Official Map: Washington D.C. Metro “Rush+” System Map
Even though I’ve never been there, I have a history with the Washington, D.C. Metro system. My redesign of it has proved very popular, winning the Peoples’ choice award in last year’s Greater Greater Washington “Redesign the Metro Map” competition. My general dislike of the venerable official map is fairly well known, but it’s still exciting to see this new version, the first stepping stone on the way to the map that will be needed once Silver Line service begins.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Definite improvements over the last Metro map. The huge, intrusive callout boxes that dominated that map have gone, resulting in a much cleaner look. The downside of this is that the reduced peak (or is that “Reduced Peak+” now?) services on the Yellow Line are not indicated in any way.
The new subtitles for longer station names (an excellent result out of GGW’s competition) are easily the best thing on the map, and I will just quietly note that two things on this map made their first appearance on my own version: letters at the end of routes to signify their colors (although I only used one letter; R, G, B, Y, etc.), and the jog in the south-eastern part of the Green Line to place the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations in more geographically-correct locations.
What we don’t like: Let’s leave the overall look of the map out of this argument. While I’m not - and never will be - a fan of the overly thick, almost child-like route lines, they are here to stay. The map is a symbol of D.C., ( but I’m not going to call the map “iconic”) and too much has been invested in it for that to ever change.
So what really bugs me about this map is a total and utter lack of craftsmanship. I’ve attached a couple of example pictures under the main map picture to illustrate what I mean.
In the first picture (from the legend of the map), you can see that even though the type in the colored route legend circles is the same size as the text that comes after it, they do not share a common baseline. There’s absolutely no reason why the circles can’t be moved up to align properly.
The second picture shows just a small area of the Red Line, but this type of problem is rife across the entire map. There is simply no standard set for how elements align to other elements. I’ve drawn some guides onto the picture to illustrate: the parking symbols align differently to each of the four stations shown, and the MARC symbol at Silver Spring does not align with the station name’s baseline.
Other examples of slipshod work: the hospital symbol at Foggy Bottom aligning to nothing, clashing type between the main name and subtitle at Dunn Loring-Merrifield, the District Diamond still not forming a perfect square (everything else is at 45-degree angles, why isn’t it?)… I could go on and on!
Our rating: Informationally, a competent update of the previous map, but I can’t look past the glaring technical errors. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: WMATA Rush+ information page)