Anthony Denaro

“One complex transit map, for one complex transit-reliant city.”

Anthony Denaro was on the L train, about to transfer to the J to get to Jamaica Center, from where he was planning to board a bus to Queens. During that commute, he found himself staring at the city’s subway map.

Denaro has lived in New York City his whole life; he’d seen this map a million times. But on that night in 2009, he noticed something he hadn’t seen before: a missed opportunity.

He recounts in a Medium blog post:

The Subway Map. Much discussed, much stared at, much debated and much redesigned. It’s fun, for a certain type of a person, to look at it and to think of the alternatives. Then the thought hit me: If I can transfer to the bus for free, why isn’t there a map that shows where to connect with buses?

Being a concerned citizen and transit enthusiast, Denaro decided to address that oversight by creating his own map of New York City’s transit, including bus routes. He describes it as: “One complex transit map, for one complex transit-reliant city.”

And complex it is. Here’s what the whole thing looks like:

(Anthony Denaro)

It was indeed difficult to create, Denaro tells CityLab. “The bus system is just all over the place, which made it hard to come up with a graphic scheme to diagram around.”

But it was also necessary. Any comprehensive representation of the city’s transit needs to include bus routes because the two are really are a part of the same system—and have been for a while. Between 1997 and 1999, the MTA rolled out fare changes, including free transfers between buses and trains and unlimited fare cards, to make sure commuters don’t have to pay twice to use both modes in one trip. And yet: “Eighteen years after the elimination of the double fare zone, the system has never been presented as one,” Denaro writes. (His own map includes all bus services covered by the unlimited metro cards as well as those that offer free transfers.)

Denaro’s other motivation was to make the city’s bus system seem more palatable. An inclusive, easy-to-understand transit map would encourage commuters, especially those who live far from subways, to see the bus as a viable alternative or a good complement to the train. And that might help reverse dwindling bus ridership, and take a load off the overburdened subway system. “I hope this map gets people to realize that there's a whole other set of transit options that is readily available,” he tells CityLab.

Check out some close-ups of the map in various parts of the city below.

Manhattan:

(Anthony Denaro)

The Bronx:

(Anthony Denaro)

Queens:

(Anthony Denaro)

Brooklyn:

(Anthony Denaro)

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