I live in Berlin and use the transit system here every day. I've been staring at this for an hour now and in general I think it's very well thought out and makes improvements in several areas, especially the size and legibility of station labels and the inclusion of rivers.
But a couple of things I find to be very clear retrogressions, the worst being the contrast ratios on several of the line numbers. The "U1" label is almost totally illegible, while the "S8/85" and "S45/46/47" lines are well below what I'd call ideal. And several lines are now less well distinguished from each other by color: S1/S7/U6 are all similar shades of pink now while S5/S45-46-47/U9 are all sort of beige tan which is indistinct from the U4 yellow and even the U1 to some extent.
The designers claim the new line shapes and curves improve the ability to trace routes and follow lines, but I find it the opposite in practice. I think this is mainly due to the introduction of varying radii curves… The current map is rightly criticized for having too abrupt/small radii, but to its credit there are only two angles (45° and 90°) and a standard radius for all curves. This adds up to predictability and ease of tracing.
I love the softened radii and simplified lines in the new map, and the U-bahn lines are all solid improvements over the old map. But then it goes and changes up the radii for S-bahn lines, making them far broader than the U-bahn curves and inconsistent from line to line (compare the 90° radius curves on the S1 between Rathaus Steglitz and Potsdamer to that on the S7 between Grunewald and Westkreuz). This proliferation of radii, compounded by the new organic Ringbahn shape, makes for a disorderly spaghetti impression. When I showed this to my wife her immediate response was: "That's tangled".
Lastly, the A/B/C zones are way less clearly defined on the new map than on the old, thanks largely to the introduction of gradient backgrounds. Solid backgrounds would make it far simpler to tell one from the next.
I applaud the redesign; clearly a huge amount of thought and effort was put into this and there's lots I'd love to see implemented from it.
Good point, indeed. When I saw the map initially, after a quick look I thought this map wanted to be a close representation of the real world, with distances that reflect the real ones, and the real, irregular shape of the Ringbahn. That would have the advantage of giving a more realistic representation at the expense of readability (given that it would be possible to represent it in a compact way, which might not be the case). Looking at this map more accurately, though, it's actually clear that it's a blend between the two: most lines are bent 45° and therefore what's the point of making only the ringbahn irregular? Because it's nice to see the dog's face profile?! I miss the rationale behind this choice, it actually makes no sense.
I actually kinda like the naturally-shaped Ringbahn… it adds a nice amount of personality. If that was the only departure from a regular radius pattern I think it'd still be super legible. What really bugs me is that every S-Bahn seems to use random, differing radii… none of them follow the pattern set by the U-Bahn lines. That's where the spaghetti impression comes from, in my opinion.
As a confirmation, here is the real vs compact view: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/6baefh/berlin_subway_map_compared_to_its_real_geography/
Somehow coming from interface design, I have incredible respect of information and infographic design. These things need to be so complex and so well balanced. To me, it's like the master level of design.
To me, it's like the master level of design.
Ho. Lee. Crap.
This is incredible.