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Sydney transit network map redesign

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Cedar Makhijani

Inspired by this video (particularly the idea that "lines on a transit diagram are a list of stops and nothing more"), I decided to map a relatively complex system in a way that fully abandoned geography. I chose to map Sydney's rapid transit network, because it is full of branching, reverse branching, interlining and is a transfer heavy network. The complexity of the network is perfect for a trial by fire approach to this style of map diagram.

I think Sydney's network is super interesting, and has very strong modal layering (light rail in the core, a metro line and many regional rail lines, as well as ferries) but there is no comprehensive map. There are maps of each mode, but none of these maps even show connections to other modes. Transit users shouldn't have to compare maps side by side just to figure out where they can transfer. With this in mind, I set out to make a map that included both the light rail lines, Sydney's Metro line (M1), Sydney Trains (their regional rail), as well as connections to Sydney Ferries.

The disjointed official maps of Sydney, all using different scales, overlapping colours and frankly ugly and unintuitive legends.

My map blends the Metro, Trains, and Light Rail into one diagram. Stations with Sydney Ferries connections show an F ferry bullet. I decided against showing the actual ferry lines because the density of them on the north side of the city would throw off the visual balance of the map.

In order to keep labels as legible as possible, I decided to orient the map east-up, abandon geography, and keep lines as straight as possible.

Sydney Light Rail's L1 line on a map and on my diagram. Abandoning geography makes each line (and the entire network) more legible and visibly pleasing.

Another issue with the current official maps are the legends. They're only bullets, which is fine, but doesn't create an immediate and intuitive link between legend and map, and solely relying on colours isn't good for accessibility or legibility, especially in the more complicated regional map. I decided to include a small segment of each line, a bullet, and the line name in my legend.

My legend (top) is cleaner, more legible, and more accessible than the official legends (bottom).

The final product

A diagrammatic map of Syndey's rapid transit system

Want to use this map or commission me? Shoot me an email.


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What I'm listening to (3/23)

Frank Sinatra, ODESZA, BADBADNOTGOOD, Yo La Tengo, Nat "King" Cole, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and Phoebe Bridgers, to name a few. Also The Power Broker and Reply All.

Cedar Makhijani
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Cedar Makhijani