At first glance, we genuinely thought someone had left something NSFW in the racks of pocket-sized tube maps. Turns out it's just the new cover design:
The new tube map cover design is a bit in your face. Also, the map now includes dotted lines for "Under a 10 minute walk between stations". pic.twitter.com/7zMirwZ3nH
— diamond geezer (@diamondgeezer) December 8, 2018
TfL's Art On The Underground has released two new designs: that one by artist Linder, a feminist powerhouse with a tendency to make montages with lips, and a night tube design by Jade Montserrat (website NSFW, though the design isn't):
We'd be interested to know whether tourists are confused when looking for a thing that looks like a map and finding only things that look like leaflets for art exhibitions, especially if they don't speak much English.
Without the context of being a local, it'd be very easy to miss these when looking for travel information, and of course your chances of finding a real live staffer to help out is lower than ever.
Still, at least there are giant tube maps on the walls, when they're not being blocked by some guy having a TOTES IMPORTANT phone call right in front of the board while fifteen Japanese tourists politely try to see where they're going through the gaps under his armpits.
If we were feeling uncharitable, we might theorise that the new map's eye-catching (or eye-watering, depending on your perspective) design could be partly to distract us from what isn't on the map: the Elizabeth Line. Which was supposed to launch this month, and hasn't, thus making liars of all the Crossrail Oyster wallets they handed out:
What HAS been added to the tube map is some information about how easy it is to walk between stations, indicated by the dotted lines:
But only some stations, because as IanVisits rightly points out:
"[...] a lot of Zone 1 is omitted as you’ll have dotted lines all over the place turning the map into a spiders [sic] web.
Also, the stations shown have to meet a set of criteria that includes stations less than a 700m or a 10 minute walk apart, where there is an easy, well-lit, signposted walking route and where making the change opens up additional travel options."
Map pedants have inevitably taken issue with which stations are shown as walking distance and which aren't, but ultimately this seems to be a useful addition to the map for people who want to get some exercise and actually see some of our lovely city, instead of soot-smeared tunnel walls.
You can pick up your weird new tube map at stations from today, or you can view the map itself online here.