T-Kartor creates digital maps for NYC subway displays

T-Kartor's newly installed WalkNYC digital screen

New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) are taking a major step towards the future of transport information design with digital screens being installed at 33 newly renovated subway stations.

T-Kartor were asked to develop a specially designed digital version of the printed local area maps we are creating for all 450 subway stations.

Optimised for low resolution
This special adaptation is necessary because digital screens, even so-called HD (high definition) screens and televisions have a very low resolution, compared to your laptop or desktop monitor. This means that smaller features and symbols, or lighter texts are rendered illegible. The images below illustrate the problem:

WalkNYC City Wayfinding maps on digital screens for New York subway maps

T-Kartor carried out a thorough study of fonts, colours and text sizes to achieve increased legibility. Finally, specially designed graphic files were tested in prototypes of the screens, including a study of the ambient conditions, which will influence colours and contrast.

The result was a fine, legible map, which a viewer will perceive as identical to the established printed brand and a wealth of expertise gained, which will form valuable input to the success of future interactive products.

In the New York press:
Brooklyn Reporter
NY Daily News
Gothamist

T-Kartor wins another TfL mapping contract

We are proud to have increased our share of TfL’s cartographic framework. T-Kartor is now the sole supplier of pedestrian and cycling information products containing mapping from the Legible London Database (which T-Kartor maintain under a separate contract).

A whole family products are included in this contract:

Local area maps
Highly-detailed geographic local area maps used for various ad-hoc purposes


Legible London mapping panels
These ‘heads-up’ maps are rotated to match the direction of travel and are placed on a number of pedestrian sign types. Additional information on these signs include street and landmarks indices and directional arrows to nearby neighbourhoods, landmarks or transport nodes.


Continuing your journey posters and leaflets
Highly-detailed geographic local area maps used at transport nodes such as station exits and bus station hubs. These maps usually appear with a schematic map of bus or river services. In some cases they are reproduced as an A4 leaflet.


Cycle Superhighway mapping panels
Cycle Superhighway mapping is elongated to suit the extra distance covered by bike, compared to a five minute walk distance.


Cycle Hire Docking Stations
These maps appear on the cycle hire infrastructure and involve an added technical complexity. The position of all nearby docking stations are shown on each map, so these maps are created paying consideration to the latest status of all stations within a certain radius.

We look forward to four more years continuing our excellent relationship with our highly valued customer.

Report links NYC Citi Bike usage to commuter journeys


Citi Bike in New York City is mainly being used for a short stage of a longer multi-stage commute, illustrating the importance of good wayfinding information at cycle hire stations.

A new report into New York’s Citi Bike scheme has been released by the NYU Rudin Centre for Transportation, available for download here.

Citi Bike is proving a success, with 14 million trips during 2016 representing a rise from 10 million the previous year. By the end of this year the system will have doubled in size to 12,000 bikes and 700 stations. The NYU Rudin Centre for Transportation claims that the diversity of transportation modes are what ‘makes New York move’.

The report suggests that riders are using Citi Bike for ‘last mile’ connections on longer transit trips, closing gaps in the fixed route public transport network.

This is why T-Kartor specialises in producing map information specially designed for each stage of the journey. In order to encourage a shift to sustainable forms of transport, complex journeys must be simplified and more options must be simply presented. At bus stops, for example, we produce maps of available bus services, but also local area maps for those searching for their destination, and onward journey maps showing alternative modes of transport in the vicinity.

Key information for cyclists on New York’s Citi Bike maps (produced by T-Kartor) includes safe and recommended routes; infrastructure such as segregated cycle paths; bike hire stations and cycle repair shops.

Information designed specifically for each mode of transport (including walking and cycling) requires basemaps in varying scales, formats and media. T-Kartor’s City Mapping Platform provides one core basemap, constantly maintained in collaboration with city authorities, with outputs to all necessary scales, formats and media. These include information totems, printed posters, hand held map leaflets, digital displays and smart phone apps.

The power of wayfinding signage to influence behaviour

Always keen to use our mapping products in situ and view them from a user perspective, I recently decided to carry out some research at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The last time I visited was at the height of the Olympic Games and the area was teeming with tourists clutching the T-Kartor produced Host City Map.

I have read about legacy plans for the area and the London Legacy Development Corporation, a mayoral planning authority with the remit to manage ongoing regeneration of the Park and surrounding areas. One stated goal was to link the Olympic Park to the communities in the surrounding urban area. Legible London wayfinding maps are intended to help towards this goal, so I planned to see how well the system works in reality.

As part of T-Kartor’s creation and maintenance of the Legible London database, we developed the online LLAMA portal, from where Transport for London (TfL) can manage Legible London products in a geographic asset management view (above). From the portal I could see the positions of 43 Legible London products. An excel output broke down the details: 11 bus stop maps, 8 vicinity maps at stations (including DLR) and 23 walking totems, of which 4 are OWCRE (Olympic Walking and Cycling Route) signs along the canal towpath. In addition, the LLAMA portal allowed me to study the layout and rotation angle of each sign, and see a preview of the printed artwork (below).

What struck me on arrival at Stratford Station is the complexity of the area. A vast shopping centre and transport hub were my first impressions, but without a map it would be very difficult to appreciate its layout. I made my way across a huge raised walkway towards the old Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham United Football Club, where I hired a (TfL) Santander cycle.

I often hire a TfL cycle in London, and head off in any direction with the confidence (due to the high density of mapping products) that I will not get lost. Although I was very unsure of the area, I soon came across map products and felt confident to explore.

The area is still heavily under construction, and does have a very deserted feel about it. However, I am fascinated by the level of investment in infrastructure that is still going on, years after the Olympic Games left town. The area is trying to encourage growing businesses, with Here East digital quarter, 3 Mills Film and TV Studios and International Quarter London (new home for progressive business).

My cycle ride took me first through the slightly desolate park, around the outside towards Hackney Wick, then along the canal riverwalk. Within a very short cycle I had experienced areas of urban decay and vandalism; recreational areas along the canalside, where people tending their barges lended a feeling of safety; vast, barricaded building sites; new business developments and the impressively landscaped grassy verges of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

An area of such contrasts, both negative and positive, needs cohesion and context. Legible London mapping helps by displaying how the area fits together, how to quickly walk or cycle to areas of safety and just how close everything is to where you are standing. The familiar design will have helped many unfamiliar visitors to the Olympics to feel that the area is as much a part of London as the West End.

If anything, I was disappointed by the lack of density of the wayfinding signage. Once away from the Stratford transport hub I found myself worrying that I had cycled ‘off the map’ before seeing another mapping signpost and breathing a sigh of relief.

I had also expected the area to be more complete than it is. I will have to repeat my field study in a few years and see if the sense of cohesion is improved as well as the density of wayfinding signs.

T-Kartor maps Stockholm

Together with the award-winning design company Familjen Pangea, T-Kartor has completed a project to create new maps for the tram line no 7 to Djurgården. The map designs are based on experience from our successful projects in London, New York, Birmingham, Houston, Toronto, Dublin and Paris.

The detailed maps show all points of interest in the neighbourhood and the best ways to find them or complete the journey to your final destination.

The project also included new maps for the commuter Ferry lines 80, 82 and 89.

“This is yet more proof of our long-term customer relationships with close cooperation and a continuous development of new projects. This project really shows the benefit of using a consistent strategy for Mapping a Connected City to support sustainable mobility strategies. We look forward to supporting Stockholm as it strives towards a Greener Capital.”
Erik Körling, Managing Director T-Kartor Content Management

T-Kartor to create bus maps for Paris

T-Kartor has been chosen by the Syndicat des Transports d’Île-de-France (STIF) to supply up to 40,000 automated bus passenger information maps throughout the Île-de-France region.

Passenger information is a requirement for all of the 40,000 bus stops in the Île-de-France. Previously it has proved difficult for the STIF to coordinate 80 separate bus service operators to produce this information to a consistent high standard. T-Kartor’s online production system will automate the production of the information, allowing bus service operators to login, order and download information for the appropriate bus stops, then print and mount the posters at bus stops.
STIF
The maps, produced by T-Kartor to meet the STIF’s detailed design specifications, comprise a basemap with relevant places of interest. A 5 minute walk circle is added help users appreciate the distances involved. Bus stops symbolised within the 5 minute walk circle are accompanied by a routes tabs which denote the bus routes serving the stop and the end destination to show direction.

STIF

T-Kartor will utilise our considerable experience in this field throughout the project. Our online platform is already deployed to existing customers such as Transport for London and the New York City Department for Transport. The system’s automated output tools will now be customised so that all of STIF’s products meet their high standards for quality and ease of distribution.

The first phase delivery is expected to be previewed for selected bus service operators by the end of November.

‘All change’ on Transport for London public information


London Underground
This weekend sees the introduction of a 24hr tube service reflecting the 24hr life of the city and catching up with New York, Berlin and Sydney. The roll-out, starting with the Victoria and Central Lines then extending to Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines this autumn, is a strategy calculated to cut night journey times by an average of 20 mins. It is expected to boost the night-time economy by £360m and create almost 2000 permanent jobs.

More than 80 of the 350 Bus Spider maps produced by T-Kartor will require updates to reflect these changes, including a Tube Owl symbol at all stations operating a 24hr service and Night Bus Spiders for services interchanging with these stations.


nightbus

Being a key supplier of customer information to TfL is not only about understanding a complex transport network and presenting it simply and clearly, but evolving the information design to reflect new strategies. Our mapping information supports transport strategies by drawing attention to improvements and helping locals and visitors to understand changes and how to benefit from them.


Cycle route information
Quietways are being introduced by TfL as a network of radial and orbital routes linking key destinations in ways which are safer and favourable for cyclists. The new routes follow backstreets, through parks and along waterways and tree-lined streets. To develop these into continuous cycle routes, new wayfinding, surface and junction improvements are being introduced, while barriers, such as chicanes, are being removed.


Cycle Superhighways map layers

Cycle Superhighways are longer, faster routes running from outer London into and across Central London. They often follow wide, main roads, with as much segregation as possible from traffic, especially at junctions, to increase safety.


Quietways on Cycle Hire Docking Station (Design beta only)

T-Kartor has included the quietways, existing and planned, as separate live layers in the Legible London database. These layers can be used in a variety of information products, including interactive layers on digital information.

Follow this blog for how TfL will be creating and managing data for its cycle journey planner.

Royalty free basemap for Dublin Bus


Existing bus information from Dublin Bus

T-Kartor are creating a royalty free basemap for Dublin Bus to use freely for a range of transport information products. In our experience, licensing costs for derived map uses are becoming increasingly unpopular as modern online mapping solutions are getting us used to expecting free maps.

Here it could be relevant to point out some differences between free online maps and a quality basemap made specifically for a purpose which includes print products. While free online mapping is excellent for its intended purpose, that purpose is to underpin the offered functionality of an interactive application. Printing out an internet map at A4 size will reveal that the quality is not suitable for a larger scale printed product. Equally important is the content of the map, which should be tailored to the needs of the user, rather than catering for a generic world-wide user profile.

The art of cartography lies in choosing the optimal density of content and displaying that content in a clear information hierarchy and appealing design. This content, hierarchy and design should be individual to each scale at which the map will be used (and printed). In the case of Dublin Bus we will add layers of bus information as versatile route vectors, to be supplied as an integral part of the basemap. These data layers will be carefully aligned to the base at appropriate scales with a plan for their maintenance. The vectors can then be used in a variety of ways in future, such as automated information products or online interactive bus information.

The unlocked, layered basemap, supplied in Adobe Illustrator format, will be owned by Dublin Bus for any future intended use. This is in accordance with T-Kartor principles which seek not to lock customers into our proprietary solution. We are confident instead that we can offer services on top of the basemap which are so good our customers won’t want to go elsewhere.

T-Kartor named in Transport for London’s 100 top design icons

T-Kartor have been credited with the design of the Bus Spider Map, cited among TfL’s top 100 design icons. (Click link and see item 58).

While we cannot possibly take all the credit, we have contributed much to the design since the maps were first conceived and have supplied TfL with more than 350 ’Bus Spiders’ in the past 15 years.

The concept of the Bus Spider map is unbeatable in its simplicity. Rather than show all the complex bus routes in a given area, the routes available from a small hub of stops are displayed in a schematic diagram allowing graphic simplicity and balance. The popularity of the Bus Spider map has since spread to many other cities around the world, see some of our example designs below.

At T-Kartor we are always looking for ways to save money for our customers while at the same time improving quality. As part of a suite of software creating automated transport information for South Yorkshire PTE, we developed a semi-automated Bus Spider module. Automated processes reduced production times from 3 days to 3 hours!

Stockholm Spider Map


Stavanger, Norway Spider Map


Southern Railway Spider Map


South Yorkshire PTE (semi-automated) Spider Map