MTA Tests New Subway Map That Evokes Jettisoned 1972 Version

A brand new subway map is slowly showing in some stations throughout New York City—and it appears quite a bit just like the one which was scrapped within the Seventies.

The metropolis’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is testing a substitute for the acquainted subway map in use for greater than 40 years. The new map distorts the form of the town greater than the present one to higher present how the system’s tracks work together with one another, very similar to Massimo Vignelli’s modernist design did.

For instance, the present subway map combines a number of strains into one the place they run collectively, whereas the brand new model exhibits as many as 4 tracks operating parallel to one another, like on the 4, 5 and 6 strains.

The Vignelli model, in use from 1972 to 1979, was discarded for taking too many liberties with geography and was changed by the design from Michael Hertz Associates that New Yorkers and vacationers nonetheless use at this time.

Sarah Meyer, chief buyer officer of the MTA, mentioned she ultimately hopes to part out the present map in favor of the brand new model being examined—however solely whether it is properly acquired by the general public, she mentioned.

“What I’m trying to do is introduce this map in a way that doesn’t cause fear, introducing it gradually so people can get used to it,” Ms. Meyer mentioned.

The new map is on show in 9 subway stations, together with Times Square, Grand Central and the Fulton Transit Center. Rather than putting them in giant frames, like the present maps, the MTA is printing some onto self-adhesive vinyl that may be caught on to partitions.

“We’ve been able to experiment with putting maps in places that previously did not have any maps at all,” mentioned J.P. Chan, senior director, artistic, on the MTA, who led the map design mission.

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The maps are accompanied by a QR code that subway riders can scan to entry a webpage to provide suggestions.

Ms. Meyer has been desirous about methods to higher talk how the subway actually works, delays and all, since she took the shopper chief position in 2018.

Faced with years of deliberate upkeep work, the MTA final yr launched a stay subway map that prospects can entry on their digital units. It lets passengers test precisely the place trains are within the system, and which strains may be closed or diverted, providing a visible different to the paper upkeep notices pinned up round stations.

Ms. Meyer’s workforce wished to higher convey among the identical data via static maps in stations, for instance making it immediately clear which strains aren’t working on the weekend.

The map designed by Michael Hertz Associates has been in use for greater than 40 years.



But the design of the present map—which mixes a number of strains into one wherever they run parallel and separates out trains that in actuality typically run on the identical tracks—makes that “redrawing” tougher, Ms. Meyer mentioned.

And regardless of the criticism of the Vignelli map for taking too many liberties with geography, the Hertz map additionally subtly distorts the form of the town. Manhattan, significantly downtown, was enlarged by the design workforce at Hertz, whereas the outer boroughs shrank.

“Before I worked here, I did not know that the subway map that we have is not geographic, so I was like an hour and a half late for something once because I had to walk much farther than I expected,” Mr. Chan mentioned.

The MTA’s resolution is to show a brand new, geographically correct map of the town, overlaid with subway strains and Select Bus Service routes, alongside the Vignelli-like map. The company can also be testing two different varieties of maps: an area bus map and maps of stations’ surrounding neighborhoods.

The new subway map differs barely from the Vignelli authentic. The revamped model contains Staten Island and its railway, for instance, which have been left off the map fully in 1972. The new map is rectangular quite than sq., and its waters are blue, not beige.

The Vignelli model was in use from 1972 to 1979.


Massimo Vignelli/MoMA

Feedback to date has been optimistic, however Ms. Meyer mentioned her workforce on the MTA nonetheless has some strategy to go earlier than it will possibly retire the Hertz map.

“I still have stakeholders I haven’t won over. New Yorkers are a stubborn bunch, and their focus right now is getting back to work, rebuilding the city, and making sure everyone’s healthy,” Ms. Meyer mentioned. “But I’d like to move this forward, because I think it solves a crucial business need on the part of our customers.”

Write to Katie Deighton at

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