The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority closed off voting on Friday for a contest to make a new map of the T, but whether the winner’s submission will be used as a new official map is still questionable.
The “New Perspectives MBTA Map Re-design” competition accepted submissions for a different layout of the Boston mass transit system map in the spring. Accepted submissions were voted on by the public beginning Sept. 9 and ending on Friday. The winner has not yet been decided, but an announcement is expected by the end of the month, according to the MBTA website.
“It [the map] is a symbol of the city, but there are entirely new stops being added,” said Kelly Smith, spokeswoman for the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. “There’s always the possibility [the winner’s submission won’t be used], but we did a lot of planning and time and effort went into the contest, and we want to use what the public chose.”
The contest was divided into two categories — classic tier and open tier. The former had strict guidelines that would make sure the finished product would be able to measure up to legal standards, Kelly said. The top submissions in this category were those the public voted on.
Open-tier submissions were never intended to be used as an actual map in transit stations, and submitters were notified of that. The category, Smith said, was primarily created to display “the creativity of our riders.”
Submissions in the open tier included a tree with the branches serving as the different lines. Another one had the stops laid out based on their time of transportation from Downtown Crossing, its center, according to submissions posted on the website.
Smith said some of the submissions were impressive demonstrations of the artistic talent of Boston’s citizens, but the attention the contest got surprised her more than anything else.
“Not only we were thrilled with the amount of submissions but also with the amount of votes and the public interest that they took in the competition,” she said. “We had over 17,000 votes in just under two weeks, and that was a really great turnout. We were glad that so many people took the time and expressed their opinion in what they think the next map should be.”
Several riders on the T said they were never aware of the contest, but were glad to hear of a possible change in the maps.
Jessica Taylor, a resident of Hudson, said the change would help those new to the Boston area.
“I’ve gotten used to it [the T] now,” she said. “I’ve been here long enough that I’m used to it, but when I first came here I think it was a little jarring [to try to figure out navigation].”
Emma Lukasiewicz, 22, a resident of Brookline, said the map change could be useful, but the T does not need many changes to its map.
“The only thing I can think of is putting all the stops on the Green Line [maps],” she said. “On the big maps, they only show you the ones a lot of people stop at.”
Smith said the overall goal of the contest was rider satisfaction.
“We have lines that are extending and so we just have to work through the logistics,” she said. “At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the map is usable for our customers, and so we’re planning on using the winner.”