Harry Beck changed the way we see the way we understand transport systems when he came up with his now famous tube map which dropped the geographical accuracy in favour of legibility. It was so successful that almost all transit systems around the world now use a similar design. The difference between the two types of maps is most obvious when laid next to or on top of each over. Below are some neat visualisations showing just that.

The first one is from an associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston. He’s take the transit maps for Boston, New York and Washington DC and distorting them over a geographical map of the city. The maps can be zoomed and the transparency of the transit map adjusted to see the geographical map below. The map below is from Washington.

DC Metro Map distorted

Another way of showing this is in the video below of the Shanghai Metro which also shows each service travelling through the network over the course of the day. I always find these type of visualisations strangely mesmerising.

There was a similar one done of Auckland’s network a few years ago. It would be great to see what it would look like in a few years after the new network and faster electric trains have rolled out

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  1. The irony is that the only part of the Auckland Network that seems to work as it should is Waiheke where the buses clearly wait for the ferries, and then arrive in time for the ferries.

    In Auckland whilst there are nodes, it doesn’t appear coordinated, for example in GI the trains and buses all meet but the buses that go the way people would want to go (up toward St Heliers and Glendowie) are so infrequent you can’t connect so the potential for the train station is limited. For example in the morning peak they all run toward the city and in the afternoon from the city. I would have thought it would be more efficient and encourage greater use if they went the opposite way, so people within a 10 minute bus ride (most of GI, and Glendowie) are fed into the train station.

  2. I presume you mean “mesmerising”, not memorising” Matt?

    I’m a sucker for transport maps; a few years ago I picked up in Washington DC a gorgeous book “Transit Maps of the World” – purportedly every metro system in the world in living colour (and a nice history of how many have developed) – see http://www.amazon.com/Transit-Maps-World-Mark-Ovenden/dp/0143112651. Even had Auckland in there (or at least the proposed future network I think)

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