Category Archives: fun

Tickets, please! Turn your old travel tickets into art

Do you have a stash of old tickets at home? Would you like to contribute to an amazing new artwork that will become part of a major exhibition?

Creative Commons License photo credit: bfishadow

The London Transport Museum is looking for used travel tickets to feature in their upcoming exhibition ‘Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography’, which opens next year. This includes tickets for boat, train, bus, air travel and more.

Exploring the theme of transport maps and mapping, the exhibition will include historic and contemporary maps, whilst exploring the future of mapping, and will include newly commissioned artworks by Stephen Walter, Simon Patterson, Jeremy Wood, Claire Brewster and Helen Scalway.

Another artist featured is Susan Stockwell, whose work often uses of themes of maps and mapping, transforming recycled materials from everyday objects into beautiful artworks.

On this occasion Susan will be experimenting with used transport tickets to create a large-scale world map. The artwork will also explore the role of tickets as a memory or symbolic representation of a journey.

The Museum is currently working with Susan to collect used transport tickets from as many types of travel, of various, and from as many countries and timespans as possible. She is also collecting stories and memories related to the tickets, which are often kept as souvenirs or memento.

Please send any tickets and stories to:
Michelle Brown
London Transport Museum
39 Wellington Street
michelle dot brown at ltmuseum dot co dot uk


The Shanghai Anagram Metro Map 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn festival to all ExploreMetro fans! Here’s a special holiday treat for you metro-lovers. We’ve made an anagrammed version of the 2011 Shanghai Metro map, scrambling the letters of the English names of all stations for comic effect.

Click below for the full PDF metro map, here are some of our favorites:

  • Haha, brainy girls = Shanghai Library
  • Huge Shoe healing Communist Ascendancy  = Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
  • Mouse came up arse = Aerospace Museum
  • Odd anagram = Madang Road

Back in 2008 I created the first anagrammed map of the Shanghai Metro. Since then the Shanghai Metro has added lots of new stations and lines and is now the longest metro system in the world, so I thought it was about time to bring the anagram map up to date!

Note for pedants: I used the common English name of the station as posted on signboards, spelling out directions e.g. South Lingyan Road. For some challenging stations (particularly the ones with lots of Xs and Zs I added “station” e.g. Dongjing Station -> Standing, I jog not.)

ExploreMetro Interview by China Radio International

I was recently interviewed by Allie Johnson of China Radio International. We talked about my motivations for creating the Explore Metro maps and my plans for the future! Listen to the audio here, or view the transcript below.

[audio:|titles=0506-Allie-Explore metro]

Allie: In every city Matt Mayer travels to, there’s one site he can’t miss.

Matt: I am a big fan of metros. Whenever I’m in town, I try to visit as many of the stations as I can.

Allie: When the Brit moved to Shanghai four years ago, that pastime got a little tricky.

Matt: I really wanted to use public transport to get around but when I searched online, I found that there wasn’t really any good information in English about the metro. I found some metro maps but often they would be like out of date or they wouldn’t include the correct station engine in English. So I thought, “I think I can do better than that myself.”

Allie: Mayer wanted to make the best metro map and trip planner in China. He went to great lengths to make it accurate: really great lengths.

Matt: A couple of years ago, I tried to visit every metro station in Shanghai in a single day. Starting at 6:00 in the morning, finishing late in the evening. It took me just over ten hours to visit every station. Althoufg that was before, some of the new lines have opened. I think if you try to do the same thing today, it would take even longer and it might not even be possible.

Allie: And so Explore Metro was born. It’s an online map of rapid transit systems in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Singapore. And there’s an iPhone app too. You can click on any station on the network, and drag to any other station to find best routes, trip times, and fares. You can also see first and last train times, Google maps of the area round the station, and links to info on nearby places.

All maps are bilingual and non-Chinese speakers can hear the station name in Mandarin.

Allie: Mayer says about 80% of users are Chinese.

Matt: And I do get quite a lot of feedback from Chinese people who are quite surprised that a foreigner actually took the time to make something like this.

Allie: In the past two years, the Shanghai metro has opened three new lines and expanded four. For Jonathan McDonald, this is where Explore Metro comes in handy.

Jonathan McDonald: I don’t know these new subway lines. I don’t know where they go. I don’t know how to connect with them. I don’t know what the fastest routes are. But this really shows me where to go.

Allie: Peggy Wong is living between Beijing and Shanghai. She just recently discovered the site.

Peggy: I think it’s very useful like it’s very user friendly. It’s great that they have such function because normally the map has a lot of stations and it’s a lot easier to pinpoint where the station I need to go.

Allie: But Wong and McDonald both say the maps have room to improve.

Peggy: I cannot zoom in or out so I can only see like a part of the metro map. So if I need to go from a very far end of one side of the city to go to the other side, I go back and forth, like side to side on the map.

Allie: McDonald says he doesn’t feel it accounts for the extra time needed to switch trains at busy interchange stations especially at rush hour.

Jonathan McDonald: I made a route between an interchange that is notoriously busy. And it didn’t give me a realistic journey time. You know, it said this will take you 13 minutes but speaking from personal experience, just that interchange could take you 10 minutes.

Allie: Matt Mayer says he welcomes anyone to write in with comments. And that almost every single added feature comes from user suggestion.

Matt: Although my Chinese is not too great, I do try to reply to everybody whether they’re writing to me in English or Chinese and I can email them back and let you know if it makes into a new version of the app.

Allie: Next stops are Explore Tokyo and Explore Seoul. He plans to keep the project Asia-focused because the rapid transit systems here are expanding so quickly. Currently, Mayer is travelling the world and working remotely. And wherever he can, ride in the rails. For CRI, I’m Allie Johnson.

Visit China Radio International for more China stories!

Suggest ways to make ExploreMetro better on our new feedback forum

We’re pleased to announce that ExploreMetro has a new support website, including a feedback forum for feature suggestions, a Knowledge Base with answers to common questions, and an easy way to contact us.

Despite the fact that ExploreMetro is developed, marketed and supported by one person in their spare time, I do love to hear what you have to say! Almost every feature we add to the app, or new city map we develop, is first suggested by one of our awesome users.

Head over to where you can:

  1. Suggest a feature for our maps and apps in the feedback forum, or vote on other people’s ideas
  2. Suggest a new city where you’d like to see a ExploreMetro map
  3. Check out the Knowledge Base with a list of Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Need to get in touch? Contact us!


Beijing Subway Challenge

Alex Taggart, who writes for the Global Times Metro Beijing will be heading underground on Wednesday, January 26th as he attempts to visit every Beijing Subway station in one day!

I’m excited to see how he does, as I attempted the same feat in Shanghai in 2009.

So why’s he doing it?

“I’m hoping that in taking up and hopefully beating the challenge, I’ll bring attention to the fact that for less than the price of a jianbing, it’s possible to navigate the whole of Beijing and beyond (336km of track) in a day, with a good few hours to spare if my calculations are correct. In a taxi, the same journey would be super-slow, cost at least 1042 kuai (or 297.7 jianbings), and leave Beijing covered in nasty pollution.

You can follow Alex on Twitter to see how well he does. Good luck!

Saturday Subway Stuff: Stinks, security, shuffling and songs

A roundup of the latest metro news and links from ExploreMetro cities!

Shanghai Metro ticket guide

Michael emailed to ask “I will be visiting Shanghai … and will be using the metro system quite a bit and would like to know if they have metro transportation card that can be bought for mutiple days use or family use”

Here’s are the options:

1. Buy single journey tickets for 3-9RMB each depending on distance. Purchasing is pretty simple using the ticket machines which have instructions in English. Then swipe your card on the way in, and let it be swallowed on the way out.

2. Buy a Shanghai Public Transportation Card (ask at an information desk) for a 20RMB refundable deposit, and you can top it up with 50RMB or 100RMB increments using a recharge machine. Then just swipe your card at the ticket gates in and out. Individual trips cost the same as single tickets, though there is a 10% discount if you travel enough in a month. Also at certain “virtual interchange” stations (Shanghai Railway Station, Yishan Road, South Shaanxi Road, Hongkou Stadium) you can avoid paying for a second ticket if you have a card.

3. Buy a one-day pass for 18RMB or a three-day pass for 45 RMB, available at the airport and some information desks. Unless you’re using the metro for many trips every day, this will probably be more expensive than single tickets, however it does speed things up, particularly if you’re travelling in a group.

Each person needs their own ticket, you can’t share a SPTC or pass between multiple people. Any more tips, do leave a comment!

6.5 million people using the Shanghai Metro every day

According to the latest figures, over 6.5 million people (that’s 650万) are now using the Shanghai Metro each day. July 9th saw 6.527 million people pass through the entrance gates, the 12th time the daily record has been broken this year! The average daily figure during 2009 was 3.6 million, but the new lines which have opened this year have boosted attendance significantly.

After breaking through 6 million for the first time on May 21, the numbers have shot up in the first week of July, due to the extended opening hours on Line 10 and increased numbers of passengers on Expo Line 13. Both lines have seen daily numbers double since May.

Get the data in a Google Spreadsheet

Coming soon: Google maps in our iPhone metro maps

By popular request, we’ll soon be including integrated Google Maps in our iPhone metro map apps for Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Singapore. Just tap on any station and choose “Street map” to see the area around the selected station. You can pan and zoom the map to see more.

If you’ve got any suggestions on this or other features, do get in touch!

Stay tuned for updates to all our apps to support Google maps over the next few weeks.