New York City Subway Map Earns The Dubious Distinction Of The Worlds Most Complicated!

By | February 29, 2016

NYC subway map

In a study the New York City subway map earned the title of the “most complex metropolitan system in the world”!

And for anyone, whether a NYC native or a tourist who is trying to figure out how to move from the Bronx to Brooklyn or Queens to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this ‘victory’ by New York City  is understandable!

The Study

Conducted by researchers Riccardo Gallotti and Marc Barthelemy of the CEA-Saclay in France and Mason Porter of the University of Oxford, the study looked at the 15 largest subway systems in the world.

The goal of the study was to examine whether “the growth of urban transportation systems has led to visual guides that “exceed our cognitive limits.”

The Methodology

The two researchers “considered all the trips a traveler could make from Point A to Point B with two connections, then determined the fastest possible path for a given trip.

That framework aligned with behavioral research showing that people can store up to four pieces of information in their working memory at one time—in this case, a trip’s origin, its destination, and two transfer stations.”

The Results

The ‘winner’ of the study? ‘The result was a “cumulative” complexity rating that saw the New York subway at the head of the pack—earning it the title of the “most complex metropolitan system in the world”—and Hong Kong’s metro rail network at the back.’

Read the full article at The Real Deal New York here.

Michael Haltman is President of Hallmark Abstract Service in New York. He can be reached at

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