London's railway maps are confusing and cluttered, they were once a design classic and I want to bring this quality back. I present an invigorated map for every line and station in London. This map will be the key to getting around London in the fastest way possible.
It is a work in process and that's where you come in. When you join this Kickstarter project you can get involved with the final stages of shaping this map. Only by listening and responding to these will London get the map it deserves. As well as being involved you can also get your hands on some high quality prints of the final design.
This project is to refine and distribute new designs for the maps used by millions everyday to navigate London's extensive rail system. I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that the classic tube map has lost its way since it was first produced. Don't take my word for it check this link to the original produced by Henry Beck in 1933 http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/images/general/beckmap1.jpg. Since that time much has changed and the network is substantially larger than in 1933. I think it is time for a thorough refresh and I have already created my own vision of the map www.londonlayout.co.uk. Now I want to have some input from you, the users, whether you be a frequent commuter or a one time visitor. Once finished we will have a map focusing on the core values of clarity and self consistency. A map which everyone would find useful everyday and is attractive. In this modern age we need to go beyond a simple print version and create a version suitable for the digital age.
As a reward for all of this everyone who donates will be able to get involved with the design process. I will be asking for input along the way as well as listening to suggestions. See below for more details. This is important so that the map is intelligible to the widest possible audience. For those who want to get more involved I will be producing poster size prints as well as framed limited edition first prints. Check the rewards on the right.
A final reward for everyone will be a free to view website without any advertisement on the map.
I started creating this map before I had any desire to take it out into the world. I wanted to learn a Vector Graphics program and to do this I set out on my own visualization of London's tube. My idea was to create something new but I didn't want to modernize just for the sake of it. I wanted to create something that would be recognisable as the London tube map instantly.
One of the major reasons that the map has lost its way is that new lines are forced into the existing layout. For example the Jubilee line takes a tortuous route around Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge. This is so the older circle and district lines can follow their preexisting routes. This is far from the optimum layout. This priority to older lines is doubly misleading as the circle line is now one of the slowest lines in the network.
As an example of this the journey from Westminster to Shadwell on the old map makes most sense if you travel Westminster to Tower Hill change to Tower Gateway and on to Shadwell. A journey time of 24 minutes. However the journey on the Jubilee line to Canada Water and overground from there takes only 14 minutes. There is similar misdirection from Paddington station to Bond Street, and from Baker Street to London bridge.
The next question was why does the Thameslink not appear on the tube map? The answer is that it is not run by Transport for London. That's fine, but a high frequency service through the center of London cannot be ignored. Particularly as you can touch in on this service using an Oystercard. At this point the rather daunting prospect of remapping the whole Oyster zone arose and a month later I had produced the maps I am now presenting here.
As mentioned some areas of the map have lost their way more thoroughly than others. Below I present some of the areas I think are most Improved by my layout.
This image compares my tube map with the Official Tfl map. Several important changes are visible here, primarily the much more accurate geographical representation of Westminster, Waterloo and Embankment. This allows a simpler routing of the Jubilee line. Next is the reduction in size and complexity of station interchange symbols. The official map suggests that changing Bakerloo to Northern is easiest at Charing Cross; however the change is much easier accomplished at Embankment.
This extract compares the maps also showing suburban rail services. The lines heading east from London Bridge show one of the eccentricities prevalent in the official map - the random separation between lines travelling in the same direction.
When simplifying the geographic layout of the London rail network I experimented with using lines at more angles than just those at 0,45 and 90 degrees. However I felt this made the eye less able to follow lines across the page. Limiting myself to these angles was also effective at keeping the London identity
I chose to substantially simplify the interchange symbol. In the official map the separations of lines across stations has no consistency to the point of being misleading. The station symbols are therefore as small as possible for each station. Disabled access information will be included as colour-coded symbols within or near the interchange symbol. (This is the information layer I am currently working on.)
This map is as likely if not more likely to be viewed on a screen as it is on paper. This factor can be used to simplify the map by removing information until it is requested by the user. The base map shows only the stations and connections between them. Information such as disabled access, zone and riverboat connections are important but can add confusion and on many occasions are not required.
Interchanges between stations are displayed differently to interchanges available within stations. This helps clarify which station your train is calling at, information the dubious use of the existing interchange symbol can obscure.
If you've read this far then I hope you are interested and excited about what I am trying to create here. I will now present some of the options I want feedback on.
First the new Blackfriars station crosses the river. It would be good if an intuitive symbol could be created to show this. Below I present an option of simply extending the station symbol across the river.
The advantage of this is that for a very simple addition the station now crosses the river while the circle and district lines remain on the north bank. The disadvantage is that Blackfriars becomes the largest station on the map. This possibly suggests an importance that it does not deserve.
Second is the layout of lines through Earls Court.
Apart from my own journeys there has been one journey made with this map. My parents visited a few weeks ago. The journey to be made was from Wapping to Waterloo. They caught their train.
I have been working on this map intermittently since the beginning of this year. I have enjoyed working on the design even when dealing with the time consuming job of adding labels to 400 plus Oyster accessible stations. To be able to take this project to a professional level of completion I now need to devote more time to it. Kickstarter gives me three things. Firstly is the finance. Every extra pound is more time I can spend on making a free for all website. Secondly is the visibility; I hope that more people can see my project through this site. Finally is the feedback from all the people who participate in my project. The most important thing for this project is the clarity of the final result and I will read and consider all feedback.
I am passionate about maps, I will study intently any new map I come across. My current job takes me all over London and I have to rely on the standard London map. For these reasons I will continue to improve the maps I am designing here regardless of the Kickstarter outcome.
My background is in physics. Since graduating I have worked in several areas programming, skills I will be able to use in creation of an interactive webpage.
- Make a clear clean map showing the London Underground which is free of historic artifacts that lead to confusion and bad route choices.
- Make a comprehensive map of every single station in greater London accessible with an Oystercard with the same priority to useability
- Create an information layer for disabled access on both versions of the map.
- Create a layer with cycle access information for both.
- Build a website which allows toggling between all the maps above, scrolling and zooming over the maps and with a station search function.
- Integrated live line status updates into the website key.
Progress with the first two points is essentially complete and the disabled layer and cycle access layer are under construction. A prototype of the interactive map is available here. http://www.londonlayout.co.uk/Online_v1.svg
The funding goal has been set to cover the costs of hosting and running a website. The cut of successful funding taken by Kickstarter and production and delivery cost of physical rewards. All extra funding will be used to cover my time to extend functionality of the website.
To reduce the risks associated with this project the core goals have been restricted to only the most essential functions. Stretch goals will follow in the order outlined below. Target funds for these goals will be added at a later date.
- £1600 - The first stretch goal of this project is to add simple route finding.
- £2000 - The second stretch goal would be to include animated Route Finding overlaid on the map
- £XXX - Further enhancements to the website version.
- £XXX - Android App
- £XXX - Iphone App
- £XXX - Windows App
Risks and challenges
The map is already designed and only small modifications remain. There is no risk associated with this part of the process. I have already brought a domain name and hosting for 2 years. I have created a first iteration of the interactive map available at www.londonlayout.co.uk/Online.htm
The largest unknown is development time of an interactive webpage. I am aware of all the steps to be taken, the design is a SVG file produced in Inkscape. It will be saved as simple SVG without Inkscape extras. This format has wide browser support. Inkscape include controls to add interactivity to elements or group elements which provides a helpful handle with programming.
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