Why airline maps all look the same

Honestly, I’ve never thought much about airline maps. Every so often, I might glance at one, wondering about our route. But, I’m resigned to the fact that the lines in the magazines have nothing to do with reality. So, when I was reading this article it caught my attention. It may catch yours as well.

Open up an in-flight magazine or switch the monitor in front of you to the flight tracker and what you’ll likely see is a very literal interpretation of the ground below you: blue water, land that varies between beige and green, and mountains that keep their ridges.

“They [traditional flight maps] are legitimately easier to use,” says Pentagram partner and designer Michael Bierut. “As opposed to locating your destination from an undifferentiated list of cities, you can do it by searching first for your destination continent, then country, then city,” he adds. “The additional information is clarifying rather than confusing.”

A map devoid of geographical details can still make clear to its users that Kansas City is nowhere near Miami — if it wants to. “The thing about flights,” says subway map enthusiast and designer, Max Roberts, “is that there’s no road or rails, so the maps can be as abstract as you like.”


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NY Port Authority protects its image

Almost everyone who has taken a bus into or out of New York City has had to deal with the Port Authority bus terminal. Its image is bad, but the authority seems hell-bent on stopping a small shop from using pictures of giant public buildings on its chinaware. Go figure.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has a “great concern.”

It is not about the state of the region’s airports. Or the difficulties of rebuilding the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. Or the growing perception that politics has driven the agency’s decision making.

No, what is troublesome is that Fishs Eddy, a well-known housewares store at Broadway and 19th Street, is “unfairly reaping a benefit from an association with the Port Authority and the attacks” of Sept. 11. How? By selling two lines of goods — “212 New York Skyline” and “Bridge and Tunnel” — that are adorned with fanciful, cartoonish depictions of the twin towers, the new 1 World Trade Center and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, labeled with their names, all of which the agency claims as its own assets.

In a letter to Fishs Eddy dated July 24, Veronica Rodriguez, a lawyer for the authority, asked the store to stop selling anything with these “assets” on them, and to “destroy all materials, documents and other items bearing the assets.”

As for an upgrade for the Port Authority bus terminal? Don’t hold your breath.

The Port Authority terminal, the nation’s largest bus facility, is most famous for its poor aesthetics and general decrepitude: its low ceilings and tiled-bathroom affect; its heat in the summer; its atmosphere so starved of anything resembling human warmth that the plastic trees in the north wing’s basement actually are a balm to the eye.

Tesla owner calculates that uberX is cheaper than electric car

In a personal blog post, Sam Altman, a San Francisco resident, compared the cost of driving his Tesla Roadster to getting rides using uberX. He concluded it would be cheaper to call uberX whenever he needed to travel rather than run a Tesla electric car. Wow! And, he didn’t even figure in the cost of purchasing the Tesla. This story will certainly give every driver something to think about.

Assuming 6,000 miles traveled per year, he determined that driving the electric car costs $13,600, while uberX came in at $12,000.

Altman estimated an average cost of $2.00 per mile for uberX, the only real cost associated with the ridesharing service.

Car ownership is a bit more complicated, of course.

While he calculated charging costs at 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, or roughly double the average national rate, they still came to only around $10 for a full charge giving him 150 miles or more.

Altman also said he spends $3,600 per year to park his Roadster, plus $1,200 for insurance and $3,500 for maintenance.