2018. Adobe Illustrator artwork compiled and modified from geographic data developed in QGIS and Google Earth.

My Master’s thesis research explored the unlikely second wave of rapid transit planning that occurred at mid-century in the United States. One of those plans, from 1956, proposed a massive rapid transit system for the nine counties of the Bay Area. This transit diagram imagines what the Bay Area Rapid Transit system might have looked like had that vision ever come to fruition. Of course, the chances of this system being built were less than slim. But the response to the various versions of this map on blogs including Ten Times One, Laughing Squid, Muni Diaries, and Mission Mission make it clear that the dream, for some of us, is a tantalizing one. My thanks to Adam Mann for including my map in a gallery of fantasy transit maps on Wired Science's Map Lab. It appears fantasy transit maps have truly arrived as a curious and (I like to think) thought-provoking sub-genre.

Indeed, the dream of a Bay Area-wide integrated rapid transit system is somehow so compelling that I’ve returned to it repeatedly over the years. The version above is actually the fourth (!) version. I was spending a lot of time looking at Massimo Vignelli's wonderful 1970 map of the New York Subway system as well as the exquisite work of Cameron Booth while developing this latest version. In addition, I wanted to boost the fantasy quotient by integrating the beleaguered and (seemingly) destined-to-fail California High Speed Rail alignment.

I've included the previous versions below. By scrolling down the page, you’ll travel back in time, and witness both how my concept for the fantastic system changed over time, but also how my cartographic design skills have evolved over time.

Earlier Versions


Edits and revisions in the 2013 version included the adoption of stop symbols like those found on the London Underground diagram, which allowed me to place the stop labels more clearly. Also, this version integrated the Transbay Terminal as an important transfer station. Some stops have been renamed and typographical errors corrected. Perhaps most obviously, I removed the BART logo and any mention of BART or its website, replacing it with a more explicit reference to the planning document that inspired the map, Regional Rapid Transit, published in 1956.


This is the earliest diagrammatic version, and the one that's probably be seen by the most people over the years.


My earliest attempt adhered to a conventional map framework. The modern New York subway map served as an inspiration.