Submission - Official Map: DCTA A-Train Map, Denton County, Texas

Submitted by Kara Fischer, who says:

I think I may have a new map for your Hall of Shame! Here’s the official map for A-Train service in Texas. That yellow line’s VERY hard to see on the pale background; there’s much more emphasis on the street grid and the lakes. And those station icons! I can’t tell what five of them are, and it’s absolutely ridiculous to only label them in the legend! Why can’t there actually be labels on the map?

Also, the Green Line connection is horribly misrepresented. It’s a light rail line that you can transfer to at Trinity Mills, but the way it’s represented here implies that it’s an extension of A-Train service. It’s an important connection - they need to get it right!

Transit Maps says:

Steady on there, Kara! Yes, the map has some deficiencies, but it’s no way near being “the worst of the worst” and earning a spot in my Hall of Shame. For a start, it’s generally decently drawn and utilises a nice typeface (Font Bureau’s Agenda). 

I would agree with many of your points however – the A-Train’s route line could have more contrast with the background, and/or could be thickened up a bit. I’d also really like to see its route simplified as the highways and roads are. It seems weird that the roads are all gunbarrel straight, while the train line meanders about all over the place. Intentionally or not, it makes road travel look more efficient and direct than rail, which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole thing, right?

The interchange with the DART Green Line definitely needs some work. As Kara says, it looks like a future extension of the A-Train at the moment; a green arrow pointing southwards could be far more effective.

Like Kara, I’m absolutely baffled as to why the stations aren’t labelled directly on the map – having a legend for the sole purpose of providing names for them seems unnecessarily obtuse. And the low-res rasterisation of some of the icons is definitely unfortunate: probably a byproduct of some very low quality flattening/resolution settings when the PDF was exported from Illustrator.

The labelling on the map could also use some work: county names cross over some roads when there’s plenty of empty space for them just to the left, and Shady Shores Road’s label strangely reads from the left when all the other vertical/angles labels read from the right.

Finally, there’s some strangely selective simplification of the roads: where’s the toll bridge over Lewisville Lake (a continuation of Swisher Road near the centre of the map)?

Our rating: Bad, but not that bad. One-and-a-half stars.

Source: Official DCTA A-Train website