Now and then, advertising seizes on the image of a classic subway map, using it to organise some other set of ideas. From the Metro Wine Map of France:
The Metro station stands for some distinct thing that we should learn to distinguish from other things nearby — fine-grained appellations in this case. The brightly colored subway lines are categories that we should also understand — in this case, the wine regions of France. Somehow this metaphor seems to satisfy, over and over, as a way to bring a certain je ne sais quoi to a topic.
(Absentmindedly, I begin to sketch a radial metro network converging on a central station complex called "Plants in my garden." A bright blue line called "Heather Family" departs from the Cassiope platform and heads outward via stations called Vaccinium (blueberries/cranberries) and Gaultheria before swerving toward a terminal loop of scenic Rhododendron stations. A bright red line called "Rose Family" departs from a platform called "Rosa" and heads outward via stations called Rubus (alight here for blackberries and raspberries), Fragaria (strawberries), Pyrus (pear) and Malus (apple) [those last two stations too closely spaced, really] before reaching its terminus: Prunus, the cherries, plums, apricots and peaches.)
Why does the metro line serve as such an excellent selling or organizing metaphor? Conjecture: it suggests speed, order, power, reliability, a larger design that gives meaning to experience, and an urban(e) sense of excitement (as opposed to the rural excitement of the "open road").
Of course, a true transit network functions only through the interdependence of its lines, like the lines of Daniel Huffman's transit-map of the Mississippi River system.
But the metro-as-metaphor doesn't seem to need that. The "wine-metro" map at the top of this post is all disconnected but still seems to sing, at least to its intended crowd.
What is it about the rail transit as a metaphor? How could we corral this metaphorical power to get some of the real thing built?