Home Subway Maps A sort-of-interactive subway map for the MTA’s site

A sort-of-interactive subway map for the MTA’s site

by Benjamin Kabak

The new online subway map zooms this far and no further.

Despite numerous website redesigns and the emergence of Google Transit, the subway map presented on the MTA’s website has long been a rather staid affair. A small image file or a downloadable PDF were the only two options, and interactivity was sorely lacking. Today, the agency took what I hope is just the first step of many in rectifying the problem.

The MTA’s press release on the new map touts it as an interactive solution that allows fine grain viewing of subway details, but I’ll let you be the judge of it. Available online right here, the new map includes a scrollable zoom and a click-to-zoom feature that first debuted on the Internet ages and ages ago. It doesn’t offer the ability to pick two points and receive directions, and details on subway stations and service patterns are elsewhere on the website.

Still, what’s there now is an improvement over what was there yesterday. “The subway map is one of the most popular tools we provide on our website, and we want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for visitors to the city and New Yorkers alike to get the most out of the map online,” Paul J. Fleuranges, Senior Director for Corporate and Internal Communications, said in a statement.

The “interactive” map uses the version currently available in stations. It does does not include the South Ferry/Whitehall St. transfer, and it does feature the H train in the Rockaways. The MTA says it will update the map as service patterns change.

As you can tell, I’m not that excited about this upgrade. It’s something that should have been done years ago, and it’s a rather simple improvement. To overhaul the subway map on the MTA’s website would require some programming skills. An ideal solution would be a Google Maps-style clickable and zoomable map, preferably with staircase locations visible at a certain zoom level, and a TripPlanner functionality using both real-time service advisories and subway location data. This new online tool should just be the first step toward such a solution.

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John February 6, 2013 - 1:12 pm

I agree, Ben. This is a non-development as far as I’m concerned. It’s the same information that’s already on their website, just reorganized into a new place. If they truly wanted to change the way we interact with their website, this map would *actually* be interactive. I think the staircase locations at close-up zoom is an excellent idea. Also, you should be able to click on a station and see what lines are CURRENTLY servicing it, what bus transfers are available, and any work currently going on affecting the line/station. Google maps has always and probably will always do a better job at this than the MTA website. I don’t see why someone over there can’t get their act together and hire someone to do this kind of web design. It can’t be that difficult.

BrooklynBus February 6, 2013 - 2:46 pm

I also agree. All this is is the regular paper version of the subway map after you zoom. The strip maps are useful but more info is needed. For example, why is there no bus transfer information provided when you scroll or click on a specific subway station? There is certainly enough room for route numbers and even destinations. Should at least be provided at major subway feeder stations.

Also, they could tell you which stations have functional bathrooms.

Joel Davis February 6, 2013 - 1:12 pm

I don’t see how this is much different than the previous map. the only feature seems to be the zoom, which i didn’t see as very necessary anyway, and could have been accomplished in most browsers with ctrl+scroll wheel.
I hate to be so negative, but it seems like the MTA is looking for congratulations on something relatively insignificant, when larger and more beneficial projects seem languish or be endlessly delayed.

Someone February 6, 2013 - 4:12 pm

the only feature seems to be the zoom, which i didn’t see as very necessary anyway,

In Mac computers, at least, this comes in very handy.

Joel Davis February 7, 2013 - 12:20 pm

command+scroll will accomplish the same thing

Someone February 7, 2013 - 12:35 pm

With USB mice, this works fine.

For the trackpads for iMac, Mac mini, and MacBook, however, this is still a problem.

Benjamin Kabak February 7, 2013 - 12:37 pm

You can use multi-touch gestures for zoom. on any Mac trackpad. It’s in the control panels.

Someone February 7, 2013 - 1:05 pm

That seems to enlarge the entire page, rather than just the map.

Erik February 6, 2013 - 1:13 pm

Meh. No big deal. Then again, on some level I applaud the MTA for recognizing this is as something that others can do better. Google Transit really makes an online map unnecessary, and for years even before that feature debuted I used a 3rd-party map that had an overlay of transit on top of Google Maps. It’s a lot more useful to see how the subway interacts with the actual streets.

What WOULD be a nice addition is the ability to zoom directly from the big map into the MTA’s neighborhood maps. Those show the detailed station layout, including where the staircases ascend to street level. The iTrans NYC features those and I love it!

Matthias February 7, 2013 - 11:52 am

Bingo. The ability to switch to neighborhood maps would make this actually “interactive”. The Weekender already has this; it’s a logical extension.

Joel Davis February 6, 2013 - 1:14 pm

An addition to my previous comment:
Something actually useful would be to stitch the borough bus maps into one, scrollable, zoomable citywide transit map. Maybe it could even be added as a layer on Google maps to see how routes operate on a non-distorted background.

MH February 6, 2013 - 1:36 pm

It would WAY better if NYCT put an actual map of the weekend service changes as well, like they did post-Sandy. As for this, there are other apps that serve this feature justice already. For MTA not to have an app of their own for this speaks volumes in my opinion. This “update” on their site, not a big deal.

Someone February 6, 2013 - 3:35 pm

I like the map a lot.

However, it would be nice if the MTA would let people click on the line or the station to see more information about that line/station. It would also be nice if the MTA listed bus transfers on the strip maps.

JSBertram February 6, 2013 - 5:54 pm

The website OnNYTurf did a Google-maps interactive edition 5 years ago.

Too bad this website has disappeared.

Abba February 7, 2013 - 1:47 am

What would really be nice is if you click on a station and it shows you the next trains to arrive.(in real time on IRT

Matthias February 7, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Yes yes! Scrolling through the list the way you have to do right now is such a pain!

Ivan February 7, 2013 - 9:23 am

In addition to staircase locations, I’m sure many people would love a map that showed elevator locations!

Someone February 7, 2013 - 12:37 pm

Why? The elevator listing is here. One can deduce where the elevators would be in the map.


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