Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

The Metro map reimagined, courtesy of an Australian graphic designer

October 4, 2011 - 03:00 PM
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(Photo: Couresy of Cameron Booth)

For a man living in Portland, Cameron Booth is sure passionate about our D.C. Metro map. Back in spring of this year, he entered Greater Greater Washington's contest to design a new-and-improved Metro map. There was a panel and judging and everything — and Booth proceeded to win the people's choice award and placed second among the jury. That whole process helped WMATA consider how to redesign the actual Metro map, which the transit agency has begun doing in coordination with original map designer Lance Wyman and a lot of public feedback.

All these months later, Booth isn't done tinkering with the WMATA design. He just released an updated version of his popular WMATA map, integrating other suggestions and corrections and new design innovations. His design is unofficial and unaffiliated with WMATA, but the creativity is worth a look, especially knowing how WMATA is rethinking their own map.

The Portland-based Australian graphic designer praised some of the recent map ideas such as subtitles and wrote the following about how he crafted a final draft of our WMATA map on his blog last night:

Some of the bigger changes include a thickening of the route lines, “tick” markers for stations that point towards the station’s label (to combat some criticism that it was sometimes difficult to determine which label belonged to which station in my previous versions) and a general tightening of the layout to be more compact. Type size is also increased throughout. I’ve also dropped the separate full route lines for the new peak-only services that I used in the contest: general consensus seemed to indicate this was more confusing than helpful. The peak extensions to the Yellow and Orange lines are now shown as spurs of the main line, as on Lance Wyman’s new draft diagram. I’ve also come up with a much better device for showing the out-of-system transfer between Farragut West and Farragut North than my contest version.

Working on this diagram has been great fun, and I’m incredibly proud of the reaction and attention it has got. My reasoning has always been that there is more than one way to solve a design problem, and if I’ve been able to make people think about why they like the current one, or if they find they like this one better, then that’s just a bonus!

The man's enthusiasm for these map idiosyncrasies is infectious. I contacted Booth and asked if I could feature his new, updated WMATA map draft here. Take a look for yourself and see what you think:

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: Courtesy of Cameron Booth)

If you really want to see an up-close version of this new draft, check out the giant version available on Booth's flickr page.

Do you see this as an improvement? See the current Metro map here. What about compared to the new WMATA draft version floated a month ago. Booth provided his own critique of the new WMATA draft earlier in September. These discussions will be ongoing, as they should be. Little suggests as much possibility as a good, iconic map.

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