Why are all the ends of the lines cut off?
So that’s part of the concept I’m playing around with. The big challenge with the current system map (and, in a different way, the Cambridge Seven spider map before it) is the balance of simple diagram vs geographic fidelity — particularly in that it’s hard to tell on the current map which
parts have been simplified and which parts have fidelity.
The current diagram also suffers from having the Key Bus Routes grafted on in ways that are inelegant and confusing; likewise, the current diagram also loses key information about potential walking transfers. (These problems interact as well; the current diagram’s wide spacing between Copley and Back Bay makes the 39 appear to do a bizarre reverse branch at its inbound terminals. If Back Bay and Copley were shown closely enough to indicate a walking transfer, it would be much easier to unobtrusively illustrate the 39’s service of both stations.)
It occurred to me earlier today that the parts of the map that are most severely in need of geographic fidelity are those within a broadly defined "Urban Ring Corridor" -- basically everything inside of Airport - Sullivan - Harvard - Kenmore - Brookline Village - Ruggles - Andrew. It's within this zone that there are direct connections between lines, walking transfers that rely on visual proximity to diagram correctly, and where the network topology is complicated enough to require a diagram to illustrate.
of that zone, the current diagram really is just a list of stations on each line and branch. (We don't even show the transfer at Reservoir/Cleveland Circle.) And this holds true for most of the Key Bus Routes, as well -- outside of the inner zone, all you really get out of the current diagram is, for example "111 goes to Woodlawn via Bellingham Sq", or "116 & 117 both go to Wonderland via Revere Center via separate routes." That's not particularly informative, and I think that trying to display it visually (using the same language used to illustrate the 1's and the 39's criss-crossing loop-de-loops) creates a noisier, more confusing diagram.
So, the lines on this diagram I sketched out today end around the Urban Ring Corridor and feed into a list of remaining stops on that line. (Taking a cue from some old London Underground maps.) If the diagram is just going to visually list the stations anyway, why not let it literally list them and save the visual clutter for illustrating the more confusing parts of the network? And in this way, this diagram is also much clearer about which parts are geographically accurate vs simplified.
My plan is to make the station lists a bit more elaborate, including indicating transfers available at each station. I also want to experiment with adding the 15-min frequent network into this diagram (in lieu of the Key Bus Routes), hopefully with similar design language in boxes at the edges to say, e.g.:
23: to Ashmont [RL]
28: to Mattapan [RL-M]
In today's draft, I was originally opting not to write out the names of minor Green Line and Silver Line stops on the BCE and SL4/5. But I'm going to experiment with that, because I think it may actually be doable. Alternatively, I may "trim" the western boundary of the map a little bit (stretching the geography slightly) so that I can just put most/all B & C stops into an "outer box". IIRC, there is user research suggesting people do prefer to have all those stops listed out, so I do think I need to list them.
, yeah this would not be suitable for the commuter rail, and like I described above, is pretty intentionally designed to focus on the inner core of the system. That said, I do think it would be easier to visually promote the Fairmount Line into the rapid transit tier on a diagram like this than on the current diagram, where Dorchester is already crowded and noisy. (I've also been thinking about whether insets could be useful here; a simple diagram of the 15-min network in Dorchester [which is something I've wanted to do for a while now] could be added into the lower right corner, for example.
The level of geography to include is an open question. I'm not thrilled
with what I've done with the water in this draft -- it is pretty sloppy and really just there to have something
in this draft.
(As I understand it, someone at the T [not the map designer himself] was pretty insistent on visualizing the shoreline, so I figure I might as well try to accommodate that soft requirement.) Adding green space for parks is a nice idea. I'd be wary of adding too many more items, but marking hospitals seems like a possibility, and perhaps university buildings (though I would not want to label them -- just use an H for hospital buildings and... I dunno what to do for universities).
Unrelated to any of the above, but one thing to note about this diagram: I have attempted to keep all sizing intact from the current diagram. The lines are the same thickness relative to the size of the page, as are the stop sizes, and the labels themselves have just been repositioned from the official diagram, with no resizing whatsoever. (My hope there is to manage to satisfy ADA guidelines that I know exist but with which I am unfamiliar.)