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From Tramageddon to Metromorphosis?

On July 22nd the new Amsterdam north-south Metro Line 52 will commence operation. Simultaneously the biggest tram service reorganisation in decades will take place. Check this page daily for maps that will highlight and analyse the events as they unfold.


Amsterdam post-changes trunk colouring Amsterdam post-changes tone
On route, trunk, and shaded colours
uploaded 25th July

The pre-22nd July Amsterdam network
was route coloured, meaning that every individual route was given its own colour,
even if it shared tracks with another route
for much of its length. This system is very popular in Germany, and our research shows that it makes individual routes easier to follow. Unfortunately, our research (forthcoming) also shows that for the actual task of journey planning, route coloured maps are harder to use than trunk coloured maps. Trunk coloured maps have those routes that follow the same major sections bundled together by using the same colour for each one. The New York City Subway Weekender Map is a good example.

The new Amsterdam official diagram attempts something a little bit cleverer, shaded colouring. For this, routes that follow similar major sections are bundled using the same colour category, but different shades of these colours are used to assist identifying individual routes within a bundle. Hence, there are five different shades of green used for the bundle of routes that serve Centraal (west). Unfortunately, our research suggests that shaded colouring is just not worth the effort. It adds colour confusion to the map without giving the assistance that people need at the map configurations where they need it the most.

The two maps here illustrate my concentric-Us map recoloured using the identical shaded-colours to the official diagram (above left) and a simplified trunk-colours scheme that attempts to show route bundling
in the clearest way possible (above right). This is the end of my visit to Amsterdam, I hope you found it thought provoking!


Amsterdam post-changes herringbone Amsterdam pre-changes cobweb
On cobwebs and (red?) herringbones
uploaded 23rd July

I’ve heard that the big changes to the Amsterdam tram network were justified
on the basis that the old network had an
out-of-date cobweb structure. Of course cobwebs have to be dusted away, in this case replaced with a modern herringbone structure for the network.

The problem is that when you colour-code the routes by whether they are radial (blue) or orbital (red)
you see that neither of these words leaps off the page as a description for either network. Even worse,
I defy any reader to point to any salient defining feature such that we can say for certain that the old cobweb has, indeed, been transformed into a herringbone. Use of words in this way makes me very
suspicious, and I sense obfuscation. Perhaps the words were intended to divert people’s attention away from underlying rationalisation and service cuts. The only herringbones here are from red-coloured fish.

Now that everyone has understood the new network(!), on Wednesday I will post my concentric Us map using the new service colours.


Newsletter picture
Tube Map Central July monthly newsletter
uploaded and also mailed to subscribers 22nd July

Map of the Month discusses the new Amsterdam map in more detail.


Amsterdam post-changes thumbnail
Metromorphosis? Tram-metro in Amsterdam from 22nd July
uploaded 22nd July

The new North-South Metro is now operating, and the tram services
revised. I have used the old colours so that the different maps can be
easily compared. If I lived along the far end of Route 1 or 9 (now 19)
I would be feeling mightily irritated today, and bemused but possibly grateful if I lived along the end of Route 12. On Monday I will post an analysis of what changed exactly.


Amsterdam changes thumbnail
Tramageddon! Tram changes in Amsterdam for 22nd July
uploaded 21st July

More than half the tram routes in Amsterdam will be changing when
the new North-South metro line 52 commences operation. Most tram diversions will have tram replacements, but three route sections will
be completely abandoned. On Sunday I will post the map of the new
network but, unlike GVB, I will use the old line colours on my diagram!


Amsterdam pre-changes thumbnail
How to make major service revisions hard to identify
uploaded 21st July

  • Start with disorderly unstructured map
    that fails to take advantage of the natural
    shape and organisation of the city.
  • Change the tram colour coding system so that
    continuities and discontinuities between the
    before and after maps are difficult to identify.
  • Have the maps differ in all sorts of other ways such as colours, landmarks, symbols,
    and supplementary information, to further distract from making comparisons.


Amsterdam press release thumbnailAmsterdam press release thumbnail
Press releases
uploaded 20th July

Download the press release on my
Amsterdam maps in English or in Dutch.


Amsterdam pre-changes thumbnail
Amsterdam tram-metro network pre-July 22nd
uploaded 20th July

In 2017 I created a unique map of Amsterdam tram and metro services that was based upon concentric Us, and which respected the shape of
the city better than the official diagram. With the commencement of North-South metro line 52 on Sunday 22nd July, many changes will be made to the Amsterdam tram network. The map I designed last year will
be valid for only two more days. On Saturday I will post an analysis of which routes are going to change.


All images and text copyright Maxwell. J. Roberts, 2017-2018
Please contact before reproducing content
All enquiries to mjr@tubemapcentral.com