It doesn’t show everything everyone suggested showing when Metro surveyed riders about the redesign last year. And a tourist shouldn’t use it as a walking map. But it doesn’t add clutter in a misguided attempt to clarify.
In fact, some of the subtractions from the old map actually add clarity for the people most dependent on the maps: Those who need a quick orientation in a crowded station or on a bouncing rail car.
Here are some things to look for on the new version, which should serve until the next big service change, when the Silver Line opens to Wiehle Avenue around the end of 2013.
The Legend. At the top of the map, riders will notice that Metro is adding line designations and some new icons. But the key change is on the right side, where the map distinguishes between “Full-Time Service” and “Rush-Only Service.” On June 18, Metro plans to introduce what it’s calling “Rush Plus” service, the biggest change for riders since the rail system was completed.
Planned Station. Older riders will remember when large portions of the Metro map designated future stations. The designations disappeared as the system was completed, but they’re making a return to mark the first segment of the planned Silver Line in Virginia.
The Mall. In a rare addition of text, the new version marks “National Mall” at both ends of the green stretch in the middle of the map. During last year’s debate over renaming stations, Metro resisted calls to rename Smithsonian as “Smithsonian/The National Mall.” Some feared tourists would think the already crowded station was their only access point to the Mall’s museum and monuments. Marking the rectangular green space is a much better idea than lengthening the station name.
Line markers. Coloring the lines is fine, unless you have trouble recognizing colors. So at the ends of each line on the map, riders will see the letters RD, OR, BL, GR, YL, or SV inside a circle.
Station names. This is the biggest style change for clarity. Metro station names have grown longer as interest groups fight for the free advertising of getting their monikers placed on the map. In the new version, the names everybody uses stand out boldly. The publicity elements are still there, but in smaller type.
Name changes. Several stations are changing titles. Navy Yard becomes Navy Yard-Ballpark, marking nearby Nationals Park. New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U becomes NoMa-Gallaudet U, with New York Ave subordinated. (Few know that NoMa is the neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue near Union Station, but development interests hope you’ll learn it now.) King Street becomes King Street-Old Town, to highlight Alexandria’s tourist center.
Parking. The symbol changes from an auto (Was that a Yugo?) to the easily recognizable “P” inside a box.