Unofficial Map: New York Regional Rail by Jake Berman, 2010

Directly related to the last post, here’s another map of greater New York’s regional rail. Designed by Jake Berman in 2010, this map takes a completely different approach to Carter’s work.

It uses colour-coding to differentiate between agencies, rather than routes, and shows services as main lines and branches, rather than showing each and every route along their entire length. This makes for a simpler-looking, more compact map, although it means that the map doesn’t even attempt to show any service patterns.

Aesthetically, the map is reminiscent of the stark, angular look favoured in the U.S. in the 1970s and early 1980s (examples here and here).

What we like: The treatment of the major hub stations on this map is lovely - the grey background simply and effectively sets them apart. Inclusion of the AirTrain lines at JFK and Newark is nicely handled, while the use of striking magenta type to call out transfers to other services is fantastic.

What we don’t like: One minor nitpick is that the western NJ Transit lines look a little cramped in comparison to other parts of the map. Also, the names of branch lines are quite small and hard to read because they’re contained within the route lines themselves.

Our rating: A completely different way of tackling the same problem as the previous map, but equally valid and attractive. I do slightly prefer being able to trace a route from one end to the other on a map, but this is still a comprehensive guide to regional rail in and around New York. Four stars.

4 Stars!

(Source: subwaymaps/Jake Berman)

Official Map: JFK Airport AirTrain Map, New York

This map is at the request of an anonymous follower, who wrote this about this map:

Truly terrible transit map that deserves a lashing: the AirTrain JFK. Way too complicated for something that should be fairly simple. Even worse are the TV screens in the stations showing information about where the train at each platform is going, which completely obscure the most important information.

Now, I can’t comment on the info screens, as I’ve never used the AirTrain, but I do have some thoughts about the map. People movers like this at major airports are a form of transit, albeit in a very small, closed system. Some just shuttle between terminals, but the JFK AirTrain also connects passengers to car rentals, long term parking, and (perhaps most importantly), the New York Subway and the Long Island Railroad, so its scope is bigger than some systems of this type.

Have we been there? I’ve spent long afternoons at JFK waiting between flights (and paying prohibitive prices for drinks at the bar!), but I’ve never used the AirTrain, either to transfer between terminals or head into New York.

What we like: Nowhere near as bad as my anonymous friend says it is. Conveys a lot of useful information - especially for visitors who have never been to New York before - in a relatively clean fashion. The inclusion of all potential costs for patrons is especially handy, and the destinations of the connecting MTA services couldn’t be made clearer. Direction of travel is well indicated, which is good if you’re trying to jump between terminals in a hurry - sometimes it might be quicker to jump on a Howard Beach or Jamaica train instead of the dedicated Terminal Shuttle!

What we don’t like: The drop shadows behind the station name boxes are unnecessary and ugly, as is the stacked treatment of the terminal station names. These would look far better if the boxes that contain the word “Terminal” simply lined up horizontally with the subsequent numbered boxes. Also not entirely sure that we need to see the exact outlines of all the terminals… I don’t know what extra insights a traveler is meant to get from that. I’m guessing that the map is not actually to scale, so it’s not like you can tell how far it is to your gate from the AirTrain station!

Our rating: Functional and chock-full of handy information for visitors to New York. A little fussy and over-designed. 3 stars.

3 Stars

(Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - AirTrain web page)