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For many people, a map of a transportation network is a given, an expected part of the system, something that just is — like a fire-escape plan in a building. So, when I say that I design transportation maps, they don't understand. What is there to design even?
Well, let's take the London underground map as an example. Designed by Harry Beck, it was the world's first transportation map to use the principles of electrical circuit drawings. All line segments were put to the angles of 45 or 90 degrees. The distances between stations were equalized.
A large metropolitan underground train network might as well be a teleportation device: People don’t care how it gets them from A to B, just that it does. In London, Paris and Moscow, the map of the metro does not show surface geography, because there is not much empty space on the sheet.
Designing a city’s metro map is quite a challenging task, even when there is just one line. Last year, my colleague Pasha Omelekhin and I were thrilled to work on the redesign of the metro map for Ekaterinburg, Russia. We had fun (he designed, I directed). In this article, we’ll cover our design process. It’s going to be detailed, so, depending on your interests, this might be very boring or very exciting. Still, we’ve left out so much. We hope this helps in case you have to work on a similar project.