Wednesday, October 21, 2020

New York Has a New Subway Map

The New York Subway has a new interactive map. The new MTA Live Subway Map was developed by the digital agency Work & Co and the Transit Innovation Partnership to create a subway map which includes live data and even shows the network's trains in real-time. 

It is fair to say that reactions to the new map have so far been mixed. Those from a graphic design background seem to think that the map is a wonderful compromise between a diagrammatic and geographical transit map - while those from a cartography background appear to think that the result is an unholy mess. 

Transit maps usually have to make compromises between the simplicity of a schematic network diagram and the underlying real world geography. The new MTA Live Subway Map has attempted to actually marry a diagram with a geographical map. The main criticism of the new map is that while the MTA stations are in the correct positions on the geographical base map the MTA lines between these stations subsequently ignore the geographical reality of that base map. Lines therefore end up taking imaginary routes between stations (even through and across what appear to be new imaginary tunnels and bridges).

Where the map does work well is in providing real-time information on train arrival time, line availability (lines currently down are grayed out on the map) and even the real-time position of trains. Click on a station on the map and you can discover not only when the next trains are due but even how many elevators are currently in operation.

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