The Next Generation of Transit Maps
Three entities — the MTA, the Transit Innovation Partnership, and Work & Co — came together in 2018 with the goal of creating a new digital tool to help riders better plan their journeys. What resulted 18 months later was the release of the first real-time, live map of the subway system. This ambitious project marks the network’s first major redesign in four decades.
The MTA Live Subway Map is a web-based digital product that evolves the iconic New York City subway maps by Unimark International and Michael Hertz Associates. It uses the geometric clarity of Massimo Vignelli’s diagram with the geographical and organic curves by Hertz, but powers it with technology to make a map more appropriate for our time.
Using the MTA’s data, the map dynamically redraws itself to ensure train lines are up to date and move in real-time. Rather than using paragraphs of copy, service-change information is represented visually to make it simpler for millions of New Yorkers and tourists to navigate the system.
To go inside the process, Work & Co collaborated with Gary Hustwit —the acclaimed filmmaker and director of design documentaries including Helvetica, Objectified, and Rams— to produce a short documentary titled "The Map." The film dives into the 18-month partnership between the MTA and Work & Co, and the challenges and complexity of creating this first-of-its-kind live map. Our hope is to lay the groundwork for other cities around the world to adopt real-time digital tools that encourage the use of public transportation.
What We Did
- Design concepting
- Detailed design
- Technical architecture
- Web application development and quality assurance
"Modernizing transit is integral to New York City's recovery...We applaud our partners at Work & Co and the MTA for collaboratively developing a first-of-its-kind digital tool that transforms transit for their shared commitment to innovation.”
“Providing more data to riders so they can make more decisions on their commutes every day.” Read More
“Because Work & Co. is a tech firm as well as a graphic-design house, the company was equipped not only to create the visuals of the map but also to write the code behind them.” Read More
“What Work & Co did was to create a new, digital map that combines richness and clarity to have something that works for everybody.” Read More
“A remarkable design feat.” Read More
“We've no doubt it will become one of the most useful data visualisation tools around for New Yorkers.” Read More
“A much-needed tool to make the subway more user-friendly and convenient as the MTA tries to lure people back to mass transit.” Read More
“The foundation for public transit wayfinding around the world.” Read More
“The first significant upgrade in four decades and provides real-time updates” Read More