Our post about Mark Noad’s attempt to improve the classic London Underground map (or is it a diagram?) got readers excited and enraged in equal measure. That didn’t stop him from continuing to refine his creation, which adds additional geographic accuracy and other re-visualizations like transit times between stations and a stark view of which stations offer step-free access to the disabled. Oh, and there’s an iPhone app now, too.
One of the most confusing aspects of the classic Tube Map for travelers new to London is its geographic distortion--certain stations seem mere steps away from each other when they’re actually a hike, or vice versa. Noad’s first redesign addressed this by simply rejiggering the diagram to be more literally map-like, but his updated version does one better by providing an interactive overlay that visually highlights the station groups that tend to confuse people in this way, and displays walking times in minutes between them.
Even better, though is his visualization of which stations in the Underground station offer step-less access: the map simply deletes all the stations that don’t, making the ones that do much easier to zero in on quickly--while also making a stark statement about "how few stations in central London cater for disabled travellers," Noad writes.
That said, interacting with the map in a browser window is an awkward chore: the map can’t be blown up to full-screen and the legend is simply too tiny to be useful. The iPhone app isn’t much better: the static maps offer none of the web-version’s useful interactivity other than pinching and zooming -- tapping on a station does nothing. Instead, the app launches with a strangely bare-looking text list of stations to browse, which offer interesting historical factoids but don’t link to each other in a standard "trip planner"-type way. We applaud Noad’s continuing efforts to refine the London Underground map for digital platforms, but there’s still a long way to go.