We were one of many interested sites examining the Kick Map nearly three years ago, when word of a new subway map design started to filter through the Internet. The new map departed radically from the MTA's current design by graphically displaying separate trains running on the same lines. Encouraged by the interest being shown, map designer Eddie Jabbour contacted the MTA and designers at the agency agreed to meet with him.
But when he showed up at the agency’s Midtown offices with copies of his work, they were quick to find fault with it. According to Christopher Boylan, the transportation authority’s executive director of corporate and community affairs, who recalled the meeting, the main criticism was that Mr. Jabbour’s map, like Mr. Vignelli’s, was artistic but geographically inaccurate.
“He’s a good designer and it’s an interesting map,” Mr. Boylan said. “The design is important, but the thing we’re concerned with is the best directional guidance. We design a map for use, not solely to look good, and we think it looks good.”
Reading the profile of him in The New York Times, it's easy to see that Eddie Jabbour is not a man easily deterred. The graphic designer for Kick Design continues to work on his map nights and weekends, asking his 17-year-old daughter, Ellie, for feedback every weekend when he prints out another revised variation of his design.
We like the KickMap design. The New York City subway was the first system to run both local and express trains on the same lines, and continues to be the only system with that design. This can make the system baffling to those unfamiliar with the subway, as confused riders stare at single lines populated with multiple letters and numbers signifying where a train may or may not stop and let them off. We'll admit to having the same trouble when riding an unfamiliar subway line. Criticisms that Jabbour's map is geographically inaccurate and won't let riders know exactly where they are when leaving a station seem misplaced, as a lot of people have trouble figuring out which direction they're facing when leaving a station and generally use street-level signage for that type of orientation.
This is the post and discussion from subway foamer blog live from the third rail that is actually mentioned in the Times article as encouraging Mr. Jabbour. Here is an exhaustive chart of subway map designs and variations with Frequently Asked Questions of NYC Subway. And, of course, Mr. Vignelli is designer Massimo Vignelli, who also developed the 1972 map and introduced some new typography choices. This page features a full-map comparison of the Kick Map and the current MTA design, with multiple links to close-up comparisons.