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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

STM updates Metro map

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Before and after of the old and new map (by Kate McDonnell at Montreal City Weblog. Click for higher resolution)

Just the other day, I was sitting on the Metro, surrounded by posters and ads featuring the STM’s newish marketing strategy and commented to myself that it was surprising that the ubiquitous map had yet to be changed. Two days later I was sitting on the Metro, looking at a new map. The new map will gradually replace the old one over the next few weeks.

The new map varies little from the old one, most changes are aesthetic, bringing the design in line with the rest of the STM’s promotional and (non-permanent) wayfinding material.

Changes include the use of the STM’s proprietary font (except for the station names which remain in Univers, the same font used to communicate the station names on the black “ribbons” on station walls), elevator symbols are placed beside the station names (the STM seems to have forgotten that Bonaventure now has an elevator), a simplified and darkened shoreline, and darker colours indicating AMT commuter trains. The new STM logo is also used and the no smoking symbol has finally been removed.

The Gazette interviews graphic designer Cameron Booth, who, on his Transit Map blog referred to the map as “so distinctive that it couldn’t possibly be from anywhere else in the world than the city it represents – and this is definitely all Montréal’s.” Booth laments the loss of the purple colouring of the commuter train lines for the less conspicuous dark blue which makes it more difficult to see. Upon seeing the printed map in situ, the darker water is also much harder to see and makes it difficult to orient the metro lines in reference to the water. The removal of the bridge silhouettes creates a similar problem.

The map is nice but perhaps we could have opted instead for this 8-bit, Super Mario version by Dave Delisle, a free-lance artist from Vancouver:



  1. They absolutely should have gone for the Super Mario map!

    Re: Bonaventure elevator: Yes, there are new elevators between the platforms and the mezzanine level, but including the icon on the map would be misleading as there is no easily accessible elevator to get out of the station for anyone who needs it (e.g., people with disabilities). There is an elevator from the mezzanine level up to the Marriott hotel, but there are a few stairs in the way.

  2. I can’t still get over the fact that the Longueuil station is shamely called “Université de Sherbrooke” …

  3. L’ascenseur à la station Bonaventure est entre les quais et la mezzanine. L’AMT tarde à construire celui entre la mezzanine et le niveau de la rue. Pour cette raison, la STM ne publicise pas cette “moitié” d’accessibilité.

  4. I must say, I like the previous one better.  Kudos to the Mario 3 version!  Hmm, makes me want to fire up my NES and play Mario 3…

  5. Good point. I didn’t realise that the elevators couldn’t take you to street level.

  6. I can’t still get over the fact that the Longueuil station is shamefully called “Université de Sherbrooke” … Ditto!!! How can an institution from outside the region who only has a small campus in the Montreal suburbs has this honour… A terrible decision from the STM. I think a moratorium on changing a station’s name was put in place after that…

  7. On a side note, I have to say that I LOVE the STM’s new marketing strategy that includes the corporate campaign called “Society in Motion” and the new visual branding developed by Sid Lee. I think it is simply brilliant! The visual branding rejuvenated the company. The messaging, transmitted is a simple yet effective matter, is totally clever. Kudos!!!

  8. I have loved every single Society in Motion branding ad and everything else — clever, clever, clever and really pretty. This, with the super dark train colour and the darker water, is the first faux pas I’ve seen, with the real-life versions being even darker than what we see on screen — so much that it looks like someone made a mistake choosing the colours. The darker water allows them to avoid a black box behind the station names that flow into the river, but the train lines are so dark that I could hardly see them in the version in the Rosemont (if I remember correctly) métro station. Plus, the unnecessary subtlety of these two changes makes it more difficult to the métro in the larger area as shown on the AMT map. Not a required piece of info, mind you, but gave your mind something to do as you stared into the map out for hours out of boredom.

  9. What were the mistakes that you feel were in such need of being fixed? I’ve always thought it was a quite functional and attractive metro map. Especially compared to quite a few other cities (NYC has a particularly terrible map of its subway system).

  10. every year we keep paying more and more on our monthly opus cards (a bitch for people like me who need a 3 zone pass), it’s nice to know that the stm is spending it on maps that didn’t even need to be updated, considering they were recently updated, how much do you think that cost? to change ALL the metro maps, …and in 5 years we’ll have completely different ones as we’ll probably have the new metro cars by then. complete total waste of money. …and don’t get me started on their stupid decision to remove most garbage and recycling bins.

  11. The Metro is a public service, and not everyone can quickly understand a map (illiterate, immigrant, old people, tourist, etc.).

    One of the most obvious problem: some station names can refer to 2 different points on the map (Jarry, Atwater, Mont-Royal, Sherbrooke). This is ridiculous.

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