Alternative Tube Maps: A New Geographic Map


Mark Noad sends us a link to a new version of the Tube map he’s put together. It shows all stations on the network displayed in positions closer to their actual locations than on the official map. The Thames also adopts a more naturalistic shape.

The map is an unofficial response to a recent backlash against the standard version, originally designed by Harry Beck. This is often described as a ‘design classic’, showing routes and stations schematically rather than geographically. Some think it’s confusing. Recent research found that many travellers make longer journeys than necessary after consulting the map.

Hence, Noad’s spatially improved effort. It’s only a test version at the moment, but is already stirring up attention. Of course, the idea is nothing new. Before Beck came along, all Tube maps were geographically based, and other attempts have been made to make geographically accurate modern maps. This updated version seems to be a compromise between the clean angles of the official map and the cluttered chaos of a truly precise representation. What do you think?

See also: Our guide to alternative Tube maps.

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  • Friendly_dolphin

    Ahh yes Covent Garden to Oxford Circus and Warren St to Regents Park catch out lots of people, there may well more. These are but a short walk. 

  • Friendly_dolphin

    Ahh yes Covent Garden to Oxford Circus and Warren St to Regents Park catch out lots of people, there may well more. These are but a short walk. 

  • http://twitter.com/pmberry2007 Paul Berry

    People who know the shortcuts, eg it’s quicker (to say nothing of cheaper) to walk Bayswater – Queensway, don’t use the map anyway because they already know where they’re going. So the map isn’t any help in this regard, which is why attempts to make it geographic are interesting but of little practical use, surprisingly.

    If you want a geographic map, the A-Z already provides this, and shows a lot more than the tube!

    Discussed at length here: http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~mjr/underground/mythset/12geography.html

    Sorry to rain on your parade.

  • http://twitter.com/pmberry2007 Paul Berry

    People who know the shortcuts, eg it’s quicker (to say nothing of cheaper) to walk Bayswater – Queensway, don’t use the map anyway because they already know where they’re going. So the map isn’t any help in this regard, which is why attempts to make it geographic are interesting but of little practical use, surprisingly.

    If you want a geographic map, the A-Z already provides this, and shows a lot more than the tube!

    Discussed at length here: http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~mjr/underground/mythset/12geography.html

    Sorry to rain on your parade.

  • http://twitter.com/pmberry2007 Paul Berry

    People who know the shortcuts, eg it’s quicker (to say nothing of cheaper) to walk Bayswater – Queensway, don’t use the map anyway because they already know where they’re going. So the map isn’t any help in this regard, which is why attempts to make it geographic are interesting but of little practical use, surprisingly.

    If you want a geographic map, the A-Z already provides this, and shows a lot more than the tube!

    Discussed at length here: http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~mjr/underground/mythset/12geography.html

    Sorry to rain on your parade.

  • http://twitter.com/pmberry2007 Paul Berry

    People who know the shortcuts, eg it’s quicker (to say nothing of cheaper) to walk Bayswater – Queensway, don’t use the map anyway because they already know where they’re going. So the map isn’t any help in this regard, which is why attempts to make it geographic are interesting but of little practical use, surprisingly.

    If you want a geographic map, the A-Z already provides this, and shows a lot more than the tube!

    Discussed at length here: http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~mjr/underground/mythset/12geography.html

    Sorry to rain on your parade.

    • https://profiles.google.com/joel.m.phillips Joel

      “People who know the shortcuts … don’t use the map anyway …  which is why attempts to make it geographic are … of little practical use”

      I believe that the aim is to make the map more useful for people who don’t know the shortcuts, i.e. to provide a better indication of where they might be better off walking.

  • Anonymous

    Aside from being a more natural shape, would this change your behaviour in helpful ways? I don’t see it encouraging anyone to use Lancaster Gate for Paddington (which looks like a long way still). 

    The wiggles also make logical journeys look longer – the waterloo and city doesn’t jump out and the best way to Bank now that it’s a squiggle, for example.

    I appreciate the effort but I’m not sure would be achieved by it.  

  • Guest

    I’m torn as in on one hands, it does seem to make it a lot clearer. On the other hand it confuses certain areas; for example it looks like you can take the Northern Line from Warren Street to Kings Cross without changing.

    What I do really like are the interchange symbols. Elongating them, like on continental metro maps, I thought would look awful but they’re done with sufficient style here for them to work. Including the NR symbol within it really works beautifully and I don’t care that it displaces the disabled access symbol because that is totally useless and clutters the map (disabled people need the specialist map anyway that shows train to platform distance – lift to platform means nothing if you then can’t board the train).

    There could be some improvements still. The number of interchange blobs could be reduced slightly: Overground at Euston for example doesn’t need an extra blob and ditto Canary Wharf. Yes there is a distance between Canary Wharf DLR and Jubilee but so to at Green Park – just because it is inside the station doesn’t mean it isn’t a long walk!

  • Guest

    I’m torn as in on one hands, it does seem to make it a lot clearer. On the other hand it confuses certain areas; for example it looks like you can take the Northern Line from Warren Street to Kings Cross without changing.

    What I do really like are the interchange symbols. Elongating them, like on continental metro maps, I thought would look awful but they’re done with sufficient style here for them to work. Including the NR symbol within it really works beautifully and I don’t care that it displaces the disabled access symbol because that is totally useless and clutters the map (disabled people need the specialist map anyway that shows train to platform distance – lift to platform means nothing if you then can’t board the train).

    There could be some improvements still. The number of interchange blobs could be reduced slightly: Overground at Euston for example doesn’t need an extra blob and ditto Canary Wharf. Yes there is a distance between Canary Wharf DLR and Jubilee but so to at Green Park – just because it is inside the station doesn’t mean it isn’t a long walk!

  • Marc Dickson

    Just clicked on the link for the map site and my instant reaction that this is one ugly map. It serves a very useful purpose though – to show that ‘accurate’ geography and straight lines don’t mix.

  • Guest

    It makes it more obvious than ever how SE London gets badly served by the tube.  The Overground extension will help, but we need Bakerloo, Northern and Victoria line extensions now!

    • Paul

      Ditto for the South West London area.
      Most of the time the area south of Richmond and west of Wimbledon is covered by the map’s key and is forgotten about.
      I’m continually amazed that Kingston, given its size and regional importance has no tube link.
      If you take away nearby Surbiton’s fast link to Waterloo, the Kingston borough has no transport infrastructure worth talking about.

      There is talk about Sutton borough getting a northern line extension, but no doubt it will be well down the list, with investment continuing in areas that already have a decent infrastructure.

    • Paul

      Ditto for the South West London area.
      Most of the time the area south of Richmond and west of Wimbledon is covered by the map’s key and is forgotten about.
      I’m continually amazed that Kingston, given its size and regional importance has no tube link.
      If you take away nearby Surbiton’s fast link to Waterloo, the Kingston borough has no transport infrastructure worth talking about.

      There is talk about Sutton borough getting a northern line extension, but no doubt it will be well down the list, with investment continuing in areas that already have a decent infrastructure.

  • James Croydon

    I love the fact that Croydon is on this new and inspirational map. How fantastic that such an Iconic map is getting a facelift for the 21st century. I love the logo too with the old and new working in symbiosis. Gherkin and Shard next to Big Ben and St Paul’s. Wonderful! 
    If you think Croydon needs a facelift and a positive change and could ‘truly’ deserve a place on this map, rather than being a blot on the landscape have a look at:

    http://residentsforregen.wordpress.com

  • officeHoward

    love it :-)

  • officeHoward

    love it :-)

  • http://twitter.com/venyanamore Venyanamore

    I don’t like the way Croydon is dealt with – the Overground route is far more direct than it looks. Barking-Upminster and the outer reaches of the Met could be more spread out, too, I think, while the stations between Baker Street and Finchley Road could do with being a bit more squeezed together.

    An interesting idea, but I don’t think it quite works as a compromise between the geographic and purely schematic approach

  • Adrian Mercer

    Forget quantitiive easing by buying bonds from the banks.  As many of the comments above suggest they should be developing more transport infrastructure.  Crossrail’s price tag is around £16 billion so the £75 billion they’ve just spent on bank bonds would go a fair way towards providing a decent infrastructure – maybe even pay for Boris’s Thames Estuary Airport.  It would also ensure that the money actually gets into the economy rather than just boosting the banks coffers so they can pay themselves bigger bonuses

  • Guest

    I see no reason why Croydon should be on the “London” underground map. 
    Croydon is part of another county. It should be on this map no more than Newcastle.

    Moving on, I quite like this new design it’s certainly more aesthetically pleasing than the current one. However it’s application is another thing. There is no point in having a new map if it is crudely cropped by the trains framing.

  • Anonymous

    Well, if the relationship of Royal Oak to Bayswater and the route of the HEX is anything to go by, I’ll stick with the old Beck version

  • Fran

    I remember a “natural” map form at least 10 years ago, not sur why this was not adopted.  Not sure that the spacing from Kings Cross to Holborn is right.  Even I can walk this in little more than 10 minutes

    • Anonymous

      Really? I used to walk that route every day, and it would take at least 20…even using a few little-known shortcuts.