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Transport / Mass transit

Transport for London's zoomable new tube map is completely terrible

This week, two new London transit maps appeared. We’ve already aired our thoughts on the train map (tl;dr: TfL is gradually eating the entire London train network), but there’s also a few things worth pointing out about the design of the new Tube map, which you can now scroll around and zoom into on the TfL website. Spoiler: they’re all pretty negative.

All the overlapping Overground lines are confusing 

East London has now lost any semblance of the colour system used on the rest of the map, thanks to a bird’s nest of orange Overground lines:

Couldn’t you, like, space them out a bit better? This is just agony.

The Central line has got all kinky

 

This is presumably to leave space for Crossrail, but that isn’t opening for four years, and at the moment it just looks awful.

Things keep going missing

Honestly, what’s happened to the Kensington Olympia branch? The station blog is still there, but no trains are serving it. What the hell?

On the upside, the Emirates Airline – which, remember, doesn’t count as a transport link – has had the same treatment.

It doesn’t work on Safari 

Because no one will ever need to look at the map on an iPhone, right? Barely anyone uses iPhones these days. 

They’ve made the font more spindly

We’ve gone from this:

To this: 

The old font was smaller, rounder, and much more thickly set. The new one is thinner yet, possibly due to its size, actually looks more cramped. The text around Kensington is a real mess.

The text just keeps crashing into things

Look:

Harry Beck must be turning in his grave. 


Now, we know a few of points may sound a little pernickety. And we appreciate that this is an electronic version, produced for web users, rather than the final version that’ll actually be appearing at stations.

But increasingly people do plan their travel using electronic maps. Imagine how much these problems would affect you if you don’t have brilliant eyesight, or are a visiting tourist.

The best thing about London’s tube network and its famous map has always been its focus on clarity and usability. It seems a shame to ditch all that, just for the sake of a shiny new zoom function.
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