MBTA expansion means new maps
Stickers make some changes cheaper and easier
THE MBTA IS starting to expand again, and that means the maps of the system need to change—which is not as simple as it sounds.
There are more than 500 maps in stations across the system and another 5,000 or so on rail cars and buses. The ones on rail cars and buses are fairly easy to switch out because they are basically stickers that can be applied directly to a wall. But the maps located inside stations take anywhere from a half-hour to an hour to replace because they are locked behind plastic.
Since replacing the station maps is such a time-consuming process, it’s difficult to switch out all the maps at once. For the April 21 launch of Silver Line service between South Station and Chelsea, the T is replacing all of the maps in stations along the Silver Line as well as at key intersecting points with the Red and Blue lines.
For the rest of the system, the T is pasting decals showing the new Silver Line route onto the plastic covering the existing maps. The decals are cheap and take minutes to put on, which allows the T to have updated maps at all locations for the launch while allowing the agency to replace the actual maps over several months.
Dominick Tribone, director of customer experience at the T, said the transit agency learned a lesson from the Government Center changeover—that using a decal to highlight an opening is risky because members of the public often pick at decals and take them off. “Learning from that process, we did it in reverse with the Silver Line,” he says.
The decals also came in handy when Wollaston Station on the Braintree branch of the Red Line shut down in January for 20 months of renovations. A sticker was pasted over the plastic coverings of station maps, showing how riders who normally would use Wollaston Station needed to take a shuttle bus to one of the adjacent stations to catch the Red Line. When the work on the station is completed, the decal can just be pulled off. Of course, bored riders sometimes pull them off as well.“It’s a very quick job to take a sticker off, and sometimes the public helps with that,” Tribone says.
The new Silver Line 3 bus will run between South Station, Logan Airport, and Chelsea. It will run on a dedicated busway for part of the route. It is the first new transit line on the MBTA system since the Greenbush commuter rail line opened in 2007. The next big change on the system will come in 2022, when the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford is expected to open.