How small can maps get?

The folded map

Partially opened map

The map unfolded. Quite useful size and printed very clearly on good paper.Just how small and compact can travel maps get? During a recent visit to Amsterdam, I picked up this micro-map of the Schiphol airport. The map was so small, that I was in danger of losing it after I returned.

Here are three pictures that demonstrate how maps can serve a useful function, whether it is air travel (GHIAL can think of similar things at Hyderabad’s Shamshabad airport) or rail (If we had a similar map for Chennai Central, or VT or Howrah, people would not be confused about how to use the rail terminal or connections to it from the city).

There used to be a time when the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) put out maps that folded down to a manageable size. Those have disappeared, although today MTC operates even airconditioned buses.

The new MRTS could have done a similar thing in conjunction with the other suburban rail lines. But the railways are not oriented towards this kind of service. Train services remain a “take it or leave it” offering in India in general, and Chennai in particular.

Imagine the impact of such a useful map and information “micro book” at Chennai Central that tells people about all the connectivity options — buses operating from just outside the terminal, the Park and Park Town stations of the suburban and MRTS lines across Poonamallee High Road, the call taxis and the day, weekly and monthly passes that MTC says it sells in the bus bay outside? 

That would put enormous pressure on  recalcitrant autorickshaw drivers.

How can the big programmes on climate change work, if basic information about even the existing public transport options is not made available?

Perhaps the only compact size in which rich map and transit information will be the feature-laden phones from Nokia and Motorola!


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