Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tokyo Subway Map

I simply wanted to know what the Tokyo subway map would look like if I look up the location of every station and connect them with lines. I used the same line colors to make comparison against an official map easy.

Official map from Tokyo Bureau of Transportation:

Real physical map of stations by yours truly:

I've learned several things while doing this.

- Physical map of the subway is almost nothing like the conceptual map published by Tokyo Bureau of Transportation. The conceptual map is more of a graph visualization than a map. It spaces out the stations so that they beautifully fit the space, while keeping out of areas that would be in the ocean or the imperial palace gardens.

- In the conceptual map, angles only change in 45 degree steps. Direction of a line can even change from going north-south to west-east if that makes the stations fit better (look at the salmon colored line at the bottom).

- Even individual subway lines aren't lines. Sometimes they have branches. Sometimes a branch connects back to the main line. So subway lines are actually graphs themselves.

- In the conceptual map, non-underground stations (private railways / yamanote line / arakawa street car) are also displayed, but they get a tiny symbol. Second largest symbol goes to metro stations that only connect with one line. When multiple lines stop at the same station, they get a big box with stopping lines listed inside of it.

- For the lines with 4 or more connections, the lines listing box can take more advanced blocky shapes if that makes it more easy to visualize. If there's an underground passage between nearby stations, that is shown as a connection between the boxes.