Tag Archives: cartography

Again with the NYC! What’s with you people?: “How Your City’s Public Transit Stacks Up”

Don't even count them

Article: How Your City’s Public Transit Stacks Up | FiveThirtyEight.

The author learns what many of us already knew:  NYC, especially in terms of transit use, is so far out of scale with the rest of the country that it’s almost meaningless to include them in studies like this.  I’ve talked about this before.  Just leave NYC out and then you can say something about the rest of … whatever you’re talking about.

“The Many Languages of Transit Platform Signs”


Article: The Many Languages of Transit Platform Signs – CityLab.

I’ll stipulate right up front that including the NYCTA in this is silly.  Four hundred and sixty-eight stations on ten lines served by 24 different services is seriously different from any other rapid transit system in the USA.  So just ignore it.

On the subject of WMATA’s DC Metro (which at least has different services running along the same lines going to different termini) I really don’t understand the move towards directional signage.  As the article says, their system isn’t cartesian, it’s more like spaghetti; what does “westbound” even mean?  And when you’re in DC’s CBD, you’re underground anyway.

Seems to me that pointing to a service’s terminal is the simplest way. If a passenger is trying to navigate, they can see where they have to get off (Quincy Center, say) by comparing where they are (Harvard Square) to where they need to be and then following that line to its end to see which direction they need to go based on the terminal.  Yes, this assumes a line chart or map in the station but you have to give a few hints.  So you go to the platform marked “To Braintree” and get on a train that goes to the same place (not on one marked Ashmont!).

Sometimes not enough attention is paid to wayfinding but I don’t see how moving from terminal names to directions is going to help.

Harland Bartholomew: “Sowing the Seeds of Sprawl” via A Town Square

Bartholomew and Assoc, 1929

Article: Sowing the Seeds of Sprawl | A Town Square.

Harland Bartholomew was a transportation planner about 90 years ago or so.  He’s blamed by many for the auto-centric planning in many cities.  Certainly, he was commissioned to do “major street plans” for many cities, Oakland, Vancouver, Rochester, N.Y.,  and Los Angeles, among them, but it could be that he was just responding to demand.  After all, look at this:

Bartholomew & Assoc, 1929

No one saw this slowing down (it did … eventually) so it was not an irrational decision to plan for more automobiles and their motorized friends.

But I don’t care:  I like the art!

There is actually a good paper about this – see below.  This is where I first saw the drawings.  You can find the paper if you google around but this link should work if you are .edu.

  1. Jeffrey R. Brown, Eric A. Morris, Brian D. Taylor
    Journal of the American Planning Association
    Vol. 75, Iss. 2, 2009