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Metro Map Metastization New lines! Rush Plus! New names! Transit cartography gone mad

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

Once upon a time, the Metro map was a model of clean design and usability. Even first-time riders found it easy to trace a route along five color-coded lines with just a few transfer points. But with the debut of Rush Plus in June, the number of decisions to make doubled. Is your Yellow Line train going to bank right and take you on a surprise tour to Franconia-Springfield? Will your Orange Line train carry you home to Capitol Heights or head to Deanwood instead? The days of sleep-commuting are over—as is the Metro map’s minimalist elegance, which has been marred by Rush Plus’ ghostly tracks and a new, garish green for the National Mall. Things will only get tackier with the addition of the Silver Line, which will hump the Orange Line through downtown before paralleling the Potomac. Yes, people will finally be able to take a train to Dulles, but the resulting dull grey line will totally upset the map’s balance and composition. Will sales of Metro T-shirts and shower curtains plummet as a result? And how much will fares have to go up to make up the difference?

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