The L train is shutting down in 2019. No one is ever sure if the G train is actually coming. It’s still ridiculously difficult to get from certain parts of Brooklyn to other parts of Brooklyn on the subway. Despite its many lines, New York’s MTA system isn’t exactly accessible to everyone. But New Yorkers can now escape to a fantasy world where the train operates on their schedule and their terms. Brand New Subway is a game from Jason Wright that allows players to design their own subway system and play around with different imagined maps. According to CityLab, Wright grew up playing Sim City. Brand New Subway is basically Sim Subway.
“I’ve always felt that transportation policy is really, really important, but really undervalued,” Wright says, “especially in American politics—just in terms of its impact on the economy and poverty and health.”
Players can choose to start entirely from scratch and build New York City’s subway lines from nothing or to play by altering base maps that reflect the current system, one from 2025, or one from 1972 based on a famous map by Italian designer Massimo Vignelli. A 1963 map appears to be in the works as well. The 2025 map includes the notorious though supposedly not mythical Second Avenue extension. There’s a point system to the game, too. Using population, employment distribution, and transportation demand data, Brand New Subway calculates the total ridership for your system. It also assumes that each new station costs a fixed amount and calculates the total cost of building the system. Using the total cost of construction and the ridership estimates, the game then calculates the single-ride fare and gives the system a grade, which is measured against the B-grade 2016 base map, setting the curve. The 2025 map with its glistening Second Avenue extension has an A grade, while Vignelli’s gets an A-. Wright said he’s still tinkering with the algorithm, but he hopes the game will encourage more people to think critically about transit systems.