Map of the Day: A new New Jersey rail diagramBy
Geography or schematic? That is the question. In a new map showing the state’s commuter rail network, New Jersey Transit has gone with the latter. The new diagram, unveiled yesterday, is supposed to be “customer-friendly” with “more open design and new color scheme for easy customer reference,” the agency said.
“The new design is intended to be simple, familiar and inviting, not only for our regular customers, but also for those residents and visitors who have never before traveled on the State’s rail network,” NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein said. “We hope that customers will find the new map to be a valuable tool in their travels on our system.”
The map, designed in house, marks a move from the previous version which featured the train system in a purely geographic setting. Through color-coding and a streamlined design, the map now better highglights transfer points and routing. It also features the “completion of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail 8th Street Station, accessibility improvements at Somerville, Ridgewood and Plauderville stations, and the addition of the future Pennsauken Transit Center.”
Still, despite the upgrades, there’s no small bit of state-based protectionism involved. While the PATH system gets its day in the sun and the Port Jervis line branches into New York, New Jersey Transit pays scant attention to SEPTA’s connection from Trenton to Philadelphia and beyond. Transit networks are regional, but this map doesn’t extend far beyond the borders of the Garden State.
While I like the simplicity of the design and the idea behind it, it certainly has its flaws. Over at the Transit Maps tumblr, Cameron Booth is not a fan. Calling the map “sad, tired and amateur,” Booth finds it an unwieldy amalgam of styles: “It seems to have taken elements from many different transit maps and mashes them into one big mess. We have the thick route lines and giant circle transfer stations of Washington, DC Metro, icons for the lines similar to – but nowhere nearly as well executed – the Lisbon Metro, and different station symbols for each and every mode of transit.”
Form vs. function. Design vs. geography. The rail map battle always rages on.