email of the week: a new map for the moscow metro


(Updated with final version of map.)

From Ilya Petoushkoff in Moscow, explaining this remarkably beautiful map (download this draft version here, or the final version here):

Moscow 2014 draft

Here I'd like you to see a beta-version of a result of a zillion-year struggle.  Moscow finally is going to have a transit map with not only metro, but also regional rail and bus/trolleybus/tram connections between adjacent metro lines.
From the beginning of 20th century and till nowadays there hasn't been any kind of common map. Presently we still have a metro-only map inside the whole metro system, and regional-rail-only map inside some 30-50 percent of all regional trains …. Even the transfers between metro and rail are not announced on the trains! Until 2010s, city politicians simply didn't understand that it is a significant problem, many of them believed in 'who the hell will have a ride on a regional train when we have our metro'.
Sounds like the conversation Paris had a decade or so ago.  Many US cities are just starting to think about how regional commuter rail can be repurposed to form useful links within the core city.
Most of the city inhabitants … are not aware … that many destinations in the city are covered with regional rail services.  Now it's to be that everyone finally becomes much more familiar with what our transit is capable of.
The regional rail trains are quite frequent, running from 4 a.m. till midnight with a frequency of 6…10 [trains per hour] (sometimes more) and a strange 'technical daylight break' between 11 a.m. and 1 or 2 p.m. (except Sat.& Sun.), when there is no service at all.
Sounds like one of those clauses that make labor contracts such a dramatic read.
This very map is extremely important, finally bringing citizens and authorities to the fact that city has much more lines of rapid rail than those 12 of the metro system, and the regional rail should be developed as soon as possible, while certain areas of the city do not need new metro lines at all, they already do have rails and trains to use. …
Also the interesting fact is that connecting services between metro lines have been put onto this map. Many people are just unaware … that they don't have to stuff themselves into metro and have a ride to the center and backwards to get to adjacent lines, stations and city areas. Now it's a first significant attempt to make it clearer.
The color codes on those links are about technology, rail/bus/tram, but of course those don't tell you which is fastest.  Frequency, I'm assured, is not an issue, as all of these services are frequent.  
Still, I perused this map with great pleasure, and respect it not just as a clear diagram but a work of art.  

8 Responses to email of the week: a new map for the moscow metro

  1. anonymouse November 4, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    This is a huge deal: the walls between Metro and surface transit and regional rail were a perfect example of Soviet bureaucracy at its worst: they never really cooperated and there was no unified fare system at all. Indeed, Moscow originally had different fares for trams vs. trolleybuses vs. regular buses, and some cities had a separate City Department of Buses and City Department of Electric Transport (for trams and trolleybuses), which goes even further to emphasize technology over everything else.
    And each mode had its own weird particularities and traditions, like the “technical window” on the railroads. That can sort of be explained by the need to have some time to work on the tracks, because outside of rush hour, the evening had an intensive service of long distance (overnight) trains and nighttime was when most of the freight trains ran, since most of the lines out of Moscow were and are only two tracks and with a mix of suburban, long distance, and freight service. In that whole mix, midday on weekdays was probably the best time to shut everything down, because everybody was supposed to be at work anyway: after all, unemployment was illegal in the USSR! Of course, that makes much less sense now, and hopefully that stupid practice will die soon.

  2. Jim November 4, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Bureaucrats like to look high above a system and create beauty, or form or order in what otherwise looks like chaos, but instead of doing so for function, they do so for aesthetics which often undermines functionality. I’m not just talking about maps but city plans, boulevards, freeways that cut through old neighborhoods just because from a perspective way up high, it just looks better. I’m kind of sick of it. Nobody ever said, hey look, what a beautiful subway map, I think I’m going to start taking the subway. Nobody ever said, wow, the US freeway maps look like a mess, I’m avoiding freeways. There’s an old joke in London where the subway map shows two stops that seem far away and it would take two transfers to get from one to the other, but if you walk above ground, you can actually see the other stop a few hundred feet away. While map makers may need some artistic license to squeeze in the names of stations, let’s not get stupidly carried away and make all the distances between stations the same and create a perfect circle in the middle of the map. Of course Russia would create such a surreal map as they consider the confusion of a million subway riders a statistic, the confusion of one a tragedy.

  3. Andrew November 4, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Jim: I think you got a little carried away with your haranguing about bureaucrats. It’s not so much creating a surreal map as adhering to good principles of graphic design.
    First, the circle line on the Moscow Metro is *actually* fairly close to a circle in real life (see so it’s not as if they wrung it way out of shape to shoehorn it into a circle on the map.
    Second, the majority of all metro maps (London, Paris, Boston, Chicago, Beijing, Madrid, Taipei, Hong Kong all come to mind– with the notable semi-exception of New York) adhere to graphic principles and don’t try to exactly replicate the aboveground geography of the metro. It’s not a road map — you don’t need to know the exact distance between stations or the exact curve that the metro takes if you’re just trying to figure out how to get from Notting Hill to Embankment, or Harvard Square to Forest Hills.

  4. anonymouse November 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    At some point they actually did publish a map with the circle line not shown as a circle. There was a popular outcry and the next version returned it to its traditional shape. And you have to realize, for most Muscovites, the Metro map _is_ the map of the city, because it really is the primary way that people get from point A to B, and the structure of the network matters much more than the actual geographic layout. When you ask a Muscovite what part of the city they’re from, they’ll probably answer with the nearest Metro station.
    As for the frequency issue, the fact that the routes are on the map implies that they already have pretty decent frequency (at least 10 minutes throughout the day). And the Metro itself of course runs every 4 minutes or better pretty much all day.

  5. Anna K November 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    To the first anonymouse comment, are you a 1991 ussr immigrant? I urge you to try to live in the US Midwest with a public transport that is a joke. And than you can critique any other transit systems that while not perfect, serve millions of people from all income groups everyday.
    And to another comment, wait, why do I see Highways that cut through African American neighborhoods everywhere around me? Not because it is beautiful from birds eye view. It was efficient and no one cared about “those” people

  6. Laurence Aurbach November 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    “Many US cities are just starting to think about how regional commuter rail can be repurposed to form useful links within the core city.”
    The new mayor of Toronto used exactly that as a central plank in his campaign platform. Much of the system was planned and funded prior to the election, but it’s great to see Toronto politicians of all parties putting so much emphasis on transit.

  7. Sascha Claus November 8, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    > »Until 2010s, city politicians simply didn’t understand that it is a significant problem, many of them believed in ‘who the hell will have a ride on a regional train when we have our metro’.«
    Everybody who didn’t find a place on their metro? Quite some years ago, I read that suburban trains don’t stop at Vykhino (which offered a cross-platform transfer to Metro #7) during rush hours because the Metro trains were already full at their starting point. According to Wikipedia, some things changed since then, but some relief from passenger loads might still be useful.
    And why are they translating Jivopisny Most as Jivopisny Bridge [square A3], but only transcribing Botanichesky Sad (Garden) [square C2]?

  8. Zawiesia November 13, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    It’s good to hear that. The map looks nice.