diamond geezer

 Monday, December 12, 2011

New tube map anyone?

We need a new tube map because Kensington Olympia needs a dotted green line. We need a new tube map because the Northern line now stops at Tottenham Court Road again. We need a new tube map because Green Park is now step-free (and, sheesh, what an ugly two-circle mess they've made of that). We need a new tube map because Blackfriars station is now open again (oh, except it isn't, not until the end of February, never mind). But most importantly we need a new tube map to promote an airline. Quite excessively promote an airline, as it turns out.

Emirates have managed to shoehorn their brand name onto the tube map in eight different places. First it's in the key, beneath the London Overground, as "Emirates Air-Line under construction". Secondly it's in the key again, alongside a titchy cablecar graphic labelled "Emirates Air-line". Third and fourthly it's on the map, as two new stations linked by a dotted red line across the river. Both stations appear as blue circles, meaning "step-free access from street to train", even though no wheelchair user can yet access either of them (and there are no trains). Both stations also have a dagger alongside to encourage you to refer to the key (where the name Emirates appears for a fifth and sixth time). Finally there are two mentions in the index on the back of the map, one of which nearly crashes into the final column (because, it appears, "Emirates Greenwich Peninsula" is the longest name of any station on the TfL network). Nowhere on the map does the word 'cablecar' appear - this is solely a branding opportunity for a Middle Eastern sponsor.

All eight mentions appear despite the cablecar still being at the early construction stage. It's not scheduled to open before next summer at the very earliest - beyond the lifespan of this new publication - but that hasn't stopped it appearing on the map. The last new TfL project, the DLR extension to Stratford International, never once appeared on the tube map before it opened. But the Emirates Air-Line has been given special dispensation to appear at least six months early, because they've paid for the privilege, so rules get bent.

This is all part of the creeping commercialisation of the tube map. On the December 2009 map, the only words written on the Greenwich peninsula were "North Greenwich" beside the Jubilee line station. For the new map the bend in the Thames has had to be be widened to fit in more text, first "North Greenwich for the O2" and secondly "Emirates Greenwich Peninsula". The tube network has always included several stations named after commercial entities, such as Arsenal (for the football club) and Elephant & Castle (for the pub). But here we have two multinational companies muscling in on London's geography via the acquisition of sponsored naming rights. You may be happy with that. I wonder where it ends.

And then there are the daggers on the map, thirteen in total. These are for quirks and detail that won't fit on the map, so they go into a separate "Check before you travel" section down the side. Only one lies north of the Central line, only one lies west of Waterloo. Most are concentrated in the DLR corner of the map, and two of these are cablecar related. Surely there's only one thing to "Check before you travel" on the Emirates Air-Line, and that's the certainty that the cablecar isn't yet open. But no. The mapmakers are insistent on telling us something else, twice, something that'll be entirely irrelevant to anyone's journey over the next six months. "Emirates Greenwich Peninsula - Fare zone to be confirmed". "Emirates Royal Docks - Fare zone to be confirmed". Wholly unnecessary daggerisation, surely?

Or maybe not. There is still a big question mark over precisely what fares will be charged to travel on the new ArabFly Dangleway. Oyster will be accepted, but it's not yet clear if there'll be a premium to pay for gliding across the Thames and if so, how much that'll be. TfL are clearly worried that, by slapping the cablecar on the tube map prematurely, people will jump to the wrong conclusion about the fare to be charged. The muttering media and those annoying pernickety bloggers, they might all leap in with an inappropriate assumption and then moan a lot when a journey costs more. At the moment Emirates Royal Docks looks to be firmly in zone 3, while Emirates Greenwich Peninsula sits alongside North Greenwich station on the boundary between zone 2 and zone 3. But I bet passengers will end up paying more than a single-zone fare once the cablecar begins operation, because the daggered comment hints as much.

The December tube map will be replaced in May next year, which is presumably when the special London 2012 Olympic tube map is launched. Expect the Emirates Air-Line to appear in full on that, as an attention-seeking red line, and to stay there until the ten-year sponsorship deal runs out. Because that's what £36m gets you - your brand name eight times on the tube map until December 2021. Why not pick one up today?

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream