Transportation Nation

Even 40 Inches of Snow Would Be No Problem for These Trains

Monday, February 02, 2015

Today's storm hasn't been deemed "historic," as was last week's blizzard. But if it were to be, could the subways stay open? We analyzed every segment of the system to find the answer.
Read More

Comments [17]

WNYC Digital

Map: The Best Places to Watch the NYC Marathon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Under the Queensboro Bridge? At the Brooklyn Academy of Music? The finish line? Tell us where you’re watching the marathon this Sunday, and why.

Comments [2]

Studio 360

Map: Louie's New York City

Monday, May 05, 2014

From Ben's Pizza to Russ & Daughters, to a subway platform below Grand Central Terminal, help us map out where to find Louie by telling us a location you've seen in the series.

Read More

Comments [18]

The Takeaway

Views of the Middle from Across America

Thursday, December 19, 2013

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on median household income levels for every community across America. The Takeaway set out to find ordinary "median earners" from different Census tracts around the county—folks whose household income matches the median for their neighborhoods. Javes Cruthird of Florida; Tim Wood of Massachusetts; Margaret McGlynn of North Dakota; and Tanya Lundberg of Michigan, join The Takeaway to describe what it's like to live in the middle.

Comments [8]


Doing A Da Vinci — If Only Leonardo Could See This

Friday, September 20, 2013

In the book "Arabian Nights," Prince Husain, the eldest son the Sultan, buys a magic carpet which comes with these instructions: Think of a far away place and "Whoever sitteth on this carpet ... will, in the twinkling of an eye ... be borne thither." We're updating that tale, with a real magic carpet — but this time with feathers.

Read More

Comments [4]


Map | FEMA Scales Back Flood Zones After Controversy

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shrunk the area along the New Jersey shore that it considers vulnerable to high wave action during hurricanes and other storms.

Comments [6]

Meet Your Mind

Meet Your Mind: Wiring the Brain

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Broadcast Times: Sunday, 7am on AM 820 and 9pm on 93.9FM

Scientists are trying to develop a detailed map of the human brain.  For some scientists, the goal isn't just to map the brain; it's to crack the mystery of consciousness.

Comments [2]


The Cicadas Are Coming!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lurking in the ground beneath our feet, waiting in their burrows for the first signs of spring are tens of millions of cicadas.

After 17 years, cicadas are expected to emerge and overwhelm a large swath of land from Virginia to Connecticut — climbing up trees, flying in swarms and blanketing grassy areas so they crunch underfoot.

Read More


Transportation Nation

Vignelli, Designer of Famous Subway Map, Defends His Version Over These Others (IMAGES)

Friday, December 21, 2012

More than iconic, the New York City subway map is a coat of arms for a way of life. It's a tool for 5 million riders a day. It hangs in the Museum of Modern Art. And, occasionally, it changes.

The most recognizable edition remains the most controversial. Designer Massimo Vignelli's clean modern lines and bold colors changed the branding of the subway in 1972 and elevated the map to the level of modern art. It also distorts geography. His map lasted just seven years before confused passengers convinced the MTA to replace it. Vignelli still staunchly defends his design, and in doing so, has offered some choice observations about other versions.

We present some of his comments to you, as recorded during a talk Vignelli gave earlier this year at the New York City Transit Museum.

1939 system-wide NYC subway map

1939 Version:

“There’s too much information. The greatest thing about the London map, if you’ve ever seen it, is that they stick to the subway, the underground. Therefore, there’s no reference to above. In New York, they wanted to put everything. It was too much.”


1958 system-wide Subway Map

1958 Version:

“This is more a diagram, but again the details are very fragmented information. You see, all these boxes here, they fragmented the legibility of the line. The express [train] they made in a different way. So it’s too much going on...It could be simplified...Fragmentation is a disease of people that do not know how to design diagrams.”


1979 map, which replaced the Vignelli map:

“This is the map that came after our map. If you have to have abstract geography, why do you have it in any case? Why [sic] have it at all?

"And look at here [pointing to curved path of train line at lower Manhattan]. Who cares if the subway has to make a [turn] like that? I’m going, we’re all going, from Point A to Point B. How we get there is the conductor’s problem, not mine.”


Updated version of 2008 map, circa 2010

2008 Subway Map

“We belong to a culture of balloons. [The designers] grow up with comic books, and this is what happens. There’s balloons all over the place. It’s ridiculous.”

1972 "Vignelli" subway map

His own map from 1972:

“Every line a different color, every stop a dot.”

When the NY MTA hired Vignelli to develop a new plan for subterranean navigation, he was tasked with streamlining the wayfinding process for riders and bringing New York into the future.

Train routes were straightened into neat angles to make a tidy diagram out of the actual snarl of criss-crossing tunnels. Forty years later, graphic designers still laud Vignelli's map as a triumph.

However beautiful, it is geographically abstract, bearing only inadvertent resemblance to the actual street grid above.

For example, the Vignelli map portrays the 50th St stop on the Seventh Ave line, now the 1 train, to be west of the 50th St stop on the Eighth Avenue line, now part of the C and E, confusing New Yorkers with hardened mental pictures of the city in their mind and sending tourists wandering westward into Hells Kitchen hunting for non-existent subway stops. Just seven years after it was released, the MTA replaced Vignelli's “diagram,” as he calls it (because maps only represent geography) with a more traditional map.

But, Vignelli is back in the subway diagram business. With the help of a new design team, he created “The Weekender,” a digital interactive subway map directly inspired by the 1972 hand-drawn diagram.


"The Weekender" digital subway map

 2012 “The Weekender”

“It doesn’t make any sense to print a map anymore. In a digital era, a map should be a digital map. All this information could become alive at the moment. So basically, The Weekender... will, should, become the regular map for all the stations. No more printed map. Printed maps are a trap for tourists.”.

“The blinking dots... are terrific. When you think actually, that there’s all this work in subway all the time, you get an idea of the complexity of the job, and what it means to run a transit system. It’s great. It’s a passion.”


Read More

Comments [3]

Transportation Nation

How NY's MTA Restored the Subway Map

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The MTA's Chuck Gordanier, holding up the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Service subway map (photo by Kate Hinds)

If you looked at the MTA’s website in the days following Hurricane Sandy, you probably saw a subway map (pdf) that wasn’t what most straphangers were used to.

To protect New York City’s subway system, all transit shut down in advance of the storm. But then the under-river subway tunnels flooded, and the MTA had to convey to riders what was and wasn’t running.

That’s Chuck Gordanier's job, and he began booting up his Mac before the storm even ended.

He’s a manager at the transit agency. His task was -- and is -- to quickly translate the continuous service changes into a stripped-down map. So he began subtracting subway lines and stations. At first he thought the result was almost too harsh.

"But then once I saw this I thought ‘hey, that kind of fits the mood, doesn’t it?’" he said. "So I just kept stripping it down, taking everything off. The ferries weren’t going, why should they be there? The parks were closed, remember? So why should the parks be there? So I just took out everything that wasn’t actually happening and ended up with this."

The map, shown on screen in Adobe Illustrator. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

'This' is the subway recovery map, and it’s a stark contrast to the normal one. No perks, like neighborhood names, landmarks, or even the street grid. Just colored lines on a gray and white background showing what’s operational, and shaded out lines showing what isn’t. Gordanier’s been working 14-hour days to keep the map current. As in: power’s been restored to lower Manhattan? Color in the 1 train. The Joralemon Tunnel’s been pumped dry? Color in the four and five. Lather, rinse, repeat.

A list of the dozens of changes Gordanier made to the subway map since Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

"When I had it done," he said, "and it was right, then we’d put it on the website right away and we’d roll out a quickie print version to post." Gordanier says it’s a matter of turning on and off some of the 50-plus layers that make up the map. He demonstrates how to power up the G line. "First I've got to find the G train layer," he said, clicking the mouse to unlock it. "There’s the G train--see that, 30 percent? Boing. There it is. Full strength."

(He got to do that for real Wednesday, when it began running again.)

Gordanier says he’ll keep updating the MTA’s subway recovery service map until things get back to normal. Until then, it’s a work in progress.

"Today, later," he said, "it will probably be different."

Example: two hours before this story aired on WNYC, the MTA restored full service on the L line.

Watch the return of subway service below.
Follow TN on TwitterFacebook, or Tumblr.

Read More

Comments [4]

Transportation Nation

Commuter Nation: How America Gets to Work (INTERACTIVE MAP)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Click the map. 

(Matt Berger and Katie Long -- Marketplace) America is a nation of drivers, particularly when it comes to how we get to work.

Across the country, the vast majority of us commute by car, and most of the time we’re alone, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. But in some pockets of the U.S. there's a growing population of commuters taking public transportation, carpooling, walking, and even riding a bike.

To get a better look at how Americans get to work, TN partner Marketplace sifted through data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys to create an interactive map.

Here's what they wrote about the findings:

Using data from the 2010 survey (view data), we identified the number of people in each state who drive alone, carpool, and take public transportation. From the 2008 survey (view data), we identified the number of people in each state who walk or ride a bike.

Then we added up the total number of people represented in both surveys to determine the "total commuter population" for each state; There is a margin of error we didn't account for, maybe some people who still commute by horse-and-buggy, and the surveys are from different years, but you get the idea. A quick calculation gave us the share of commuters in each category by state.

I drive alone
In 43 states, more than three-quarters of the commuter population drive alone to work. Only New York was significantly lower -- with almost half of Empire State commuters saying they get work in other ways. The least carpool-friendly states by percent are Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Share the road
Hawaii and Alaska lead the nation in carpool commuting. About 14 percent of their commuter populations share a ride to work. Most states reported somewhere between 8 percent and 11 percent in this commuter category.

More of us take the bus
Not surprisingly, states with major metropolitan populations and large public transit systems have the highest use of public transit: New York leads by a wide margin with about 28 percent of its commuter population taking a train, subway or bus. Massachusetts and Illinois came in at a distant second and third with about 9 percent of their respective commuter populations taking public transportation.

Meanwhile Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, and Mississippi are among 17 states with less than 1 percent of their commuter population on public transit.

Foot-powered commuters are few
In our data set, bicycling and walking remain the least-popular methods for commuting to work. No state reported more than 5 percent of their commuter population on bikes. Thanks to its bike-friendly city of Portland, the state of Oregon topped the list - but still its bike population is only about 4.63 percent of the total. The majority of states didn’t break 1 percent in this category (Full disclosure, this is how I get to work).

Those who walk to work, meanwhile, are more common than bike-to-work commuters in almost every state, but still represent only a small slice of each state's commuter population. New York had the second-highest number of walking commuters, along with the other top states – Alaska (#1), Vermont (#3) and Montana (#4).

Explore the complete data in our interactive map, and tell us how you get to work. Post a comment or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More

Comments [1]


Mapping out New York City's Best Underground Music

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back in May, WNYC asked listeners to help us map out the city's best underground music by snapping shots and sending in video clips of favorite subway performances. And you delivered. We've made a map from the submissions, which include a classical-rock violinist playing in the West 4th Street-Washington Square station, a group of opera singers in Times Square and a trio covering Stevie Wonder on the Upper East Side.



'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' Mapped: Walking the Beat with Benson and Stabler

Monday, June 18, 2012

NBC's fall season will offer the Olympic games, the return of "Sunday Night Football" and new episodes of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." Check out WNYC's "SVU" map to see where Benson, Stabler and the gang have been around town.

Comments [19]


Map | Where to Find the 'Girls' in NYC

Monday, June 11, 2012

The new HBO series "Girls" follows four women in their early 20s who are living in New York City -- Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Shoshanna -- along with their friend, Adam. The crew hangs out at Brooklyn watering holes like Weather Up and Washington Commons and at city landmarks like the High Line. Help us map out where to find the "Girls" in the city by sending in a spot you've seen in the series.

Comments [16]

WNYC Digital

‘Mad Men’ Mapped: A Guide to NYC Locales Frequented by Our Favorite Characters

Monday, June 04, 2012

Where your favorite characters go to drink or cry or cry over drinks. 

Comments [24]


Map | Discovering the City's Best Underground Music

Monday, May 21, 2012

Help us discover the city's best underground music by snapping a shot or sending us a video clip of your favorite subway performance.


Transportation Nation

INTERACTIVE MAP: Who Super-Commutes by Plane in the U.S.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Which would you say is a worse commute: New York to Honolulu, or L.A. to San Juan, Puerto Rico? About 25 people fly each of those super commute routes every week.

There are about 43,000 people who commute by plane, census data show. Here's a map of the plane routes to the top 12 air-commuting U.S. cities. Hover your mouse over the colored lines to see how many people fly a given route to work each week.

See our earlier radio report on super-commuters to get to know the people who make these treks.

In case you were wondering:

The top five super commutes (all modes) in the U.S. (2009 data):

1) Tucson to Phoenix, AZ 3.6% of workforce (54,400 total)
2) Houston to Dallas, TX 3.3% (44,300 total)
3) Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston, TX 2.7% (51,900 total)
4) Austin to Dallas, TX 2.4% (32,400 total)
5) San Diego to Los Angeles, CA 2.2% (78,300 total)

(Data via Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management)

Listen to this week's Marketplace Money story here:

Read More

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

Help Us Map All the Abandoned Bikes in NYC

Friday, April 27, 2012

UPDATE 06/11/2012: We have received over 500 submissions. We have submitted 151 locations of abandoned bikes to the City of New York. They won't accept more at this time unless we call each bike in, one by one. Here's that story, with a new map you can use to update or help us call those in.  

For now if you want a derelict bike removed, be sure it meets the criteria below, and then call it in to 311. 

ORIGINAL POST: Bike carcasses are a common site around New York City -- a dented frame chained to a street sign, wheels pilfered, seat long ago appropriated, rusted chain and remnants blighting even the swankiest of sidewalks like a broken window. What's a citizen to do?

Call 311.

We are no longer taking submissions. Or email a picture to and we'll add it to this map:

(See a gallery of all the bikes here)

In late 2010, the Department of Sanitation of NY was given jurisdiction to remove derelict bikes (they also remove derelict automobiles) from public property like street signs. In January of this year, that power was extended to bike racks too. In 18 months, 40 have been snipped free to make room for functioning bikes to park.

The process is clunky: you call 311, must answer a series of questions confirming the condition of the bike, and explain to what it is locked, then you are transferred to a Specialist who takes the claim. DSNY then tags the bike, and seven days later returns to claim it as abandoned, removes and recycles it.

Forgive us this quick bit of math to make a point. There are about 500,000 occasional bike riders in New York City (they ride several times a month according to an NYC estimate). The bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives estimates 200,000 daily riders. There's no official daily estimate for bike ridership, but the DOT counts six busy locations once a year for a snapshot, and at those six hotspots alone there are almost 19,000 commuting bike riders a day. There are a bit over 13,000 official Department of Transportation bike racks in NYC.

Some racks hold more bikes than others (let's say around two to ten). Many buildings also have bike storage or private bike racks, and of course there's the more common street sign, railing or, unfortunately for at least one city initiative, a tree to chain a bike to. So there's space to lock up in New York, but not enough prime space. Especially near busy subway stations where racks fill up, abandoned bikes are in the way.

What counts as an abandoned bike? That is determined by these criteria set by the DSNY. Three of the five must be met to be removed:

  • appears to be crushed or unusable
  • parts are missing other than seat or front wheel
  • bicycle has a flat or missing tires
  • the handlebars or pedals are damaged, or existing forks, frames or rims are bent
  •  75 percent or more of the bicycle is rusted

The bike must be locked to public property including: light poles, bus stop signs, parking meters, trees, tree pit railings and bike racks.

DSNY says they receive many calls about possible abandoned bikes, "but upon inspection by our field supervisor a large percentage of the bicycles don’t meet the criteria to be classified as derelict."


So if you spot an abandoned bike, snap a picture and send it to If the location feature on your phone or camera is enabled for photos, we can pinpoint the exact location right away. Otherwise, include information in your email about where the bike is and what else you know about it, and we'll manually put it on the map.

We'll also add it to the open-source database maintained by SeeClickFix for non-emergency, civic issues. There, you can comment on and update information about abandoned bikes in your area in the days and weeks to come.

The map here is fully embeddable, too. Just use the link on the map itself.

Read More

Comments [7]


Suggest a Radiolab Tour Stop

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let us know where you'd like to see Radiolab live!

Read More

The Takeaway

Unemployment Rates Fall in the Rust Belt, Rise in the Sun Belt

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The recession officially ended in June of 2009, but the country is still reeling from a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Certain areas of the country have seen a gradual recovery, while others continue to struggle or are actually losing jobs. The Rust Belt, which struggled with unemployment before the economic collapse, has seen unemployment dropping. Conversely, the South was prosperous before the recession, with some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but now six southern states have the highest unemployment rates in the country.