The Latest Re-Design of the DC Metro Map

by Mark Wellborn

The DC Metro map has been reinvented by artists over the years, but a Portland-based graphic designer just released a fairly clean and intuitive re-interpretation that UrbanTurf is fond of.

Cameron Booth is a graphic designer with a 16-year resume with an admitted passion for transit maps. Having already done a poster of US interstates in the style of the London Underground’s Tube Map, Booth was looking for a new project when he decided on the WMATA map.

“I’m going to be blunt here. I simply don’t like the current one,” Booth told UrbanTurf. “Heresy, I know, but there it is.”

Click to enlarge

Booth’s “design brief” when approaching the project was to make the map as different as possible to the current one while retaining all information, cleaning up some errors (station placement relative to the District’s “diamond”, mainly), and adding the Silver Line. The new map has thinner route lines (to make the map look more elegant) and Booth added in Amtrak and MARC/VRE routes and connections to the map. He admits that opinions are divided about whether or not the inclusion of the Amtrak and MARC lines were useful, but like the map itself, his aim was to incite discussion.

“I designed this to inspire some debate about the current map,” Booth said. “Is it the ‘design classic’ that some people think, or is it a poorly-drawn, dated-looking relic of the 1970s?”

Booth’s re-interpretation is now for sale. For more info about the genesis of the design, click here.

See other articles related to: wmata, metro, cameron booth

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_latest_redesign_of_the_dc_metro_map/2717


  1. Jorell said at 5:50 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    Christmas gifts!

  1. WMATA Fan said at 7:14 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    Much better than the current version.

  1. Jerry said at 8:20 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    How is this better?  You can’t read it from a distance, it looks just like any other transit map out there, and it’s basically a zoomed out version of what we already have.  Mebbe you couldn’t improve on the original because it’s already well designed?  MARC/VRE connections?  If you even know what those are, you already know where you need to go to make the trains.  I’m a big fan of design, but I don’t see how this is any more than a me too iteration of a map that’s already one of the best designed I’ve seen.

  1. Richard Daley III said at 9:02 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    Wonderful map.  Looks just like the way we used to print them.  Easy to tell where trains meet and Now if you only could make your fares like ours, you’d be working on not being a hick town used like two-bit ho’s on Cicero Ave by all the good “southeners” in VA and MD and every other Tom Harry Dick.  Go Bears!

  1. Cameron Booth said at 10:34 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    Well, these comments just prove what I’ve already seen since I first designed this diagram in February (long before the current talk of WMATA redesigning it) - people either love it or hate it!

    I will say one thing about the size of the type, just because I’m tired of people saying that the diagram is unreadable based off a 1200px wide JPG. The type is exactly the same size as the current diagram. If you make the District’s diamond the same size on both versions, the type is exactly the same. Just sayin’.

  1. jag said at 10:48 pm on Tuesday November 30, 2010:

    Yeah, I don’t know how someone could say it’s unreadable…you need the lines to be super thick in order to tell what color they are or something? I definitely like this design.

  1. Andy said at 12:02 am on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    I like it aesthetically, but I think the station labels for most of the downtown stations are way too close together and would be confusing, especially to a visitor. For example, the Farragut West label is almost directly underneath Foggy Bottom, Judiciary Square label could be confused with Gallery Place, Gallery Place label with Union Station, Federal Center SW label with L’Enfant Plaza, etc. I’m guessing you intentionally avoided using using diagonal labels?

  1. Cameron Booth said at 12:16 am on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    Absolutely! Diagonal type on a diagram has its place, but I find the usage on the current Metro diagram to be fairly disappointing - it comes in from the left and the right, and in a couple of places, isn’t even at an exact 45 degree angle! So I definitely tried to take an opposite approach. Farragut West and Metro Center are the only ones I’m perhaps not 100% happy with: the alignment of the others gives away which station they’re connected to. Erik Spiekermann actually told me that any designer who has to angle type on a diagram is - and I quote - “a loser”. He should know, he did the Berlin diagram in 1993 after reunification.

  1. Joe in SS said at 11:08 am on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    Aesthetically, the biggest thing that bugs me is the northwest corner of the beltway, looking like a misshaped forehead.  I understand why it’s done, but it always jumped out at me… 
    Functionally, I believe that that the Red Line trains turning back at Grosvenor was eliminated earlier this year?  (They still turn back at Silver Spring during all but late nights.)  I like the inclusion of MARC/VRE, but I’d add the airport buses, shown with an airplane symbol as they are on the NYC Subway map (the M60 to Laguardia).

  1. WoodsideParkBob said at 11:36 am on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    This map, like the current metro map, fails to recognize that the Montgomery County - Prince Georges County line is no longer straight inside the Beltway.  The line needs to be jogged a bit to recognize that Takoma Park is now entirely in Montgomery County.

  1. Cameron Booth said at 12:42 pm on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    @ Joe in SS: Someone needs to tell Metro that the turnback at Grosvenor has been eliminated, as all the maps I can find on their site still have the giant call out box about it. Can anyone confirm this (with a link/URL to proof) before I go to print?

    Re: Buses. I was told that the 5A to Dulles would be eliminated once the Silver Line was operational, hence its absence. If the B30 to BWI would still be running, I guess I should show that…

    @WoodsideParkBob: the straightness or otherwise of the county line is irrelevant on a simplified diagram (note I say diagram, not map!) like this: all we need to see is that there is a boundary that runs *generally* in the indicated direction.

  1. K. said at 1:36 pm on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    Love it! Elegant and sleek, yet to the point.

  1. hallock said at 2:40 pm on Wednesday December 1, 2010:

    I like it almost entirely - but my only complaint is that the radius used for some turns is different than others. Since this is a diagram - I’d suggest tha the difference between the radii be lessened.
    Also on this map it makes it look like Faragut North and West are really far apart when in fact they are very close - anyone to fix that?
    Overall I really like it - a nice update.

  1. Karl said at 4:11 pm on Friday December 10, 2010:

    The Virginia side of the beltway was made to look much larger from 270 to Oxon Hill than the Prince Georges side (270 to Oxon Hill). When in actuality the PG side is the greater distance.  The map is out of porportion and useless.

  1. Meghan S. said at 11:18 am on Tuesday December 21, 2010:

    Cameron forgot one major component… this map could never be installed throughout Metro stations and Metro trains. All wall-spaces within trains that are allocated to maps are vertical in nature. All free-standing map displays in stations are also vertical.

    For a re-design to be successful, we need a straight swap.

Comments are closed.

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