25 September 2009

Tube map rethink

"Some say that he taught Lord Adonis everything he knows; and that if he was building Cambridgeshire's guided busway, it'd have been finished on schedule six months ago. All we know is, he's called The Stig!"

It's with some relief that I can confirm that Transport for London (TfL) have chosen to re-print all its Tube Maps following the latest produced at the start of last week, which saw simplification to a level that meant the historic design became less clear and more complicated.

Not since the map's production in 1933 has such a drastic change occurred to the schematic plan which details the world's oldest subterranean railway network. Removing the Thames is one thing, but then removing the fare zones is something altogether more detrimental. Let's be clear: the Thames means nothing when you're actually underground, its inclusion being ostensibly to make the map look more London-like. The fare zones have a significant role to play in the ease of use of the system.

Take the fare zones away from the map - incidentally it's TfL's most popular paper production - and you cause confusion, which could ultimately put people off using the system - and in a time when everyone's budgets are being squeezed, it's something TfL ought not to have spotted and ruled out.

I can assure readers that those working in this department have long made their feelings known about the micro-management of those higher up to food chain in subject matters that they simply know nothing about. The re-printing of the map would ordinarily cost a few thousand pounds, though it's being delayed until December when the Circle Line becomes, well, less circular, and a re-print would be needed in any case. It does mean, however, that die-hard Thames fans will need to hang on a little longer unfortunately. The delay in re-printing the map will also mean that this three-month farcical production won't be a collectors' item anytime soon - far too many about.

There have been suggestions that the removal of the Thames is in some way linked to the Tory mayor. I'm happy to dispel this theory: Boris actually stated via his Twitter portal that the Thames "will be reinstated".

You may also have spotted that TfL's official website still refuses to allow the public to download the version of the Tube Map that has caused such outcry. The reasoning here is simple: don't let the public at large see for themselves the hash-up that's been created.

My favourite quotes during the debacle is below:

"They'll have employed a firm of consultants to make this decision, then another one to assess the outcry, then another one to reverse the decision...all paid for by you the stupid taxpayers...to all those people who voted Blair into power all those years ago, I hope you feel an ounce of responsibility and remorse at the joke Britain has become..." ('The Stig')

We reproduce the two maps below, new and old. See what you think - Eds.