Transit Maps of the World is one of my favorite books. Published in 2007, it lists all the metro/subway/LRT-type mass transit systems of the world, and more interestingly for me, talks about their maps. For the major systems (New York, Paris, London, Moscow, Tokyo), it goes into the history of the systems and their maps, the design philosophy, and so on. I loved it and have re-read it many times.
One day last spring I got an email:
I’m the author of a book called “Transit Maps of the World” and we’re preparing an updated edition. I was wondering if we could perhaps use your map in the book – as an example of how good the official one would be if they adopted this style?
Can I tell you how excited I was when I saw that email? I had to hold back from replying with “OMG YES I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!!!”, though I guess I practically did:
Of course I know your book, I love it! I check regularly on Amazon just in case you’ve published a new book! :) I would love, love to be in your next edition, and I’m so excited that you ARE publishing a new edition!
So, over the next few weeks, the very kind Mark Ovenden sent me his thoughts on Mexico’s map, and encouraged me to update my map for his book (since the version I had on the site at the time was outdated, as it didn’t include the Linea 12, and also used very small icons). Here’s the new, updated version of the map!
Things of note with the new version:
- Line 12 is included!
- The station icons are of much higher quality than they were in my old version.
- The font I used is for the station names is Cabin, and the font for the title is MetroDF (which is based on the actual font found in the metro system today, on the station name signage and elsewhere).
- There’s a bit of a mix in the angles I used. Some are 90, some 35, 45, 60. I tried to keep to a consistent angle, but it was hard, especially in the San Lázaro area.
- Line A should really be more at a 45 degree angle if it was to stay true to it’s geography, but it wouldn’t have fit properly, so I gave it that 90 degree turn instead, after trying a few varients.
- The Tren Ligero (not part of the metro, but I like to include it) also shouldn’t have a sharp 90 degree angle, but again, it made more sense in the space available to include it that way.
- I put the Transfer stations in Bold and Italic, just for kicks.
- I tried to keep the stations spaced evenly in the segments they are found; for example, if you look at Line 7, between Panteones and Tacubaya, they are much closer together than between Tacubaya and Barranca del Muerto. This somewhat reflects the geographical reality, but it also allowed me to keep some lines totally straight, easing legibility in my view.
- At first, Mark didn’t like how I had the sharp 90 degree turn in the Line 2 between Allende and Zócalo, but, that’s how it is in real life, so I convinced him that it was good that way. :)
- Even though some stations now have new names in the actual network (Etiopía, Viveros and Garibaldi are now Etiopía / Plaza de la Transparencia, Viveros / Derechos Humanos and Garibaldi / Lagunilla), I stuck with the original names in my map because I think the name changes are stupid. ;)
- The colours I used are not 100% the colours used in the system; I modified them slightly to my taste. For example, the official colour for Line 1 is a bright pink; mine is slightly darker, which I find increases legibility on the map. Same thing with the yellow on Line 5. The slight colour changes don’t detract from one’s understanding of the system, in my opinion.
So, obviously I am not a professional graphic designer. I basically taught myself how to use Illustrator for the purposes of this map (the old version was made in Inkscape in Windows, and I was unable to get it to work on my Mac). I learned a lot but there were lots of little things that I didn’t know how to do (such as how to make two line segments have an exact angle between them, once I had laid them down). Since I had a bit of a deadline for Mark’s book, I didn’t worry too much about those little details. I want to stress again, though, the fact that I am not a graphic designer, yet I was able to put together something that is not half-bad, and that includes the famous station icons. Compare my map with the official map:
There are so many things wrong with this one, but most importantly:
- Random angle changes to represent the geographical reality, but which end up looking really messy (look at the kinks in Line 6!)
- And of course, no station icons!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t understand why they don’t include the icons. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The signature aspect of the system, one which was meant to help people find their way in the massive network, isn’t actually used in their official maps. I am constantly bemused and astonished by this. Yet, in a way, everything I have today, is thanks to this fact… but that’s a story for another day.
I hope you all appreciate the new map, and if you have any thoughts or suggestions for improvements, please do share! And of course, if you want to read more about the history of the Mexico City metro map, from its origins in the 1960’s to today, I strongly encourage you to get the new edition of Transit Maps of the World!