NYC Subway

Iconic NYC Subway Map Now Appearing Live On a Smartphone Near You

A live, web-based subway map shows trains moving in real time, shows how soon each train will arrive and lets riders check for planned service changes — the frequent bane of weekend riders

NBC Universal, Inc.

One of New York’s landmarks is getting an upgrade.

It’s not a building, statue or museum — it’s the city’s iconic subway map, reproduced on millions of coffee mugs, keychains and t-shirts and known for confusing out-of-towners (and even diehard New Yorkers on occasion) with its multicolored tangle of lines.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Tuesday debuted a live, web-based subway map that shows trains moving in real time and lets riders check for planned service changes, the frequent bane of weekend riders.

“We’ve all had the experience when we get on the train on a Saturday morning, sit down, read a book take a look at your iPhone and then look up and see we’re at a different station than we might have expected to be at,” said Sarah Meyer, chief customer officer for New York City Transit, which operates the subways. “This will save people time and make their lives easier.”

The map also includes information on which stations have elevator access and whether elevators are operating. Clicking on a station shows how soon each train will arrive.

“Building it was a big, big challenge,” said Felipe Memoria, co-founder of digital product agency Work & Co., which created the map for the MTA. "To take the maps to the times we live in, and take a digital-first approach to a problem that so many have tried in the past."

Since the late 1970s, New Yorkers have made do with a map that weaves subway lines from A to Z through five boroughs and nearly 500 stations into a compact graphic that can cause eye strain when it’s read over someone’s shoulder on a moving train car.

The live map, available at, retains features of the existing one but essentially redraws itself using real-time data as service status changes, Memoria said. It will let riders plan their trip from their phone without having to rely on deciphering in-station signs or translating muffled service announcements.

"It's absolutely unique. We know it's first of in North America, maybe globally," said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit.

The MTA stressed that the live map is in beta stage — still under development — and welcomed rider feedback.

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