in the style of the tube map is awful.

So I don’t want to draw anything in the tube map style. However, the tube map style is still what’s evocative of London. So I find myself either haltingly distancing myself from the style and largely failing, or trying something new and radical and also failing. Even though the actual tube network is just as clean and straight as Beck made it out to be, drawing a tube map has been much more frustrating and difficult than the Paris or Tokyo spaghetti bowls could ever be.

Which brings us to yet another modern reimagining of a historical map, this one a tube map from 1913. This was in that decadent period in the tube maps’ history right before the war where almost every line got its own color, and the Northern line hadn’t yet become the complicated monster it is today, leading to the most colorful tube map we’d have for about seventy years. I was wondering what would happen if an inquisitive Beck-like fellow had a particular thought process twenty years early. The Circle line and MR East London services got their own route line and color because the only thing worse than two lines with zillions of branches is two lines with zillions of branches that through-run with each other in multiple places.

The Central line is straight, the Waterloo & City line is also straight, the Circle line is square, and the Thames only has four bends. Yay.


*The least worst of the non-tube UK crop is the Glasgow Subway map, which looks good at a glance the same way the DC Metro map looks good at a glance. At least all the station labels are horizontal. The Tyne and Wear Metro map is also interesting, but the unique font is honestly doing most of the work. Evidently, where the French aesthetic focuses on elegance and the German aesthetic focuses on functionality, the British aesthetic focuses on stupefying ugliness. (We Americans are just as bad, of course, but we at least have the excuse of not being able to transit our way out of a paper bag, either.)Fortunately, this creative malaise doesn’t extend to unofficial UK maps; Angus Doyle, Verboten Creative, and Max Roberts have all done fantastic interpretations of (fancy that) the Glasgow Subway/rail network.


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Paris Metro, v. 1.something

You can only fall back on "insert clever caption here" once, alas.

You can only fall back on “insert clever caption here” once, alas.

Oh God, what have I done, I drew a thing.

Stuff I’m happy with:

Continue reading

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A Slightly Different Berlin U-Bahn Map

u-bahn 66

Line EII still looks lonely.

A very spartan quick thing done after finishing the biggest part of a different map. This sucker comes to us from a universe where the Berlin U-Bahn never switched out route letters (AI, AII, BI, &c.) for numbers (1, 2, 3, &c.) in 1966. I drew this because I had a very hard time making sense of the old service patterns and what translated to what (especially with what would become lines U1 through U4), so I was hoping something done in a more modern style would help out a bit.

The S-Bahn isn’t featured on this map because (a) I was focusing on a specific aspect of the U-Bahn at a particular point in its history, and (b) I was lazy. This website, especially the track map and the very large historical map archive, was very helpful.

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Wellington Metro


My computer did a bad thing this week and is now in the Apple Store for a couple days. As I am now Inkscape-less I have resorted to drastic measures. Hence this fantasy map of a medium-capacity light rail system for New Zealand’s capital (think something between the Muni Metro in SF and the Copenhagen Metro and you’re about there).

I may publish a more polished version of this map once I get my computer back. Maybe.

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