The New York City subway map is difficult to read above and under ground. Through user observation and interviewing, it became clear that target audience (young adults) constantly questioned the relevance of a geographically based subway map and were searching for alternative technological solutions.


Create a schematic map that is as easy to understand as any app, allowing users to focus on their expected destinations and enabling them to find available transfer stations throughout their journey. 

View full-size maps: Subway (Day & Night) | Other Trains


The hypothesis was confirmed after surveying a great deal of young adult subway riders: young adults connected to direct information available through technology don't rely on geography when navigating the NYC subway.

  • Most young adults don't use the subway map to route their trips at all, instead they use an online application like Google Maps, MTA Trip Planner, or HopStop to enter the exact address of a departure and arrival destination.
  • They trust the technology to tell them which to take and how long it will take to get there. 

A sample of the initial user interviews and field research that informed the final design are below.

ideation: sketches + early prototypes