The Official MBTA System Map

Riverside

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Relocating this glorious post to this thread. @jass

Someone on Reddit made an "improved" version of the map. I like the ida of noting the distance between stations.

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/owcvvg
At the risk of overstating my point, this map pretty much accomplishes everything that I've wanted to accomplish in terms of a map redesign.
  • Walking transfers indicated liberally (though surprisingly not State-DTX)
  • Every Green Line stop labeled
  • Square design
  • SL4/SL5 loops present but not dominating
  • Minimal number of curves, largely simple straight lines lines
  • Future-proofed for Green-to-Needham, Orange-to-Needham, Fairmount-to-Indigo, and Indigo-to-Riverside
It isn't without its faults -- a few typographic errors, and I notice that Hyde Park is absent -- but overall it's extremely strong, and in my opinion solves many long-running problems of the current map and previous designs.
 

bigeman312

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Definitely a net improvement over our current official "map."

Some small nit-picks:
  • If the Green Line Extension is fully included (expected to open in May 2022), then the new Chelsea Commuter Rail Station location should be shown (expected to open this fall).
  • Transfers should be shown in a more consistent manner. I'd prefer one circle/ellipse.
    • There are some instances (Government Center, Porter, Airport, etc) where a transfer is shown as a single circle.
    • Other instances (North Station, Haymarket, Back Bay, etc) where a transfer is shown as adjacent circles.
    • Other ones (Chelsea, Boylston, South Station, etc) where a transfer is shown as a solid black line.
    • There isn't consistent differentiation between these three methods:
      • Each method is used in instances of fare gated transfers (State, Haymarket, South Station Silver-Red represent each of those three illustrative methods)
      • Each method is also used in instances of CR-transit transfers (Porter, North Station, Chelsea represent each of those three illustrative methods), for example.
  • A tweak of the D and E Branch would increase geographical accuracy without sacrificing geometric simplicity:
    • Move the placement of Longwood further inbound, about halfway between where it and Fenway are currently labeled.
    • Place Brookline Village where Longwood is located on this map.
    • Shorten the E Branch Prudential curve, which would bring the E Branch a Symphony-Northeastern stretch a little further north on this map.
    • Place the E Branch stations much closer together, representing all stations Pru through Brigham Circle on this segment (if you need to shorten some names to represent them all here, I think 'Northeastern,' 'MFA,' and 'LMA' are all acceptable. This map does include 'Gov't Center' and other abbreviations already.
    • Have the bend to horizontal (E-W) occur just outbound from Brigham Circle, including Fenwood Rd, Mission Park, and Riverway.
      • This will place Riverway very close to Brookline Village without adding extra geometric complexity to the map.
    • Show a bend to vertical (N-S) just outbound from Riverway, with Back of the Hill and Heath St labeled on that segment.
  • The exaggerated core, the benefits of which I understand, is too overexaggerated. I would recommend:
    • shortening the Haymarket - Park St. - Downtown Crossing section, thus bringing the southern end of the Orange Line a little bit further north (which is accommodated by the E tweak outlined above) and the northern end of the Red Line a little bit further east, which there is room to accommodate.
 

Brattle Loop

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Transfers should be shown in a more consistent manner. I'd prefer one circle/ellipse.
  • There are some instances (Government Center, Porter, Airport, etc) where a transfer is shown as a single circle.
  • Other instances (North Station, Haymarket, Back Bay, etc) where a transfer is shown as adjacent circles.
  • Other ones (Chelsea, Boylston, South Station, etc) where a transfer is shown as a solid black line.
  • There isn't consistent differentiation between these three methods:
    • Each method is used in instances of fare gated transfers (State, Haymarket, South Station Silver-Red represent each of those three illustrative methods)
    • Each method is also used in instances of CR-transit transfers (Porter, North Station, Chelsea represent each of those three illustrative methods), for example
Looks like it's based on how the lines intersect (shared circle for when they cross, adjacent for when they're directly parallel, black line for more distant connections). It's got a certain internal logic that is unfortunately completely unintuitive and more aesthetically pleasing than functional. I agree that more consistency is good in transfers (though I'd like a way of showing a difference between the regular ones and some of the longer ones like the Winter Street Concourse).
 

bigeman312

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Looks like it's based on how the lines intersect (shared circle for when they cross, adjacent for when they're directly parallel, black line for more distant connections). It's got a certain internal logic that is unfortunately completely unintuitive and more aesthetically pleasing than functional. I agree that more consistency is good in transfers (though I'd like a way of showing a difference between the regular ones and some of the longer ones like the Winter Street Concourse).
Even this low bar isn't in fact true.

adjacent for when they're directly parallel, black line for more distant connections
Chelsea-Bellingham Square, for example, is about as "directly parallel" as a transfer between modes can get, yet it's labeled with a "black line for more distant connections." It's less "distant" than North Station CR-OL/GL, Back Bay CR-OL, Ruggles CR-OL, Forest Hills CR-OL, to name a few counterexamples to your hypothesis.

I understand the desire to make sense of this and defend this map because it's quite good. But there is inconsistency in transfer labeling and that is undeniable.

This Chelsea issue in particular stems from the map maker displaying the Silver Line and Commuter Rail as perpendicular in Chelsea, when in fact they are parallel.

Let me be clear that these are small nit-picks, but they are in fact inconsistencies and your assertion of an internal logic doesn't quite hold up to closer examination.
 

Brattle Loop

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Even this low bar isn't in fact true.



Chelsea-Bellingham Square, for example, is about as "directly parallel" as a transfer between modes can get, yet it's labeled with a "black line for more distant connections." It's less "distant" than North Station CR-OL/GL, Back Bay CR-OL, Ruggles CR-OL, Forest Hills CR-OL, to name a few counterexamples to your hypothesis.

I understand the desire to make sense of this and defend this map because it's quite good. But there is inconsistency in transfer labeling and that is undeniable.

This Chelsea issue in particular stems from the map maker displaying the Silver Line and Commuter Rail as perpendicular in Chelsea, when in fact they are parallel.

Let me be clear that these are small nit-picks, but they are in fact inconsistencies and your assertion of an internal logic doesn't quite hold up to closer examination.
That's mostly me being slightly unclear. It appears to me as though the logic is "one shared circle if the two lines directly intersect at a station" "two adjacent circles if the station dots are next to each other" and "black line for any stations shown as separated".

I should make clear as well that I don't like that logic. You're correct to point out that Chelsea-Bellingham Square are essentially directly adjacent and shown as well-separated on the map (hence the black line under its logic, which is not so much (to my mind anyway) a subversion of the map's internal logic as it is a geographical error (quite possibly just to put in sufficient space for the name for Bellingham Square, as the two do not share names.) That said, I agree that it's problematic (even as a nitpick) to have to dig so deeply to explain the (apparent or real) inconsistencies. I don't have any issue with pointing out the problems in the transfer labeling because it's quite real. It's a legitimately-confusing problem, and I wasn't trying to deny or defend so much as try to explain for anyone who didn't want to dig into it what the apparent basic (if not entirely consistent) logic was to avoid any impression that there was no logic whatsoever. I appreciate the commentary, though, I had in fact missed that example.
 

jbray

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A tweak of the D and E Branch would increase geographical accuracy without sacrificing geometric simplicity:
    • Move the placement of Longwood further inbound, about halfway between where it and Fenway are currently labeled.
    • Place Brookline Village where Longwood is located on this map.
    • Shorten the E Branch Prudential curve, which would bring the E Branch a Symphony-Northeastern stretch a little further north on this map.
    • Place the E Branch stations much closer together, representing all stations Pru through Brigham Circle on this segment (if you need to shorten some names to represent them all here, I think 'Northeastern,' 'MFA,' and 'LMA' are all acceptable. This map does include 'Gov't Center' and other abbreviations already.
    • Have the bend to horizontal (E-W) occur just outbound from Brigham Circle, including Fenwood Rd, Mission Park, and Riverway.
      • This will place Riverway very close to Brookline Village without adding extra geometric complexity to the map.
    • Show a bend to vertical (N-S) just outbound from Riverway, with Back of the Hill and Heath St labeled on that segment.
I have to disagree with most of this. Your fix relies upon acronyms as opposed to contractions to accommodate the change and uses the logic that because both are types of abbreviations that it’s justified. A contraction like “Gov’t” is widely more useful to visitors and infrequent users than an acronym like LMA which is not universally understood but dependent on an entirely local understanding. Your changes make the map user unfriendly for the sake of, what, slightly more geographic accuracy in a map that’s not reliably geographic to begin with?

The reason the current design map design exists is because users (or at least poll voters) wanted both the complete green line stop names and for those names to be horizontal for readability over geographic realism (which is what the MBTA map designer presentation up thread talked about as he’s more of a geographic minded person himself and did not design the contest entry but tweaked it).

I like your Back of the Hill and Heath N/S idea though
 

bigeman312

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I have to disagree with most of this. Your fix relies upon acronyms as opposed to contractions to accommodate the change and uses the logic that because both are types of abbreviations that it’s justified. A contraction like “Gov’t” is widely more useful to visitors and infrequent users than an acronym like LMA which is not universally understood but dependent on an entirely local understanding. Your changes make the map user unfriendly for the sake of, what, slightly more geographic accuracy in a map that’s not reliably geographic to begin with?

The reason the current design map design exists is because users (or at least poll voters) wanted both the complete green line stop names and for those names to be horizontal for readability over geographic realism (which is what the MBTA map designer presentation up thread talked about as he’s more of a geographic minded person himself and did not design the contest entry but tweaked it).

I like your Back of the Hill and Heath N/S idea though
That's fair. Much of what you've quoted, but likely not all of it, can be accomplished without acronyms.

For example, the relocation of Longwood and Brookline Village to more geographically accurate positions can be accomplished without acronyms. As well as the aforementioned N/S of the Riverway - Heath St stretch.

The rest of it though is questionable for sure. Good point.
 

Riverside

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I’m on a Red Line car right now, and from my seat, I can see four maps, each spaced no more than 3 feet apart, each of which clearly date from different eras, based on the presence/absence of the old SL3 to City Point, the new SL3 to Chelsea, and the wheelchair accessibility at Wollaston.

It does make one wonder, how many maps will be floating around 5 years from now that will still show the Green Line terminating at Lechmere.

EDIT: and my nearsightedness is failing me, so I can’t be sure about the map furthest away, but I believe that none of the maps say Nubian Square.
 

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