I love the subway. Hey, stop your bitching... it's great. I wouldn't swap it for any other subway in the world.
And yet, it sure can be frustrating, especially at night. Now before I start bitching, let me say we should be grateful. Our subway is one of the only systems in the world that runs 24 hours a day (can you name the three others?). Not even supposedly first-class cities like London or Paris let their citizens get home in railed style.
And yet, unlike every other city in the world, the MTA has never made a map of night service. This is a pretty big omission. Want to know how to get home? The official MTA party line is, "Overhead directional signs on platforms show... late night service." Well that's not much help! Especially given the horrible up-to-20-minute Zombie Wait (cue dripping water and rats). And God forbid you have to transfer. Or make an honest mistake because you trusted the day map! I pity the poor person waiting for the R late at night to take them to Queens.
And then there are oddities like the E train stopping at Steinway Street. Fine. The E train is a mighty fine train. But how in the world are you supposed to know, looking at The Map, that the E train ever stops at Steinway? So how would know to take the E Train? And, oh yeah, the R, M, Z, 3, C, 5, and Times Square Shuttle don't run at all (except for some lines, at the far end, which I learned while making the map). Seems important.
On the plus side, the other night I was at Court Street in Brooklyn and was overjoyed to see the N train pulling in. I guess it does so every night. But I didn't know. Because it's not on the map.
After that night I actually wrote the MTA and offered to make a map night for them. Not surprisingly, I sort of got the runaround. So I did my best with photoshop and what I could find on line. I know the MTA is kind of anal about things like this, but my intentions are pure and non-commercial. This is a public service. I did the best I could. And any errors are my own (do let me know if you find mistakes). I do not claim any rights to this map (nor should you). It's the MTA's, if they want it. But they had nothing to do with the production.
So here's my contribution in time and labor to our great city, the MTA, and all the late-night subway riders. Plus, honestly, it was kind of fun! Download a PDF here.
[update: turns out I wasn't first. But it is the first you can download in pdf form... or even see if you don't have one of them newfangled iPhones! Plus, unlike a few others, it's accurate. And it looks like the normal subway map.]
[Further updates: Version 4 is now up, correctly labeling all the A stops.]
Download a PDF here.
Update (January 29, 2012): All for naught. Or maybe I helped push them. Either way, there's now an official night map from the MTA and I'm happy to see it.