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The MTA wants to know if you like its new subway map

The design gets rid of non-essential locations for a clearer view of the system.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

That subway map New Yorkers have been using for the last 40 years may be retired soon.

The MTA just introduced a new map to nine subway stations—including Times Square, Grand Central and the Fulton Transit Center—in hopes of introducing it gradually to straphangers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The new map is actually quite retro. It's based on a map by Massimo Vignelli, used from 1972 to 1979, that was discarded because it distorted the shape of NYC in order to show more precisely how the system's train lines interact, the WSJ says.

That's not to say the current Michael Hertz Associates-designed map isn't distorted also. Let's be real—it most definitely is. Manhattan is way too big compared to the outer boroughs, for one.

So instead of combining multiple lines together as the current map does, the new map shows them side-by-side, using the distorted space created to include important information, including Select Bus Service routes.

It also includes Staten Island's railway, which the original Vignelli map did not do, and its water is blue and not beige. Small islands have been left out to make more room for the actual subway information.

MTA subway map
Photograph: MTA

MTA plans on taking riders' feedback and suggestions during this experiment to see if it gets a positive reception, according to Sarah Meyer, the chief customer officer of the MTA.

"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," she told the WSJ, noting that she wants to better communicate how the subway actually works to customers.

So far, not everyone is sold on the new design, Meyer told the WSJ.

"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," she said. "But I’d like to move this forward because I think it solves a crucial business need on the part of our customers."

New Yorkers have a lot of thoughts about their subway map. There have been official and unofficial redesigns, parodies, special editions and more.

Just last year, the MTA released a live subway map that shows updated and real-time information online using elements from both the Massimo Vignelli and the Hertz designs.

Gizmodo says it puts "efficiency over redundant realism."

"Soon, if New York goes for the update, the Earth will flatten into a Tetris block, various islands will sink beneath the ocean, and the Mob Wives will drift close enough to hit Manhattan with a high heel. Vignelli’s original map is a design manifesto in efficiency over redundant realism. Striking. Timeless. Clear, bright lines that straighten up the tangle of the dispersed track into tidy parallel angles."

What do you think? Do you like the new design? The new map has a QR code you can scan to let the MTA know how you feel.

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