It is undoubtedly one of the laziest and nonsensical of cliches – “putting Croydon on the map”. Which is probably why we hear it used so often by local politicians and attention-seekers. Because, of course, Croydon has been on maps for around one thousand years.
But this week, Croydon, and its pride and joy, the tram network, is finally, and really, “put on the map”, with its inclusion on the latest version of one of the most famous pieces of graphic design of all time: the London Tube map.
The trams have been running from Wimbledon to Beckenham and through central Croydon since 2000, but this is the first time that the Tramlink network has been included on Transport for London Tube map.
Londonist.com got the exclusive on the story yesterday, including a neat video’d interview with the current chief designer, John Hunter, the inheritor of the design classic which has been serving London so well since Harry Beck’s first multi-coloured schematic of the Tube network appeared in 1932.
Today, Hunter has to somehow accommodate around twice the information which Beck laid out more than 80 years ago, and in the interview he explains that the tram has been added because the south London network is now integrated into TfL’s travel information service.
And the good folk at Londonist think they’ve spotted a an error: “where the Special Fare Zone exists for the trams (because you can either pay a flat fare for a single journey, or any travelcard that covers zone 3, 4 or 5 is valid), Morden tube station has also been sucked in, when surely it should still be in zone 4 — just as it’s always been”.
But what Londonist nor the chap from TfL can explain is why it has taken 16 years for Tramlink to finally be added along the bottom inch or so of the essential guide to travelling around London. Now in place, it is clear to see what an important part the tram network plays in providing a cross-capital transport service.
Maybe it was excluded from the Tube map for the past eight years because the graphic format clearly demonstrates how useful – and obvious – an extension of the network, to Crystal Palace, might be. Had the trams been included on the Tube map before, they would have served as a daily reminder of the broken promises from Boris Johnson as Mayor of London to build an extension through to Anerley and beyond.
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