The MBTA map is one of the most iconic subway maps – trailing just behind London and NYC. Its an awesome looking map, but it distorts geography heavily to make text legible from afar. My mission with redesigning the map is to show the network closer to how it is, while maintaining a good level of legibility.
The current MBTA map (pictured). The main problem point on this map is the green line’s western branches, which have 0 correlation to how they actually are in real life. You wouldn’t know that the B,C, and D branches are all within half a mile of each-other near Cleveland Circle if you were just looking at this map.
This map also overinflates silver line service, giving it the same weight as the subway lines, despite having significantly worse service.
Small other things that annoy me: Hyde Park and Fairmount look like they are 10 miles apart, Arlington Heights is shown west of Alewife, the geography doesn’t follow the same angle-rules as the rest of the map.
Obviously those aren’t life or death annoyances, but it shows the map has room to improve.
Designing a new map.
This time around, I really wanted to copy the Vignelli subway map style, and apply it to the MBTA map. Everything from the line styles, blobs, text locations, key, and the navigation lines are the same as the Vignelli subway map.
But I also didn’t want to cut out any features that the current map has. This map still shows all of the key bus routes.
The previous iteration of my MBTA map redesign:
Like my previous MBTA map designs, I added new information to the map, including lines less than 10 minutes apart, restrooms, and pedal-and-park facilities. I think this information could really come in handy to help people plan their commutes which, after all, is the whole point of a subway map.
The New Map
Click here for a full res light map, and click here for a full res dark map.
Here it is: The redesigned-redesigned MBTA map! As you can see, it shows all of the individual service patterns while, in my opinion, not overweighting service (Green line sees trains every minute on the central section, while orange line is every 5-7 ish.)
Somehow, this was also my quickest-made map. The previous MBTA map took a few months, the LIRR map took a few weeks, and this took just 3 days to make!
I wanted to make this post brief, but showcase my new projects.
If you want me to design a map, personal project or organization, email me with the email on my contact page!
I hope to have a research-based post up soon-ish. Hopefully its a good read!