please empty your brain below

Get rid of the Wheelchair blobs!!!

I looked at a couple of the newspaper sites to read the comments. What a bunch of looney tunes the British public is (are?)!

Funny how Blair, who's not been PM for over 2 years, and Brown get all the blame, whereas Boris escapes scot-free. Can't imagine Ken would have escaped the Mailites' ire in this way, somehow! It would have been "Red Ken Destroys Our Heritage and Tries to Fleece Us Into Paying For Extra Zones".

that's gold. you're a funny lot.

It's time they used focus groups to look at new designs, in advance of publication, surely?

The thought crosses my mind that with Boris doing very little, if anything at all, as London mayor (too busy writing Newspaper Columns and being director of several big companies), a bored spin doctor in his employ came up with a cunning wheeze to create some noise and get Boris to, as you say, play 'People's Champ'. It's better than actually doing anything to make things better for Londoners. I wonder what cuts were sneaked in under the radar while this furore was going on.

Moral for TfL: do something like this outside the media silly season next time, I guess; less chance of being rant material.

The December map will show a contentious change to tube services, as well as the river restored. Are they hoping that the one will eclipse the other, or is that a Cunning Plan too far?

I haven't heard a compelling argument for the river to be there. What is it again?

Normally I go for the cock-up theory rather than the conspiracy theory. In this case I'll make an exception as this must have be authorised at the highest level.

Problem: TfL really want to get rid of zones. They know Boris will try and make political mileage if they attempt it. London Underground have a temporary boss so no danger of heads rolling. If they bring out a zoneless map then all hell will let loose.

Solution: Get rid of Thames to divert attention. Boris will be suitably incandescent but on reflection really pleased at publicity the opportunity has given him to appear to assert himself. Loads of publicity will result but the zone issue will almost be forgotten. It is almost the end of September and a new tube map map need to be published in early December anyway to accommodate Circle line changes so the effect is hardly permanent. Put up highly visible posters and publish a few pocket maps to make out you are serious and job done. Thames returns in December and zone removal (the real objective) is forgotten about.

Brilliant post by the way.

It's reassuring, it helps some people orientate to the map quickly and identify stations, especially useful for a map with a great deal of geographical distortion. It is probably benign clutter that is unlikely to result in delayed planning or errors of planning.

Round the world, New York always includes all water features, as does Paris (the Paris Metro map without the Seine looks even more incomprehensible than with it). Berlin has not included water features for years. Madrid and Moscow cannot make thier minds up.


Interesting theory, but the decision to remove the River was taken months ago.

Personally I think knowing where the zones are is far more important than knowing where the river is. The Overground sneakily dips into zone 3 at Hampstead and the ticket inspectors had great fun charging people who only had zone 2 tickets, even if they weren't planning on getting off there. Without the zones showing you can't tell because the line showed straight on the map...

Hampstead Heath has been shown in Zone 2 since January 2008.

In retrospect, deleting the zones AND the zone listing in the station index both at the same time was probably a bad idea. The map needs to be redesigned so that it is less crushed, kinked, and unbalanced, and the zones applied so that they do not disrupt the basic design of the map. This requires a larger sheet of paper and a designer who knows the job, something like this:


Interesting theory, but the decision to remove the River was taken months ago.

Shows that they planned it from the outset (first rule of conspiracy theorists: never let any facts get it the way of your theory and if possible twist them to support it).

If the map is going to change again in December, what is the point in redesigning and printing a new one now? Other people's money, I s'pose...

excellent post DG...

On conspiracy vs cock up, it could of course be neither conspiracy nor cock up but a genuine - just ill-received - attempt to deal with ongoing customer criticism about clutter on the map.

Was that a Mail reader bemoaning an army of consultants? I reckon they'd be sorely disappointed.

I want to see how Blackriars NR station will be shown on the London Connections map, as it will be one stop on both sides of the Thames. I suspect this was a factor in its removal.

Yes, we all know where the Thames is.

I, however, am a visitor from another country here in London for a few precious days and for the very first time. While I have studied my guidebooks very well on the flight over, I'm still not totally au fait with the layout of the entire city. My plane touches down at Heathrow and I scuttle to the world-famous Underground map tired, disorientated by jeg lag and the crowds, en route to my hotel. Its in an area I've no previous knowledge of, it being off the regular tourist trail. However, it has been described to me as being "South of the River". Horrors! There is no river on this map of the underground!!! Am I in the right city? Where am I going? What direction should I be heading in? Please, I speak little English, who can help me?? Perhaps a kind Taxi driver. "Sorry mate, I aint goin' Sarf of the River" But, please, where is this river?

C'mon people, savvy up. The Thames is the reason this city is here in the first place. Its an immediate and unchanging point of reference, particularly for those unfamiliar with this great city of ours. Removing it from the tube map is a ludicrous idea, particularly for "reasons of clarity". For visitors to London, the tube map is far clearer when you can see where the Thames is. It also makes it the work of mere millseconds to see which station you need to go to if you want to look at it or go to anything on its banks.

And at BoJo level, you'd presumably only get involved in major TfL policy, not meetings about taking the river off the tube map.

If you were standing on Southwark bridge, or London bridge, and got out a non-Thames tube map, you'd have no idea which side of the river you need to be on if you wished to find Temple station or London Bridge or Pimlico etc unless you already knew. Which given that the city makes huge amounts through tourism (£8bn by a quick Google), is clearly not going to be the case in a lot of instances. To leave the city's only geographical divide off a map that is designed to help navigate underground is bizarre at best, idiotic at worst.

Exit, if the only directions you have to your hotel is "it's South of the River", I think you have bigger problems, similarly Dan, you're confusing a geographical map with a diagram of tube stations. If you are standing on Southwark Briddge and want to walk to Temple you need the former. A tube map isn't going to help you, blue stripe or no blue stripe.

Where exactly is the River Thames?

It would to some level because if you looked at the tube map it would at least tell you it was north of the river and give you a starting point of where to head. I wasn't saying it was the way to find the station, but it's a start. An A-Z would be better though I admit.

Great work to consider the work of Boris and whether he acts or says.

I like the zones. And I like the Thames. I also like the lots of different maps available for different people. A more information version (like marking where changing trains takes ages) is great for Londoners. But perhaps is too hard to understand for a visitor.

The removal of the river doesn't really bother me, but I certainly think getting rid of the zones is a bad idea. I like to know how much my journey will cost and don't want to be caught if I have too little balance. Just an index isn't enough because it might be that my route travels through other zones on the way which isn't obvious if the zones aren't on the map.

At least it's something interesting for the tube map collectors

Pedantic, I seem that we think alike on this.

Now, I've said it before, I'll say it again....those bloody blobs do not belong on the map, they belong inthe bin. Get rid of em.

(And get rid of this foolish mayor too)

So can taxi drivers still say that they "won't go south of the river after midnight" if you show them this map?

The sad thing is the people that voted Clown Boris in will probably think he is some sort of saviour.

Common sense; where has it gone?

The thing is, for as long as I can remember the river has not been marked on the trains themselves!
So if you're sitting in a carriage on the Northern Line staring at the map opposite, it doesn't actually tell you which side of the river you are on at Waterloo or London Bridge, though the name of the latter should give you a clue that the river is nearby!

That's never seemed to have bothered anyone before!

I assume tourists would carry more than a tube map with them when they visit anyway. Like the pocket A-Z which shows tube stations (and buses?) alongside the major attractions.

I don't care about the Thames on the map. In fact, I suspect the lines/stations north of the river have to be squished into a smaller space just to allow the graphic to be meaningful. As most of the tube network is north of the river it seems a bit odd to include it. Of course, if they're going to include the riverboat services that's a different matter - but they are not underground or tube lines are they?

Taken to it's logical conclusion this simplication lark really does make a lot of sense...

Oh it's daft. Zone information is far more important. The river was nice but we don't have a cast iron reason to put it there (only Paris, with a station on an island, has a slightly justifiable reason). This is like arguing British people identify with the pound coin and therefore could never use euros.

But the furore is funny!

@ Chris - I didnt say that this mythical visitors' only instructions on finding their hotel was "Its south of the river". My actual words were "[the area] has been described to me as being south of the river"

@ Bina - spoken like a true north londoner. As to Riverboats, the piers that the boats dock at are owned and mananged by TfL

The river is a good navigation marker on the tube map. The diagram isn't meant to be geographic, but at least with the river you get a clue as to what part of London you're going into.

As for the zones, they've only been on the tube map since 2002, but due to the fact that it's the zones we travel through that determine how much our journey costs, we now can't do without them.

It seems TfL's little simplification exercise went a little bit too far methinks...

Everyone doesn't know where the river is:
- Tourists
- People who have just moved to London
- that's probably it actually
- although, actually, people who live on the outskirts of London may not be as familiar as you'd think with whether eg embankment is north or south of the river.

And even longer term residents of London don't know where the river is everywhere: without checking a river-including map I don't know if Putney Bridge is North or South of the river. Same goes for Canada Water and Surrey Quays - judging by the names I'd guess they're on the isle of dogs, and walkable to Canary Wharf, but it's not so.

Much as I loathe Boris' opportunism, I think bringing the river back is much needed.

When I visit London I buy a travelcard for zones 1 and 2. Therefore I've found the zones on the map useful. I hope they will reappear.

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