Max Roberts is perhaps unique amongst transit map people in that he does not like the Paris Metro map. Like someone glued a bunch of popsicle sticks together, he describes it.* What’s interesting is he also says that, thanks to the network’s sheer density and complexity, it’s more or less impossible to create a good map of the Paris Metro.
On that score, at least, he’s probably right. The Paris Metro map is as successful as it is mostly because of the distinctly Parisian visual identity it creates versus any simplification of the routes themselves. Other designers’ attempts at conquering this beast have only been partially successful, so what to do?
As it happens, the Ile-de-France railway network is particularly well-suited to station numbering. Most of the time, one pair of tracks corresponds to a distinct Metro/RER/Transilien service. And a well-developed and well-implemented station numbering plan can rescue a truly abominable transit map. The official map of the Tokyo Metro, f’rinstance, is horrifying, but the system itself is still extremely easy to navigate because every station in the system is numbered. I, an idiot American tourist whose Japanese is limited to a few stock phrases, have had to navigate the system several times on my own and I have never got lost once. This, again, despite an official map that makes my eyes bleed.
So here we are. The basic idea is that the numbers get higher the farther out you go (this also allows for extensions in either direction). Stations on branches are numbered according to whatever number their branches were traditionally assigned (so stations on the C5 branch to Versailles-Château are numbered C5XX). Other notes:
- I’m aware the C8 branch from Savigny to Versailles will be taken over by the Tram Express Sud (which we’ll get to), but I did want to see how it would look in this particular scheme.
- I (hopefully) included any interchanges with other RER/Transilien/Metro/tram lines, including the Grand Paris Express.
- The Tram Express lines were renamed T11, T12, and T13 because calling ’em Tram Express Nord, Sud, and Ouest just bothered me the same way the initial plan to name the Grand Paris Express lines the Red Line, Orange Line, &c. bothered me. The existing naming conventions are just fine, honest.
I have no idea how to incorporate station numbers into the existing Metro map(s). Perhaps that’ll be a project for when I’m not completely burnt out on drawing big huge regional metro/commuter rail maps anymore.
*I happen to really like it, but feel the Ile-de-France regional map is more successful because the thick lines and sweeping curves of the RER and Transilien provide a clear backbone for everything else, and because I know for a fact that it’ll be good until at least 2030…and may in fact become more prominent as the Grand Paris Express is completed. That said, there’s still a place for the Paris Metro map we know and (mostly) love, and as the outer suburban Metro lines are completed it’ll probably be less useful as a map for The Metro and more useful as a map for Inner Paris City. Anyway.