Greater Greater Washington

xkcd links the continent's transit

The geek-favorite webcomic xkcd dove into transit geekery today with a comic that links together all of the North American heavy rail transit systems. It seems to be inspired by this map of unknown origin, which BeyondDC posted a few weeks ago and uses the same trick to link transit systems in geographically-impractical ways.

Image from xkcd. Click the image for larger version.

It improves upon the earlier one with some clever linkages and in-jokes, like an extension beyond Huntington to a "graveyard for passengers killed by closing doors." (He actually probably meant doors that failed to close, but good enough.) Boston's Cleveland Circle connects to Cleveland, and the Ashmont-Mattapan "high-speed [light rail] line" becomes the Ashmont-Manhattan and the NYC #1 train.

The Orange Line at New Carrollton meets Philadelphia's Broad Street line, which is orange on the SEPTA maps, while the Red Line at Glenmont connects to PATCO (also colored red) via a "covertly-reurposed Amtrak line." The Blue Line at Largo extends to the Staten Island Ferry as the "Robert Moses High-Speed Lne."

The Green Line at Greenbelt attaches to the also-green Baltimore Metro with a little loop-the-loop, and the Shady Grove end of the Red Line attaches to MARTA via the Morgantown, WV automated line; Morgantown does indeed have an automated Personal Rapid Transit system.

What else do you see?

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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I like the self contained springfield monorail line.

Though I'm now bitter against that episode because anytime a new rail project is mentioned people quote that episode as if its an actual argument for why something should or shouldn't be built.

by drumz on Apr 8, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

The Springfield monorail! Brilliant.

by pdovak on Apr 8, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

There's a couple really clever things, and several glaring problems which indict the map's internal logic, even if you suspend disbelief about the imaginary connections between systems. Most clever: the interchange between BART and Vancouver's SkyTrain at Richmond (an actual terminal for both systems and correctly located) and the Ashmont-Manhattan High-Speed Line (actually MBTA's Ashmont-Mattapan High-Speed Line). Glaring problems: They include Cleveland (which technically does include a subway at Tower City), but do not also include Newark, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Dallas, Edmonton, Portland and San Diego, all of which have at least one subway station on their light rail lines. Additionally, why include the "Morgantown WV Automated Line" (actually called WVU Personal Rapid Transit) when it has no subway stations)? The include Baltimore (legitimate subway), but don't really do any justice to its subway lines. And the Springfield Monorail is a joke. Lastly, why do some of the imaginary connections have thick lines and stations and others have thin lines as bus shuttles?

by Rich Sampson on Apr 8, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

Rich - I'm 99% sure the inclusion/exclusion of various lines (and especially the inclusion of Morgantown) is very much in relation to how much they are discussed by the noisiest transit advocates.

by BO on Apr 8, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Robert Moses high speed line ;) Part of me wants to see this happen. Sorry, Maryland/Delaware/Jersey!

by Alan B. on Apr 8, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

Cleveland's Red Line is technically heavy metro rail, not light rail. So it is fair to show it in the category with other 3rd rail systems, but not show subway segments of light rail. The mistake was in showing Cleveland's Blue and Green lines, which are light rail.

by BeyondDC on Apr 8, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

Rich Sampson nails it.

Why, in the name of Wyman, do they mix the line weights?!

Awesome XKCD, as always.

by David F-H on Apr 8, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

"...an extension beyond Huntington to a "graveyard for passengers killed by closing doors." (He actually probably meant doors that failed to close, but good enough.)"

I think he meant what he said. DC Metro doors are infamous for not opening like elevator doors when something gets in the way, leading to many tourists being "bitten" by the metro.

by Larchie on Apr 8, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

New York to San Juan to Santo Domingo (via the PR Submarine).

What's with the Baltimore Loop?

by Arrgh Street on Apr 8, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

Arrgh - Baltimore loop is to connect Greenbelt with Johns Hopkins, because both of Baltimore's subway termini point north (sort of like the Red Line here).

by Mike B on Apr 8, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

I love the inclusion of the UWV Morgantown PRT.

by Frank IBC on Apr 8, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

"...an extension beyond Huntington to a "graveyard for passengers killed by closing doors."

Which (by my geography anyway) is right where I work and explains quite a bit.

by Colleen on Apr 8, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

I always thought that the "Doors Closing" lady's voice had a sinister edge to it. Now I know...

by Frank IBC on Apr 8, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

Hopefully the Green Line extension between Boston and Montreal will serve the ski resorts of Vermont.

by Frank IBC on Apr 8, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

drumz: Though I'm now bitter against that episode because anytime a new rail project is mentioned people quote that episode as if its an actual argument for why something should or shouldn't be built.

Yeah, same here.

On another note, the "covertly repurposed Amtrak line" reminded me that one of Baltimore's long-term wishlist plans for its urban rail service is adding something more subway-ish along the old Pennsy ROW currently used by Amtrak (and MARC Penn Line). You can find it on this pdf as a light-purple line: http://www.baltimorerailplan.com/linked_files/brreportfinal.pdf

by iaom on Apr 8, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

Notice that on Boston's Red Line, one end terminates in "Braintree" (a real station), and the next two stations down are "Bonevine" and "Skinflower" (not real stations).

by alurin on Apr 8, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Honestly, its missing San Diego which is heavier rail than the WVU system and uses the same trains as the system in Baltimore.

by jmauro on Apr 8, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

San Diego's not a subway, and it uses the same trains as the Light Rail portion of Baltimore's system, not the subway part of Baltimore's system. Baltimore's subway uses the same trains as Miami's Metrorail.

by Mike B on Apr 8, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

are you guys over-thinking a whimsy?

by Tina on Apr 8, 2013 6:18 pm • linkreport

At the bottom of the enlarged picture, there is this text:

For the pedantic rail enthusiasts, the definition of a subway used here is, with some caveats, "a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route." For the rest of you, the definition is "an underground train in a city."

by Steven Yates on Apr 8, 2013 6:56 pm • linkreport

An oversight is the LAMTA Orange line is a busway, not a subway as the map displays.

by Zmapper on Apr 8, 2013 6:57 pm • linkreport

You guys are overthinking this. It's supposed to be funny, not accurate, even if it is surprisingly accurate in places.

by Mike Ivan on Apr 8, 2013 9:28 pm • linkreport

I'm disappointed that this important subterranean transportation facility was not included:
http://idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda-weehawken_burrito_tunnel.htm

by martindelaware on Apr 8, 2013 10:56 pm • linkreport

Puerto Rico submarine! :)

by ecsCoffee on Apr 9, 2013 7:48 am • linkreport

Love Miami's Caribbean Metromover haha.

by Kevin on Apr 9, 2013 8:46 am • linkreport

The best imaginary subway of all was in the movie "No Way Out". In the vicinity of the old Foundry theater, Kevin Costner enters the "Georgetown metro station" goes down the stairs to find himself in a Baltimore metro station, and gets off at the Old Post Office Pavilion.

by Frank IBC on Apr 9, 2013 8:59 am • linkreport

Mike B and Arrgh: I think the green loop at Baltimore is a visual pun for Greenbelt.

by Hexagon Tiles on Apr 9, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

Kevin Costner enters the "Georgetown metro station" goes down the stairs to find himself in a Baltimore metro station, and gets off at the Old Post Office Pavilion.

Better yet, I believe he vaulted over the jersey wall at the top of the Whitehurst Freeway, landed on Water Street, *then* ran into the Georgetown station.

by oboe on Apr 9, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

Awesome graphic! I could nitpick and say that Seattle and Portland both have trolleys that go underground and offer subway-like service, but I won't because who cares?

What I *will* be pedantic about - Springfield is NOT in Oregon. That was a false news story that came out last year. As Bart wrote on the chalkboard in a subsequent episode, "Springfield is in any state but yours".

(And yes, I'm being tongue in cheek since the joke was awesome and he had to show it somewhere in the US.)

by Marc on Apr 9, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

Ah, I forgot about the jump off the Whitehurst Freeway. Trifecta. :)

by Frank IBC on Apr 9, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

Also, I vaguely remember the route followed from the Pentagon to Georgetown being very, very wrong as well, but I can't remember the details.

by Frank IBC on Apr 9, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure the Baltimore loop is a "Green belt" pun (just like the "Kingston" station in Jamaica, Queens)

Still, it's fun to see Morgantown's goofy little transit system get some inclusion. It's a shame that nobody was ever able to replicate or improve upon it, given that it's been decently successful.

by andrew on Apr 9, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

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