T Map Challenge

  • Do you think you can design a better MBTA map? Here′s the opportunity for you to show us what a new T map could look like.

    In celebration of National Transportation Week (May 12 — 18, 2013) the MBTA and MassDOT are sponsoring a contest to tap into the creativity of our customers and to build on the public′s interest in mapping. The contest offers contestants the opportunity to develop alternative versions of the MBTA rapid transit (or “spider”) map. 

  • I wanted to make an interactive map that would show how long it took to go from station to station. The map is accurate; each stop and line is in the right position and color. When a station is clicked on, the map shifts to radiate outwards from the stop. When you mouse over a station in chronological mode, it shows you how far it is from the moused-over station to the one clicked on. There is also a zoom bar, to zoom in or out, and a button that lets you change the mode from chronological to geographical. The data comes from the MBTA itself; it might be out of date. In all, this map lets people see how long it takes to get from one station to another easily.

  • We decided to make a map that would be easier to read than the current one which is really a bunch of confusing lines. We decided to make a map that instead of branching out in different directions, was made completely out of vertical lines. Our first attempt was probably our best. The lines were separated as each branch had it’s own vertical stroke. At the stops were trains or lines intersected, a horizontal slash we be made betweeen the insteresecrtijnng trains. The slash would be skinny and in the color of the line if it was a convergence of branches or be thick and black if two lines crossed.

    While this would later turn out to be our best idea, it was met with criticism that it was unclear where lines crossed and intersected. Over the next few days we would make many different maps some which would end up looking like the current T Map. On the final full day Matt from Ideo came to visit us.  He looked over all of our maps and decided that our first one was best. As time wound down we quickly put our first map into presentation form.

    The final map provides an easier and simpler way to navigate the T-system. Instead of a large, confusing system that is unclear in the lines that connect, all the train systems are vertical lines that line up and distinguish where the lines cross. The map also incorporates a system that represents the time between stops. Due to the fact that the time it takes to get from stop to stop varies depending on the time and day, some of the times are not very accurate, but if we had accurate times this would be the easiest way to navigate the T.

     

  • This studio is all focused around a competition the MBTA is having to create appreciation of the MBTA System. The MBTA wants the participators to design a new MBTA map. There are two competitions; a creative map competition that would just be cool to look at and be treated as art. The other competition is for a usable, functioning, map that could easily replace the current map. The inspiration behind this was to have a map that helped people who aren’t familiar with boston or its train maps could easily pick up our map and know how to use the trains.

     

  • We decided to make a map that would be easier to read than the current one which is really a bunch of confusing lines. We decided to make a map that instead of branching out in different directions, was made completely out of vertical lines. Our first attempt was probably our best. The lines were separated as each branch had it’s own vertical stroke. At the stops were trains or lines intersected, a horizontal slash we be made betweeen the insteresecrtijnng trains. The slash would be skinny and in the color of the line if it was a convergence of branches or be thick and black if two lines crossed.

  • I created a subway map that highlights green spaces in Boston. I used Photoshop to draw a tree that is a geographically accurate representation of the Train lines. Specific stops with parks nearby are emphasized on my map by flower buds with the stop name written in bold. The color of the trees foliage shows generally how green the areas are. 

  •    In this studio we were challenged to recreate the Boston T map. At the beginning, of the studio, we spent a lot of time looking at different maps and creating our own. After a while of studying different maps and the Boston T map I decided I wanted to make a map the was geographically accurate that included the cities and other water and land marks. Sam also wanted an accurate map that included time. Both these ideas would help a person that did not really know the Boston area or the T system very well.

  • Sam:                   

       This studio was called “New Perspectives T Map Challenge”. I worked in a group with Christiana Panicucci, our idea was to create an accurate map of the MBTA. I had an idea to add a way to predict how much time it would take to travel from point a to point b. Christiana’s idea was to create a highly accurate geographical map. One of the first things I started with was cutting the redline out of a pdf of the MBTA map. While Christiana worked on mapping the entire subway I worked on the background, this involved tracing all the boundaries of the cities and towns adjacent to Boston using Adobe Illustrator. Every town that contained some part of the subway system had to be traced, along with boundaries I also traced the ocean and some of the parks close to the subway system.

        The next part I worked on was the smaller map of downtown Boston. I started by enlarging the downtown map of Boston, the new map had more space to add station stops and text. We then decided to add a walking map of downtown Boston behind the subway map, I removed everything from a street map of boston except for the streets and street names then added it to the smaller map. The entire map needed a key and scale so the user can easily find where they want to go on the map. The scale is a simple three mile marker while the key was created by copying a piece of the larger map and labeling each part of the line. The only thing left to do was to color the land and ocean accordingly. Personally I think the map turned out very nice and could be useful in some situations.

    Chistiana:

       I mainly worked on labeling all the T lines. This was a very tedious job that required a lot of patients. I started out with only the red line because we thought there would be a crunch for time. However, we were given more time, so I finished labeling the rest of the lines. Labeling each stop was tricky. Because our map was geographically accurate, all the stops were close together making it hard to fit all the names in. In an earlier draft, of the map, I had all the stops labeled, but the names were in all different directions making it hard to read and confusing. To fix this I had to shrink the type size and I picked two angles to use. This made it much more visually pleasing. Then I had to indicate time markers. At first we used small circles for one minute and big circles for five minutes. Unfortunately, the circles were getting confused with stops, so we changed them to dashes instead. Then I changed the five minute maker to an oval so that is would stand out. The only part of the map that does not follow these rules is the green line. The stops are too close together to fit all their names, so I included only the stops that were 5 minutes away from each other. The other stops that do not have names are still on the map, but they are not labeled and are a solid green.

       Lastly, I created our map label. It is a clock made out of our train lines and a geographically accurate piece of Boston. Our logo is meant to display our map in a creative way. It is showing that what our map stands for. It is, also, meant for visual pleasure. It took a long time to think of a logo that captured the idea and feel of our map, but when I thought of it I knew it was perfect. I am very proud of our map, and I believe it can be used by anyone.

  • Teachers: Josh, Andrew

    Students: Graeme, Rowan

     

    This studio is all focused around a competition the MBTA is having to create appreciation of the MBTA System. The MBTA wants the participators to design a new MBTA map. There are two competitions; a creative map competition that would just be cool to look at and be treated as art. The other competition is for a usable, functioning, map that could easily replace the current map. The inspiration behind this was to have a map that helped people who aren’t familiar with boston or its train maps could easily pick up our map and know how to use the trains.

    Everyone in the studio was completely new to mapping and the software used to make maps. what Josh and Andrew wanted us to do was learn about typography and map making, and we did that along with learning about the struggles of map-making. Typography is about what you want in your map and what you want to prioritize above other things. We felt the map makers trouble because we did not know how to value some information over other information. We didn't know what to leave out and what to put in. But this did really help us a lot to learn about using illustrator. Illustrator is a professional  graphic design software made by Adobe. We learned the different tools that helped us with making icons, by using circles with different stroke weights to have a clipping mask effect, so the icon that was once square was now circular. The other thing that illustrator helped with a lot was vectorizing images so that the images had infinite resolution. That means when you zoomed in on them they were not pixelated. To vectorize the image Andrew taught us how to use the image trace tool which traces the image perfectly so that the edges are smooth. illustrator also makes it really easy to edit the file in total because it let us move and delete names and change the ways the lines were angled so we could customize it a little more to the way that we wanted it to be customized.

    After many iterations we have five maps that could easily be expanded into hundreds of maps, then possibly be put onto an iphone app for easy use. A good idea would be to have the base map cleaned with toggles above it so that when you toggled the college button all the icons popped up. We have a map of most of the colleges in the area, we could add a lot more colleges. We have a family/ tourists map for a weekend plan. We have a sports map of the red sox and TD garden, we could also expand on that. We have a shopping centers map. If we did more research we could probably find a lot more places. Finally we have a map for most of the museums in the area. We put the ICA on the silver line to try and help out its popularity between the other lines. Over all what we have is a good product that the MBTA map designers will like and take into consideration because of its user friendliness and its ability to maintain simplicity. Also we didn't try to please everyone by having one map have everything on it, if we had done that then no target audience would have been pleased. This problem was exactly the problem that Andrew and Josh wanted us to encounter and learn from because in the real map making process that is one of the most important issues there is.

  • We started the studio out by learning Illustrator. To do this, we all created maps of different things. I created a map about the different paths in life you can take. It is easy to fall into the “average dude” category if you stop being a leader and become a follower. The “average dude” is represented in a navy blue color; navy blue is a pretty average color. The bright orangy-red color represents a leader, and how they are not afraid to try something new. A lot of our map is a purply gray color, in between red and blue. This shows how easily you can slip into becoming a follower.

    Every detail is carefully thought out in our map. Some of the text is capitalized and some is all lower case. We made the average dude lowercase purposefully to show that he is just average, there is nothing special about him.

    We then started working on our MBTA maps. I am working alone on this studio and my goal is to redesign the MBTA map in a new and awesome way that highlights some new way to use it.  I noticed that the current MBTA map is bias to the city. They use terms like “inbound” and “outbound” which yes, help if you are going to the city, but they make it very confusing if you are not. As soon as you are through the city your train switches to “outbound”, adding extra complications. I think it would be much simpler if the trains did not have an identity swap, and maybe used north and south instead of inbound and outbound.

             I want my MBTA map to be bias to parks and green spots around Boston. When I see a T map all the different train lines remind me of tree branches. Can a map be a tree? One of my ideas for my map is playing with perspective to make the trains lines look like tree branches. Instead of using the harsh man-made reds and greens on the map we use today, I will try to make my colors neutral and natural tones.

    I have begun my project of making the MBTA map into a tree. The tree signifies that Boston is always growing and expanding. My map is a nature themed map. On the map, certain stops will be turned into flower buds on the “branches”. The stops will be the specific stops that have parks near by.

             I had to start making my map on Illustrator. I scanned my sketch onto the computer then traced over it in Illustrator. It’s a little annoying to draw it on Illustrator because I am not familiar with the program, however I like using illustrator because it is very easy to change things. If I was drawing the tree by hand I would have to start over each time I made a mistake. Now I have the basic subway lines in the position I want them to be in, and I can add and subtract objects to the stations with outdoorsy places near by.

    Dominick from the head of Innovation for the MBTA came in and looked at our projects. He was a really interesting guy and passionate about maps, which was fun for us to see. He gave us some great feedback for our maps. The main thing Dominick said about my map was that the tree trunk is confusing because it is not a train line. He suggested I try to use the red line and turn that into the trunk. I think it is a great idea.

    My original drawing is too linear, and I was not able to make it work. I have now started my tree over twice. I was headed in the wrong direction, so I have made a U turn and started over.

    I made my next model using Photoshop, an organic colored tree as a base. I didn’t end up liking that model, so I abandoned this tree too. It’s frustrating to have to start over but it’s worth it if you’re not getting the results you like.

    Yet another model- this one is a silhouette of a tree and I am trying to make it look more and more like a tree. To do this, I have to redraw the T line using more organic lines and shapes. It is really important that the branches of the tree are as similar to the train lines as possible, because this will make it easier to layer the map with other details. I have filtered through the branches so they are thin and match the T line. I left the T map behind the silhouette, so the station names are still there. It is starting to look really good.

    I am now debating on what to draw to signify a T stop with a park near by. I have flower buds and clusters of branches that are my two favorites. They look good together or apart.

    I am struggling. As I go in a more artistic direction I am being constantly reminded to make a more geographically correct map that people will actually be able to use. It is a difficult balance.

    I am experimenting with showing the T lines through the tree. I didn’t like the idea in the beginning, but I don’t think they turned out that bad. The T lines look better when there are no words on the tree. I also moved the words around so the tree isn’t covering them all.

    On my tree I want to signify the stops where there are parks and green spaces near by. I have a few options on how to do that I could use flower buds, clusters of branches, green puffballs or yellow fluffs. I can use them together or use a few at a time. I personally like the flower bud and clusters of branches together. I like the yellow fluffs because they add some bright color. I really like how my tree is a silhouette, but I am worried it looks to dead. It is not my intention to make a dead tree.

    Matt Brown came in who is a designer for Ideo. He is a really cool guy. Matt gave me some great feedback on my map.  Matt suggested that I make a second map that is just the tree without the fluff so my map can also be used for navigating.  I think Matt really liked my idea. He said it is really powerful.

    I started adding the fluff to the tree.  The stops with parks near them have flower buds and bright green leaves, as stops without parks near by are a duller purply brown.

             Part of my feedback was that maybe I should have a second map that is clearer to read. While I understand this feedback I disagree and think it takes away from the power of the image. Instead I am going to try to make the T stops with parks near them super legible.

    This was an intense studio. My tree is done- I love my tree.

  • next

 
  • Do you think you can design a better MBTA map? Here′s the opportunity for you to show us what a new T map could look like.

    In celebration of National Transportation Week (May 12 — 18, 2013) the MBTA and MassDOT are sponsoring a contest to tap into the creativity of our customers and to build on the public′s interest in mapping. The contest offers contestants the opportunity to develop alternative versions of the MBTA rapid transit (or “spider”) map. 

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