Home Subway Maps A complete look at the new subway map

A complete look at the new subway map

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the last few days, we’ve spent a lot of time discussion the MTA’s new subway map. On Friday, we explored how the MTA is using the service cuts to refresh and declutter the map. Yesterday, we examined the battle between form vs. purpose and design vs. geographic in subway map design. Today, I’ve got the goods.

Via NBC New York comes a full preview of the new subway map. I’ve embedded the a low-res version of the full map after the jump, and by clicking on it, you can download a 2.8 MB PDF file.

As you’ll see, the map looks pretty good up close and in full. The MTA has certainly started clearing up the clutter, and while the drop-shadow gray lines can be slightly awkward, I think they work to highlight the routes. Above, I’ve posted the map’s mid-day service disclaimer, and I have to wonder if the MTA should consider a return to the two-sided map with the back that shows overnight service. The authority last employed such a device in the mid-1990s when Manhattan Bridge service led to massive service changes based on the time of day. As it stands now, the new map won’t be too useful come 11 p.m.

Anyway, enjoy the finer details of the new map, and kudos to those who can spot the one mistake I’ve found so far. As a hint, it’s in Queens.

After the jump, the new map in full. Click the image for a very high-res PDF.

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Scott E June 3, 2010 - 12:18 pm

It’s not in Queens, (and according to Wikipedia, not a mistake either) but I see the popular subway destination “Greenwood Cemetery” has suddenly become hyphenated “Green-wood”

BrooklynBus June 5, 2010 - 5:18 pm

The cemetery spells it with a hyphen.

Ben Samra June 24, 2010 - 3:00 am

E,M,R,V only Queens Plaza. It is in Queens.

Frank Boccardi June 3, 2010 - 12:21 pm

Well here’s a major mistake: (I don’t know if it’s the one you’re referring to,) They’ve completely covered up the Port Washington Line with that stupid information box! That’s the only line that serves Northeast Queens, and as a Bayside native, I’m annoyed that they covered it up. Plus, they did not continue the map to the border of Nassau, and one of the train stations’ name is cut off. Overall, I liked the old map better, even if Staten Island was most geographically inaccurate.

JPN June 3, 2010 - 12:33 pm

That, and the fact that you’re getting less LIRR service is indeed annoying. If the MTA has the liberty to distort geography, there’s certainly room for the Port Washington Line even with the service note box.

Thanks, Ben, for blowing up that upper right section. That service note box is no substitute for the service descriptions. Walder’s push for technology is misguided in this sense.

Scott E June 3, 2010 - 1:22 pm

I had mentioned the covering of the Pt. Washington line in Ben’s first post on the map – having lived in Little Neck, I can relate to what Frank says. There’s plenty of blue space above the legend; the whole thing could have been slid up that way.

And JPN’s right… the box directs you to click on individual line maps to see the night/weekend service, which is hardly practical. There’s no at-a-glance table, on the map or even online, to answer the question “It’s 3AM, which trains are running?”

JPN June 3, 2010 - 12:25 pm

Is it that there’s a missing “Q” for the Q16 in the Flushing-Main Street box?

Al D June 3, 2010 - 12:32 pm

Hey, where’s the gray shading on the L? 😉

Bill Reese June 3, 2010 - 12:39 pm

I’d just like to see lovely Astoria park get some Subway map recognition.

Bill Reese June 3, 2010 - 12:42 pm

They also missed Union Square Park, which is still the old emerald Parkland color, not the new olive Parkland color.

Scott E June 4, 2010 - 12:47 pm

They’ve got part of it in olive-green, and part (which wasn’t even shown on the old map!) in the old colors. It looks like they thought of making the park larger before they thought of changing the color, but when they did change color, it was done only on the original, not the enlarged, footprint.

You can get a feel for how the map was assembled by using the PDF reader’s “Search” function. Look for Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, etc and it will find the hidden LIRR stations under the text box.

I can’t tell you how long it took me to even FIND Union Sq park on the map, since it’s mostly covered by the thicker, shadowed yellow and green route lines just north of the Union Sq station. You need to zoom in really close). It’s not labeled either.

Bob Dressner June 3, 2010 - 12:43 pm

There’s a V handicapped entrance at Queens Plaza/Queensboro Plaza…which isn’t really one station at all…

Benjamin Kabak June 3, 2010 - 12:45 pm

There you go. There might be more and it could be corrected before it’s finalized and printed.

herenthere June 3, 2010 - 1:26 pm

But even if you check the current map it’s still under the same station!


John June 3, 2010 - 2:50 pm

It’s not that the Queens Plaza station isn’t handicap accessible (it is), it’s that the info bubble on the new bubble refers to the V.

Lawrence Velazquez June 4, 2010 - 6:47 pm

Heh, four services at Queens Plaza?

BrooklynBus June 5, 2010 - 5:24 pm

I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Liberty Avenue has mistakenly been called Bergen Street (east of East New York Avenue) since The Map was first unveiled in the 1970s. After someone told me about it, I brought it to the MTA’s attention via the Employee Suggestion Program five years ago. I suggested they add East New York Avenue to the grid to show where the street changes name. They accepted the suggestion and assured me in writing that it would be corrected. That was five years ago. Now the map has had a “thorough” going over and the mistake is still there. Still believe everything the MTA tells you?

Christopher June 3, 2010 - 12:57 pm

Another way to make the line “pop” would be to dim the entire background. (They did some but blue is still way too bright.) And use 45 degree angles for the lines. The visual clutter comes from decisions to make entire map of seemingly equal importance. And the swoopiness on the lines does nothing to ease readability.

Rhywun June 3, 2010 - 6:47 pm

Yeah, it’s slightly less cluttered but I still pity poor tourists wielding these enormous things and having to puzzle out the routes.

Alon Levy June 4, 2010 - 1:22 pm

I personally found the New York geographic map a lot more enlightening than I did the schematic of Singapore, which left me wondering where each station was located. In fact the one time I couldn’t find a station in New York was when I walked along Lex in the 20s and 30s looking for the 6; this was a consequence of the map’s not being geographically accurate enough, not of its being too accurate.

Rhywun June 6, 2010 - 11:31 pm

But you have to use the right map for the right purpose. The Map combines both schematic and geographic elements and thereby becomes less than ideal for any use. It’s too cluttered for those times you just want to figure out the service patterns of the lines, and the geography is too distorted to use in the manner you described above.

Ideally, there should be both a schematic and a geographic map. Lots of agencies put out both. The MTA really should publish their neighborhood maps (like they used to). Or here’s an idea: when I lived in Germany, it was standard practice in any city to publish all the maps and schedules in a pocket-size book you could carry around everywhere and charge a couple bucks for it. At the very least the MTA could put a lot more effort into their online maps and schedules. Look at a site like the one in Berlin – it puts the MTA to shame.

Dom June 3, 2010 - 1:31 pm

Although perhaps not a mistake, the Rockaway Park Shuttle now seems to be represented by a blue line instead of a grey one, but still has grey boxes for its termini. Also putting the dotted blue line next to a solid blue line is confusing, since it looks like it’s a continuation of the A’s normal service. Maybe they’ll fix all these things. Wonder if MTA map makers read SAS…

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Scott E June 3, 2010 - 2:18 pm

How do they figure out how connections to the commuter railroads (LIRR, Metro-North)are shown? I see no consistency. For instance: Woodside (7), Vernon/Jackson (7), Atlantic Ave (L), Marble Hill (1), Yankees & Mets stadiums don’t show the transfer at all; Hunters Point (7) shows it alongside the subway connections; Forest Hills-71 Av (E/M/F/R), Flushing-Main St (7), Far Rockaway (A), Marble Hill (1), Wakefield (2), 125th St (4/5/6) show it in the callout balloon only; the major terminals (Penn, GCT, Atlantic) and Sutphin-Archer show it in both the balloons and alongside subway connections. The Fordham Plaza MNR balloon doesn’t even show a subway connection, just a Metro-North station.

John June 12, 2010 - 3:24 pm

There is no subway at Fordham. The 3rd Avenue Line was the only line that served the station, and that was torn down in 1973.

Ian June 3, 2010 - 2:29 pm

Also, if you look at the graphic for JFK, they’re still showing the silhouettes of the older terminals 5 and 8/9.

Max S. (WilletsPoint-SheaStadium) June 3, 2010 - 2:51 pm

What’s with the Brighton Line no longer having express service?!

Benjamin Kabak June 3, 2010 - 2:53 pm

With the Brighton Line station rehab in progress through September 2011, there is no express service anyway. Transit decided to put it on the map to clear up confusion.

Max S. (WilletsPoint-SheaStadium) June 4, 2010 - 11:22 am

Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

anon June 3, 2010 - 4:04 pm

Also, the terminus of the Q is still listed as 57 street when the service has been extended to Astoria…

Lenny Reyes June 3, 2010 - 4:39 pm

The (Q) terminates at 57th Street on late nights and weekends. It’s posted in a way similar to the (5) at Bowling Green.

Rhywun June 3, 2010 - 6:59 pm

There should at least be some indicator (like London’s daggers?) to show that something unusual’s going on there. Otherwise with the route guide gone it makes no sense. There’s another unexplained terminus on the M at Myrtle Ave…..

Lawrence Velazquez June 4, 2010 - 6:50 pm

For the longest time I could not figure out why there was that M terminus indicator at Myrtle Avenue, so close to Middle Village. It never occurred to me that the late-night shuttle would be so short.

Rhywun June 6, 2010 - 11:36 pm

The late-night R shuttle is also very short. Eight stops — same as the M. But there’s no indication on The Map, and the only reason I can guess at is that the M shuttle also runs on weekends in addition to late-nights. Of course, now that the route guide is gone, there’s no way to make sense out of all the otherwise random attempts at trying to indicate the service variations.

Jimmy June 3, 2010 - 5:33 pm

Why is parkland no longer green? Why does it look like desert terrain?

Rhywun June 3, 2010 - 6:49 pm

I think it helps reduce the clutter & so I approve.

Rhywun June 3, 2010 - 6:52 pm

Anyone else notice the street names in the East Village — and nowhere else — gain an “E”?

The Boss June 4, 2010 - 3:31 am

In my opinion, the map look less clutter. However, the MTA should have extended the “J” or the “Z” train south of Broad Street into Brooklyn to substitute for the “M” train. The reason I say this is because come June 28th there is going to be a lot of overcrowding on the “D” in Brooklyn.

Benjamin Kabak June 4, 2010 - 9:04 am

They’re not calling them “service cuts” for nothing, you know.

The Boss June 4, 2010 - 11:41 am

I agree with you on that.

Eric June 4, 2010 - 9:18 am

They sure did take an odd liberty in both the placement and geographical direction of the Verrazano Bridge.

Rhywun June 5, 2010 - 5:04 am

Yikes, that IS odd.

Alargule June 4, 2010 - 9:48 am

Another mistake between DeKalb Av and Pacific St: the R is not shown as a direct connection between both stations. Instead, it’s inferred the R connects to the Brighton line (which it doesn’t).

Lawrence Velazquez June 4, 2010 - 6:53 pm

Oh, that one’s awful. It makes it look like all BMT Fourth Avenue service has to use DeKalb bypass. Has it always looked like that?

Rhywun June 5, 2010 - 5:06 am

Good catch. No, it’s shown correctly on the current map.

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Nathanael June 7, 2010 - 4:13 am

You know, I think the MTA should hire SubwayWeekender to make the map.

JPN June 11, 2010 - 4:54 pm

I picked up a copy of the new rail map from 3 Stone Street in Lower Manhattan today, and the printed copy is exactly like the online sample here, including the errors.

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Jason B June 20, 2010 - 1:35 am

The shuttle line for Rockaway Park is blue. While yes it’s really a shuttle for the A, it’s been gray on previous maps.

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Walter August 28, 2011 - 5:26 pm

It’s misleading the way one-way express (3-track) service is designated by a split or double line, as with the D, 5 and 6 in the Bronx and the 7 in Queens. It makes the one-way express lines look like they provide more service than the full-time two-way express lines.

I can think of two possible alternatives.

1. Draw the two-way express (4-track) stretches with a thicker pen than the 2-track lines; the 3-track lines could have an intermediate thickness.

2. Distinguish the services by the station symbols. They now use open white circles or ovals for express stations, and filled-in black circles for local stations. Why not just use, say, half-filled in circles for the part-time one-way express stations?


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