Urbanization in large cities is constantly increasing the demand for advanced and complex metro networks.
Researchers examine the possibility that common users may not be able to adapt to such complicated subway networks.
Today, New York City metro, providing 161 connections, is the most complex followed by Paris, Tokyo and London with 78, 56 and 48 connections, respectively.
In order to facilitate people's comprehension of a network, metro maps have started to deviate from geographical accuracy and have become simpler. However, there is still room for improvement.
Below, the 6 most complex subway networks in the world are presented:
1. New York City Subway
New York City Subway, opened in 1904, is one of the oldest public transit systems. It is the most complex network in the world with 472 active stations serving 27 subway lines. Until 1940, no official map of the subway system existed. The most influential map was made by graphic designer Massimo Vignelli in 1972. Vingelli used a schematic approach neglecting geographical accuracy but major defects such as presenting the Central Park as square rather than rectangular led to its replacement by the MTA Subway Map Committee in 1979.
2. Tokyo Metro
The Tokyo subway opened in 1927. It consists of Tokyo metro network with 179 stations serving 9 lines and Toei Subway with 99 stations serving 4 lines. It is a highly complex network in which a lot of operators are involved. Each line has a unique color, letter and station number.
There have been many attempts to simplify Tokyo's subway map. Currently, an effort to establish station maps at train and subway stations in preparation for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games is made by Japan's Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.
3. London Underground
London Underground originates from the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground passenger railway, opened in 1863. Its map had a great impact on schematic map design worldwide. The design, made by Harry Beck, a former draughtsman with the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, was based on the idea that people are more interested in finding the right station rather than its geographical location.
Today, the underground network hosts 270 stations and is rapidly growing.
4. Madrid Metro
Madrid subway officially open in 1919. Despite Spain's capital is the 50th most popular metropolitan area worldwide, its metro network occupies the 12th place of the longest rapid transit systems in the world with a length of 293km. In the 2000s, Spain invested a large amount of money to add 90km of lines and construct 80 additional subway stations.
5. Paris Metro
Most subway networks were realized to transfer people from the suburbs to the center of a city and back. However, Paris's network was constructed to enhance mobility in the city's center. Therefore, it consists of 245 stations in a small area thus its mapping is challenging. A recent attempt by Constantine Konovalov, a Russian art director, involved a circular map in which Line 2 and Line 6 were illustrated as concentric circles that surround the rest of Paris.
6. Moscow Metro
Moscow metro was the first underground system in the Soviet Union. It opened in 1935 serving 13 stations in a 11km line but today it consists of 224 stations with a length of more than 380km.
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