Meeting Minutes November 19, 2015



A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon, November 19, 2015, in the 20th floor Board room, 2 Broadway, New York City.

The following members were present:
Andrew Albert Sharon King Hoge
Stuart Goldstein Trudy L. Mason
Christopher Greif Edith Prentiss
William Guild Michael Sinansky

The following members were absent:
Marisol Halpern Scott Nicholls
Burton Strauss, Jr.

In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -Associate Director
Angela Bellisio -Transportation Planner
Bradley Brashears -Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger -Research Assistant
John Tauranac -NYCT
Deborah R. Hall-Moore -NYCT
Randolph Glucksman -MNRCC

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the November 19, 2015 meeting was approved. The October 22, 2015 minutes were approved.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Trudy Mason suggested that a letter be written to Joe Leader thanking him for all he has given to the system.

Board Report

Andrew Albert gave the Board report. The MTA’s final proposed budget has been prepared and submitted to the Board. It will be approved at the MTA Board’s December meeting. The Capital Program has not yet been submitted to the MTA Capital Program Review Board because the MTA is trying to ensure that all elected officials’ questions are answered and the Capital Program’s approval is not further delayed by a veto due to an issue that could have been resolved.

The MTA has reached out to Members of Congress as well as State Legislators to discuss progress on Second Avenue Subway and its implications for funding of the project in the next capital program.

Ms. Mason stated that it was suggested that even if a tunnel boring machine is not available to accelerate the project beyond what is envisioned in the proposed Capital Program, work can start on the next phase of the project in portions of the tunnels that were constructed previously.

Chris Greif asked when the N train restoration work will begin in Brooklyn. Stuart Goldstein responded that they had started the repair of spalled concrete in the stations.

Andrew Albert said that there has been a change to the plans to add Communication Based Train Control on the Queens Boulevard lines. He stated that the project will now continue to the 8th Avenue line in Manhattan, rather than the 6th Avenue line. Also, they are working on accelerating the new countdown clock technology that is being installed on other B division lines.

Old Business

Mr. Greif asked when the holiday train will begin. Mr. Albert responded that the train will be running on weekends in December until Christmas.

Mike Sinansky wanted to know if the Council has heard back about the Bike MS event issues that he had raised. William Henderson said that he had heard back from the Director of the Office of Citywide events and that he had said that the Bike MS event is permitted through the NYPD. Nevertheless, the Director said that he would look into the questions that we had raised and get back to us.

There was a discussion of Freedom Ticket. Ellyn Shannon explained the current status of the project and there was some discussion on the details of the proposal that the project’s final report will be making.

Mr. Henderson made an announcement that the 2016 MTA final proposed budget has added the Transportation Planner position occupied by Bradley Brashears as a permanent PCAC position. This will mean that Bradley’s position will be secure and that the PCAC will no longer have to make the case for its continuation with the MTA.

New Business

No New Business was discussed.

Introduction of John Tauranac, Chair of the committee responsible for the 1979 NYC Subway map, to discuss the history and future of NYC Transit maps.

Mr. Albert introduced Mr. Tauranac, whom he said had a great deal of knowledge of the system and how it is shown on maps.

Mr. Tauranac noted that in 1975 he came back from Paris with Carte Orange, which is an intermodal pass good for use in the metropolitan region. He said that he had mentioned to Bill Allison at the MTA that the MTA should do something similar. Mr. Allison remarked that we would not see a similar fare instrument in our lifetime, but in fact the system is now moving toward this with Freedom Ticket and similar proposals.

Mr. Tauranac said that in 1972 the Vignelli map of the subways was issued by the MTA, but it did not give geographical information. This was confusing to many people, so he started exploring other options. As a base, Mr. Tauranac went back to the Hagstrom map of the subways that had been marketed in the 1950’s. The complexity of the system was such that a map would not work with only a few colors, but the transit system had been using color coding, so that was a possible direction. He knew that he did not want to use Vignelli map as a base, so he had to work on a geographic map. He began working using a red line overlaid on a city planning map.

In 1972, the subway map showed stops with a dot, but the situation in the subway system is more complex. To show the varieties of service, he used boldface for full time service and regular weight typeface for part-time service to give further information. In 1976 Transit’s travel guide was published and its subway map committee was established started. There still was no color code for routes, but color coding was used for the dots that indicated routes.

In June 1979, a map with color coded routes was produced by NYC Transit. This is the basis for today’s map, but there has been no progress made on giving the rider more information since then. Mr. Tauranac said that the map has muddled through. In 1998 the MTA produced “The Map,” which included the MTA commuter railroads in a single product. “The Map” diminished the subway map, but did not add a lot of information for the commuter railroads. Among the features that were eliminated were strip maps and information on points of interest, and the service guide was reduced.

Mr. Tauranac said that since this the 1998 map, there have been changes made, but the basic features of this map are seen in maps to the present. Throughout the evolution of the official map, Mr. Tauranac continued to examine other alternatives. In 1990 he published a map with service indicators on the map itself, including indications of service changes during rush hours. In this series, there were three types of map, indicating weekday, weekend and night service.

In 1995 Mr. Tauranac published an alternative map that showed service in color coding and around this time he also produced a non-geographic map that is close to the MTA’s current map. At the same time, his independent maps have a number of differences from the official maps designed for the MTA. In his private efforts, Mr. Tauranac flanked route colors with white hairlines and used black hairlines for yellow color coded routes. He has also added Transit district offices and streets of operation below the subway station name on his maps.

Mr. Tauranac said that he has made other changes, such as replacing the Helvetica typeface with Myriad, which is the typeface used by Apple. He has also included some map features that are omitted or rendered strangely in the MTA map. For example, in the 2015 MTA map, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Avenues are bent between 14th and 42nd Streets to accommodate the L line 1st and 3rd Avenue stations. The map also shows 8th Street going through Tompkins Square, which it does not. In addition, the MTA’s maps do not have hairlines, which has been the case from 1979 to the present.

Mr. Albert asked why he did not use alphabetical order when showing lines serving particular stations. Mr.Tauranac responded stating that he does that to distinguish local from express services, but would like to look at the options.

Mr. Tauranac also noted that MTA maps do not show proper location of Amtrak service across Manhattan. He said that maps could indicate whether a station is underground or outdoor, and that his maps indicate this with a yellow dot. The MTA maps are also missing an index of stations, as is available on London and Paris transit maps, and some time of day service change information.

At the same time information has been lost, the size of the map has grown. Today’s MTA map is 23” x 32”, but the 1979 map was 22” x 26”. This size has been used to include balloons with information and the Staten Island Railway map, which shows a system without connections to the subway. The MTA map itself is difficult to open, and opens to an upside down commuter rail map.

Mr. Tauranac completed his presentation and asked for questions.

Ms. Mason pointed out that Steven Dobrow also served on the subway map committee as well as Arline Bronzaft.

Mr. Albert asked how Mr. Tauranac feels about the use of Vignelli map on the “Weekender” website and why he believes the MTA has used this map. Mr. Tauranac replied that he has no idea and heard that the decision was made in secret.

Ms. Mason asked if Mr. Tauranac wanted the NYCTRC to advocate for the MTA to change its style to that of his map or to advise riders to purchase his map. Mr. Tauranac stated that he has written a number of letters to the MTA Chairman offering to present his ideas and said he would be willing to work with the MTA.

Mr. Goldstein asked whether his maps are copyrighted and Mr. Tauranac said that they are.

Mr. Albert commented that he noticed that several stations where Mr. Tauranac’s map names do not match the MTA station names. Mr. Tauranac replied that this is the case and said that one of the worst things MTA has done is to give to stations neighborhood names that are not in common use. Mr. Albert agreed that in a station name the street should come before the neighborhood.

Mr. Goldstein commented that the MTA is now moving toward technology as a way for people to find their way through the system. He gave the example of station displays that may have the ability to show true geography and more detail.

Randolph Glucksman stated that this issue could be discussed at the next PCAC meeting and that one direction could be a resolution to call on the MTA to issue separate subway maps. He said that he believes there are useful features in Mr. Tauranac’s approach and would like to discuss it at a PCAC meeting.

Mr. Albert asked Mr. Tauranac if he had designed a commuter rail map. Mr. Tauranac stated that he previously designed a commuter rail map and that he has a map that includes commuter rail maps. Mr. Tauranac said that he would think about making his map more geographic.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:05 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson
Executive Director