What could this compass graph represent?
September 17, 2016 10:28 AM   Subscribe

This compass is on all of the Bucharest Metro maps on the interior walls of the trains. There's no accompanying scale information or other hints as to what it refers to.

It's particularly strange since I don't think the maps themselves are oriented to the cardinal points.

I've done a little searching of online forums in Romanian, but all that's there seems to be guesswork. (wind rose? population density? travel time? lazy map designer?) Has anyone seen a compass like this before on a map? What could it represent?

I don't believe that it's a lazy map designer as reverse image search turns up nothing.
posted by jpziller to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Before anyone gets excited, a friend just found a thread with a purported response from the Bucharest Metro Authority (http://www.simplybucharest.ro/?p=6720):

Iata raspunsul oficial:

Urmare a solicitarii dumneavoastra înregistrata la Metrorex cu nr….., va comunicam urmatoarele:
Simbolul aflat în coltul din stânga jos al hartii Metrorex reprezinta o busola stilizata care permite identificarea nordului pe harta, fara alte semnificatii.

Google Translate:

Here is the official response:

Following your request to Metrorex recorded with no ... .. you communicate the following:
The symbol in the upper left corner of the map Metrorex is a stylized compass north map identifying no other meanings.

I'd still be interested in knowing what meanings this *could* have had in the mind of the designer. I'm not ready to give up on this yet!
posted by jpziller at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

That can't possibly have no other meanings. That being said, I have no idea. Day and Night time wind speeds and directions?
posted by humboldt32 at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

An estimate of line frequency? What does the physical lines look like?
posted by sammyo at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

The line drawn along the outside seems to have 15 vertices, which could correspond to the stations of the M1 line. (There are 16 stations in the M1 ring today, so maybe this was drawn before Basarab was added in 1992.)

My first guess is that the thickness of the line would indicate trip frequency (e.g. every 1 minute between the station at NW and the one at W; every 7 minutes between the stations near NE; etc.). That doesn't seem to match the trip frequencies today, but maybe they have changed.

The numbers on the inner graph look more like travel times, maybe, but measured from where to where? Maybe related to the eight terminal points of the outer Metro lines?
posted by mbrubeck at 11:15 AM on September 17, 2016

Can we get a photo of the whole map? Does it show fare zones?
posted by I-baLL at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Those are fare zones or sort of like them.
posted by jessamyn at 11:19 AM on September 17, 2016

I meant the map with the compass since the map with the farezones on that site does not feature the compass. The map on which the compass is on may be essential to understanding why the compass is designed the way it is.
posted by I-baLL at 11:23 AM on September 17, 2016

The folks in this discussion forum seem to think it's a wind chart that was placed there for basically no reason. They link to the original image.
posted by jessamyn at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Heh, interesting. The map that it's on does show a lot more fare zones which matched my theory of the compass showing the lines' starting and end points and fare zones but the wind chart thing seems like the ticket (especially since there's no fare zone 20 on that map. On that map they only go up to 19.) Cool! Now I feel like I should learn how wind charts work.
posted by I-baLL at 11:57 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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