The MTA completely redid the subway map, and it’s an amazing transformation.

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Before I get to my comments, and some photos, I’ll paste the press release here from the MTA website so you can have the background information before you hear from me. As always, the italics indicate a quote from a website, and the words in regular font are my own. I will highlight a few things I find most noteworthy.

For the first time in over a decade, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is unveiling a new edition of the one map every New Yorker and tourist should possess. The new simplified version of the NYC Subway map, rescaled and with new colors, will make its debut to coincide with subway service changes that take effect June 27.

Click here to view the new map.

The MTA has ordered 1.5 million copies for distribution this month, with 6 million copies a year expected to be printed.

The challenges in representing the most complex subway system in the world are clear, but the MTA’s goal in redesigning the map was a simple one – clarity.

“In its desire to be complete and provide a great deal of information, the previous map took away from some of the clarity you would have with something simpler and less cluttered,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder.

There are some changes riders will notice. Manhattan will become wider so it’s less cluttered in spots like midtown and lower Manhattan where the bulk of subway lines traverse. Staten Island, meanwhile, is displayed as an inset.

A simple street grid with notable popular attractions and neighborhoods remains to enable riders to better gauge their location when exiting the subway system.

To improve contrast, the taupe background changed tone, and subway lines gained a gray shadow.

For the first time, maps in subway cars will be different. Bus destination “balloons” were eliminated and the station fonts made larger for easier reading on a moving subway car. Maps located in stations will still have the “balloons” while pocket maps will have abbreviated “balloons.”

As an example, here is what the old map showed for midtown and lower Manhattan:

Old Subway Map

Old Subway Map

As you can see, it’s REALLY cluttered. There are multiple instances where unless you already know where things are, you might not know which words go with which stations.

Now look at the new map, of the same basic area:

New Subway Map

New Subway Map

The entire area is wider and more spread out. Everything is much clearer and I think the new map is really crisp and professional looking. The color adjustment also seems to give it more depth and clarity. Also, considering I have never met anybody that actually takes the Staten Island subway, I’m thrilled it’s merely going to be an inset instead of clogging up space on the map.

For all of the bad press the MTA gets, this is a real upgrade, and a welcome one.

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One comment on “The MTA completely redid the subway map, and it’s an amazing transformation.

  1. Kim says:

    I agree that the new map is much better, but the shadows on the track lines are just weird.

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