I was in New York last weekend visiting a friend and I’m afraid that the subway system there defeated me completely. It turns out that it’s not just my near-legendary lack of direction that was to blame, my host claimed it took her weeks to get the hang of it and even the Lonely Planet says that “subway confusion is the great unifier in this diverse city”.
And it’s all down to bad design. The directional arrows sometimes mean ‘this platform’ and sometimes ‘up the stairs’. In some lights the orange and red lines look identical on signage. Uptown and Downtown trains are only identified typographically. And how the actual trains show where-you-are-and-where-you’re-heading seems to vary depending on the carriage’s age.