Watch CBS News

The World's Subway Maps Show How Poor Transit Is In Chicago

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gazing at the work of Jug Cerovic, evokes very different reactions.

1) Maps of subways--which themselves are mostly invisible, often dark and gritty--are beautiful.

2) Chicago's subway system design sucks.

Cerovic is a Paris-based architect.

He also likes to study and design maps.

To that end, he has designed standardized maps (which he calls INAT) of some of the world's most complicated subway systems.

The result: An easy to read and easy to memorize network of train lines.

"A thorough study of geometry, color match and harmony of shapes [makes] a diagram look like a familiar object, a companion for everyday travel," Cerovic said.

On his website, he has posted a dozen city maps: New York and Mexico City in the Americas; Barcelona, Berlin, London, Madrid, Moscow and Paris in Europe; and Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo in Asia.

On every map, one can see that city planners covered the entire area of the city and beyond.

Lines connect and intersect everywhere.

Paris Map

The oval and circular lines cover large areas of the city--not the tiny city center known here as The Loop.

In Chicago, there are massive gaps everywhere--especially if one draws a western arc from the Red Line North at Howard to the Red Line South at 95th.

(That doesn't even count the total lack of continuity between rail lines in the suburbs and Northwest Indiana.)

This is not only aggravating to the people who live and work here.

Chicago, which was once again ranked as one of the top worldwide tourist destination by Trip Advisor, makes it really hard for travelers to explore beyond downtown.

The CTA has talked about extending lines for years. But first, it had to update its current system--and it has already done that on the Green and Red Lines, for example.


It's hardly a new complaint. Urban planners have been arguing about this for years.

However, when you look at the work of Cerovic, the inadequacies in Chicago are pretty stark.

"I don't know the urban features of Chicago very well," Cerovic said in an email. "Although it seems logical that all metro lines serve the high density city center, it seems that some new transversal lines connecting the existing ones outside the center would come in handy.

"That way users wouldn't need to always head for the center in order to transfer to another line and complete a cross-town journey. Travel time and congestion would be reduced."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.