Some of our spider maps are missing?

Looking at the spider maps in the open data bucket, I realised that the codes given to each map changed form earlier this year. They are now of the form where mm and yy represent month and year and (I am guessing a bit) nnn is a numeric code incremented by 1 each time.

So far so geeky but the only ones I have been able to find in the new form are (ignoring the mm.yy bit)

which leaves a lot of gaps. Perhaps some maps have been aborted, or the number sequence covers other documents as well but is it possible that some new spider maps have been issued but not loaded? If there is a problem, it would presumably also affect the normal public-facing interface for these maps.

1 Like

Yes, it leaves LOADS of gaps. It’s very, very, very annoying that TfL didn’t put some 302 redirects to the correct one isn’t it?

So very consitant that i had to get my set hand done.

Abbey Wood      
Acton Main Line      
Chadwell Heath      
Ealing Broadway      
Forest Gate      
Gidea Park      
Harold Wood      
Hayes And Harlington      
Heathrow Airport T2+3      
Heathrow Airport T4      
Heathrow Airport T5      
Liverpool Street      
Manor Park      
Seven Kings      
West Ealing  


The first few of those you mention that I looked at are listed in the open data bucket at so we may be at cross purposes. I was referring to gaps in the sequence of reference numbers, as found at the bottom RH corner of most maps, which to my tidy mind suggests that there mkay be new or updated maps knocking around which haven’t made it on the website and into the data bucket. There may be other explanations but the number of new/updated maps so far this year would then be surprisingly low.


Hello. Is there anybody there? Six weeks and no TfL acknowledgement or reply, let alone an explanation.

1 Like

Hi @mjcarchive

Sorry for the slow response - I’ll look into this now.


1 Like


Eight weeks on - any progress?

I note also that no spider maps have been updated since May 2018. It s possible (though seems unlikely) that there have been no new maps produced since then. It would be useful to know whether there is a recognised update cycle for the spider map pages. If (for example) the working timetables are updated weekly, it does raise the question of why the maps, which are much more “public-facing” are not.

Another three weeks pass by.

Not much point in posting if nothing happens.

Is everyone on a very long training course, or getting paid more elsewhere?

Have you noticed that the style of the spider maps in the bus stops has changed?
IMHO very much for the worse!
These are probably the missing ones.

They have been “straitened out” so that stops are repeated all over the place and there is no sense of geography at all. I wonder if they bothered to find out if the sort of people who cannot read maps, the only ones for whom this is LESS confusing, are really in the majority? Whether they are or not, why try to communicate with them graphically at all? Why not post a separate list-based notice?

BTW the University of Zambia discovered in 1967 that there was a national problem of “igraphicacy” in that drivers who had grown up with no two-dimensional representations (pictures) at all in the home, but had learnt good English and were literate, could read (e,g.) “School” much more quickly than interpret the complex silhouette of a skipping boy and girl on the new (then) International Road Signs, so the Dept of Transport had to put back the word-signs underneath to reduce accidents!

I know a few TFL people read these (eventually) so please pass my comments on to the right people.


I was aware of some experimentation taking place (Barkingside area?) but not any further spread of what I agree are pretty unhelpful mutations of spider maps.

But then if they have spread like wildfire since 8th May I would be unlikely to be aware, because NOTHING in the way of new or updated spider maps has appeared on line since that date, over SIX MONTHS ago.

The result is that the current on line map for Edgware still shows the withdrawn route 305 and the old routeing for route 303, The two routes were subsumed into an altered route 303 back on 1st September. I do not know whether what is posted at stops has been revised.

Electronic information systems are wonderful but users are entitled to think of them as up-to-date in a way that they would not for a hard copy equivalent. Their usefulness is eroded if keeping them accurate and up-to-date is considered to be an optional extra.

There has, I am sure, been bucketloads of research which shows that many people have difficulty with maps (and timetables). This is why geographical maps and matrix timetables have been replaced by (rather than supplementing) spider maps and stop specific timetables. Now presumably we have more research which suggests that many people have difficulty with the normal spider maps, hence the attempt to turn them into a parody of what you see in tube trains.

The question that never seems to be asked is this - how many of the people who say they can understand style B but not style A actually bother to use style B if the change is made? If the answer to that question is “hardly any” then the loss of utility for those who did use style A is unjustified - you might say that dumbing down would then be really dumb. What people say in focus groups differs from how they behave in reality; it seems to me that many simply cannot be bothered.


One possibility of why they are not on line is copyright - perhaps the result of iniquitous outsourcing, where it would belong to some advertising agency reluctant to publish on line in case a rival taking over the contract got to use them.

Maybe that’s why I have been unable to obtain PDFs of the lovely “pillar maps” which have sprung up everywhere.

BTW I hope Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and co. eventually fail to get the EU to adopt Austria’s 90-year limit (thanks to W. A. Mozart’s widow) instead of the majority of countries’ 50-year limit. Most of us rely on past savings for our pensions, not greedily expecting our very old work to be still producing cash.

1 Like

I doubt that it’s copyright as any contract would include them being placed online

I’m a great fan of Occam’s Razor, so I’ll go for TfL simply not having the resources to do it.

Now here’s a funny thing. The spider maps listing within the TfL Data Bucket (for bus info) still shows no changes to spider maps since 8th May. But if I look at the spider map section with in the Maps area of the TfL website there ARE updates, e g for Kensington High Street. So it looks as if I have been railing at the wrong target.

That however raises the question of why the TfL Data Bucket has not picked up these changes. Has the location of the spider maps changed (it has done, annoyingly, several times in the past)? Were the spiders added as a one-off, with no built-in updating procedure? What can be done about it to correct it as of now and to ensure that the issue does not reoccur?

Someone must have read it! All spider maps replaced/overwritten on 1st February.

Having looked in more detail, it appears that some 250(*) changes have been made to spider maps on the maps portion of the TfL website between 8th May 2018 and 1st February 2019, These are the dates on which the set of links in the TfL Data Bucket was updated.

Can we have confidence that the Data Bucket will be revised whenever new or revised spiders appear?

I note that there appears to be more sign of a file naming convention in all the new files, with the date not included. If this approach is maintained any links held on external sites should go to the right place even if the map is updated.

Also noted that the vast majority are of the old form, not the (to me) much less informative (and much less geographical) multicoloured spaghetti strainer approach tested in the Barkingside area, though that seems to have spread to Walthamstow, Brentford, some of the night maps and quite possibly maps I have not yet looked at. I do hope that it will get knocked on the head fairly quickly. The Walthamstow Central map is terrible as several locations appear more than once on the map in quite different places (e g Chingford and Whipps Cross Hospital) - I really don’t see how this can help any intending passenger.

(*) That excludes changes which have themselves been overwritten - where a spider map changed twice or more in the period.

1 Like