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In case you haven’t followed the Great September Zonage Battle I’ll do a quick recap.

TfL produce little maps of the tube/train system which are free at stations. They are in A5 size so although they need to contain a lot of information it’s important to do it in as uncluttered a way as possible. Fortunately Harry Beck came up with the idea that our maps don’t need to be geographically accurate in order to convey the information (though strictly speaking this means they are no longer maps but schematics).

Fast forward many decades and the company has added a lot more in the way of lines and stations. The map is looking a bit cluttered. So somebody decides it would be a good idea to take out the river and the zone guidance. This is utter madness and has prompted a bit of a rammy amongst those who care about such things.

I can just about agree to the river being removed. Personally I think it’s useful to help orient oneself given that the ‘map’ is not actually a map and showing how stops intersect with the river is very useful. It’s not essential though. What I can’t understand is doing away with the zoning. How on earth are customers supposed to know how much their journey will cost if there is no indication that going from A to B is going to cost more? The obvious thing to do would be to ask but for that to work we’d need staff about the place and guess which company is trying to do away with ticket offices?

I suspect the large maps in stations will still show zoning information and presumably nobody is going to go ripping out the maps on the trains to replace them with less information. So that’s a help. But I honestly can’t see that the new version of the map is going to stand up in the magistrates’ court when Mrs Migglesworth gets pulled up for fare dodging. I don’t pretend to understand the rationale for giving less information to passengers but I sincerely hope we stop doing it quickly!

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