A Silver Thread: Washington Metro's New Map

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This past Thursday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unveiled the new Metrorail map, featuring the first phase of the soon-to-open Silver Line. The map, thankfully, looks very much like the original, only with the Silver Line threaded in between the Orange and Blue Lines, providing a nice contrast and emphasizing that the Silver Line runs on the main East/West core route for much of its run.

Detail of Final Silver Line Map from http://planitmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Final-Map-without-addresses-07-13-600x671.png

While Metro’s map may not be quite as iconic as the London Underground’s map, the relatively clean look of it is unmistakable at a glance. Even video games set in Washington use riffs on the snaking colored lines to conjure up the map without having to get permission to use the real thing, as in Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 Metro Map

Metro brought the original designer, Lance Wyman, back to revise the map, and according to Metro’s blog, PlanItMetro, he and his design team made the following adjustments:

  • Made street abbreviations consistent
  • Improved the geographic accuracy of the stations where possible
  • New icon for stations that are serviced by three rail lines: the traditional station dot with white extenders
  • Made the rail lines 24% thinner to ensure room for the Silver Line
  • Added the Anacostia National Park
  • Added the Metro Transit Police phone number
  • Added a note that the map is not to scale
  • Lightened the Beltway and jurisdiction borders to improve readability

I’m quite pleased with the final result. There’s a high density of information on the map, but it’s not cluttered at all. One perhaps wishes that the station names didn’t overlap the iconography of the monuments, but that’s a small quibble. I look forward to seeing the full-size versions of the new maps on trains and in stations soon.

(Image via PlanItMetro.)

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