Thanks to Max Roberts for giving the heads up to the FT's weekend feature on Madrid's reaction when their subway map was changed earlier this year. The map was "replaced by a new plano esquematico, with stern horizontals and verticals, produced by a local design agency. Reaction was furious. 'It's a monstrosity,' said one complainant. 'Idiotic and unnecessary,' said another."
Personally I think the new one (detail immediately below) looks much clearer than the old one:
Detail of New Madrid Metro Map
Detail of Old Madrid Metro Map
However, if you know Madrid there are some unsettling oddities. According to the FT, the designer, Rafa Sanudo, makes the standard Line 1 journey from Pinar de Chamartin to Valdecarros "seem as though you're on some weird escalator".
Max predicts: "It will last three or four years, until the person who commissioned it moves on. Then they'll change their minds."
I'm sure we'd get a similar "up in arms" reaction from the UK if the Tube map lost its curves & 45 degree angles and went all spiky overnight. Even Max's own curvy Tube map bought mixed reactions when blogged here.
Apparently Madrid's map "has slipped the surly bonds of reality completely. All diagonals are banned, which makes it very uncompromising." But my favourite part of this story is hearing about the guinea pigs that the map's designer, Rafa Sanudo, used as a sanity check for the map: "He said he tested it on his mother-in-law and her bridge partners, which sounds as good a focus group as any other, and cheaper than most. But perhaps they don't get out much."