Infographic of the Day: Subway Map Morphs Based on Travel Times

This clever interactive Tube map bends itself into different shapes to visualize travel times from any station in the London Tube system.

Infographic of the Day: Subway Map Morphs Based on Travel Times

The iconic London Tube Map is endlessly inspirational to other designers. Here’s another one for the pile: Tom Carden’s “Time Travel Tube Map” uses the Processing visual programming language to warp London into different shapes that display the travel time required to get to any station in the system from one central location. The clever twist is that the “central” station can be any one you choose: the map reshapes itself to focus on whatever point you happen to be at. It’s like that old saw: “wherever you go, there you are”–but powered by Java.


What London looks like to God.


What London looks like to someone stuck way the #&^@ out in Chesham. (Click to see the interactive version.)

Harry Beck‘s original, damn-near-perfect Tube Map design (inspired by electrical wiring diagrams) revolutionized public wayfinding. But there’s something perversely, selfishly satisfying about taking that angular layout and twisting it to represent your own hellish commute. Even if you’re lucky enough to spend most of your time close to the inner Circle Line, you know that getting around isn’t necessarily neat’n’tidy, as Carden’s map makes clear:


But hey, it’s still better than coming in from Heathrow.



Carden says that his travel-time estimates are still a little off. “You’ll have to factor in interchange times and possibly times when the train is stopped if you want to actually make use of this in its current form,” he writes. Maybe he can update his data and make an iPhone version, so Londoners can all curse their commutes accurately.

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.



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